Category Archives: Heart

Real Church

“I want to go to a church that reaches my heart with truth.  Of course, truth must reach my head–I need to know what the Bible says–but if it stops there, the truth I hear and perhaps believe will lack power.  It will not be living and active.  It will not set me free.  It will not provide what I need to shift my addiction from less than God to God.”     ~ Real Church, Page 82

Question for Reflection:

  • What do you think a church might look like that reaches your heart with truth?

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Filed under Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Heart, involvement with the church, Religion and Spirituality, Truth

Our need for honest feedback

The Last Czar is a biography about the life of Czar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia. While his generals were brutally suppressing dissent, they told him civil unrest was the result of foreign influence and assured him his own people loved him.

The Czar didn’t have any other source of information so was completely unaware that his generals were not being truthful with him. Not a good position to be in.

When the Communists took over, he was caught by surprise and forced to abdicate. Sadly, the Bolsheviks eventually executed him and his entire family. It is a sad and tragic story.

Few of us are czars, but the same lack of honest feedback can be devastating. We need truth tellers around us in two critical areas.

The first area is horizontal and pertains to our relationships with people. We fill the role of friend, spouse, son or daughter, parent, employee or boss, coach or teammate.

The second area is vertical and pertains to our relationship with God. Our core identity is that of being a child of our Creator; embracing a new identity in Christ.

Maybe it’s because I hit 50 last year or maybe it’s because I have two grown sons living far from home, but I’ve been reflecting more and more on what got my attention in the last 30 years. Relationships are what make our lives rich and we all need feedback to make them as strong as possible.

The area of our relationship with God is perhaps even more critical. All of us live with a gap between what we profess or live outwardly and what is really going on in our heart. For some, this gap is small but for others the gap is rather large.

The danger is that this largely invisible gap is easy to conceal because we tend to focus on managing our external behavior with a highly trained filter. Dress nice, smile and be nice around church friends, drop some money in the offering plate and help out occasionally.

All those things are good but they don’t always accurately reflect what is going on beneath the surface. We need traveling companions who will ask us the hard questions and give us honest feedback.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

God’s design to make us more like Jesus happens best when we journey together and engage in honest feedback.

Who are your traveling companions?
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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Authenticity, Children of God, Courage, Discipleship, Fellowship, Friendship, God, God's Will, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Morphing, Relationship with God, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Truth

Are we wise or foolish?

If pressed to make a choice between whether we were wise or foolish, I’m guessing that most of us would say we were wise. But are we?

Contrary to popular opinion, the difference doesn’t have anything to do with position or intelligence or talent or wealth. Plenty of wise and foolish people can be found in all walks of life. The real issue is one of being teachable.

According to King Solomon, the one major difference between a wise person from a foolish person is this: how a person receives instruction and correction. (See, for example, Proverbs 1:5; 9:8–9; 10:8; 12:15; 15:12; 17:10; and 19:20.)

A foolish person tends to:

  • Not listen or take to heart when others offer input.
  • Avoid responsibility and shifts blame.
  • Not make any necessary changes.

wise person tends to:

  • Listen without getting defensive or upset.
  • Accepts responsibility without blaming others or making excuses.
  • Makes necessary changes without delay.

None of us is completely wise or foolish but somewhere in between. I suppose the better question might be: “In which direction are we heading, towards the wise or the foolish end of the spectrum?”

And if we really want an answer to that question we need to ask it of those closest to us: our spouse, our kids, our friends…

Nowhere is the issue of being teachable more important than in the church among those who claim to be followers of Jesus.

When  we gather with the body of Christ for a class or worship service are we coming with open hearts and minds to receive whatever it is that God might be wanting to teach us?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Discipleship, Heart, involvement with the church, Wisdom

Jesus’ hiding place

Few can say it better than Brennan Manning.

“The heart of the Father was Jesus’ hiding place, a strong protective space where God was near, where the desert intimacy was renewed, where trust, love, and self-awareness never died but were continually rekindled. In times of opposition, rejection, hatred, and danger he retreated to that hiding place where he was loved.

In times of weakness and fear a strength and mighty perseverance were born there. In the face of mounting incomprehension and mistrust, the Father alone understood him.

No one knows who the Son is except the Father… ~ Luke 10:22

The Pharisees plotted secretly to destroy him; fair-weather friends shifted their allegiance; one disciple denied him and another betrayed him; but nothing could remove Jesus from his Father’s love.

In the seclusion of desert places he rendezvoused with El Shaddai, and what those moments meant to him can scarcely be apprehended. But this much can be said: the primary, growing, definitive identity and consciousness of Jesus to be his Father’s Son, Servant, and Beloved was profoundly reinforced.

Nothing must interfere with proclaiming the Good News of eternal life and helping people to a way of life that would enable them to grow toward eternity – a way of peace and justice, with room for human dignity to be recognized and for love to blossom.”
~ From The Gentle Revolutionaries by Brennan Manning

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

May we all find our hiding place in the heart of the Father!

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Filed under God, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Love of God, Trusting God

Guarding our most valuable asset – Part 2

“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.”

~ Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Yesterday I blogged on why it is so critical to guard our hearts, today I want to touch on how we can do that. Taking care of our physical heart requires discipline; habits of exercise and eating right. The same dynamic is true for guarding the heart that King Solomon is referring to here in Proverbs. Here are some suggestions.

The Discipline of Reflection. Like a bad amusement park ride the pace of life just keeps getting faster and faster. Making time to pause periodically and reflect is crucial.

We live in a busy and noisy world that will suck the life out of us if we let it. This is why it is essential that we intentionally pull away to a quiet place, pause, and reflect. If Jesus needed to do this (Mark 1:35), how much more important is it for us?

The Discipline of Rest. It was no accident that God took the seventh day of creation to do nothing with Adam and Eve. Reread the 10 commandments and notice which one gets the most attention. (Hint: Remembering the Sabbath – Exodus 20)

We were designed by our Creator to need rest. Eight hours of sleep. One day every seven to relax. Don’t skip vacation time! Without rest our judgment gets blurry and the heart is more vulnerable to attack. Make rest a priority and write it in on your calendar.

The Discipline of Recreation. There is a difference between amusement and recreation. There is nothing wrong with amusement but it can leave us more tired than before we started. Recreation, on the other hand, are those activities that recharge us.

Reading a good book. Creating something with wood or crafts or even baking. Playing an instrument simply to enjoy it. Spend time working on that project that’s been waiting all this time. It will be different for everyone but the common thread is that the activity refreshes our soul.

The Discipline of Relationships. We are wired by a relational God to be in relationship with Him and others. Our level of involvement with others will vary depending on our personality but we need others with which to share the journey.

Make time to deepen important relationships and do all that you can to keep them healthy. They do more to strengthen our heart than we realize. And our most important relationship with the one we pursue with God!

These disciplines will help guard our heart and our heart will direct the course of our journey in life!

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Filed under Determination, Friendship, Heart, intimacy with the Lord, Margin, Recreation, Reflection, Rest

Guarding our most valuable asset

“Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.”

~ Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

Some Bible versions use “wellspring of life.” King Solomon offers this nugget of wisdom for at least three reasons.

Because our heart is extremely valuable. Our garbage sits outside all night, at the curb, unprotected. Why? Because it is worthless. We don’t guard worthless things.

Not so with our heart. It is the essence of who we are. It is our authentic self—the center, the core of our being. It is where all our dreams, our desires, and our passions dwell. It is that part of us that most deeply connects with God and other people.

Because our heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon says it is the “wellspring of life.” In other words, it is the source of everything else in your life. Your heart overflows into thoughts that lead to words and then become actions.

If what comes out at the end of a spring is good, it’s because the source of the spring is healthy. If what comes out is nasty, it’s because the source is unhealthy. The same is true of us in regard to our heart and how we live.

Because our heart is under constant attack. When Solomon warns us to guard our heart, he’s implying that we are living in a combat zone—one in which there are casualties.

Many of us are oblivious to the reality of this war but we have an enemy who is hell-bent on our destruction. He not only opposes God, but he opposes everything that is aligned with Him—including you and me.

When was the last time your heart was attacked? How did you respond?

Check back tomorow for some suggestions on how to guard your heart.

*Adapted from a blog by Michael Hyatt

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Filed under Desire, Determination, Encouragement, Heart