Tag Archives: Heart

My Heart, Your Home – A Poem

My heart is a mansion

where Christ dwells

The parlor filled with

His mercy

The kitchen overflows with

His love

 

But in a back room

locked up tight

dwell fear, doubt,

and guilt

Sometimes late at night

they make their escape

Squatters wreaking havoc

throughout the house

 

My Savior has promised

to evict these intruders

by His Spirit—

not a spirit of timidity

but of power and of grace

 

“Be strong and courageous”

“Do not fear for I will not leave you

or forsake you”

“There is no condemnation in Me”

These are the promises

that restore harmony and hope

to the mansion that is my heart

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Heart of Mankind

I read this quote by Nelson Mandela posted on Facebook the other day:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

At first glance this quote seems right and a wonderful sentiment. And it is partly true — people can be taught to love and the objects of hatred are often taught. But I’m not sure I agree with the idea that no one is born hating. If no human being was ever born hating then who taught mankind to hate? It had to start somewhere.

In Genesis we see Cain expressing hatred for his brother Abel — hatred so strong it led him to commit the first murder. If Cain was not born with that propensity to hate, then who taught him to hate his brother? Surely it wasn’t his parents, Adam and Eve. What did they know of hatred? Only what they had learned from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but I doubt they would have taught that knowledge to Cain and suggest that it was the better course.

After several generations had passed after that first act of hatred by Cain, the Bible tells us, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5 (NIV). Nothing has changed since that time.

I believe that envy, jealousy, selfishness, and pride, which lead to hatred, are all more natural to the human heart than love. I know that when I once looked into my own heart, this is what I saw. Even now there are times when those feelings can so easily rear their ugly head. I doubt that I am so different from other people in this regard, and yet so many fail to see the defects in their own hearts but want to believe that love comes more naturally to them.

Not only can we be taught to love, we must be taught to love. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV). Apart from God, and the knowledge of His great love and mercy, the inclinations of the human heart continue to be towards evil. Love flourishes in the human heart and overcomes hatred and selfishness only where love is taught.

Thankfully, “God is love,” 1 John 4:8 (NIV), and He is willing to change the human heart that trusts in Him.

5 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life

The Dangers of Following Your Heart

In a few weeks I am going to a Casting Crowns concert with a friend. One of the opening bands is Sanctus Real. Since I wasn’t familiar with their music I decided to get their newest CD to listen to before the concert. The whole CD, called “Pieces of a Real Heart,” is pretty good. But as usually happens with a new CD one song in particular stood out for me. It’s called “Dear, Heart.” I found this great video of it on YouTube with cute stick figures.

This song reminded me of a passage from Jeremiah:

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
      and desperately wicked.
      Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
      and examine secret motives.
   I give all people their due rewards,
      according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NLT).

It got me thinking about how my own heart has led me into trouble, looking for love and happiness where it can’t be found. I know sometimes my heart fools me into thinking material possessions will provide happiness.

One thing that has been on my mind lately has been my jewelry collection. I like jewelry, a lot, and I own more than a person could possibly need. I even sometimes pride myself on getting jewelry for a good price. But jewelry doesn’t really provide me with the love and happiness I need to truly live. I’ve been wondering lately how I would feel if tomorrow it was all gone. I know that if I think I can’t live without it then I’ve let my heart deceive me.

Greater than all the jewels of the world is the love of Jesus, and no one can ever take that away from me. I pray that my desire for material possessions – jewelry or otherwise – never get between me and my God.

6 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music, postaday2011

The Artistry of God

I often wonder how anyone can look at the natural world around them — at the trees and flowers, the grasses of the field, the variety of birds, fish, and animals, the sun, moon, and stars in the sky — and not see God’s artistry. How can someone think that all of this interconnected and complex world happened by random accident? In short, I do not understand atheists.
 
I can understand agnostics, those who believe there is a creator but that they don’t know who He is and don’t know which religion is correct. There is so much information, and misinformation, about various religions that it can be difficult to find God in all of it. Even within the Christian faith there are different views of God, some of which are not in accordance with the scriptures. 

Pasayten Wilderness

But the person who says there is no creator of this world seems to me to simply be illogical and irrational. The Bible tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1. Thinking of this inspired a short story that I wrote for the blog Idylls for the King that I contribute to. It’s called “The Artist.” Even if a person does no know God, to believe that this world has no creator is akin to believing a painting can come into existence without a painter, or a watch without a watchmaker, or a house without a carpenter, an electrician, a plumber, a carpet layer, and many more.

I recently read a comment on a fellow blogger’s post in which the commenter claimed to have been a Christian for many years, and to know all about the Bible and to have read many Christian books. But now, she wrote, she was an atheist. I almost cried when I read this. It seems though she had gained head knowledge of the scriptures over the years she had not gained a heart knowledge of God Himself. And she had forgotten the wonder of the world He created for us to enjoy and care for.

Since this is Music Monday, I have to admit that part of what got me thinking about this whole topic was a song by Revive, whose music I was listening to a lot last week. This song is called “Something Glorious” and is set to some beautiful photographs of our wonderful world in this video.

So how does someone look at something as glorious and beautiful as a sunset, or the rainforest, or a snow-capped mountain in the distance and not see God? I think maybe it is because they focus too much on the evil in this world and can’t see the good just beyond their view. I’ve often heard the argument that if there was a God, there would not be so much violence, famine, sickness, and pain in the world, because a good and all-powerful God would just fix all the problems. But this argument completely discounts the role humans play in taking care of (or failing to take care of) the wonderful gift God has given us.

Imagine you were given a beautiful watch. The watchmaker tells you that you can’t put it under water or it won’t work as well. He also says it needs to be cleaned every year or it will gather dust that will cause it not to work properly or keep good time. You also know that if you don’t want the watch face scratched you have to be careful when you wear it.

Nonetheless, you wear your watch all the time, even in the shower or when you swim. You live an active lifestyle and you are often hitting your watch against tools or other objects. Last month you went skiing with it on, and when you wiped out you hit it against a rock that was protruding from the snow (thank goodness you didn’t hit your head!). You’ve had the watch for five or six years, but you’ve never had it cleaned. When you put it on this morning you noticed how dingy and banged up it looked, and that it had lost quite a bit of time. In fact, it was barely running.

What do you think at this point? Do you blame the watchmaker for how poorly your watch now runs? No, because it was your lack of care for the watch that led to it running poorly. Do you complain that the watchmaker didn’t come knocking at your door every time you abused the watch and fix your mess, or come insist on cleaning it when you didn’t ask him to? No, it’s your watch and it’s in your care, it’s your  responsibility to take care of it and ask the watchmaker to clean it when necessary. Do you decide that there was no watchmaker in the first place? Of course not, that would be foolish.

So why, then, do some people think that what we have done to this earth and what we as humans do to each other is evidence that there is no God? Why do they expect Him to just come fix everything even when they don’t ask Him to, or even believe that He cares or exists? Such attitudes are things I ponder and do not understand.

18 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music, postaday2011

Worship Turned Upside Down

Last Sunday my Pastor Gary Englert talked about the heart of worship. I have been pondering his message and wanted to share my thoughts on what he said.

Pastor Gary said that in our culture we have been taught to be consumers. Watch just 15 minutes of television, open any magazine, or check out the side of a public transit bus, and you will see that it is true. We are bombarded with advertising telling us that what we want we really need, and that we ought to get it “right now.”

That consumer mentality often spills over into our worship services. We leave church on Sunday asking questions like these:

  • Was I fed by the message today? Did the pastor go too long? Was what he said relevant to me today? Did I like his speaking style?
  • Did I enjoy the songs? Were there enough hymns or contemporary songs for me? Was I pleased by the instruments the worship team used?
  • Did the service end on time so I could get home in time for that game I want to see?
  • Was there more liturgy than I like? Was there not enough liturgy and structure to suit me?
  • Was the worship team dressed appropriately according to what I think is appropriate?

Do you notice how all of these questions have “I” or “me” in them? But not one of them includes “God” or “Jesus”?

Worship should not be about you or me. It should be about God, the only One who is worthy of worship. Speaking of the Pharisees who put their own traditions and desires before the desires of God, Jesus said:

“These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me. 
 They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Matthew 15:8-9 (quoting Isaiah 29:13).

Do we worship Jesus in vain when we put our own desires for how we think a worship service should be run, what kinds of songs should be sung, and how the Word should be preached, ahead of heartfelt adoration of God? Do we forget that worship is about serving God, being in awe of the majesty of God, and giving our whole heart to God, when we focus on “I” and “me” questions?

I am reminded of the song “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman, which starts out like this:

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
All about You, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You Jesus

Worship is not about us, it is about Jesus. A worship service should not be designed with what we want in mind, it should be led by the Holy Spirit. Worship style is not important. A heart of worship is all that matters. Whether we plan, run, or just participate in worship services, our eye should always be only on Jesus and we should want worship to be such that it encourages everyone present to focus on Him alone.

[Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well,] Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24.

Are you worshipping in spirit and in truth? Is your Sunday morning focus on God? Do your worship habits point towards Him or towards your own needs? When you leave church on Sunday morning, do you ask a series of “I” and “me” questions, or do you ask, “Was God glorified by the awe and reverence we all felt in our hearts today?”

As consumers, we’ve turned worship upside down. I think it is time we asked God to set it and our hearts right side up again.

4 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Music, Service