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Archive for the tag “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


“The eyes are the window to the soul”

ThingsWeSawThis saying comes from the passage in Matthew 6:22-23 that says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Eye contact often establishes a connection even in people who are just talking together. We can look into the eyes of our children, or our spouses, and see more than what they are saying verbally.  The passage in Matthew emphasizes that we need to be careful what we look at. David mentioned being careful what we gaze upon in Psalm 101:3. So did Job in Job 31:1.

At a place I used to work, we had to keep the TV on the news all of the time, in case a major event occurred. I found that when I watched the news, with all the controversy and commentaries, I got agitated and unsettled at the wrong going on in the world. I had to make a decision to not watch the news and avoid certain parts of the newspaper (I found the comics are pretty safe).

Truth takeaway: While not explicitly expressed in the Bible, the eyes’ connection to the soul is undeniable. It’s a good idea for us to guard what we read and look at.

Stopping to Re-Crew

W198336_10152272374215006_177255559_nhen a train goes across country, every now and then it changes crews. A fresh crew gets on and drives the train another several hundred miles. After 12 hours the crew gets government mandated rest. This way they’re fresh and rested before operating another train.

In a mens’ study our church did one of the questions it asked us to look at pertained to belief. One night the session brought up these: We often know something and then convince ourselves that we believe it. We may know something is true but our belief is what we act – what we live on. Many Christians cover the lies we believe with the knowledge we have acquired in church. With that, they say, it’s not possible to live contrary to what I believe. It is possible to live contrary to what I think I believe.

So my question to me (and you) is this: What do I really believe? About God. About his moral standards. About marriage. About…anything.

After a few weeks of digging deep for my own answers I’ve come to the conclusion. I need to keep digging. It’s time for me to step off the train and get some mandated rest. And get some answers.

I have a few more posts I’ve written that I’ll put up so they’ll publish. Once those are done this blog will be on hiatus for awhile.

Thank you for your understanding.

“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.



“They’re my rock”

Crumbled RockI’ve heard people say “so-and-so is my rock” all my life. Lately it has made me think about what they meant. I looked it up on an online slang dictionary and it said the “rock” is someone who’s supportive to a person or helped them through a difficult time.

It reminds me of that Bible story about the house built on the rock and the house built on the sand. What happened to the house not built on the rock? It fell. Yet so often when I’ve heard people say this, they’re talking about another person. People who are made up of dirt (sand) and will return to being dirt (sand). The house built on the real rock, Jesus, stood through the storm.

What’s wrong with another human being – mom, dad, preacher – being a rock for someone? They die. They move away. They falter. They make mistakes. They fall.

Maybe I’ve been let down by people too much. Perhaps that’s why I can’t understand why someone would want to make “their rock” another person. Especially when I hear other believers say this. What kind of personal relationship do they have with God their Creator that they see it better to trust in another person, rather than the all-powerful source of love?

There’s only one person I know I can talk to and hear back from knowing that He’s not going to lead me astray, make mistakes, or leave me. The character of God is one of a friend, counselor, and one who walks beside us. This isn’t idealistic or out of reach. It’s Biblical truth.

Psalms 146:3-5 “Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die. Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,”

Truth takeaway: No person can ever function as our “rock.” There’s only one Rock. If it seems strange to call on God to be a Rock, I encourage anyone to try. He’ll be there when all the dirt-rocks have crumbled away.

Who is your “rock” and why?

(Top image courtesy of here)ThingsWeSaw

“Forgive and forget.”

We know we’re supposed to forgive someone that hurt us. That’s not easy to do. Some of the difficulty is because the one who’s been hurt thinks that to forgive means “forgive and forget.” They don’t think they can, or don’t want to, “forgive and forget.”

Who can forget being severely harmed? I was  abused growing up. I remember pretty much all of it. I even wrote about one of the spiritual lies I was beat down with here. But a few years ago I chose to forgive. While I remember, I don’t hold it against the abuser.

In Hebrews 8:12 it says God does not “remember” our wickedness. God is all knowing. Yet since He forgave us, He treats us as if the sin never happened.

This is what forgiveness is. It’s letting them off our hook, and treating them accordingly. This does not mean we allow ourselves to be subject to continued abuse and hurt. This does not mean we become their doormat or beating post. They are off our hook, and on God’s hook. We just choose not to hold on to the bitterness, anger, and resentment their hurt caused us. We’re mandated to forgive (Eph. 4:32), since God also forgave us. This includes forgiving ourselves sometimes.

Truth takeaway: Forgiveness doesn’t require forgetting.

What’s a hurt or wrong you’ve held on to because you thought that to forgive someone you had to forget about it as well?




(Image courtesy of here)


“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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