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The heart.  It is a symbol of Love, of Happiness, of a liking of something.  It is the picture of the word Love.

 

In our culture, Love has taken on several connotations other than strong, binding feelings between two or more people.  But this is nothing new.  “I love my wife” one might say.  “I love my Child.”  “I love my dog.”  “I love my couch.”  “I love that TV.”  “I love that movie.”  “I love the sunlight.”  “I love that joke.”  “I love to run.”  “I love…” and the list goes on and on and on.

 

We can love people.

 

We can love animals.

 

We can love inanimate objects.

 

We can love actions.

 

All of this loving we show with the picture of a heart.

 

But what about the actions we don’t love?

 

When a politician lies, saying one thing before election and doing another thing after, how do you view this?  When someone cheats on you, how do you view this?  When someone steals from you, how do you view this?

 

Do we “Heart” a lie?  Do we “Heart” a cheater?  Do we “Heart” a thief?

 

Why would you?

 

Would you even associate a “Heart” with one of those wrong doings?

 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus does.

 

Jesus associates the picture of the “Heart” with wrong doings.

 

The religious leaders of the day were concerned with actions.  They had the original law given to them by God.  They also had additional laws given to them by men that far outnumbered God’s laws.

 

They were looking at “Behavior.”  They were interested in “Behavior Modification.”

 

Jesus ripped that point of view to shreds when the religious leaders asked him why his disciples broke “The tradition of the elders.” (Matt 15:2)

 

Jesus turns the accusation around on the religious leaders, breaking down their dependence on law and tradition of men.  He concludes with the truth that “Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  These are the things which defile the man.” (Matt 15:19,20a)

 

I am not here to give a complete breakdown of this.  It is an interesting study but I’m not that humble or well versed to lead you through it.

 

What I want you to see is that Jesus takes our view from one’s behaviors and turns it to the source of the behavior, one’s heart.

 

When you lie, that is a sin.  But that is not the end of it.  There is something deeper than the lie.  The heart is the source of the problem.

 

This hit me when I read it.  “The fact that I get angry, tell a lie, gossip, is because of something in my heart?”  This is something I learned long ago but forget every day.  This is why we need Jesus.  We can’t modify our behaviors because we cannot get to the root of the problem.  Only Jesus can transform our hearts, making us more like Him every day.

 

So, the next time you lie, cheat, gossip, or sin any other way, look at your heart.

 

 

Psalm 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, oh God”

 

Peace,

Bill

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Today is the third day I have been on my medicine.  I am typing this on a computer so it might be longer than my last post (via iPhone).  So far so good.  No indication of the side effects mentioned (including some crazy rash deal that didn’t sound too attractive).  All my life I have always been the guy who hears a symptom and immediately thinks that I have that.  The day a diabetic did a presentation in health class I was convinced I was diabetic for about a month, maybe more.  But nothing yet.

I have been feeling…different though.  Lighter, fuller, pleasant.  I am less lethargic, feeling more productive, sleeping sounder.  Before, I felt as if I was walking through a wilderness and a darkness was overtaking me and smothering me.  I felt as if I had reached the end of my existence, that my universe was empty past a couple feet in front of me.  But now that’s changed.  I’m wondering how much is a placebo effect.  I mean, only three days have gone by and its only been 25 mg at night.  But I was talking with my mom last night and she stopped and said it was nice to see me smile again.

So why do I tell you this?  Why bear my mind to you?  I have had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for about 21 of my 25 years.  But most of my life, and probably for the rest of it, I struggled with letting Jesus be my Lord in everything.  I would always hold back an aspect of my life.  Growing up I wasn’t athletic, I wasn’t coordinated, and I wasn’t charismatic.  I wasn’t brilliant but I always felt I was smarter than average.  And after years of being told so, I believed it.  While others had their sports skills or friend skills, I had my mind.  It was the most precious aspect of my being I possessed.   I always thought that if I lost my limbs, if I were kept in solitude, or if I were incapacitated, I would be ok because I would have my mind, my thoughts.

Then I encountered God in His Holiness.  In the space of three years, my whole world started to fall apart and the life I had built up started to fall apart.  I fell into depression that I thought would go away but it just got worse.  The thing I loved most was broken.  My mind.

There is the story of Jacob in Genesis where he has deceived everyone in his life and has no one to turn to.  He is going back to his home land and he hears his brother, whom he tricked out of his birthright, is coming to him with an army.  Jacob sends presents and gifts and waits.  While he’s waiting, he is all alone and he meets a man.  And then they wrestle.  The man sees he is not winning and he touches Jacob’s hip, laming him.  Theologians say that this was a Theophany, an incarnation of God, or a Christophany, an early incarnation of Christ.  Jacob falls to the ground but he holds on to the man for dear life and asks for a blessing.  And the man blesses him.  I always wondered what this was about.  Then I was reading “Knowing God” by J I Packer and he described the wrestling match as God taking everything from Jacob so that Jacob only had God to rely on, not his deceptiveness or his intelligence.

Then it hit me.  I was always so worried about losing my mind, I had made it first in my life that it had become an Idol.  It had taken the throne of my heart that God was supposed to be sitting on.  And maybe the only way I would be fully God’s was if my mind were taken out of the picture, broken down, made less than I wanted, so I could not rely on it any more but had to turn to God fully and whole-heartedly.

That being said, I have not arrived.  I am the same sinner I was three years ago.  But I feel God is changing my heart for Him.  I feel as if He is transforming my heart by renewing my mind.  I have been dropping all the pretenses.  I am nothing without God.  If he were to let me go, I would surly fall into Sheol.  I know I have a long ways to go.  I have a whole life to become like Christ.  I will probably sin in two seconds, two minuets, two days and feel like I have undone everything that has taken place.  But I am under God’s grace and nothing I can do can change that position.  Amen.

Peace

Bill

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