Posted in Christianity, Observations, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Orange Flags

A bullet point to begin the week:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions or peer into things where you never looked before, on any subject, or any issue. Inside we all have “orange flags” about a lot of things. Don’t ignore them when they show up – even where you may have thought a matter was thus and so before. Dare to be skeptical, at least a little, not gullible and naive. Pray for discernment and direction. Knowing the truth is better than false hope any day.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

You Gotta Have Heart; But Whose?

The title of this writing refers back to entertainer Peggy Lee and her hit from the 1950s – You Gotta Have Heart. It’s basically the typical pep talk song from that era. And the theme of the meme has not changed much since then. Certainly it’s a cute, peppy little song of self encouragement and self reliance. But…

Follow your heart? Trust your heart? Over and over this meme is tossed out into the consciousness of the world. Many who say they follow Christ buy into this idea. But is this the truth from God’s Word? Let’s take a look.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure – who can understand it? ” Jeremiah 17:9.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.” Matthew 15:18,19.

Can such a heart be trusted?

Really, there’s only one cure for our natural (fallen, corrupt) heart condition, a “spiritual heart transplant” by the Holy Spirit. Keep on asking, seeking, knocking. Seek His cure! King David realized how his heart led him down the path of destruction. He needed a turn around that he could not generate. So he prayed, not only for forgiveness, but – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. (This entire Psalm makes an excellent daily prayer, by the way.)

God’s promise:

“When they return to it, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:18-20. (This heart exchange was to take place after a considerable captivity, where a purge took place. Then God’s people returned to their homeland.)

“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD. They will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My Laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds.” Hebrews 10:16.

There’s significant participation in this for us if we wish to have this new heart. And it comes by way of the Holy Spirit’s continuing intervention in our life.

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:9-13.

The foregoing means a continual asking, seeking, and knocking. Unless we can connect with the need for a new clean heart and a right spirit, there’s no practice of ongoing repentance, because there is no sense of need. We need to perceive how greatly we need this, so we keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and repenting of reliance on our foolish, fallen, fickle heart!

At the end of the day, the natural heart cannot be trusted and is always in need of divine intervention and transformation. It therefore must be surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ, uncompromisingly and consistently – each and every day of our life, so that Christ may be formed in us. His heart in place of our heart.

The heart is the center and core of our being. It’s not a physical organ, although there seems to be some correspondence between the spiritual heart and the blood pumping organ, since joy or discord seem to register in the physical heart, and we can become “heartsick.” We could call the spiritual heart the throne room of our life. Who sits enthroned there is questionable in the natural human being, living his or her life without the transforming work and direction of the Holy Spirit – each and every day!

Who sits on your heart throne? The cares and concerns of this world and all that is passing away seem to be “reigning” with most people. This is not anything new. Jesus directs us to deal with it this way: “For the pagans strive after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them, But SEEK FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”

How seriously do we take Him?

It’s not dependent on us telling ourselves “You gotta have heart.” It’s about surrendering our cares to the One Who invites us, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29,30.

The foregoing has been like a bullet point sketch, but it can be used for some honest pondering, seeking, and self evaluation – elicited by the question, Have I bought into the “follow your heart” meme, or am I going to surrender myself “wholeheartedly” to God’s plan for my heart and the rest of my life? What’s required is that I surrender my natural and corrupt heart to Him and let Him replace it with the pure Heart of the Lord Jesus Christ. Daily. Continually. Then His heart becomes my heart! His is the only heart worthy to guide my life on the Heavenly Way.

PS: It is advised that all the foregoing Scripture Passages be studied, contemplated, and prayed over in their context and many cross references, against the backdrop of the whole counsel of God’s Word.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Christ or Cling Ons?

 This may be a bit difficult to follow. But here goes.
 Sometimes there are situations where you cannot know something for sure – such as how some events actually played out centuries ago, due to lost documentation, various interpretations of those events or, yes, even purposefully redacted history. But because of these events or their impression, there seems to be an “effect” that still exists in the present – what people “believe” happened – and therefore it carries considerable weight with them. So, being convinced that something is of God, they embrace practices which are believed to be “Christian” which may fall under the category of traditions of men – something Christ warned about.
 Some of these practices may have an impact that has direct bearing on the outcome of one’s salvation, since they are out of line with the commandments of God and they muddy the living waters of the Gospel. Others may be quite harmless.
 I find myself once more questioning a lot of these things. (Have I ever not been one who questions? No, probably not. And as much as it sometimes makes me squirm, I would not have it any other way.) So it becomes obvious that being a rugged absolutist may not be the most workable scenario in life.
 Yet neither does being wishy washy about most things work very well either.
 What’s reliable and practical and real? There are time tested beliefs and principles that support and enhance life (Proverbs calls this wisdom), contrasted with what eventually results in destructive ways (called folly). This is where it begins: with what works in life.
 It pays, in my opinion, to be a healthy skeptic and not necessarily to be willing to hop on just any religious or “spiritual” bandwagon that rolls past. Some of these seem to be trends of late – like the “journey” of church hopping from one denomination to another, where “seekers” may be encouraged and then become convinced to substitute an institution of religion for a relationship with God. Perhaps religion and relationship need not be mutually exclusive of one another. However, caution is advised.
 Somewhere along the line one must enter into the dialogue with oneself of either “Look before you leap,” or, “He who hesitates is lost.” I have leaped any number of times without carefully looking (comprehending?) first, and the result is that I’m now more of a hesitater.
 It seems as if life has been one big process of sorting through a lot of information, especially in this 21st century relativistic m.o. in which a lot of people are enmeshed. It’s a Burger King world – “Have it your way.” It is a virtual smorgasbord. We may not be able to hop into a time machine to determine what, for example, Emperor Constantine actually had in mind for the church or the empire that supposedly made history and thus determined belief and practice centuries into the future for many of “the faithful”. Nor can we get inside his head or ascertain the source of his dreams and visions.
 Yet the popular relativism from secular culture added to the mix  of religion makes everything entirely too fuzzy for some of us.
 We can have clarity on not only perennial wisdom, but on the clear teachings of Jesus Christ that are even greater than the wisdom of Solomon. It is here that I find myself turning, rather than to the past and its haziness, or to the maelstrom of current thinking and ever shifting information and opinions. This requires a singleness of mind without becoming narrow minded, or so open minded that one doesn’t know where one stands. It’s a mental and spiritual balancing act. We are invited to ask for wisdom, and then move forward in faith without doubting. See James 1:4-6.
 At this point, my comprehension of the old line institutional churches for the most part is that they’re rather like the Borg mother ship, cruising through the Galaxy and assimilating Cling Ons (deliberately misspelled) throughout the centuries. What they espouse in the way of belief and practice may have little resemblance to what Jesus Christ actually taught and practiced. Some ideas may be old Cling Ons; some may be new Cling Ons. Yet they will declare themselves to be the “original, only true church”.
 I have encountered this attitude on numerous occasions. And every time I do, that’s the indicator to find the nearest exit.
 It pays to look before you leap. Know what you’re getting into.