Monday, May 14, 2012

The Care & Feeding of Your New Heart

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says this about the meaning of the word heart: "However, in it's abstract meanings, "heart" became the richest biblical term for the totality of man's inner or immaterial nature. It's a metaphor for these aspects of a person: mind; knowledge; reflection; thinking; memory; inclination; resolution;determination of will; conscience; moral character; appetites; emotions and passions; and courage.

The number one assignment of our lives involves the heart. That's how important it is. In Matthew 22:37, 38, Jesus said He wanted our heart, soul, and mind. In Luke 10:27, our strength is added to what God is wanting of us. The point is He wants all that we are. Giving Him what He wants is the greatest way to care for your heart.

Our old hearts were programmed, so to speak, to go away from God. The Fall (Genesis 3) permanently recalibrated the heart of all humankind to disregard God and His love and purposes for us. That's why I wrote about our need to receive a heart transplant. Even with a transplant, though, we need to be transformed. The capacity to love Him is there, but the understanding that is necessary to be obedient; to do His will so we can love Him fully and freely, has to be acquired. We can offer ourselves to Him, but we need Him to perform that metamorphosis in us.

We are sick. He is our Physician. Jesus is our Donor. He provides His heart; performs the transplant; He writes the prescriptions; He makes the medicine that brings us health and life. He is our all in all.

Here are a few scriptural prescriptions for the care and feeding of our new hearts:

Romans 12:1, 2
God gives us a new heart because the old one was incapable of becoming what God wants for us and what He knows we need, so He is constantly performing upgrades and enhancements. Our responsibility is to stay connected to Him so we can present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. That means we have to be available, near Him, minimizing the influence of things that distract us from being completely available for Him to do His healing work in us.

John 14:27
He instructs us to not let our hearts be troubled, agitated, stirred, full of fear.

Philippians 4:6-8; Psalm 16:11
It makes a difference where we live. Certain physical maladies we have are improved if we live in warmer, drier climates. Biblically speaking, as far as the well-being of our hearts are concerned, we shouldn't live in places like Dramaville or Stresston or Los Anxious or Turmoil Valley, to name a few. You know what I mean. We should live in His presence where there is fullness of joy. We should abide in close fellowship with Him in prayer and He will pour out His peace on us. We should dwell on things that are good and that will move us closer to Him and calm our hearts.

John 6:35; Psalm 119:103
Even a change in diet is good. Bread, water, and honey are great for you. Do what the Doctor orders.

There's so much more that He wants to do for us. He says if we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him. That may sound like He's hiding from us, but He isn't. Take the prescriptions. Change your diet.

Love Him with all that you are and He will reveal to you great and mighty things you do not know.

Seek Him with all your heart.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

This Blog Has Come Into The Kingdom For Such A Time As This

The C4L blog.  What a great technological innovation!

There aren't enough hours on a Sunday morning to make known or to testify (a good, old word) to what God is doing in our midst.  Let's use this space to keep our C4L family up to date on what God is doing in our lives and families.  Let's brag on God.

I'll start it off.

Our 13 year old step-granddaughter, Courtney, received Jesus Christ as her Savior at C4L on Easter Sunday morning.  Thank You, Lord!!  This evening she expressed her desire to be baptized next Sunday at Solon Place Apartments.  That is God at work in the heart of a young woman and it is beautiful.

Alright, we're off and running.  Don't leave me hanging here.  What's God doing in you and/or those around you?

by Rich Stone

Friday, May 11, 2012

Silence before Him

“Walk in thestreet and chat with your friends, offering yourselves in continuousobedience.  Live this present moment,this present hour as you now sit in your seats in utter, utter submission &openness toward Him.  Listen outwardly tothese words, but within behind the scenes, in the deeper levels of your liveswhere you are all alone with God loving the eternal one, keep up a silent heart”Spiritual Classics edited by Richard Foster.
  This is a beautiful excerpt on living aprayer full life that is dependant on the Holy Spirit and available to yield toobedience.  I think today there are manywell meaning Christians who would obey “if the Lord asked them to do something”(that’s what they say) but they live such busy, full lives, that they don’thave any time to stop and hear from the Lord. The only time in the day that thy truly yield to the Lord is during a(usually short) devotional reading or prayer time (that often get’s pushed asideor shortened for the sake of “important” activities or work) or the weekly‘alter-call’ made by the preacher each Sunday and those are usually onlyresponded by the ‘brave’ ones willing to ‘risk’ the possible ensuing embarrassmentor judging by stepping out and publically admitting that they are not supperhuman(or at least the fear of it).  Isanyone willing to “be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 
There is anamazing thing that happens when we become silent before Him.  There is a Holy submission that happens whenwe truly stop before Him the Lord – there is an awkward place at first, muchlike the silent times in our human to human relationships but as time passesand we grow to love one another more deeply the silence is not awkward or filledwith the fear of the unknown.  Silencebefore the Lord has an addictive element to it once you begin to develop thediscipline and practice.  You long for it– you long for the time when you have the peace that someone else is making thedecision (and making the right one!) and you can trust what is happening.  There is a refreshing  that comes from the quiet, a reminder thatall the things of this world, this music, talk, technology, it’s all just stuff– all vanity, all fading away, lacking eternal value – a reminder that if it’sall taken away life can still go on! 
Silencebefore the Lord is also active and engaging – there is also an on purposeelement,  Your mind will wonder –especially at the start – the cares of the world, cares of the day will stillbe on your mind vying for your attention. There will be people to contact, text messages will interrupt, guilt ofunfinished projects will come to visit, suddenly you’ll be hungry – there willbe all kinds of distractions but you must be diligent to focus and push pastthe needless interruptions of the day so that you can encounter the Lord!  “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and allthese things will be added” Matt 6:33  Theremust be priority placed on seeking God. Being prayerfully available to God will transform your life – it will bewell worth any sacrifice that you have to make. So start with some silence – quietly open your heart to Him and see howHe wants to work in & though you. Start seeing the value of simple prayers that remind you of youravailability to God and your dependence on Him. All the noise in your life might start making more sense after you havebeen quiet for a while!  Being quietalways reminds me that the world goes on fine without me – as I sit quietly atStarbucks and read my Bible, a book and write I am reminded that I am but asingle person – capable of nothing more than what the Lord allows for me toaccomplish and anything outside of that it is subject to my human fallen sinfulnature – I’m capable of nothing good or worthy of praise on my own fruition.(Romans 7:18)

Friday, May 4, 2012

    As a worship leader I spend alot of time and energy working with things related to worship (ie. listening to music, reading the bible, working with musicians, singers, other worship leaders, and church leaders, and on and on). For me worship has become one of the valued cornerstones of  who I am. Yet, many times I find myself smack dab in the middle of all these "worship" related tasks but, my heart is far from God. I found myself in that place earlier this week. As I was going through the motions that go along with "worship" I was very aware of the distance between myself and the Lord. Wanting to "do" worship properly I found myself thinking maybe I should sing louder or dance around (which I did) but found no solution to my problem.

   The next day I was reading one of my favorite magazines and the following fell in my lap:

"God is not common: hence, worship is not a gig, not a right to prove our abilities, not an opportunity to sing our favorite songs. We worship because He is a holy God, and we the created - made for His pleasure - worship and serve the creator because He alone is worthy." -unsure of author.

   I realized that I had spent the night before doing the"gig, using my abilities, and singing along" but never truly engaging in worship. Now you may think, "don't be so hard on yourself" and to that I can honestly say I am good. First,I am good because all this happened at a worship practice and not in a service. But what really is inspiring me now is that I have "tasted and seen that the Lord is good" and the bar of expecation is set high in my spirit knowing the potential of the Lord as I worship him completely. Even as I write this my spirit is getting all wound up due to my looking forward to engaging the Lord with my church family this weekend.
    Could you and I agree to do something? Lets be sure that our approach to the Lord isn't dependant or built upon anything other than our highest praise and our bowed knees to "The Holy One".