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Archive for the tag “follow your heart”

“To thine own self be true”

This phrase actually has it’s origin in the Shakespeare play, Hamlet. The character Polonius is giving advice to his 18 year old son. He tells Laertes, “Neither a lender or borrower be. This above all; to thine own self be true.” Pastor David Dykes provides this commentary about this phrase:

“It combines two concepts that cannot be ignored: self and truth. Americans are involved in a continual love affair with self. Our mantra has become: Take care of #1. Know yourself, love yourself, and be true to your self. Self has become the basic standard for truth. Americans bow down at the altar of Sovereign Self. How far this is from the words of Jesus spoken in Mark 8:34 when He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Today, we hear, love self; protect self; promote self–and Jesus said, “Deny your self.” He wasn’t talking about denying yourself some thing–like going without food, or pleasure. He meant to deny self’s desire to constantly climb onto the throne of your life.”

The passage he mentions, Mark 8:34-36, Jesus says this,

“If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? What can a man give in exchange for his life?”

Truth takeaway: To God only are we to be true. This idea of being true to our self sounds good, but is self-centered. If we’re true to our Creator, then we’re ultimately true to who we’re really supposed to be – who he created us to be.ThingsWeSaw

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“God wants me to be happy.”

How many times have we heard about, read about, or know someone who excused a decision by this phrase: “God wants me to be happy.”

Does he want us to be happy? Within the bounds of his standards, I believe he does. He wants us to find our happiness in Him. Unfortunately most of the time when people say God wants them to be happy, they’re pursuing happiness apart from God’s will for us.

Biblical happiness isn’t found in stuff of this earth – physical, material, or even emotional. Nowhere in the Bible does God look fondly on one who rebels against his standards. Including for one’s own happiness.

One word that conveys happiness in the New Testament is “makarios.” It’s usually translated as “blessed.” God does want to bless us. But that blessing is most often dependent on our obedience (Ps 103:17-18; Jn 8:31; 2Cor 7:15). “Makarios” is found in the the Sermon on the Mount, and the book of Revelation (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14). Another Greek word is “euthymei” which means “be of good cheer.” This is found in James 5:13. In the OT the Hebrew term is “ashre.” It means “blessed,” “happy,” “elated.” It’s found in 2 Chronicles 9:7. That will be all for today’s ancient language lesson.

God has often asked those that truly follow him to make decisions that will make them unhappy. Choosing not to deny Christ as you’re being martyred doesn’t sound very happy. There are times when exacting revenge on someone would’ve made me a lot happier than forgiving them. This idea of “I deserve to by happy because… And if I’m not happy, I should be allowed to do whatever to be happy. Nothing else matters,” is ridiculous! And I’m talking about born-again believers here.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if someone else is going to get hurt, people will still think that God is blessing their decision. “But God gave us free will.” Yes, he did. We have free will, but it’s not without consequences. If you choose to have unprotected sex with multiple partners, statistically, you will get a non-curable STD. That’s a consequence of free-will. If you choose to be unfaithful to your spouse (even in an internet chat room) you may likely face the consequence of losing your family and home in an ugly divorce.

Truth takeaway: God wants us to be happy in following his will; staying within his standards. Because he knows that’s the the only place real peace and contentment are found. Outside of that, your happiness is irrelevant. What God really wants is personal sanctification (set-apartness) from us.

Freedom takeaway: By living a life where our happiness comes from walking with the Lord in personal holiness, we’ll be truly happy and blessed. We’ll be free from chasing happiness that leads nowhere.

ThingsWeSaw

 

“Follow your heart.”

Popular advice says to “Follow your heart.”  The idea is that if you follow what your heart wants to do, you won’t make a bad decision and everything will go well for you. Can the heart be trusted? Can we let ourselves be led by it?

“The heart isdon't follow your heart more deceitful than anything else, and incurable — who can understand it?” Jer. 17:9

“For from within, out of people’s hearts, come evil thoughts,  [and a whole list of bad things].  All these evil things come from within and defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23. Broken hearts just aren’t found in failed love and romance. Hearts truly broken bring out the worst in people.

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool but he who walks wisely will be delivered” Prov. 28:26. Okay, now I’m not so sure I want to be following my heart around.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Prov 4:23. It seems hard to guard something when you’re following it. These next two passages convey the idea that we are responsible for taking care of our heart, not letting it take care of us:

“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am cleansed from my sin?'” Prov. 20:9. “Don’t gloat when your enemy falls, and don’t let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,” Prov 24:17.

Perhaps we’re supposed to lead our heart, rather than follow it. What we put ourselves into our heart will follow. “…guide your heart on the right way” (Prov 23:19).

Truth takeaway: Don’t follow your heart. Lead your heart. Guard it and protect it.

Freedom takeaway: When we’re following our heart – our misguided heart – we’re basically giving it control of how we live, decide, and feel. By leading it, we’re taking back direction of our heart. This frees us from the entanglements a fickle heart brings.

Would you rather be a leader to your heart, or a follower of it?

(Images courtesy of here)

Thoughts on Sandy Hook and humanity

Today is the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. This incident lead to months and months of heated debate over gun control vs. gun owner rights. That same day a man stabbed 24 people at a Chinese school. While there were no fatalities you can be certain the emotional and psychological trauma is still causing pain, just as it is in Newtown.

When these events occur there’s always debates and discussion on how to prevent tragedy from occurring again. Our society, especially lawmakers, seem to think that if we place more boundaries on people (gun control, curfews, more security, more restrictions) then it will make us a safer people. Like ibuprofen brings down a fever, these measures do work, to a degree. They are not a solution though.
We get sick because of an infection caused by a virus or bacteria. We treat the symptoms with medicine (e.g. ibuprofen for pain and fever). We might feel a little better but the only way we feel well is when the invading germs are gone.

We can make laws to corral ourselves into a fenced area and tell ourselves, “These are our boundaries.” It might prevent humans from being inhuman to other humans, but I doubt it. Men’s hearts invent all sorts of evil (Ps 140:2, Mark 7:21-22). That’s why humanism is a dead-end philosophy. It’s why the idea of following one’s heart is a path to nowhere. This stuff happens because of a corrupt heart (Jer 17:9) and only a spiritual transplanting of the heart can fix it. Education won’t. Money won’t. Being “good people” won’t either.

Consider the passages:
Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Psalm 119:2,10 “I seek you with all my heart”
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding”
Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.”
Matthew 22:37-40 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
Romans 5:5 “because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

I’m not talking about reading the Bible, going to church, and trying to be better people. I’m not talking about being religious. I’m talking about throwing up our hands, knowing our hearts are corrupt and we can’t fix them. Then allowing  God, through belief in those passages to give us new hearts. That’s where real change will start.

Truth takeaway: The problems with this world (even with some who call themselves “Christians”) is a dead heart. From that dead heart we seek life through our own wisdom and knowledge of what we think is best – we follow our hearts. The only way to get real life is to ask God for it and believe we will receive it directly from God himself.

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