The Window to the Heart

The Window to the Heart

Starvation. Hunger. Disease. Devastation. Death. Jeremiah’s heart was broke.  As he was looking around at the war-ravaged city of Jerusalem he saw pain, sorrow and suffering.  His eyes perceived the damage the Babylonian siege had caused.  His heart was impacted by what he saw visually with his eyes.  It is against this background we have this verse: Mine eye affecteth mine heart because of all the daughters of my city. (Lamentations 3:51)

In the middle of Jeremiah’s lamentation, he shares a universal truth that can be applied to every area of life.  IF you are blessed with eyesight, the application of this verse can change your life.

What we look at impacts our heart.  What we gaze upon influences our brain.  What we stare at informs our decisions.  The human eye can be the window of the heart. Here are several examples:

  • If I constantly “window shop” my heart will grow discontent with what I do not have – yet.
  • If I continually scroll through Amazon, my heart will desires things I may never truly need.
  • If a look at a beautiful person is nurtured and cuddled in my mind, it could become lust in my heart. Longing for someone that does not “belong” to us is sin – according to Jesus.
  • If I watch lots of TV or are constantly online, my eyes will see thousands of commercials that are designed to “pull at my heart strings” to cause me to buy their product. I tend to chuckle when I see doctor commercials: “Get sick so you can see me.” Or funeral home ads: “If you die, we can help!”
  • Media studies suggest that Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads each day. (redcrowmarketing.com) “Mine eye affected mine heart” is a truth believed by advertising agencies. They have believed it for years.
  • Have you ever become hungry after seeing a commercial for a restaurant, soda, or chocolate?  It could be be after all your meals for the day, but the impact of the eye affects your heart – and your stomach.

What are you looking at?  Who are you looking to?  Where you keep your eyes focused is eventually where your heart will lead you.  That is why it is paramount to keep your eyes on Jesus.  As Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.  Keep you focus on Jesus.

  • Do you find yourself unsatisfied in life? Look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself “wanting more” things this world offers? Get your eyes off the stuff and look to Jesus.
  • Do you find yourself without direction and purpose? Stop looking at the wrong things and get your eyes on Jesus.

Let what you look at impact your heart to cause a better view of Jesus.  Clean up the windowsill of your heart.  Guard your eyes.  Be disciplined with the TV.  Direct the eyes of your kids. Set Jesus in the window of your life (your eyes) and let your heart follow Him.

Find contentment in Jesus.

 

 

 

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The “Value Equation”

The “VALUE EQUATION” 

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 5:10

More money and more stuff that money can buy will not satisfy the deepest needs of your heart.  Because we tend to overvalue money and stuff, we can get caught into bad spending habits.  Today, please consider the God given stewardship He has entrusted to you.

How much is money worth to you?  How much are the items you buy worth to you?  What value do you place on the new TV, Phone, Car, etc.???

We can work the math to determine our money and materialistic values.  The “Value Equation” takes into account how much money you make per hour and then divides the total cost of the item you hope to purchase to then tell you how many hours you need to work to buy that item.  For example:

Suppose you make $15 per hour and work 40 hours per week.

Let’s say a new TV will cost $640. You make: $15 an hour.  (Divide cost of item by hourly wage.)

How many hours does it take you to buy the TV?  42.6 hours of work or nearly a full week of work.  That is how you determine value.  Is the TV worth it?  Should you save up a little longer?  Should you wait for the TV to go on sale or consider a different model?  Are discount codes and coupons worth looking for and using this purchase?

Have you ever said “It is only $5?”  That is about 20 minutes of work (at $15/hour).  Looking at money and value this way will help you make better fiscal decisions.

A new iPhone is $800.  800/15 = 53.3.  It will take a person 53.3 hours of work to be able to buy an iPhone.  Factor in all the other real needs you have and the iPhone may not be worth 6 long days of work to.

Remodeling a room in your house? Let’s say a new remodel is $3000.  That is 200 hours of work or 5 weeks of work (at $15/hour and 40 hours per week). Again, the power, gas, and water bill must be paid and you still must eat each day and feed your family.  Consider the insurance bill comes every 6 months and the house payment is a big portion of your budget.  It may be a good idea to save up a little longer to do the remodel.

IF Christians understood the value of money, while learning not to love money, we would become better stewards of the money God has entrusted to us.  “How much is it?” is not the best question to ask.  “How much do I value it?” is better. Greater still, “Is this what God would have me to purchase?” Ask the Lord to help you become better disciplined with His finances.

 

 

 

The Bodies Were Still Warm

The Bodies Were Still Warm

Blame.  Who is to blame?  500+ people shot, nearly 60 dead. The worst shooting scene in American history.  The dead bodies of the concert goers were still warm when people began to play the “blame game.”

Politicians began to politicize.  The Media began its narrating and spinning. Conspiracy theorist started to make their guesses.

Some blamed Isis.  Others blamed the US Constitution and the Second Amendment.  Still others even went so far as to blame Christians.   Other ideas from “white males” to the President, drugs, and even money were brought up.

What was the shooters motive?  Was there only one shooter?  Is there more to the story? How long did it take to plan for this?  Early news reports are just that – early.

Some commenting on this event are so violent (in their mind) that they even suggested that “white colored, country music fans” deserved to be killed because they were most likely Republican!

Vilifying one another, casting blame, and trying to legislate morality does not actually address the deeper issue here.

Why do bad things like this happen?

Sin is the cause of all heartache, pain, loss, suffering, and death.  Sinful thinking leads to sinful deeds.  Theologians call this “Origional Sin.” That is the problem. All. Problems. Stem. From. Sin.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”  What is in the heart of man is what eventual comes out.

Adam and Even introduced sin into this world.  Mankind is to blame for our own sin.  God is not the originator of sin.  He allows mankind to make choices.  Adam chose rebellion and disobedience. He chose sin.  We have had to live with the consequences since then.

While you may never take another persons’ physical life, Jesus taught that hating people is the same as murdering them.  Read the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters 5-7.  Try, with God’s help, to live that way.

How did we get here?  How is it that new records of evil and atrocities are being recorded in our lifetimes?   Where we live?  How?

Romans 1:21 tells us: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

Instead of valuing God, we value money.  Instead of valuing truth, we value what is convenient.  Instead of loving our neighbor, we are loving ourselves… to death.

Examine your heart.  Are you living in spiritual darkness?  Those who commit such acts have been living in darkness for some time.  Come to the light today.  Believe in Jesus.  Become a Christian and then enjoy a daily relationship with Him.  God is love!  He wants us to love one another.

No matter if we ever find the motivation, or if accomplices are ever uncovered, we can know that our fallen sinful nature is blame.

As a whole, these United States are no longer submitting and yielding to Jesus, the author of love and peace.  As a result, we are divided.  People are being unkind to one another. And sadly, more tragedies will unfold.

Pray. Ask the Lord to help us to turn back to Jesus.  Turn to your neighbor with love and kindness. And look for ways to show kindness to your fellow man.

If you have not yet believed in the Gospel, please go to the “How to go to Heaven” section on this site to learn how to be forgiven of your sins and be saved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Politics Do Not Matter

The Politics Do Not Matter

Kneeling during the Anthem, drinking Gatorade in the locker room during the unfurling of the flag, and protesting on team time is a growing trend among many American athletes today.

When it comes to the interaction of the citizen and the government leaders of a country, respect must be the underlying principle.  As our country becomes increasingly sinful, some have suggested that the Constitution is out of date or is no longer useful.  Quite the contrary; the Constitution is not broken, the people are.  Our nation, like every other nation in history is following a path to destruction because we have, as a whole, denied the truth.  Human nature is full of sin, rebellion, and selfishness.  The main reason things are the way they are is because we are… people.  Whenever a group of people no longer fear God, read the Bible, or have respect for Biblical values, there will be an increase in troubles.

Back to the flag, kneeling, and protesting on team (company) time.  The Bible says that Christians are to respect the government and governmental leaders.  Subjection, while unnatural to a man full of pride, should be the goal of the Christian filled with the Spirit of God.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians about their relationships towards their government:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.  Romans 13:1-4

It is apparent that the Lord wants to save the lost leaders from their sin just as much as He saved the Christian from his sins.  The Lord can even use the believers response and attitude of respect to challenge, encourage, and convict a leader of his need for Jesus.

Our respecting of leaders is demanded and has nothing to do with policy.  Our submission has nothing to do with policies or political party.  Our attitude towards leaders is not to be impacted by the leader’s personality, brashness, or decisions.

Do you know the cultural and societal insanities that were being projected upon the people when Paul wrote to the Roman Christians?

  • Criminals were many times tortured to death in the coliseum.
  • Christians were fed to the lions.
  • Some Christians were burned alive for their faith.
  • The shedding of blood was a popular sport that people would flock to see in the coliseum.
  • Some Roman Emperors even demanded people to worship them as a deity.

No matter how bad some suggest living in America is – we are still living in the most just, least prejudiced, and most advantageous (to personal success) country in the world.  We still have a very relaxed legal system compared to most other countries today.  It is even harder for an American to enter and try to live in other countries of the world.  Proof of work and a verification that you are not taking jobs away from another countries citizen is a general requirement.  Things are relatively easy in America.

Those who complain about poverty are probably more-wealthy than most people in many places of the world.

Work ethic, respect for others, personal discipline, and a peaceful existence lends itself to a more productive life than protesting, walking around streets late at night, inciting riots, and sitting around complaining on the internet.

I encourage you to pray for our leaders. Respect those the Lord has placed over us.  Participate in government with a good attitude.  Work at loving your neighbor.

The political party nor the particular person does not diminish the Lord’s command to be subject to and show honor to our leaders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Being Remade?

Are You Being Remade?

We used to live in a place in the great state of Tennessee that had beautiful red clay.  All the dirt around our house was clay.  We could barely dig a hole in that clay!  It was some tough dirt.

The Lord likens our lives to clay.  Clay that a potter uses is moldable, pliable, and shapeable.  The hard clay that is dry, hard, and un-moldable is not useful to the potter.

The Lord speaks of Jeremiah’s people, Israel, in Jeremiah 18.  The Lord wanted to do more than just repair them; He wanted to remake them.

Jeremiah 18:1-10 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.  Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Recently, we were looking at a wall in a room in our house.  The wall needed some construction attention.  Drywall and drywall mud is kind of like clay. We had hoped to repair the drywall, but there was so much damage, we needed to start over with the wall.  We tore the whole wall out and put new sheet-rock up in its place.  Instead of repairing the wall, we remade the wall.

Repairs to walls or pottery will generally leave a mark.  A cracked vessel will reveal the repair when light is shined on it.  A section of wall that has been repaired will be evident as it does not match up exactly.

Starting over and remaking a clay pot will make the old broken vessel new, useful, and valuable.  Repairs to vessels, such as a pot, do not always hold water the right way.  They may not fulfill their intended function.  Remaking it -makes it over again – the way it was intended to be in the first place.

As Christians, we do not want to merely repair ourselves.  We want to be remade by the Lord.  We do not want to be remade into a “better image of ourselves.”  We want to be remade into the image of Jesus.

When dealing with other people, please know that if they have a submissive heart to the Lord, then He is remaking them into His image.  Be patient with other people.  Be thankful for the Master Potter Who is shaping the lives of those Christians around you.

Take one turn on the potter’s wheel to apply this truth to yourself.  Be pliable clay and let the Lord shape and mold you.  Do not grow dry and unuseful.  Be moldable into the image of Jesus. Be thankful that the Master Potter is still working on you to make you the new person that God wants you to be – more like Jesus.

Pray each day to have a heart and life that is submissive to the will of the Master Potter. Are you being Remade?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sour Life

The Sour Life

A little sour goes a long way with me.  A little lemon is good, not a lot.  Do you like rhubarb/strawberry pie?  Grandma Harness used to make that a lot.  I also enjoy rhubarb crisp.  Each year we harvest our own rhubarb and are sure to put a lot of real sugar in the crisp  because of how sour the rhubarb is! I even like some of the “Sweet and Sour” candies made today.  Sour foods taste bitter, acidic, and tart.  My palate can handle only so much.  I like sweet much better.

When it comes to relationships, sour, is not something that you want your life to be described as.  Christians do not want their outlook to be “sour.”  Our relationships should not taste sour and our emotional/spiritual perspective should not be bitter.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…” Hebrews 12:15

One funny story goes like this: “Two writers who were bitter rivals were both attending the same party. One had recently had a book published, and the other commented to him, “I read your new book and liked it. Who wrote it for you?”

The other replied, “I’m glad you liked the book, who read it to you?””   (6,000 Plus)

Two simple observations of the devastating effects of bitterness include:

  1. Bitterness troubles the one who is bitter. This includes a guilty conscience, irrational reasoning, with confused anger and responses to others.
  2. Bitterness affects the people around the one who is bitter. A husband affects his wife.  A wife affects her husband.  Parents will impact their kids. While some believe a self-propagated lie that “my bitterness only affects me” – the truth is “many be defiled” by one person’s bitterness.

Some people are bitter about their childhood and upbringing.  Some are still angry with their parents for schooling, sports, discipline, and other areas.  Some people are bitter towards childhood acquaintances from school, church, or teams they played on.  Others develop hatred in college, towards their “first romance” or even in the first real job.  Some are in relationships with people right now and are allowing unresolved issues, anger, selfishness, pride, or misunderstandings sour their outlook on life.

A basic practice of Bible Christianity is “self-examination.”  Considering the Word of God, are you harboring any level of bitterness towards someone?  Here are several identifiable characteristics of bitterness that can help you in your self-assessment:

  • Obsessive thoughts of revenge
  • Sarcasm
  • Critical or unkind comments
  • Self-righteousness
  • Conflicts with others
  • Aggressiveness in relationships
  • Controlling behavior

Bitterness will wreak havoc on a person and their family.  Being bitter will bloom into many other areas of sin; neglect, hostility, and wrong thinking.  The fruit produced by bitterness will be a life of regret, an outlook of despair, and a heart of hatred.

If any of the characteristics of bitterness are found in you, do everything you can, with God’s help, to get it pulled out of your life.  What should a bitter person do?

  • Confess the bitterness as sin.
  • Identify the source: jealousy, anger, rage, fear, pride.
  • Ask other people to pray for you. This demonstration of humility makes it clear that you mean business.
  • Ask for another Christian to hold you accountable when you exhibit any of the characteristics of bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those you have impacted directly with bitterness.
  • Ask forgiveness of those who were indirectly impacted because of your bitterness.
  • Restore your relationship with God. The vertical relationship with Jesus is directly impacted by your horizontal relationship with other human beings. Getting relationships right with others is one way to get your relationship right with God.
  • Be happy in Jesus!  Don’t live “the sour life!”

 

 

(“Characteristics of Bitterness” – Guide to Biblical Counseling.  Clinton and Hawkins.)

 

 

 

 

The Majors

The Majors

Any ball player wants to make it to the “next level.”  Making it to the “majors” is the dream of many American boys.  Major League Baseball is full of talented ball players who made it a lifestyle to be focused on the basics of baseball.  They honed their talent with drive, and work ethic to become the best at throwing, catching, and hitting a ball.  They paid attention to the details of the most fundamental aspects of the game and they made it to the majors.  They developed good balance with the bat, in their stance, and in their placement in the field.

When it comes to Bible study, we should focus on the fundamentals as well.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Have you ever met a person that seems to have an imbalance in their life? Perhaps he is addicted to a hobby and all he talks about is his hobby.  Perhaps she is constantly talking about her fingernails or shoes.

A hobby is only one part of life.  Finger nails and shoes, while important, are only one part of life.  There is much more to a person’s time (Work, worship, service) and appearance (clothing and disposition etc.).

Sometimes we get our priorities and preferences all “out of balance.”   When it comes to Bible interpretation, some get things out of balance as well.

Clarity in doctrine is one reason we study the Bible.  Paul instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

We should “major on what the Bible majors on and minor on what the Bible minors on.”  In scholarly terms, there are “major doctrines” and “minor doctrines.”  While all doctrine is important, the Lord chose some doctrines to be more pronounced in the Scriptures.  These are fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

People who know very little about the Bible, do not read it often, or only rely on what they have occasionally heard taught, can fall into the trap of making minor doctrine – major.   They could make mountains out of molehills.

People who study the Bible much, read daily, and listen to a lot of teaching can also fall into the same trap.  Theirs could be riding a hobby horse.

Common major doctrine themes include: The Character of God, The Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Deity of Jesus, Salvation, (including the blood atonement, justification, sanctification, redemption, and imputation), Bibliology (the study of the Bible), the church, and future things.  Love, mercy, grace, redemption, forgiveness, judgment, holiness, and righteousness are also major themes.  And. Much. More.  These are the fundamentals.

If a person takes one word, or one mention from the Bible and builds an entirely new doctrine on it, I would avoid that person and his teaching.

“Take heed” to Bible doctrine in your life.  Have “Bible Balance” in your life to major on what God majors on – in His Word.   Focus on the fundamentals.  Don’t strike out when it comes to the fundamentals of the faith.  Become a “Major League Bible” student.