Monday, December 26, 2011

PART THREE: A Matter of the Heart

”As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.” Proverbs 27: 19

In commenting on the two previous posts a friend said, “Billy, I hope part three will include some REHAB.” His statement highlights the fact that it is easier to list problems than it is to provide solutions. “How To” books are generally disappointing to me. They give insights, inspire, and point in the right direction but are limited in their ability to bring us to full satisfaction in the results we anticipated. This is because the solutions lie primarily in the heart rather than mechanically following a list of steps. The heart, not the mind, determines our spiritual state. It is the heart that determines how a person perceives God, and how he deals with life, other people, and his environment. The mind is the battlefield, the mind can be blinded and confused, but it is a product of the heart. The disposition of the heart determines the revelation a person can receive, the clarity and accuracy of his perception, and the extent of his ability and willingness to change. The heart is the rudder of the mind.

A person can be enlightened by a simple presentation of truth when his deception is a simple matter of ignorance, wrong thinking, or not having access to the facts. Simple truth will correct the problem. But when error is a problem of the heart, the mind is deceived and will refuse to see the light, until the heart is surrendered and broken before the Lord.

A friend of mine having gone through a season of relational conflict complained to me that people had not forgiven him. I told him, “They have forgiven you, but they do not trust you. Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues. People will forgive you if you genuinely apologize, but they will not trust you unless they see brokenness.” (Brokenness is a humility in which a person sees himself, repents, and changes). My friend then asked, “What do I need to do to show them I am broken.” I responded, “I cannot give you a list of steps for you to mechanically walk through. The answer does not lie in outward behavior that might be only an outward and shallow act. To show them you have broken you must actually be broken (humbled and changed of heart). They must see a change of heart, otherwise they will instinctively sense you have only gone through a mental exercise of memorizing a list of outward steps that make you appear humble and changed."

Therefore, I am not promising to solve all the reader’s problems by giving him a “cure-all” list of things to do. But I do hope to give Biblical truths that will motivate and inspire. And if the reader has a heart after God and is open to the Lord’s voice, he may find a key that will unlock a door or gate leading to avenues of life and grace. He may receive a seed of truth that will grow into a tree of healing, blessing, and spiritual growth.

There is no “how to” book that will do all the work for you. The heart must be surrendered in faith and obedience before the Lord in order to receive the healing and life-changing word of God. A friend of mine wisely said, “You cannot lead a person past his heart.” The biblical principles presented on these pages are written to inspire and act as “triggers” or springboards for the obedient and surrendered heart. The words are simple and easy to understand but yet only the sincere and honest heart will succeed in comprehension and application.

In subsequent posts we will begin looking at Biblical principles that help us face life and trials redemptively.

“Beware brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God…but exhort one another daily lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3: 11-12

“Let your heart retain my words…keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4: 4, 23

[Scroll down to review Part One and Part Two, the previous posts in this series].


Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing this series! As we have discussed many times and as you have revealed in the series, "THE" condition of the church(which is people)-is heart. Nothings happens eternally till something happens with the heart. Our lives are a reflection of our heart. Our heart reflects our relationship with Jesus.
Over the past weeks I have been reading the account of our Savior's birth. Then I was drawn to John the Baptist statement, "I must decrease so He can increase." Any way we want to slice it until we live out "being crucified with Christ" we will never understand the hand of God in and on our lives. As Katherine Kulman stated, "I have died a thousands deaths today!" rings the need for us to walk lives "being crucified with Christ" so that He may increase and our lives (our selfish ambition, selfish desires, selfish?????) may decrease. After all it is about Jesus not about us.
Thanks and hoping we can have some time together to share and pray.
Bill B.
Luke 2

Anonymous said...

Billy - this is good stuff! I've copied and pasted some of the paragraphs for myself to remind me of some of the truths you've presented. Thank you.
R. P.

A blessed and joyful New Year to you and Laurel!

Randy R. said...

Agreed, these posts hit the nail on the head. I agree, that the key is the heart and that the solution is not to simply follow "three easy steps." I shared these with the man with whom I minister, as they reminded us of the plight of a couple of mutual friends. One of them has essentially, "reconvered"; although, he is no longer in ministry. The other is still living as a "burnt stone." For the former, the difference was a dramatic divine encounter with God, a mountain top experience, litterally, as he was skiing two years ago in Utah over the holiday break. He had an incredible, dramatic encounter with the LORD. It was so powerful that we he got into the gondola with some others; they thought that he had flipped!!! This encounter resulted in his whole perspective changing!

Randy R. said...

I agree; your blogs clearly identify the problem. I look forward to more ideas regarding the help portion; however, I also agree, it is not a simple 3 step process. The heart is indeed the key. I shared this with the man with whom I minister, as they reminded us of a couple mutual friends. One is still living his life as a "burnt stone." On a recent FB post, he said that he is trying hard to forget the years from 1999 to 2006, when he served as the leader of a Messianic Congregation. The other person was the pastor of a church which broke apart, primarily due to the influence of one of his leaders, who has since left this world for his eternal home. This man has recovered primarily due to a dramatic, life-changing, experience with the LORD. It was literally a "mountain top" experience, as he as skiing (alone) in Utah, two years ago at this time. The encounter was so dramatic that when he got on the gondola to leave the mountain, folks on board thought that he had flipped!!!! He returned a different man, no longer a "burnt out stone." Although, he has not returned to ministry per se. His wife and family are most grateful for the change!

Randy R. said...

Hey Billy, I didn't want to leave too long of a post, so I have broken my response into two parts. As I was pondering your earlier two blogs and sharing them with the man with whom I minster, it occured to me that some of the problem may be a result of the characteristics of baby-boomers. We are accustomed to getting what we want! Most BP's didn't have to work for their first bicycle and some didn't even have to work for their first car! In a world where you are used to getting everything that you want and enjoying the luxuries and pleasures that go with that, when the realities of "church life" hit . . . it can create a tail-spin. Once in that spin, the solution that is most often followed is to over control the situation, making it even worse. When I was a pilot, and would purposely put the aircraft into a spin, the way out was to RELEASE THE CONTROLS! Obviously, the opposite of your first impulses. Too, often, we try to control the situation vs. releasing it to the Holy Spirit. Sort of like Luke Skywalker invading the Death Star: "Use THE Force, Luke!"

Billy Long said...

Thanks, Randy. Always glad to hear of dramatic encounters and life-changing experiences people have with the Lord.
I did not know you were a pilot.
Bless you,

Michael said...

Your writing inspires me to think. Thanks.

Part of my thinking was about the man Jesus healed at the Bethesda Pool.
John seems to want us to catch a few facts in Jesus encounter with this man:
1. He had attempted to heal himself, but no one would help him.
2. He had been there for 38 years. That is a long time.
3. Jesus focuses on him, despite all of the others around him.
4. Jesus asks him, "do you wish to get well" a funny question, but if you have been laying around for 38 years, probably in self-pity and disillusionment, this might have been the question needed to wake him up. Regardless, the question required a response.
5. His response focuses on his own efforts (telling) and how unsuccessful he has been.
6. Jesus response is "Get Up!, pick up your pallet and walk". Jesus is not concerned about what the man had done, but what he needed to do.
7. This is the moment: Jesus response requires our action. Our will must respond to His will. Maybe it took 38 years, but Jesus met him at the moment the man's heart and will were ready to respond.
8. The man's action, "immediately he became well, and he picked up his pallet and walked." May it be the same for us.
9. Why the Sabbath? Jesus is reminding us that as Lord of the Sabbath he entered into his rest after taking what was chaotic at the beginning he turned it into a place that he could dwell. Was it any less for this man?
10. His healing creates controversy for him. As Gomer Pyle would say: "Surprise Surprise!"
11. Jesus reminds the man to stop sinning, seemingly the source of his sickness.

Maybe I am off base and I am sure I have not exhausted the learnings from this story, but we may not be aware of God's ways and timing in our hearts or the hearts of others, but as you said, God is.

If Jesus met this man (at the appropriate time), he will meet us as well.


Billy Long said...

Thanks for sharing, Mike.