Hardened Heart

Human heart anatomy from a healthy bodyWe had a neighbor in Casey Creek, Kentucky – where I grew up who had “hardening of the arteries”. It was so sad to see this sweet lady who was full of class and was so kind, become mentally and physically dysfunctional over a short period of time. I remember thinking what a debilitating disease. The official name of this disease is Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes arteries to narrow, weaken and be less flexible. It’s the term for the process of fatty buildup in the inner lining of an artery. The buildup that results is called plaque and reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that is delivered to vital organs. Here is animation of Atherosclerosis from The American Heart Association.

I believe that a hardened heart is a grave spiritual condition. The Lord called this out when He walked this earth. It was a bit obvious in the Pharisees and Religious leaders. The Lord was frustrated with their hard hearts, but at the same time sad to see this. These people were the leaders of the synagogue and pursued God, but missed what He was saying to them. They were stuck in their traditions, rituals and habits and had no room in their heart for God to move them and shape them into who He wanted them to be. Check this out…

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand.Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-6 NLT)

I see hardening of the arteries as a physical condition that develops over time. I see a hardened heart as something that happens over time as well. I don’t imagine that the Pharisees and Religious leaders started following the law and leading the synagogues so that they could be spiritual bullies and building up the law to supersede the One Who gave them the law in the first place.  Jesus addressed this issue in the previous chapter of Mark, but it obviously fell on deaf ears. Check this out…

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28 NLT)

Likewise, I don’t believe that Christians with hard hearts set out to be this way. They started out following Jesus with passion and enthusiasm. This passion gave way to rule keeping and spiritual aloofness that not only becomes destructive on our relationship with others, it becomes self-destructive personally.

When I see a lost person, I realize that except for God’s amazing grace – that could be me. I could also make a bad decision and ruin my reputation and my witness. I don’t ever want to become so “heavenly bound” that I’m no “earthly good”. I want to live a very open, transparent life with the Lord. I do not have all the answers. I struggle with temptation and sin. I have to repent often because of sin inside my heart. With the Lords help, I want my heart to continue to be shapeable and moldable by His Spirit in me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Old & Faithful

happy and motivated old people 3dI really admire older people. They have such great life experiences to share. I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do from the stories of older people in my life. They can usually tell you what won’t work. Before I go too far speaking about older people, I must admit that I’m closing in fast on that description myself. AARP has already started sending me invitations to join. I’ve resisted for now.

Solomon had such a remarkable journey, but unfortunately he didn’t finish strong. He became unfaithful when he got old. He loved women – lots of women. He had hundreds of wives and concubines. He started following their gods and this became detestable to the Lord. While their culture evidently allowed for multiple wives, I don’t believe that was the Creators plan for marriage.

4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:4-6 NIV)

It’s a bit of a bummer that Solomon had followed the Lord so strongly and then when he got older, instead of getting stronger in his faith, he got weaker. I believe that at every age and stage of life, there will be “voices” trying to pull me away from my faith. I believe the enemy will use anyone or anything he can to erode or destroy my faith.   I believe that temptation will always be part of my journey, but the Lord can provide the strength I need to resist temptation.

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary. Tina and I have built a marriage and home centered on the Word of God. We want to follow Him all of our days. My life and my heart had been hurt deeply, but God made “beauty from the ashes”. I am so blessed and so thankful.

As I grow older, I want to be even more faithful in following the Lord. I want to hear from Him daily. I want His Wisdom to trump my experience and my knowledge. I know that every day I need Him to direct my path and speak into my heart. I’m thankful for my wife of 21 years, who also seeks after the Lord. I am blessed.

IMG_4570Pressing On!

Dwayne

Teachable

Teaching ConceptThere are people who simply know it all. I mean they know just about everything – at least they think they do. I’ve never met a “know it all” that I thought was also a wise person. People who “know it all” are usually quite ignorant or several levels. I didn’t say they were stupid, but they are sure flirting with stupidity. For now, I will characterize them as ignorant.

I believe that we should be teachable and open to instruction about how to do nearly everything. I believe that the Lord builds me by using others who are willing to serve. I think it would pretty arrogant on my part to act as if I know everything. Check this out….

 rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;

    teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

    and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many,

    and years will be added to your life. (Proverbs 9:8b-11 NIV)

 

I can’t always get my head to comprehend things. I sometime feel like I’m a bit too simple. I believe that the Lord is the Source of any wisdom I may have. I consult with Him about EVERYTHING. He gives me insight and wisdom that blows my mind sometimes.  He speaks to me through His Word. He speaks to me through the Holy Spirit. The way the Holy Spirit works is hard to explain. He simply prompts me and “nudges” me in the direction He wants. I have to listen up and note nudging. It is sometimes quite hard to understand the journey, but I trust the Leader of the journey.  I want to be teachable by the Lord for the rest of my days on earth.

Pressing On!
Dwayne