Tag Archives: Heart

The Heart, part 3

(Review for Men’s Ministry Series: The Heart of a Man)

We’ve looked at the reality of a corrupt heart.  We’ve seen that what comes out in speech and action cannot be blamed on circumstances but is the fruit of internal motivations and desires that control our hearts.  Going along with pride, we also must deal with fear.

There are different kinds of fear and many different causes of fear.

There are fears of real physical problems.
And fears of perceived potential problems.

There are fears to control–force certain behaviors.
There are fears to paralyze–prevent certain behaviors.

Fear is often compounded by or created by worry and anxiety.  Both of these deal with mentally bring up “what ifs” and mulling them over often contemplating the worst-case scenario.w8-13.gif

While there are many good definitions of fear, it seems that at the core, fear is a real or perceived sense of loss of control. Many of us have had the experience while driving of hitting a patch of ice.  The fear that springs up over the loss of control is normal/natural–but can be paralyzing.  But it is not normal or natural to fear driving over an overpass in the middle of summer when we read the sign, “Bridge freezes before road surface.”

So what are the things that cause fear?
Fear of failure, judgment, exposure
Fear of conflict
Fear of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, isolation

These tend to lead to self-protective (or at least seemingly) tactics, leading to the two extremes of avoidance and control. Tactics that often cause exactly what we think we are protecting against.

So what is the solution?

First we must ask–what is the opposite of fear?  I think there are two answers to that question: Faith and Courage. Fear is the opposite of faith and the opposite of courage.  There is so much that could be said, but better than what I could say. . .let me let Scripture speak.

There are many Scripture passages that address this issue–here are just a few:

Trust God in whose image we have been created and Who values us dearly   Matthew 10:28-31

Fear paralyzes  Matthew 25:14-30

Trust the One who controls everything   Matthew 8:25-26

Psalm 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. (ESV)
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
2 Peter 1:3-4  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (ESV)
Isaiah 41:10, 13 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (ESV)
1 Peter 5:7-10 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (ESV)
1 Peter 4:12-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (ESV)

Perspective on worry and fear

  • Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. . . .  Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.  Corrie ten Boom
  • How much have cost us the evils that never happened!   Thomas Jefferson
  • Worry is when you pay the interest on trouble before the bill comes due.     Chuck Swindoll
  • Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.
  • Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s
    troubles.

Dealing with fear–see Philippians 4:5-9
1.    Pray the right prayers – turn everything over to God
2.    Think the right thoughts – not nice thoughts or “positive thinking” but right thoughts
3.    Do the right things – practice what you focus on

Suggestions from a friend of mine:

Steps to Overcoming Fear (Barry Ferguson)

  1. Be ever aware the hard work of salvation and payment for sin is already done.
  2. Find meaningful verses that apply to your fear.
  3. Pray daily, naming your fears, giving each one over to the Lord.
  4. Ask someone else to pray for you.
  5. When faced with fear, act, don’t shrink, humbly praying for God’s intervention.
  6. Recognize when you have met a fear and passed through it successfully.
  7. Tell someone about your fear and how God enabled you to pass through it.
  8. Faithfully, trust God daily for His provision; know that He is the only thing we need when meeting especially fearful situations.

The Heart, part2

(Review for Men’s Ministry Series: The Heart of a Man)

The famous Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, starting with “basic” or lower-level needs and moving to the higher-level needs, the hierarchy:
1.    Basic physical needs: food, clothing, shelter.
2.    Security: physical welfare and security of belongings.
3.    Social: sense of belonging, acceptance, friendship.
4.    Self-esteem: accomplishment, respect for self, capability.
5.    Self-actualization: performing at your peak potential.

But others have observed that it’s not the basic needs that drive man, but the higher level needs.  And many believe that the primary need is actually the need to be a part of something bigger than themselves–something signficant.  This makes sense to Christians.

But any legitimate need can be fulfilled in illegitimate ways.  For example, the need for acceptance and significance can lead to manipulation and being overly concerned with what others think.  The need for self-esteem and significance can lead to pride or arrogance.

And while our culture seems to elevate individuals with a healthy pride–or at least tolerates celebrities and athletes with over inflated egos–Scripture paints a different picture.

Our culture values power, Scripture values strength–but a strength seasoned with compassion, which produces a self-controlled strength.
Our culture values self-sufficiency, but this often leads to isolation and loneliness and Scripture paints a picture of inter-dependence.
Our culture challenges men to be in control and to stand out, while Scripture teaches men to be servant leaders.

When we begin to ask the question, “What are the natural or ‘fleshly’ motivations, desires and intents of the heart?” we see three larger categories: pride, fear and strong desire.

While these three are inter-related, feeding off each other and influencing each other–to better understand and deal with our heart issues, we need to spend time looking at each area.

Pride
The problem of pride is driven by cultural expectations and man’s yielding to the flesh.
So what should a godly man look like?  How should a godly man deal with pride?

So what should our response be?

Thinking correctly about yourself

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV)
Romans 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. (ESV)

Realize it is a heart issue

Proverbs 3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (ESV)
Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (ESV)
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (ESV)
Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: 8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, 9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (ESV)
Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (ESV)

Remove and Replace

One cannot simply stop being proud or arrogant.  This like many (if not all) areas of sin requires a life of repentance leading to a remove and replace process.

 2 Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (ESV)

So what do we replace pride with?

Ephesians 4:1-6  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (ESV)

What will counteract our tendency toward pride?  Seeing the value of people.  How do we learn to value people? Notice the progression in Ephesians 4.

Understand there is only one God who is father over all–we’re all related.
Understand that one God provided the same salvation you value, to others–they are as special as you are.
Understand that God created us for community which requires maintaining unity, yielding a solid bond of peace.
How can we maintain unity and peace?
By carrying or supporting others in love.
This will require patience.   When do you need patience–when people are not easy to get along with, when situations are not what we want them to be.
How should we be patient–gently.
So humility is the opposite of pride and it is demonstrated in gentleness and patience.

Do you want to overcome pride?  Be closely related to people–carry their weaknesses, deal with their idiosyncrasies. Begin to focus less on less on your accomplishments, your rights, instead focus on their strengths and help them be successful.

This is not easy–but will be rewarded.

In the meantime–enjoy this.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYxWcU5n15E

Lord, I want a new heart

Lord, I want a new heart

I gave you one

Lord, I want a renewed heart

I gave you my Word

But Lord, I know your Word

But you don’t know me

 

Lord, I need help

I gave you my Spirit

Lord, I don’t see Him

I gave you my people

But Lord, I need a miracle

But you have had one (new birth)

 

Lord, how should I behave with your people?

Like you would with me

Lord, I try and fail, they make it so hard

It’s not them, look at your idols

But Lord, I worship only you, not idols

But you have idols of the heart

 

Lord, show me the idols of my heart

Look at me

Lord, if I look at you, how will I see my idols

That’s the point

But Lord, what will I see?

Glory beyond belief

Goodness without hypocrisy

Grace without measure

Do you want to know more?

 

Yes Lord, please

I am

All-powerful but not capricious

Eternal and transcendent yet compassionate and concerned

Unchanging and infinite yet I reveal myself in simplicity

Incomprehensible yet knowable though undefinable

Holy, unique and distinct but not distant, but only approachable on my terms

Independent, self-existent with the desire to bless man by seeking and allowing them to worship

Purposeful not manipulated by outside motives, what I do is always eternally just, right and good

Omnipresent therefore available

Omniscient therefore never surprised

Righteous yet merciful

Just yet graceful

Good not corrupt or corruptible and incapable of erring

Loving and therefore giving what is best and needed, but wise not always giving you what you want

All-sufficient, needing nothing but desiring your all

All-glorious, most perfect, most awesome yet stoop down to relate to man and share my likeness and image

All-knowing and I want to be known

 

Lord, WOW!

Now you understand

Lord, will knowing this replace the idols in my heart?

Do you love me?

Lord, you know that I do

Then relate in love with my people

But Lord

Do you want to bring me glory?

Yes, Lord

That’s better

What Lord?

Yes

To bring me glory you must know me and love me and love people

 

Lord, I’ll try harder

No

What Lord?

Not effort, surrender

 

Lord, you want me to give up?

No, give in

Give in to me,

My character

My will

My plan

Lord, what will I have to surrender?

All

 

Oh, Lord, I will need your help

Absolutely

Lord, will you help me

You are helpless, I must help you

 

Thank you Lord

Gratitude is a great start to a renewing heart

Lord I need you

Come close

All you need I will supply

 

©Stephen C. Kilgore  2006

Ezekiel 14:1-11

 

 

The Heart, part 1

This week I started a new series with a group of men–it includes three separate but related topics all connected by the concept of “The Heart.”  And since it is a series particularly for men, The Heart of a Man.

John Calvin said, “Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

Understanding Who God is is critical.  But we must also know ourselves.  And that is not as easy as it seems.  Read thsot_300.jpgese words, from Jeremiahs 17:9-10.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (ESV)

Our hearts are corrupt and we can’t fully understand the core of who we are.  I am convinced this is why we tend to rationalize so much.  Or why we seek to pass off our weaknesses rather than owning them.  But more than that, in our culture that so values image–at least the projection of image–we don’t take close enough inventory of our hearts to truly understand what is going on.  And as the passage says, the core (heart) is naturally corrupt, so unchecked–really, without being transformed–the heart will eventually spill over when the pressure rises.

That is exactly what Jesus taught.

Luke 6:43-45
43  “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.  45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (ESV)

And what the Saga put succinctly.

Proverbs 27:19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. (ESV)

So, the real us is what is within the core–the Heart.  Which is a mystery to us, but not to God (Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 139).

Therefore, for real transformation–not behavioral modification or cultural sanitation of our behavior–to occur it must take place in our hearts.  Our motivations and beliefs must be transformed.

What are the elements that are needed for heart transformation?
1. A better image of God

The deepest kind of transformation takes place in us when we become so deeply impressed with God and His purposes in and through our lives that our will, our volition, becomes engaged in the process of change and growth. Richard Averbeck

May we gaze at His glory.

2. A process of removal and replacement

2 Timothy 2:22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (ESV)

Or as Paul states it in Colossians 3 “put off” and “put on”. (See also Ephesians 4:17-24)

The process of removal and replacement is not just related to sin, for that could easily lead to behavior modification.  The removal and replacement often relates first and foremost to our way of thinking.  So there are things we need to unlearn in order to learn correctly.  In this process we will need to ask the questions, “What are the beliefs, behaviors or practices you observe (or others show you) that need to be removed so that biblical beliefs, behaviors and practices can be learned and applied?”

This process of fleeing and pursuing is the life of the gospel lived every day. The gospel, the good news that in Jesus Christ there is the availability of a relationship with a holy God. A relationship made possible by the provision of Jesus as a substitution for all our sins–sins we could not remove for ourselves, but which must be dealt with in order to have a relationship with God.  This all sufficient provision in Christ is received through the process of repentance and faith.  This process of transferring our trust from ourselves to Christ through the acknowledgment of our sin and the provision of salvation is to be the model of our lives.  Yes, there is a point at which we enter into this eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  But also, our lives lived with and for Him are to be gospel driven–knowing the inexhaustible grace He bestows, knowing our inability to change ourselves, requires us to continually live in surrender, confessing our inability and sin and accepting His continual unconditional forgiveness.

But this process is not a process of defeat or discouragement–even in the face of besetting sins.  There is great hope in the gospel.  The hope is a new heart.

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (ESV)
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]