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Entries in heart (19)

Wednesday
Jun102015

Are you fighting the wrong thing?

Click to listen.

PODCAST:  "ARE YOU FIGHTING THE WRONG THING?"

A friend of author Wayne Jacobsen once drew a cartoon where Jesus opened his arms to the masses and said, "Come to me all you who are heavy-burdened and I will give you an accountability group.

The "Christianity" many of us were invited into declares that the battle we face is against the heart, not for it. Why?  Because the underlying assumption of a false gospel is that the "heart is deceitfully wicked," even after you've been made a new creation in Christ.  We warn each other about the alleged dangers of following our hearts:  "Don't trust your heart, it will lead you astray.  You have a wandering heart, a divided heart.  Reject the desires of the heart.  If it's what you want, it probably isn't what God wants." 

Certainly discernment must accompany desire:  You need to know if a desire is coming from your heart -- and is therefore a noble desire -- or if it's coming from another source.  Or it may be that your heart may need mentoring before you rush headlong into something good but untimely.  But this is not to say that the Christian's heart is still "deceitfully wicked."

Scripture says, "I will give you a new heart."  This is the gift Jesus gave you when you said 'yes' to him. Paul even says, "In my inner being, I delight in God's commands..."  [How can he delight in God's commands if his heart, his inmost being, is rebelliously set against God?]  He wouldn't be able to delight in God's commands if that was the case.]

When you said 'yes' to Jesus, he gave you his own noble-hearted nature.  The irony is, the brand of misguided Christianity that pins the heart to the wall  -- so that it doesn't go astray -- actually produces Christians who go to war against the most holy and noble place within them!  These mislead souls end up mistrusting their best self! The Christian has then set herself against the very residence of goodness and wholeness God set within her.  We quote, "May Christ dwell in your heart through faith" then attack the very heart where Jesus dwells within. So not only are we at war with our best selves, we're at war with God's work; because we've shackled and shut-down the heart of his work, literally.  The core of God's work in any man or woman begins by replacing a ruined heart with a royal heart, and we've rejected our own crown.

This false gospel creates a house-divided by...

  • Guarding against the heart rather than guarding the heart, the wellspring of life within you.
  • Holding the heart hostage rather than healing the heart's wounds.
  • Locking the heart away rather than loosing the heart from false suspicion.

Don't fight the wrong thing.  Fight the Enemy of your heart, the Accuser, but don't wage war against God's throneroom he has set within you.  In Christ, your heart becomes your ally, not your enemy.

 

Thursday
Mar212013

Seabiscuit: How the horse's trainer saw the heart underneath the brokenness

 

It takes someone with eyes to see your glory.

Seabiscuit was one of the most unlikely racehorse success stories in history.  Given his physical geometry, he shouldn't have been considered for championship racing any more than a child's boxy rockinghorse with blunted legs.  Rather than a sleek, aerodynamic grace, he had a body roughly-shaped like a brick, with short stumps for legs and squarish bucked knees.  Further, his legs wouldn't straighten completely, as if he was an elderly man shuffling forward with a bent-kneed hunch.  To bet on Seabiscuit would have been like betting on a St. Bernard in a greyhound race.

The horse walked with an awkward gait many mistook for lameness.  And when he ran, he comically moved in what some called an "eggbeater gait," jerking his left foreleg out and wide, like he was furiously shooing away a pestering hornet.

Upon examining Seabiscuit, veterinarians had pronounced him only "serviceably useful;" but in this horse, his would-be trainer, Tom Smith, "knew there was something lying dormant." [1] 


But Seabiscuit had heart. 

Seabiscuit had heart, despite all outward appearances.  Trainer Tom Smith, and owner Charles Howard, saw it.  Under Smith's unconventional training, the horse became the champion Smith always saw in him.

Here's what the horse's owner, Charles Howard, said when he first met the "Biscuit:"

I can't describe the feeling he gave me...but somehow I knew he had what it takes.  Tom and I realized that we had our worries and troubles ahead.  We had to rebuild him, both mentally and physically, but you don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there, big as all outdoors."  [2]


You don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there. 
That's your story.  When you entered into friendship with Jesus, he removed the heart that bucked in the chute and crashed against the rails, then replaced it with the racing prowess and potency of a Man O' War, Secretariat, or a Seabiscuit.

You don't rebuild something God has already built.  You don't need to beg for any more holiness, righteousness, or goodness.  Rather, you're invited to cooperate with God as he releases what he's already put within you.  You don't have to rebuild the heart when it's already there:  Trust the heart and heft of what he's already built. 

There may be renovation yet to be done to get your body and your mind tracking with your new nature; but for now,  you've got heart.  The rest will come.

[1] Excerpted from Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, p. 44

[2] Excerpted from Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand, p. 45

 

 

Monday
Oct032011

Parenting where the heart comes first

Here are some ways you can respond to your children out of your good and noble heart...even when your patience is being tested.  The suggestions come from a book called, Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn, a leader in the education and parenting fields:

 

 

 "Be reflective:"  Most of us find ourselves on auto pilot, simply reacting to our children, like firing at the metal parade of ducks at the carnival tent,  squeezing the trigger as each duck comes into our scope:   ping...ping... pang.  We simply fire away rather than first reflecting upon our response.  As Kohn says, "...control tends to be favored over connection."

"Keep your eye on the long-term goals:"  There is a great body of research out there that says that the carrot and stick [reward and punishment] pressure tactics of shaping kids actually backfires in the long run.  Pressuring kids through reward or punishment offers them external incentives only, like  grabbing a young plant by its leaves and pulling upwards forcefully in order to get it to grow, or telling the plant you'll water it only if it meets your expectations.  It doesn't help kids to want to be respectful or kind.  And we want them to want to walk nobly.

"Put the relationship first."  It's too easy for us to sacrifice the relationship for short-term compliance...just getting kids to be obedient little soldiers; or for our own need for peace and quiet.  Are kids really 'better seen and not heard?'

"Attribute to them the best possible motives consistent with the facts."  If little Tommy hauls off and wacks his brother's head with a stone, it's safe to say his motive probably wasn't noble.  But there are many times we assume our kids are just trying to tick us off, that their actions are intentionally rebellious.  When we do this, we often misread their hearts and attribute ill-will where there was none.

"Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily."  Try counting the number of times you tell your child 'no' in any given day.  When it's not a genuine safety issue, we must ask ourselves if we're shutting something down unnecessarily:  "We sometimes refuse to allow a child to do something just because it's inconvenient for us" says Kohn.

"Don't be rigid."   "A foolish consistency is the hallmark of ineffective parenting."  [partially attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson] There are often times when we parents can demonstrate compromise and humility, so that children experience a gracious authority that puts their heart first.

 

As Charles Spurgeon once said,  

“What position is nobler than that of a spiritual father who claims no authority and yet is universally esteemed, whose word is given only as tender advice, but is allowed to operate with the force of law? Consulting the wishes of others he finds that they are glad to defer to him. Lovingly firm and graciously gentle, he is the chief of all because he is the servant of all.”

 

Wednesday
Nov102010

The old hymn got it wrong.

The old hymn got it wrong:

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.

~ Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

 

Because Christ has rescued your heart:

  • Your heart is no longer prone to wander.

  • God the Father doesn't wear 'Jesus glasses'.

  • Your sin is no longer you.

  • You do love God with all heart.

  • There is no difference between the purity of Jesus' heart and yours now.

Tuesday
Oct262010

Deep tissue healing

Medical students will tell you that in a deep wound two kinds of tissue must heal:  the connective tissue beneath the surface and the outer, protective layer of skin. 
- Philip Yancey, What Good is God?

Let's use the idea of deep tissue vs. surface healing as a metaphor for healing the whole person:  What is 'deep below the surface' must heal if the person is to become well.  The layers below the surface must be knit together in wholeness. 

The heart [deep core of a person's identity] must be made well if the person is to recover from the Fall.  For too long, the Church has focused on getting the outer layer to look good, to behave well; as if apparent health on the surface was necessarily indicative of the reality on the inside.  [We all know that appearances can be faked.]

The new paradigm for spiritual [and therefore mental, physical, social] wholeness is this:  heal the heart [the reality below the surface] and you begin healing the whole person.  Health radiates from the Christ-follower's new heart [deep core] outwards.  The focus for God is not on proper outward appearances -- the surface layers:  Rather, His goal is the well-being and restoration of the heart/spirit deeper within; and the subsequent nourishing and release of the life-giving resources of that new heart.

This has already occured in the Christ-follower.  The sickly and sin-ravaged heart has been replaced.  A transplant took place when you said 'yes' to Jesus:  the Son dies to give his heart to the wounded and dying.  The wounded one receives the Son's heart so that he can live well.

 

Wednesday
Jul072010

Toxic preaching that confuses and wounds

"Christianity is not about how good we are, but how good God is." 

Are we sure about that?  [Even raising the question sounds heretical, doesn't it?]  As my friend Mike cautions, "Don't poke the bear..."  But what if the answer to the question is:  It depends on who the "we" is, in that statement. 

Part of the problem with preaching today is that it often has to be addressed to a large, diverse crowd, some of whom buy into the teaching of Jesus and some who are cautiously investigating.  The speaker/preacher ends up delivering a broad, cast-a-wide-net message that isn't oriented to any particular segment of the crowd [and ends up confusing everybody], or ends up covertly addressing the "unbeliever" in an attempt to evangelize them, though he appears to be addressing everybody.  [I used to be in that very position, so I understand the complexities.]

However, to preach or teach and not be clear with the crowd exactly to whom you are speaking [especially when making a statement like the one above] can have a bewildering and injurious effect.

For example, the above claim that:  "Christianity is not about how good we are, but about how good God is"  is true, but requires a clear caveat.  If you're a Christian who hears that statement, you might assume that your heart [your true nature] remains selfish and sinful --because it's not about "how good we are," according to that statement. 

This would in fact, be untrue and unbiblical for the Christian to believe.  The idea that the human heart is desperately wicked is true -- prior to a person entering the 'in-Christ' life.  After Jesus enters the person, he or she has a supernaturally and thoroughly-pure heart [true nature].  This is the classic notion of regeneration.

You can image the confusion many Christians have felt when hearing statements that are non-specific and unclarified like this.  The affect of such an unthoughtul approach to preaching (and a misunderstanding of Jesus' rescuing of the heart] leaves many who are technically free, but functionally bound, like Lazarus:  Invited into life, but unable to live freely, under the 'easy yoke.'  They don't know they've been made radically good; and their spirits break under the weight of poor preaching.

Can you think of other apparently 'Christian' statements that really need clarifying and a deeper undertanding?

................................................................
Related post:

"How much do you know about 'grace?'

Video:  "How to Shame a Christian"

Thursday
Jun242010

What does 'calling' have to do with your heart?

You may be wondering why a guy like me, who typically speaks about the heart, is talking about 'calling' lately. 

The first reason is that the topic of calling is part of a book I'm working on.  Second, because you can't find your calling without believing Christ has given you a good and noble heart.  Calling flows from heart.

Within your new heart lie the clues to your place in the Story - your 'calling.'  These clues come in the form of your deep desires, as well as the story your heart has been living in.   Beneath the defining events of your life, the pattern of wounds, the activities that made you come alive, something was happening in your heart - shaping it, calling it up and out.  Your heart has a unique history and a story to tell.

If you believe your heart is deceitful and selfish, it will be hard to see your deep desires and to believe that there are now good and noble desires within your new and noble heart.

That's why I write about calling.  Calling flows from heart.

 

Tuesday
May112010

E-book available - "RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART"

It's possible to be forgiven, yet not free. 

Many Christians are living under very damaging assumptions about their heart.  I wrote the book to expose those assumptions and to help readers believe that their heart is now truly good and noble.

My book, Recover Your Good Heart is available in E-book format below.  You can also find it in print on Amazon.

RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART

Friday
Jan152010

Restoration is better than 'acceptance' alone...

A Mountain Search and Rescue unit gets a call that a climber has fallen on Mt. Hood, near Portland Oregon.  The climber's pick axe failed to grab when he attempted to lodge it into a unstable pocket of ice.  There was nothing to stop his fall.  Other climbers found the body, mangled and barely alive, one-thousand feet down from where he started to slide.

When the mountain rescue unit got there, multiple bones were shattered, including the spine, and the climber was bleeding from his ears and nose.   Rescue workers knelt near the bleeding body and spoke reassuringly to it:  "We accept you." 

And then they did nothing else.  To comfort the climber, they again offered, "We accept you.  You are loved and safe now."  But nothing else was done - no attempt to discern the man's vitals or assess his awareness of surroundings.  No attempt to stabilize and transport the body. 

Only, "You are loved and accepted.  It's o.k. now."

..................................................................................................
O.k., so I made up the story to demonstrate something.  It is not enough for Christians to see themselves as merely loved and accepted by God's grace.  That's a beautiful thing; but it won't restore a person or give them back the capacity to live well -- There was great damage that needed healing.

God is smarter than that.  He restores us by equipping us with a new and noble heart so that we can relate well, live well, and enjoy this new grace we've been given.  Anything less would be as cruel as the clearly shallow and insufficient 'hope' the mountain rescue unit offered the dying climber. 

What have you been taught about 'grace' and 'acceptance.'  Was it enough?

Tuesday
Dec082009

'WHY DESIRE MATTERS IN OUR JOURNEY' -- new podcast

Why desire matters in our journey -- Jim tells the story of how his 5-year journey to find a better town for his family and a more sustainable life has now come full circle; and how desire was the glue that held his dreams together when he wanted to give up.  You will also discover that your deep desires matter to God and that he will use them to give you answers and direction.

 

Download Jim's podcasts (The Good and Noble Heart podcasts) on iTunes.

Thursday
Dec032009

Seven quotes on 'CALLING'

Heart and callling are inextricably linked:  you can't know your calling without knowing the deep desires of your heart -- and believing that they are trustworthy.  Within your new heart lie desires God is awakening. Here are some quotes on 'calling:'

 

  • “For the most part, I do the thing which my own nature prompts me to do.  It is embarrassing to earn so much respect and love for it.”  -- Albert Einstein

  • “Progress is not created by contented people.”  -- Frank Tyger

  • “Man’s ideal state is realized when he has fulfilled the purpose for which he is born.  And what is it that reason demands of him?  Something very easy – that he live in accordance with his own nature.”  (Seneca)

  • “The place God calls you to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”   -- Frederick Buechner

  • "[Our] original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all . . . rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather."   --Frederick Buechner

  • "What I do is me: For that, I came."  -- Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • "What is in you that is so unique, that if you don't live with it, the Kingdom of God will live without it?"  -- Gary Barkalow, www.thenobleheart.com

...........................................................................................................................
Listen to the podcast"A life of desire"

Listen to the podcast"Recovering our desire"

...........................................................................................................................
How about you?  Do you have any quotes on calling/purpose you can share?

Wednesday
Nov252009

'MISLEADING OURSELVES' - today's podcast with guest Andrew Farley

Listen 'live' today as special guest Andrew Farley, author of The Naked Gospel, joins Jim again.  This time they'll talk about the misleading catch-phrases Christians often use -- spiritual language that ends up separating us further from our new hearts and restored identities.  

 

Airs at 11:30 a.m. EST.  on Wednesday, Nov. 25th.
Click here to go to episode page on Blogtalk Radio.

Wednesday
Nov182009

HOW 'The Prisoner' raises issues of our own identity

"I AM NOT A NUMBER!!"
 
AMC TV Chanel's mini-series, The Prisoner stars Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings-X-Men) and Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line-The Passion of the Christ):

From the series synopsis:

A man, known as Six, finds himself inexplicably trapped in The Village with no memory of how he arrived. As he explores his environment, he discovers that his fellow inhabitants are identified by number instead of name, have no memory of any prior existence, and are under constant surveillance. Not knowing whom to trust, Six is driven by the need to discover the truth behind The Village, the reason for his being there, and most importantly --  how he can escape.

 

The struggle for our hearts will always involve the issue of identity in some way.  "Who are you?"  is the question the Devil used to distract and tempt Jesus himself: 

  • "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  (Matt. 4:3)
  • "If you are the son of God, ...throw yourself down."  (Matt. 4:6)

And the Enemy, through the insults of the crowd tempts him, "Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"

If we don't know the answer to the question, "Who are you?"  we will fall for anything.

The attack comes against identity.  Your identity.  What is in you that the Enemy or the world would snuff out?  You are not ordinary.  There's no such thing in the Kingdom.  So what is the noteworthy glory you have been given that the world needs?   God is in the process of unveiling your unique self to the world. It is his good pleasure.

[Our] original shimmering self gets buried so deep we hardly live out of it at all . . . rather, we learn to live out of all the other selves which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.   --Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

...........................................................................................................

What did you think of The Prisoner mini-series?

Thursday
Sep242009

Staying with the message of the new heart

Quite frankly, it's difficult to believe I have a good heart sometimes. The evidence against it seems too strong.

Lately, there's been almost an unseen pull downwards, a drain-circling suck towards hopeless futility.  That dark undertow almost got me to draw some fatal conclusions about my own heart.  That pull is towards shame:

I've blown it with my kids a lot lately;  not given myself to my wife as she needs.  I'm actually craving the goodness of Jesus and his choices, begging him to give me his own maturity.  (If you think holiness is hard, try out your favorite addiction or uncontrolled craving for a while.  That's harder to live with.)

In these moments, we have two choices:  fatalism or freedom:

  • Fatalism says:  I am the sum of my failures.  My heart cannot be good -- just look at the evidence against it.
  • Freedom says:  My heart is my hope.  I am a new creation (my heart is now supernaturally restored by Christ.)  Despite the external evidence, there is a new internal reality.  My failures are no longer the truest me.  (Even the apostle Paul says this - Romans 7:20)

 

  • You can't go by your failures.
  • You can't go by what others think of you.

  • You may not even be able to go by what you've been told by church leaders in the past.

Stay with the truth:  your heart is good now.  Jesus made it so.
......................................................................................................

To understand your new heart more, Recover Your Good Heart -- Living free from religious guilt and the shame of not good-enough unpacks what Scripture says about your new heart.

Or you can start with the FREE e-book I wrote:  click here.

Tuesday
Sep082009

Emotions -- friend or foe? You may be surprised.

Emotions can't be trusted.

Strong emotions will lead you into sin.

Believing the right things is more important than feelings.

Just do your duty, whether you feel something or not.

Love is a 'verb.'

Reason and the intellect are more trustworthy than the heart.

What do you think of these typical typical responses to emotions and their place in the Christian life? Are these statements true? 

I've discovered a book called, Feel -- the power of listening to your heart, by Matthew Elliott.  His claim is that much of what the Christian community has taught about emotions, is in fact, not biblical.  The Church has bought into secular psychology and philosophy rather than a biblical position on the place of emotion in our lives.  It's actually a bit surprising.

The author claims,
I realized this idea [the suspicion and villification of emotion] was the prevailing Christian view of emotions - and this "Christian" view was essentially platonic [from Plato], a secular perspective in line with the view of Descartes, [William ]James, and - if you can believe it - none other than Charles Darwin."  p.20

What have you been told about emotions and their place in the Christian life?

I'll be following up this conversation on emotions in upcoming posts.

Thursday
Jun182009

New podcast - special guest Joel Brueseke, Graceroots.org

A deeper look at grace.

Joel Brueseke is the founder of graceroots.org and has recently created a graceroots community on Ning network. He's a guy that gets the message of Jesus and understands the message of the new heart.
This is my interview with him. 

 

Tuesday
May262009

A Kingdom of nobles

“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo.
Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.”

C.S. Lewis

As ironic as it is, Christians (those who participate in a Kingdom) have largely lost the concept of  nobility.

Perhaps the notion of nobility got lost when the the last knights and ladies of the Middle Ages died off. Or perhaps we've lost the idea of nobility because we've lost a part of the Gospel itself.  What I mean is this:  In our attempts to be 'authentic' to each other, the world and to God, we've not only recognized the depths of our sin, we've decided that our selves are synonymous with those foul places.

Yet Scripture has stated otherwise:

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart."
-- Luke 8:15

Something better now defines us:  something stronger, regal and resplendent.  This transformation wasn't a mere brushing-up, nor a tinkering with the old in order to improve it.  It was something wholly different:  a bestowing of a fundamentally different nature -- supernatural supplanting natural.

Does the idea of Christian nobility sound too prideful for us? Are we so used to living in the mud of false humility that we cannot receive the more substantial redemption he is offering?

In C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, the children who become allies of the great Lion discover what they were meant for all along, as Aslan renames them in order to reveal their true natures:

And Aslan gave the children each a new name:

  • Peter will be known now as, "King Peter the Magnificent."
  • Susan will be called, "Queen Susan the Gentle."
  • Edmund will be known as, "King Edmund the Just."
  • Lucy will be called, "Queen Lucy the Valiant."
Whitney Young once said, "The truth is that there is nothing noble in being superior to somebody else. The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self." Through the strong rescue of Jesus, you are no longer this "former self" -- no matter how things appear to you. As C.S. Lewis reminds us,
“For God is not merely mending, not simply restoring a status quo. Redeemed humanity is to be something more glorious than unfallen humanity.”

That is to say, your new and noble glory surpasses the goodness and character of Adam and Eve -- before they fell.  Through his transforming rescue in you, our Lord has out-done himself again. 

Monday
May182009

For the sake of the Story 

Since all the world is but a story,
it were well for thee to buy
the more enduring story rather than
the story that is less enduring.

(The Judgement of St. Columba of Scotland)

Here's another reason it's critical to get your heart back -- your good and noble heart: your contribution to the Grand Tale depends upon it. If you see yourself primarily as a mess -- a sinful and sorry creature whom God has to graciously tolerate -- you won't be offering your true self. And your true self is exactly what is needed.

You need the resources of your transformed heart to love well, live well, and fight well. Jesus has given you his own heart -- not a heart simply like his -- but his own heart. For the sake of the Story, take it. Nourish it. Live from it. Allow God's Spirit to awaken it.

Since this unfolding Story is about the God who is always up to something new, he will choose the new creation -- that is, your transformed heart -- as the means to advance his plot.

Without either knowing your heart is now good, or choosing it today and each day, you will remain disoriented and disconnected -- to both your grand and unveiled glory, and to the world's need for you to live from your restored and super-natural heart.  Allow this new super-natural goodness to radiate outwards, transforming you with the ever-increasing life and enticing goodness Jesus enjoyed.

The Story needs you. Not simply the forgiven you. But the unveiled you.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s
glory, are being transformed into his likeness with
ever-increasing glory; which comes from the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

 

Friday
Mar272009

New Facebook Group

I've created a new Group on Facebook called, THE GOOD & NOBLE HEART; for those who have discovered that the offer of Jesus is far more than forgiveness. "Grace" is the gift of a new, good, and noble heart. The Gospel is about the heart.  

Some great discussions are taking place! 
Check it out here.