All posts tagged: heart

Do What is Right, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly!

-written by Jean Daniel Do you have any scars? I have quite a few. I remember the first one I ever had was from a smallpox vaccination. As a child, those of us who had been vaccinated proudly displayed our “bad of courage.” As a teen, I was in an accident in a Volkswagen Beetle which, due to driver error (I was not the driver), slid onto its side and then flipped three times. Every time I look in the mirror, I still notice the faded facial scars that are a reminder of the wreck. They may not be noticeable to others, but I still see them. As I aged, there were several surgeries which left larger scars. Over time, all wounds have healed, but some left faded remnants. Likewise, emotional wounds require time to heal and some scars never fade. During my first marriage, which ended in divorce, I protected my teenage daughter from the painful facts of the marital problems, even though she was somewhat aware of them. When the marriage ended, she …

How To Communicate What’s In Your Heart

Charlie Shedd writes about two rivers that are flowing along smoothly and quietly—until they come together. At this juncture the water “boils,” spray is thrown into the air, and mud comes up from the bottom. After this turbulence, a few miles downstream the two waters flow smoothly and quietly again, now as one. But the newly formed river is broader, more majestic, and more powerful than either of the two were on their own. He goes on to say: A good marriage is often like that. When two independent streams of existence come together there’s going to be some dashing of life against life at the juncture. Personalities rush against each other. Preferences clash. Ideas contend for power. Habits vie for position. The waters boil and mud often comes up from the bottom. And you wonder where the loveliness has gone. But when you go downstream a few years these two lives are flowing smoothly and quietly again. But together they are more than either of them could have been on their own. There will …

Search For Truth in A Fog of Fatigue

Hell begins the day God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done… but did not do. – Johann Wolfgang Not too long ago I got a new Study Bible; kind of a fresh start and exploring a different translation. At the front, on the first blank white page all Bibles seem to have, I felt prompted to start a list. I wrote at the top of the page “Men After God’s Own Heart.” The first name which belongs on this list is David (see 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). But he hasn’t made it on there yet, simply because I haven’t made it to his story yet. I wanted to jot the names down as I came to them, recognizing those who stand out in His story as being chasers and seekers of God’s identity and purpose. Men who desire His thoughts, adopt His will as their own, and are in friendship with Him. (I’ve got four names on the list so far.) …

What Do You Think You Deserve?

Have you ever admitted to yourself that you don’t deserve something? In most situations and circumstances in life, we tend to tell ourselves we deserve it. Whether we say it aloud or not, our actions show this is what we think. I deserve this new job. I deserve a pay raise. I deserve my family. I deserve this house. I deserve a new car. I deserve these clothes. I deserve this vacation. You get the point. I can probably say that I have thought or said all of these things more than once in my life. So let me ask you: Do we deserve the love of God? For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 Let that verse resonate and then meditate on it. Do I really deserve this? Absolutely not, but this is the love of God and His generosity in action. I can go through a day, a …

Are You Genuine or Just Playing Pretend?

Do you still have “bear fruit” ringing in your ears, too? Our last series was all about changing the heart. If we know why we react to circumstance the way we do, what we were trying to achieve with our actions, we can lay our desires and fears at the foot of the cross and begin to respond out of the Spirit.  In other words, if we can identify the root, we can change, and produce different fruit. At the end of our series, Shannon visited a few bears at an animal sanctuary. Truth be told, we tried to get a real bear on stage. Yeah, I know… it would have been awesome. But after watching Shannon feed a bear through a cage, I’m not so sure he could have handled being face to face with a real one. Which got me thinking… Bears are dangerous; the volunteer in our video makes this clear. To their core, bears are bears. They think like bears and act like bears because they have the heart of a …

What Is Your Heart Rooted In?

About a year ago, Bailey, my then girlfriend, and I went apple picking, just like any young millennial couple living in Georgia would do. We drove up to Ellijay, grabbed a bag, and picked apples. The real reason we were there was because I planned to propose. It didn’t happen. Give me some slack, I was a college kid working as an intern. Anyway, we took home 20 pounds of apples. But do you want to know what we didn’t bring home? Oranges. The entire time we were there, we only saw apples. Not a single orange, peach, grape… nothing, but apples. This isn’t a surprise. We were in an apple orchard. Down to the root, the trees had the identity of apple trees. Sure, there were different types of apples, but at the end of the day they were all apple trees. The fruit of these trees gave them the trees their identity. And the same is true for us, Church. Jesus said, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is …

Looking For Joy Won’t Make You Happy

I live out in the country, down a dirt road and then a little farther. I grew up here and I have a lot of history here. My grandparents’ parents bought this land and used to run a mill from the creek that runs through our property. I would spend hours playing in the woods and splashing in the creek. I always noticed the trees next to the creek were much bigger and sturdier than any others on our land. And it’s something that’s still true today. As an adult, it is very easy to see why. The trees next to the creek have a steady, never ending supply of water. All throughout history people have settled around rivers and lakes to have easy access to one of the most vital things: water. It’s no wonder, then, that God would use this as a metaphor for growth in our spiritual lives as well. Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners or join in …

Will You Wither or Glory Under the Heat?

These are some entries written in one man’s “journal.” They may sound like yours. I’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles… I’m not sure what to do… I’ve been spiritually terrorized… I’ve been thrown down… Even if you don’t write in a journal you’ve probably said similar things to yourself. Maybe even out loud. We’ve all felt the heat of circumstances beyond our control. Some of us wither under the heat. Some of us react in hurtful ways—towards others, towards ourselves, towards God. And some of us come through it glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes the difference? The Apostle Paul wrote those “journal entries” above. You can find them in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (The Message). But he, in today’s jargon, did not put a period where God had put a comma. If you look in your Bible you will see that each of the above entries (even if worded differently) is followed by a comma. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not …

Suffering Alone And For What?

-written by Kristen Ebensberger Have you ever felt like you were the only one who is suffering? When you are knee-deep in the muck, you may think it’s only going on in your world. We can get caught up in self-pity. We start thinking “if only…” and it’s usually followed with a thought of how someone else should have acted differently. I can promise, you are not alone. Scripture tells us our trials, or “heat,” has a purpose and it’s our job to figure out how God wants to use it for our good. Our trials reveal what is at the heart level. Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. – James 1:2-4 Have you ever wondered why your children won’t listen to you the most when you’re out in …

Are You Ready for the Change God Has For You?

-written by Matt Clotfelter On May 15, 1991 my world changed forever. I sat with my family and friends, preparing to board a plane for the first time since I was an infant. My family was leaving everything we had ever known, and we were going to Thailand. My parents were answering God’s call to be missionaries. We had spent the last two years raising support and making plans. Our stuff had been packed and shipped in 55 gallon barrels more than a month earlier. That day we stepped out into the unknown. I was unsure of what my future looked like. As a 12 year old, everything I knew as normal was about to change. I had an aunt, uncle, and two cousins who lived there already. We knew we had our family to depend on, but we didn’t know what other friendships we would have once we got there. After being in the air for 24+ hours and a 12 hour train ride, we set foot in our new hometown. My cousin began …