Heart Issues

I was listening to a Mike Bickle sermon a few years ago where he mentioned seven longings of the human heart.  He has since gone on to co-author a book on the subject.  He was clear to say that these are not THE seven, but merely seven which he observed in life and scripture.  Here they are:

To be fascinated
To possess beauty and feel beautiful
To be great and successful
For intimacy without shame
For the assurance of being enjoyed
To be wholehearted and passionate
To make a deep and lasting impact

When I first heard these (and even still today) I felt something well up inside of me.  It hurts to think about these things; I want them that much.  This life has much to offer, but it is not enough…

Hope – Part 1

I learned in elementary school that the first thing you need to solve a problem is a problem. Hope works in the same way. Hope paints a picture of a future day where things will be better than they are today. In painting that picture, hope is a confession that our current situation is not OK. Hope says things won’t always be this way, that I won’t always be this way. Faith is believing that it’s true.

Love Vs. Fear

I think there are really only two motivators in life, love and fear.  Every action I do and every thought I have is motivated by either love or fear.  I’ve observed that my natural or “default” motivator is fear.  Fear of what others will think, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown will direct every aspect of my life unless…

I change my motivation.  Simple concept; swap out ‘A’ for ‘B’, and this has been something that has been a bit of a frustration to be honest.  How do I do something out of love instead of fear?  I can’t just decide to love someone.  I can do kind and loving acts for someone — but to really love them?

I have it all wrong.  My motivation should be love, yes — but not my love for others.  My love for others changes at a whim and is not even something I control.  My motivation is derived from the love I receive from God — His never changing, steadfast, perfect love.

“There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us.”  – 1 John 4:18-19

I am only capable of love because He first loved me.  Step 1 — Receiving God’s love.  I mean REALLY receiving God’s love.  How will I know that I’ve done step 1?  When I do things not because I fear what others think nor because I love them, but because God loves me — I mean really REALLY loves me!

He loves me so much, He gave me a desire to be healthy and fit and a body that is capable of more than I can wrap my head around.

He gave me taste-buds that make eating ENJOYABLE.  Let me tell you, I really enjoy eating.

He gave me a mind that is capable of soaking up knowledge — one that is creative and capable of solving problems.

Most importantly, He paid my debt by dying on a cross so that I could spend eternity with Him forever.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13

Heart Condition

Eyes are healing nicely. X-ray vision still doesn’t work and my ability to see the future is foggy at best. I am now able to finally “see that one coming”. The doctor said that the lame vision jokes should subside with time but there is a rare chance that they will be permanent. I think it was a pre-existing condition…

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matthew 15:18-20

I’m reading Matthew and this was a verse that I clung to this evening. It made me ask the tough question “what is the condition of my heart?” Initially I felt a bit unprepared or unwilling to answer that question because all that came to mind was my bent towards selfishness and my tendency to boast. But as I wrote the question down I asked two more. After studying the verse and jotting down some observations I asked myself:

How do I talk to other people?
Am I encouraging or discouraging? Am I selfless or selfish? Am I humble or am I seeking attention? Do I know what I’m worth to God or am I seeking approval from others?

and

What are my consistent actions like?
Are they selfish or selfless? Are they boastful and proud or are they humble? Are they done out of anger or with grace and mercy? Are they done because I fear man or because I fear God?

I actually drew those sub questions as little continua (I had to look that up, the plural for continuum); they became tools that I can use to evaluate the condition of my heart. I can look at individual actions, thoughts, comments (all of which are indicators of my heart condition) as well as an entire day to see which way I’m leaning; which direction my heart is headed. Much better than my current method that measures my spiritual growth by how much or how little I’m sinning. It was seldom accurate and always led to false heights and very real depths. It’s kind of like a drunk measuring his sobriety – if he has gone 120 days without a drink but every ounce of his being craves alcohol, is he really free? Or if he has gone a year without a drink and relapses does that mean his progress was in vain?

With the “sin level” formula you’re either perfect or your not; and we’re not. We stumble and fall but as the great philosophers of Chumbawamba said “I get knocked down but I get up again, You’re never gonna keep me down”. So when we stumble and fall, we get up again and dwell in that reality that is God’s grace, mercy and love for us – in the fact that He is never surprised nor caught off guard when we sin. I think when we really start living in that grace then we finally allow God to change our hearts. Without grace I keep trying to “do better” and fail miserably every time. But on the days I remember who God is and who I am, there’s no room for guilt and shame or pride that tells me to “do better” – only a growing love and desperation for a God who loves me.