What Is It That Breaks Your Heart?

Martin Luther King, Jr. was so moved by the plight of black people in America that he gave his life leading a civil rights movement. Mother Teresa was so crushed by the poverty she saw in Calcutta that she spent her life there ministering to the poor. John Knox was so burdened for the souls of the people of Scotland that he prayed to God, “Give me Scotland, or I die.”

Moses saw the suffering of his Hebrew brothers and sisters and it moved him to reject his royal upbringing and ultimately lead them across the Red Sea to freedom. David was touched by the broken and outcast who were fleeing Saul’s kingdom to live in the caves that he became the great shepherd-king of Israel. Paul was devastated over the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as Messiah to the point that he bordered on wishing himself to be accursed if it would mean saving them.

What breaks your heart?

After Jesus encountered the woman at the well and changed her life with the good news, His disciples wondered why Jesus would even waste his time on the Samaritans. Jesus forced them to refocus and told them to “wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35 NLT)

Anyone who ever dared to make real change happen in their corner of the world developed a deep conviction about a particular cause because of a heart-breaking burden over something that desperately needed to change. Bill Hybels put it this way,

I believe the motivating reason why millions of people choose to do good in the world around them is because there is something wrong in that world. In fact, there is something so wrong that they just can’t stand it… As a result, they devote their vocational lives, their volunteer energies, and their hard-earned money to making sure it gets fixed.

– Bill Hybels, Holy Discontent

So, what is it that breaks your heart? For me, it’s the spiritual lostness I see in northwest Arkansas. Thousands of people seem fairly “normal” on the outside but on the inside, they are like broken cisterns that can hold no water, and they need Jesus. They need a church that will do whatever it takes, short of sin, to find people who are far from God and lead them to Jesus. So I’m giving my life, my time, my energy, and my heart and soul to planting that kind of church.

What breaks your heart? And what do you need to do about it?

The Battle Is Won or Lost In Your Mind

BrainThe brain is powerful. God created it so. Almost all of the battles we will ever face in life will be won or lost in our minds. Just think about it…

  • Think impure, be impure; think pure, be pure.
  • Think hatefully, be hateful; think lovingly, be loving.
  • Think anxiously, be anxious; think confidently, be confident.

It’s a simple concept, but keeping our minds safe and secure from the attacks of the enemy is complex. You might even wonder if it’s possible to successfully protect your mind and think healthy thoughts. It is indeed possible! Paul said,

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

– 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Let me offer two insights into this verse. First of all, it has a context. And in the context, Paul has been describing spiritual weaponry as opposed to physical weaponry. So there is more to winning the battle for our mind than simply forcing ourselves to think better thoughts. There is the issue of staying in tune with God and growing spiritually. Secondly, it is about conscious choices concerning our thoughts. Demolishing arguments and pretension is a matter of learning and repeating God’s truth. And taking every thought captive has to do with deciding against some of our tendencies and for others. It’s about making my thoughts serve me, not master me.

Win the battle over your mind, win anything!

photo credit: opensourceway

Wear the Breastplate of Righteousness

BreastplateIf you’re in enough battles, you’ll eventually suffer injuries, so you learn early on to protect the head and the heart as much as possible. In our spiritual battles protecting the heart is less about avoiding emotional pain (which we can’t do if we’re going to counsel and serve hurting people) and more about avoiding unrighteousness, or to put it positively the way Paul did,

…with the breastplate of righteousness in place.

– Ephesians 6:14 (NIV)

What is righteousness? The easiest way to grasp the concept is to imagine that which is pure and white, untouched by dirt or filth. Obviously, as sinners, we can’t go back and undo our consumption of unrighteous things anymore than we can take back our unrighteous deeds. What we can do is live as though purity defines us, because in Christ, purity does now define us as a result of the gracious work of God in us.

Satan aims for the heart. If he can harden it or divide it, he’s halfway to beating us in battle. So guard your heart by wearing the protective breastplate of righteousness and purity. If pornography or 50 shades of something or another currently shapes the desires and expectations of your heart, you’re completely vulnerable to utter ruin. If you harbor resentment or feast on gossip, you’re rendering your heart unable to show grace.

Watch the heart. Guard it closely. Wear the breastplate of righteousness. And if you think it’s too late… God performs spiritual heart transplants…

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

– Ezekiel 36:26-27 (NIV)

photo credit: Daniel Hughes

Cultivating A Shepherd’s Heart

This past week I was privileged to hear Dr. H. B. London, who always speaks right to my heart. He related a conversation he had with Henry Blackaby about the significant turning point in Blackaby’s spiritual life. It was the time God basically said to him, “You’re not going to rush me anymore.” From that point on, Blackaby decided to simply give to God whatever time God wanted each day.

Today, I heard the words of the apostle Paul in writing to the Thessalonians…

Continue reading Cultivating A Shepherd’s Heart

Book Review: It Came From Within, by Andy Stanley

Everything you say and do comes from the heart… everything! That’s exactly what Jesus said, along with Solomon and other biblical writers. And that’s what Andy Stanley tells us in his book It Came From Within.

Most of us like to think like the Pharisees, that our problems have to do with what goes into our bodies, but Jesus challenged that thinking with the revolutionary thought that the only things that ever get said or done are those things that are lurking inside of us. Our words and our actions originate deep inside, in the heart.

Continue reading Book Review: It Came From Within, by Andy Stanley

Abortion is a Deal-Breaker for Me

Al Mohler published a blog article today entitled Is the Abortion Argument Changing?. It’s excellent. At the end, he references a sermon by Russell Moore that makes the argument that Joseph (Jesus’ step-father) was a “single-issue evangelical.”

I’m fairly progressive. I’m quite forward-thinking. But when it comes to the issue of life in relationship to politics, elections, legislation, etc., abortion is still a deal-breaker for me. Am I a narrow-minded single-issue evangelical? Absolutely. Why? Because the whole time we’re focused on…

  • The environment.
  • Unemployment.
  • Taxes.
  • Welfare.
  • Healthcare.
  • The war.
  • Foreign relations.
  • The economy.
  • Defense.
  • New energy sources.

God is focused on the innocent. He always has been. He always will be. We can say “just look beyond this one issue.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s like asking the guy who is having a heart attack to focus on his runny nose. We have a problem for which God will surely pour out His wrath. They are ultimately his babies, after all.

And here’s another point: Abortion IS Racism! Read or watch…

The Certainty of Mysteries

I was deeply moved by today’s reading from J. Sidlow Baxter’s devotional, Awake My Heart. He speaks of the mysteries of life, what W. A. Criswell used to call “the imponderables of God.” Baxter mentioned birth, life, personality, human experience, Satan, eternity, etc. All of these are unexplainable. We can begin, but we can never conclude any definition of them.

Baxter goes on, however, to quote an unnamed old Puritan as saying, “Never let what you don’t know disturb your faith in what you do know.” Further, Baxter proclaims that “breaking into all this mystery comes a glorious, transfiguring fact which not all of these problems can discount: it is THE FACT OF CHRIST. He is a certified historical fact; a supremely significant fact; an experientially realized fact….”

We live in a highly skeptical age. To deny this is to prove that one has his proverbial head in the sand. We live in the age of the offensive atheist, exemplified by authors such as Richard Dawkins, who espouses a near hatred of conservative Christianity and writes it off as idiotic nonsense that should be put to an end. In the mix, Christians find themselves wavering and doubting.

So, what do we do with our big questions? I don’t know about you, but I believe God can handle our biggest questions. He has answers. Whether He will provide them or not is within the divine prerogative of God. But in the midst of all of the mysterious, imponderable concepts of spiritual, eternal things lie the rock solid, unbreakable truths of Christianity. In the words of Paul, And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)