15 items tagged "Heart"

  • 14 Gospel Principles

    In the interest of keeping sight of our ultimate purpose as parents, as well as understanding the big-picture view of God’s plan for us, here are some helpful principles from the book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul Tripp:

    Principle #1 Calling: Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.

    Principle #2 Grace: God never calls you to a task without giving you what you need to do it. He never sends you without going with you. Quit beating yourself up because you feel inadequate. God never intended you to parent separate of Himself.

    Principle #3 Law: Your children need God’s law, but you cannot ask the law to do what only grace can accomplish. If rules and regulations had the power to change the heart and life of your child, rescuing your child from himself and giving him a heart of submission and faith, Jesus would have never needed to come!

    Principle #4 Inability: Recognizing what you are unable to do is essential to good parenting. Our job is not heart change, but to be humble and willing instruments of change in the hands of God.

    Principle #5 Identity: If you are not resting as a parent in your identity in Christ, you will look for identify in your children (and other things). Jesus is your life, and this frees you and your children from the burden of asking them to give you what Jesus has already given you.

    Principle #6 Process: You must be committed as a parent to long-view parenting because change is a process and not an event.

    Principle #7 Lost: As a parent, you’re not dealing just with bad behavior, but a condition that causes bad behavior.

    Principle #8 Authority: One of the foundational heart issues in the life of every child is authority. Teaching and modeling the protective beauty of authority is one of the foundations of good parenting.

    Principle #9 Foolishness: The foolishness inside your children is more dangerous to them than the temptation outside of them. Only God’s grace has the power to rescue fools.

    Principle #10 Character: Not all of the wrong your children do is a direct rebellion to authority; much of the wrong is the result of a lack of character.

    Principle #11 False gods: You are parenting a worshiper, so it’s important to remember that what rules your child’s heart will control his behavior.

    Principle #12 Control: The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change.

    Principle #13 Rest: It is only rest in God’s presence and grace that will make you a joyful and patient parent.

    Principle #14 Mercy: No parent gives mercy better than one who is convinced that he desperately needs it himself. Your primary calling as a parent is not first to represent God’s judgement, but rather to constantly deliver his mercy.

    Click here for more resources from Paul Tripp

  • All Words Count

    Matthew 12:33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

    When it came to religion, no one studied, disciplined, and had more zeal than the Pharisees. If a test existed, to show how much knowledge they had or how dedicated they were to their faith, this group of elite religious people would be on the honor roll! But then enters Jesus. Jesus was able to see through the religious veneer and go straight for the heart, as he always does. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…” This would have been quite the statement to hear. During those days, spiritual growth and maturity had always been measured by external factors, but with these words, Jesus is flipping that on its head! Jesus is forcing these people, as well as us, to look within and start evaluating what’s really happening internally.

    Pharisees despise introspection. To introspect is to take an honest look within ones’ heart. We then have to take responsibility for what we find. What are we producing? Is the fruit coming forth something we really want to share with others? Is it spoiled or ripe? The reality is, what comes out of our hearts was already there to begin with. If bitterness, envy, malice and the like are flowing from our mouths, we can be certain they have been festering in our hearts for some time. Our hearts are always revealing themselves, especially at home. We can put up a great front in public, like the Pharisees, but at home our hearts are on full display. How do we speak to our spouses after a long day at work? When our kids continuously push all the right buttons, how are we responding? How do we speak of others (i.e. from church, work, etc.) in front of our families?

    Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Every word out of our mouth counts. It’s either building someone up or it’s tearing them down. Let’s make sure we allow the Lord to do the heart work in our lives, to ensure the fruit that is produced is not spoiled but will be ripe to bless others!

  • Are you passing the test?

    Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.  You also be patient.  Establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand...My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.  Indeed we count them blessed who endure.  You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James5:7-11 NKJV)

    It has been said that character develops daily, not in a day. If you continue to do the heart work, which is typically hard work, daily victories compound and the inevitable result is growth over time.  How are you handling those daily tests? The tests can appear small, insignificant even or they can also be those moments that can effect every area of your life. 

    Do you have what it takes to pass the test?

    I've always admired Josheph's up and down story and the processit took for him to become the man God created him to be. Before Joseph could ever manage all of the power given to him in Egypt, he first needed to spend some time in God's "slow cooker" seasoning as a slave and prisonerJohn C. Maxwell says, "Only in testing do people discover the nature and depth of their character.  People can say anything they want about their values, but when the pressure is on, they discover what their values really are."

    The pressure was certainly on for Joseph during his early years, but there could have been no other way for growth to take place.  Gold is purified only after it passes repeatedly through the fire.  Diamonds are created only under extreme pressure.  And your character is strengthened only through trials.

    When people react positively to trials, many remarkable things can happen.  Allow your heart to be developed daily.

     

  • Building Character

     

    One of the ways God shows His grace is by using His power and presence to build character into our lives.  Character is the mettle and grit that empowers kids to face life's challenges with confidence.  Character is like the studs, joists, beams, and tie downs in houses that give it strength to take on all of the harsh elements that work it over year after year.  Character is best transferred to a young person's life by the example of someone with whom he or she has a heart connection with.  So when a young person sees their parents, uncle, leader, etc. apply character in their life--especially during the "harsh elements"--the easier it is for the young person to develop these traits in their own life.

    Here are six necessary character traits to instill in our children:

    1. Faith--Becomes a character trait when what we believe starts making moral choices for us.

    2. Integrity--is the moral clarity we depend on to do the right thing even when no one is looking.

    3. Poise--God's presence in a person's life helps him or her remain focused, thinking clearly, and persevering through the ups and downs of life.

    4. Disciplines--Train tracks confine a train, but in so doing, empower it to do an enormous amount of good for people and the marketplace.  A train that leaves it's rails is called a "train wreck".  Train wrecks are a mess and so are the lives of people who dont have disciplines built into the core of their character. 

    5. Endurance--The world is full of quitters.  Young people need to learn to keep going when everyone else would have long given up. (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

    6. Courage--Fear and worry snuff out faith! Much of our efforts in keeping our kids safe or attempting to reduce risk has reinforced the idea that fear and constant worry is normal for Christian.  We must help our kids move beyond their weaknesses and fears to become everything God has called them to be! 

     

    "Grace assumes that children will struggle with wrong behavior, but doesnt overreact to it.  It corrects it as it goes along, but it's true focus is on building character into the child's heart--deliberately and patiently..." -Dr. Tim Kimmel

    Go Deeper:

    Connecting Church and Home

     

  • But then enters Jesus...

    Where people are at their lowest, and where hope is most dismal, in the margins, you will always find Jesus.  Jesus wasn't found eating at the finest restaurants, with the most influential people of his day. He was found willingly touching lepers, eating with messed up people, and breaking all sorts of religious rules. That's our Jesus. He has a niche in finding people who most need acceptance, significance, and hope.

    A few weeks ago 12 students and adults went on a mission trip to Guatemala, to minister to children and prostitutes working on what is called, "The Line". This was probably the most evil place I have ever witnessed. There appeared to be nothing but shame, lust, depression and ultimately, hopelessness. For the majority of these women, they were stuck in this environment with little hope of ever escaping. But then enters Jesus. In the midst of this dark place, a ministry was born called, "El Oasis". Every week, for the past 15 years, a group of people minister to these ladies by simply sharing just how much Jesus loves them. By the power of God, planting seed by seed, lives are being transformed. What was once broken is now being made whole!

    Our hearts, in a lot of ways, are similar to these ladies'. We too, have areas in our hearts we have pushed to the margins. We’ve accumulated shrapnel from broken relationships, disappointment, shame, regret, bitterness, crippling doubt, and hopelessness…all symptoms of a heart beaten back to the margins. Remind yourself of this. Jesus is against all of it. The same way he approaches these ladies, is the same way He approaches you and I. Not with more pain or condemnation…His approach is healing. It's love. And He will never stop pursuing you.

  • Can there be peace?

    Isaiah 9:6-7

    “For unto us a Child is born,
    Unto us a Son is given;
    And the government will be upon His shoulder.
    And His name will be called
    Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
    7 Of the increase of His government and peace
    There will be no end…”

    Every time we watch T.V., listen to the radio, or check social media we are bombarded with updates of just how much our world appears to lack peace. For many today, the idea of peace is far-fetched, almost as if it can only be found in a fairytale. It sounds too good to be true, that one can be content and at rest, no matter their circumstances. When the savings account is running dry, your joy is still full. When you don’t land the promotion, or get your raise, you’re still giving thanks. When medical issues and bills keep stacking up, your faith in God remains as steadfast as ever. How does one get here? Regardless of upbringing or religious background, tough days will always come. At these moments, peace is what everyone longs for, but not everyone obtains it.

    In our busyness, and for some, in their unfortunate circumstances, it’s easy to forget the important messages of Christmas. Jesus flipped the world upside down, and He assures us His Kingdom will have no end. As Pastor Greg mentioned on Sunday, once Jesus begins His work in your heart (and it’s received), there will be no stopping the transformation that will occur! The peace, joy, hope, and everything Jesus has promised is only going to multiply and expand in your heart! His peace, real peace, is always a heart issue! We can only point our fingers of blame at others, or the world, for so long until we run out of things to point at. The real issue will always be our own hearts. Until we allow God to take hold of those areas, we will continue to find ourselves tossed to-and-fro.

    Starting this Christmas season, let’s take our eyes off of everything that troubles us, and fixate on Jesus once again. Let us cultivate in our hearts everything Jesus said should be there! Allow his peace, joy, and love abound and have no end in your heart this year!

  • Do you recognize Me?

    “So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.” Luke 24:15-16

    Cleopas and his companion were lost and directionless on their way back home. The events that occurred on that long and violent Friday left them wounded, confused, and hopeless. They knew Jesus, they witnessed his miracles, and they believed He was the Messiah, God’s promised one. That’s why this story is interesting, how could they not recognize someone they knew and observed very closely?

    Pain has a way of reducing our ability to see clearly and make our choices based on reality. Perhaps that is what these two men were experiencing. Their focus was only on their pain and a future that was no longer hopeful. Scripture doesn’t give us the whole picture on their temporary “blindness,” but it’s not that difficult to put yourself in their shoes and understand why they didn’t recognize Jesus. We’ve all experienced a sudden loss, seasons of pain, confusion, worry, and frustration when things are not working out like we hoped. When in these moments, we can become unaware or even may experience some temporary blindness that hinders us from finding the hope, comfort, and strength that is found in Jesus.

    Perhaps this was Cleopas’s experience; why Jesus appeared as a stranger to him. But, as we’re about to find out, ones’ heart cannot help but recognize when Jesus is near. Luke 24:32 says, "...Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and when he opened the Scriptures to us?" There’s just something special about Jesus. It’s too difficult to even attempt putting it into words. Even in moments we feel lost, hopeless or perhaps even angry at God, He still knows what it takes to warm and ignite our hearts. Our hearts can always recognize when Jesus is near.

    As we move through this week in preparation for Easter, let’s not forget to slow down and steady our hearts to recognize Him. When circumstances and experiences are creating temporary blindness, know that only the living and powerful Jesus can get to those places in your heart that need Him. No heart is too far off or too cold to be warmed again by the presence of Jesus!

  • Fiery Prayers

    "Prayer, without fervor, stakes nothing on the issue, because it has nothing to stake.  It comes with empty hands.  Hands, too, which are listless, as well as empty, which have never learned the lesson of clinging to the cross...Prayers must be red hot.  It is the fervent prayer that is effectual and that availeth.  Coldness of spirit hinders praying; prayer cannot live in a wintry atmosphere.  Chilly surroundings freeze out petitioning; and dry up the springs of supplication.  It takes fire to make prayers go...Yet fire is not fuss, nor heat, noise.  Heat is intensity--something that glows and burns.  Heaven is a mighty poor market for ice."--E.M. Bounds

    What is the atmosphere of your heart?  We're careless when it comes to being watchful of what season we've allowed our hearts to enter.  For the one who follows Jesus, shouldn't our hearts and the way we pray, always be in the season of summer?  Winter is dreary, cold, and dead.  Let that never be a condition of our lives! 

    We have a new spirit, let us approach God with a passion and confidence that nothing is impossible for Him!  Nothing.  Leave your doubts in winterand let your prayers begin to take fire!

     

     

     

     

  • God's grace rescues you...from you

    “Pretend that I have a bowl of water in my hands and I shake it vigorously and water splashes out of the bowl. And suppose I ask you why water spilled out of the bowl, and you answer that it spilled because I shook it. It all sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it? But the answer is only partially correct. Why did water splash out of the bowl? Because water was in the bowl. If the bowl had been filled with milk, you could shake it for eternity and water would never spill out of it. In the same way, it is very important for parents to understand and humbly admit that when we are shaken by the sin, weakness, rebellion, foolishness, or failure of our children, what comes out of us (words, actions, attitudes) is what is already inside us.” - Paul Tripp

    This can be a hard pill to swallow! What this means is the ongoing issue we face is not our kids’, spouse’s, co-workers’, and family’s problem. It’s ours. No one can force us to say and do anything. What comes out has already been there. The cause behind our actions has been hiding out in our heart, probably for a long time! The people we have in our life are simply giving our heart the opportunity to reveal itself in words and actions. Jesus says it like this, “How can you being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” (Matt. 12:34-35)

    If we continue to shift blame to others for our bad attitudes, actions, and words, we will fail to reach out for the help that is ours; the forgiving and transforming grace of Jesus. Praise the Lord, you can change! You don’t have to be ensnared by sin and it’s patterns any longer. With the power of God’s grace and working of the Holy Spirit in our life, we can begin and continue to produce good treasure that our circumstances can’t steal!

    For more from Paul Tripp, check out his book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

  • How's Your Heart?

    This one little verse has me thinking alot lately: "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joyand my heart's delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty." (Jer. 15:16)

    This is quite the statement to make.  The prophet Jeremiah was so ready to hear from God, that when he received His Words, he took it like a hungry man would take his dinner! He cheerfully received them, treasured them up in his memory, digested them in his mind, and carefully retained them.  Let's not forget too, things were not always easy for Jeremiah, he is often referred to as the "Weeping Prohpet".  To say he was pursecuted would be an understatement!  Here is the point, if anyone had reason to lose heart and joy it would be Jeremiah.  The circumstances seemed to never be in his favor...yet, when it came to hearing from the Lord, there was no circumstance or crisis that would keep him from being nourished

    When was the last time you can honestly say you were hungry to hear from the Lord?  When was the last time that just being with Jesus was the highlight of your day, the goal of your day?  When is the last time you were nourishedby His Word?  Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)  Lose your joy?  What's your heart finding it's "delight" in lately?  Take Jesus at His word.  Be all about Him, let Him nourish that place in you that aches, and watch what He does in your life. 

     

    Lord, put a fire back in our bones for more of You!

    Amen.

     

  • Keep Your Heart

    “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

    We must be watchful, vigilant and ready to fight for our hearts. The heart is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, over 200 times the heart is referred to things that motivate, mold, and impact our life. To put it simply, the heart is a big deal! Though the Bible makes it clear that it’s of the upmost importance to look after, without intentional guardianship, it prefers to drift. It doesn’t always stay where you tell it to stay! As you may have already experienced, a drifting heart will never drift in a good direction. So, let us not take this lightly, we must know what it means to be diligent over our hearts. All of life is going to flow from our hearts and when we lose a grip on it, there will be some symptoms that will flare up. Below are some examples of a drifting heart:

    · You’ve lost passion

    · Your view of God is small

    · Your living offended

    · You no longer share your faith with others

    · Diminished interest in prayer

    Hearts that are full of God are surging with love, faith, and passion! When life flows from a heart like this, nothing in your world (relationships, workplace, school, etc.) is left untouched by God! Will there be times of heartache, dryness, and disappointment? Most likely, yes. These are the moments in which we MUST be vigilant of our hearts! Rather than allowing these circumstances to dry us up, let’s press into Jesus, receiving the water that will not leave us thirsty. God is entirely faithful, He knows exactly what your heart is in need of and will not hold back on us. “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14

  • Light The Lamp

    "Oh lord, please light the fire,
    That once burned bright and clean.
    Replace the lamp of my first love,
    That burns with holy fear."

    (Oh Lord, Your beautiful)

     

    My prayers have been simple lately, "Jesus, set my heart aflame for You."  Everyday, all day, this is where I desire my heart to be.  There are so many distractions and things in life that can take our attention and focus, but only Jesus can truly captureand ignitethe heart!  If you find yourself in a place of boredom and apathy, my encouragement for you is to get that lamp aflame again.  The apostle Paul says that when we are baptized into Christ, we have then put on Christ Jesus.  This is the Christian lifestyle.  My agenda is now different.  The way I view my world is now completely different.  My heart is only given over to one Master, not a multitude. 

    The question is, are we willing to proceed in life without His presence?  Are you willing to settle for religion, rather than transformation?  Let your first love, be the way you always love. 

     

     

  • Messy Lives

     

    “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.”Proverbs 25:26

    How muddy is the spring of your heart right now? Is your well polluted by all the cultural toxins seeping in? Or does your spiritual well draw on Living Water as its pure, thirst-quenching source? Here are a handful of toxins that will pollute your well:

    Septic Thoughts: If you are looking for the bad and ugly, you will certainly find it. However, if you are determined to find the good and beautiful you will not be disappointed. Too often, our wells are polluted by chronically negative thoughts about others, circumstances, and ourselves, resulting in thought-bondage.

    Lethal Language:Words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” (Mother Teresa) Your words are either bringing life or death, building up or breaking down. Helpful words build up, but hurtful words crush. What comes out of your mouth was first hiding out in your heart. If you want to empty your mouth of the garbage, you need to start with cleaning up those hidden places in your hearts!

    Hazardous Waste: “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) Hiding your sin might make life easier in the short run, but it always becomes worse over time. If you hide your sin you can’t receive God’s blessings. Those who confess find mercy and forgiveness.

    Green with Envy: Envy is when you resent God’s goodness in other people’s lives and ignore God’s goodness in your own life. Our culture thrives on envy. We want the newest toys, cars, house, etc. We never enjoy what we have because we’re too busy striving to lay hold of what everyone else has. Envy is a serious heart killer. Just take a look at what the book of James says about it: “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (3:14-16).

    Bitter Roots: “Bitterness is like a cancer. It easts upon the host.” (Maya Angelou) Bitterness has a dangerous tendency of justifying itself. It feels right, so we allow its roots to grow deep into our hearts and minds. Bitterness will destroy not only your character, but your relationships in record time. Bitterness will never produce good results, you will only harvest pain, anger, and disappointment.

     

    “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

    For more on these “culture toxins” and others, check out the book Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated Wordby Craig Groeschel.

  • School of Brokenness

    "God has a university. It's a small school. Few enroll; even fewer graduate. Very, very few indeed. God has this school because he does not have broken men and women. Instead, he has several other types of people. He has people who claim to have God's authority...and dont--people who claim to be broken...and aren't. And people who do have God's authority, but who are mad and unbroken. And has, regretfully, a great mixture of everything in between. All of these he has in abundance, but broken men and women, hardly at all. In God's sacred school of submission and brokeness, why are there so few students?"

    -Gene Edwards (A Tale of Three Kings)

    King David's life teaches us many lessons. He goes from shepherd, to hero, to fugitive, to king, and then even had his kingdom stolen away. David's story could have been very different; tragically different. Would David become bitter, angry, jealous, and vengeful? Would he become a Saul?

    As surely as the sun rises, your heart will be tested. Will you allow your heart to grow hard in "God's University" or will you allow it to be brokenand transformed? God wants to break and crush everything in us that keeps us from knowing Him. Brokenness always leads to humility and God can do tremendous things through a humble heart!

  • Sticks and Stones

    "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." (James 3:9-12)

     

    There is that old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."  Nothing can be further from the truth.  All of us have had things said to us that not only hurt, but has possibly greatly influenced the direction of our lives.  It's amazing to think that words carry such power, that just a few syllables can completely crush you or on the other end, can completly change your life for the better.  If our words have this much power to harm, how much more so can it be used for good? Chapter 3 of the book of James is discussing the importance of taming the tongue, that if we can get a hold of it there can be so much more peace and joy in our life. 

    It's wild how easy it is to justify our backbiting and negative talk.  No matter the issue, without barely even trying, we as people ( Christians too...there, I said it) find the cause or reason to allow toxic waste to flow from our mouths.  Of course, we would never describe it like that, but really isnt that what it is?  James is saying how in the world can salt flow from fresh water?  How can toxic talk come out of a life that has been transformed by the living God? Can the Holy Spirit really live in a heart like that?  Here is our point, the words that come from our mouth is a barometer of what is really going on in our hearts.  Our hearts are always on display, by what is flowing from our lips.  Think about that next time we become offended by someone.  When someone is speaking out against you and you feel like you're being attached, pause and ponder before you let lose.   The next time something breaks down in your house, ponder how you plan to vent your disappointment.  Your words can make all of the difference.

    Your words will either bring life or they will bring death.  (Prov. 18:21)

    Reflect:

    1. Recall a time when you've hurt someone with your words.  What was motivating you?

    2. What are 2 or 3 practical ways you can be more careful with your words?

    3. What can you say today that can encourage and give life?

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