Guarding Your Heart…


Many of us have studied, read and committed to memory Proverbs 4:23 KJV…

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

 

Many translations say “guard”, “keep and guard”, and some variation of the two words. In the greek ‘keep’ is translated as ‘natsar‘ meaning to guard, watch, watch over, keep, to preserve, guard from dangers, observe, guard with fidelity, keep secure, to be kept close, be blockaded, and watchman. Now that is a huge difference from how I know many interpret that scripture to mean. Many times we think that guard means to keep on lock down somewhat like the picture below.

Heart

Well the huge misconception is that we must lock our hearts down not allowing people to enter and more importantly not allowing God to totally renovate our hearts so that they reflect His. When we take another look at the definition and true meaning of the word, we see that it merely means to protect. When we protect something we’re keeping a watchful eye allowing the good to enter and prohibiting the bad from entering. Increasingly we can get so caught up and not realize that our form of “guarding” has turned into a full on prison for our hearts.

I know that I have personally been guilty of this type of “guarding” and I have missed out on some great opportunities to get to know some great people. I thought that if I “guarded” my heart really good I could keep people from hurting me but that wasn’t working so well because I wasn’t allowing anyone good to enter out of fear. Fear of rejection, hurt and pain had me so paralyzed that I resisted opportunities out of the fear of being vulnerable. Do we have to allow people to hurt us? No. Will it happen. Absolutely, because people aren’t perfect and they mess up. What we must distinguish is if these are good people making a mistake or people who really are toxic for us and the well-being of our hearts.

We must protect our hearts from all possible danger. Just like a guard stands at the front of a castle to monitor who enters, we must do the same by thoroughly checking out people and things searching for weapons (hateful words, seeds of doubt, seeds of unbelief, temptation, pride, greed, lust, lies, etc.) and making sure those things aren’t permitted to enter.

guard-your-heart

 

Entering into relationships with people can be very stressful if we allow them to be. We can remember and be holding on to past hurt and that can ultimately make our hearts toxic and until we release the hurt and pain from the past we cannot move on into new relationships in the future.

Also consider that in order for God to create a new heart in us and purify our hearts we must give Him access! Inviting Christ into our lives is purely voluntary and it’s a decision we must make in order for the true renovation process to take place. After all we have much work that needs to take place in order to reflect His heart!

Scriptures to meditate on:

Ezekiel 36:26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

“Let Me Tell You What I Heard…”


Gossip…it always seems to start out with a simple “Let me tell you what I heard about so and so…” or “well I heard…” and before you know you are an active participant in gossip. We ALL have fallen prey to the juicy information about someone else, but you always have to put the shoe on the other foot and wonder “would I like it if someone was talking about me in this way?”.  NO! So stop now before your habit of trading other peoples information gets you involved in a ugly situation.

I’ll never forget sitting with a new friend talking and she began to tell me that she knew me way back in middle school and how she recently heard about me from others. Well, I was not expecting to hear what she said! It totally blew me that an totally untrue reputation had gone around about me for years and I’m not sure if she knew it or not but I was on the verge of tears! It literally hurt me to know that such things were being spread about me from people who could care less about me and never spent any real time with me to know me. It took me some time to really shake those thoughts the enemy began throwing my way, and it made me realize and fully understand that gossip is and will never be harmless.  Although she reassured me that it wasn’t told to her in a malicious manner, it still hurt the same. Trust me I know that when you’re just telling someone what you heard about another person you really don’t have any ill will for them you’re simply repeating what you heard. 

It’s never the people who are retelling in their own way what they heard, it’s the person who it is about that is hurt. Gossiping is ugly and we always have to remain on guard for when we hear it and when we feel tempted to share it.

gos·sip (noun) 1. casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true
mean-girls
It’s especially hard now not to indulge in gossip because this world thrives off of the business of others. There are plenty of magazines in stores, a plethora of gossip blogs and websites, talk shows, radio shows, etc. You name it and it’s out there. Make sure that you don’t make reading, watching and looking at those things a habit or a “guilty pleasure” either because before you know it you’ll want to act that way in real life. Learn to have casual constructive conversations, and if your friends begin to gossip CHECK THEM! If they’re true friends you’ll be able to check them and they’ll thank you for it. My friends check me and I can check them, that’s how we grow.
You never want to be disqualified for something God has lined up for you in the future all because you have a bad habit that you refuse to give up.
We’re all a work in progress, I know gossip is a hard habit to get rid of but it’s possible. Each day make up in your mind not to indulge in gossip. I know I am!
Some good verses to help guide the way you should and shouldn’t speak…

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Ephesians 4:29

Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships. Proverbs 16:28

Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief. Proverbs 21:23

Gossips can’t keep secrets, so never confide in blabbermouths. Proverbs 20:19

Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly? Proverbs 18:8

Don’t bad-mouth each other, friends. It’s God’s Word, his Message, his Royal Rule, that takes a beating in that kind of talk. You’re supposed to be honoring the Message, not writing graffiti all over it. God is in charge of deciding human destiny. Who do you think you are to meddle in the destiny of others? James 4:11-12

Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation. Matthew 12:36-37

The Dream…


For the past few weeks I’ve been reading this book called “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris. Not only has this book challenged me in every way when it comes to conventional dating, it has also opened my eyes even more about real purity. As a single woman, I’m always intrigued when I hear the different stories how how people dated before they were married and how some are currently dating the person they desire to marry. Consequently, I’m more so interested in the way Believers date, wondering how they stay pure in the dating and courting stage of their relationship and how that has affected their martial relationship. Well while reading this book, the author tells a story of a dream he had and I thought it was so profound that I wanted to share it.

 

The Room

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.

 

row-of-filing-cabinets_i-G-56-5654-PHSMG00Z

 

And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their contents. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled at My Brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in Anger,” “Things I Have Muttered under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes there were fewer than I hoped.

I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my twenty years to write each of these thousands, possibly millions, of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “Songs I Have Listened To,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed contents. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded.

Suddenly I felt an almost animal rage. One thought dominated my mind: “No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took the file at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear- filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card.”No!” I shouted, rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood.

He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and continued to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

(emphasis mine)

After I read the story for the first time all I could manage to get out was “Wow”, wow at that fact that a Man so pure would take on such filth for me. I didn’t even want to imagine my filth because the temptation to stay in sin is so strong. Many often rationalize that their sin is too great and instead of letting Him purify them they stay in sin because they figure there is no hope for them. That’s why the devil loves to press replay on our past just so he can get us to utter “I’m not worthy.” No we’re not, but it doesn’t matter because Jesus makes us worthy by taking on all our sin and shame. When I want to take a stroll down memory I resist it with everything in me because I know nothing good comes from reliving the sinful past. Yes I’ve messed up in terms of purity, but to know that His blood signed named and gave me a new start is priceless.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

The GREAT exchange…

A Recovering Hypocrite…


The word hypocrisy comes from the Greek ὑπόκρισις (hypokrisis), which means “jealous”, “play-acting”, “acting out”, “coward” or “dissembling”. A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
Wow. Take a moment and let that definition sink in…
 
It is so true that some of us have pretended so long that we ourselves start to believe that the pretend lives were living are real. When we were kids we play pretend, for me it was a favorite game because you could become anyone or anything you wanted. However, there are some people who are now professional pretenders. Afraid to be who they really were created by God to be so they pretend to be something they were never created to be, only they have pretended for so long they don’t know who they really are anymore. Let’s all welcome…CONFUSION.
 
 
Growing up, I allowed the enemy to hand me a mask. I was being a raised as a devout Christian, but as I got older my young mind wanted to compromise, A LOT. You see I loved being a Christian and I loved Jesus, but reading all that was required of me to become His follower was a bit much in this day and age. So I watched enough Christians to know how to act and even talk like a Christian at the right times, but I never grew in love with Jesus. My faith was more about being afraid to die and going to hell versus having a relationship with Him. You see even at a young age I knew that every relationship had requirements, but I was young and wanted to have my fun, so I pretended. I wore the mask for so long I even fooled myself at times thinking I’m so in love with Jesus…or am I? You see if I was my actions would of shown that. Commandments would of been more than suggestions to me, because after all when you’re deeply in love with someone you do what they ask of you to please them, no matter what. Even still, many days I would grow tired of wearing a mask, but I still wouldn’t leave home without it. Other days I simply forgot to wear it and people got a glimpse of who I really was…
 
 
I really wanted to live right, but my flesh was so strong. It wanted what it wanted and there was no denying it, or so I thought. I learned that the more I fed my flesh with whatever it craved for I was keeping my spirit dead, starving it to death. Every morning I woke up with the choice to crucify my flesh or my spirit, many days I chose my spirit, and I suffered. I noticed my desires changing from when I was a child and was excited about Jesus to desires of the world. I began regulating Him to a holiday, Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, and those times where my flesh got me in trouble. You see I had a hard time surrendering. I couldn’t fathom giving my entire self to someone I couldn’t see.
 
 

Sur·ren·der

verb \sə-ˈren-dər\

to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand
I didn’t surrender my pride and I was often motivated more out of a desire to impress people than to glorify God. I didn’t surrender my plans; God was welcome to come along, but I did what I wanted to do. He was welcome to the co-pilot seat, but I kept a firm grasp on the controls. I didn’t surrender my selfish desires. I didn’t surrender my lustful thoughts. I didn’t surrender my entertainment choices; I watched what I wanted to watch and listened to what I wanted to listen to. I didn’t surrender my money; God got the leftovers or nothing at all. I didn’t surrender my time to God. I didn’t surrender at all…and then I decided to die.
 
Die to my flesh, for it had way too much control. Die to my desires, for they always went against God. Die to my way of thinking, God knows better than me. Die to my reasoning, who can ague with God? Die to my comfort, because being a Christian was going to cost me.
 
 
Mask removed I’m fully free to show my true identity…a devout unashamed follower of Christ.
 
Are you ready to die?
 
 
 
 
*some of the excerpts are taken from “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman

Love Connection…Change of Heart…Christian Mingle…The Dating Game!


Yes I know it’s been months since I’ve blogged! My apologies for those who have asked when the next one will be! Although my schedule has been crazy I will not make any excuses…Great! Now on to the topic everyone is buzzing about…CHRISTIAN DATING!

I have read and seen many teachings on Christian Dating/Courtship. This post brings together all of what I have learned. First and foremost I turn to the Bible in every situation, and since the Bible is not specific on dating I have taken Biblical principles to shape my views.

I am in constant pursuit of purity in every avenue of my life and since I desire to be married, I am looking forward to dating my future husband God’s way. However, marriage is not my priority in life! I know God will present potential mates for me according to His timing, but it is I that ultimately has to choose. So my steps for dating aren’t new or revolutionary, but if applied they will work and produce strong marriages and because of the strong foundation you can outlast any situation in marriage. (I have examples, just ask!)

1. Do not be unequally yoked! 2 Corinthians 6:14…How can two walk together if they don’t agree? If you don’t believe in the same God and follow the same rules then you can almost be sure that you will have many disagreements. Only reserve your intimate relationships with people of like-minded faith in Jesus Christ. We can be causal friends with unbelievers, but we know that an intimate relationship cannot be formed because there is no common ground. Yes you both have the same interests but your main interest is Jesus Christ and if they aren’t interested in Him the relationship will not last. Trust me. Also, remember that this goes for spiritual maturity levels as well.

2.Establish friendship! Proverbs 18:24…This is most important because you need a strong foundation. If you can’t even be friends and enjoy their company how do you expect to live with this person for the rest of your lives? Not every friendship with the opposite sex means it will end in marriage.

3. Set Boundaries. Jeremiah 29:11…Since the beginning God had purpose for everything He created and you’ve heard many times that “what you don’t know the purpose of you will abuse”, so set boundaries for your friendship. One important thing I learned from a good friend of mine was that we defined what we believe it is to be a friend and what we expect from each other in out friendship. Now I had never done that before but when I tell you it has enhanced my life greatly, trust me! I know what she expects from me and she knows what I expect from her. Yes! I expect impartation from ALL my friends, there has to be some exchange!

4. Never isolate yourself from friends and family. Proverbs 11:24…Often times when you’re in a situation you cannot see the forest for the trees! You need help and those people who know you best can give you that help. Make sure they know your intentions and are spiritually mature to help you. Family and Friends can often see things that you cannot because you’re so caught up in the greatness of that person. Let them hang out with them, talk to them and observe them in large and small settings. You’ll be amazed at what they can see about a person that you fail to recognize. Also who are their close friends? You can learn a lot about a person by the company they keep.

5. No kissing, sex, cohabitation or inappropriate touching. Romans 12:1-2…We are to glorify God with our bodies and to always be an example! Foreplay is called foreplay for a reason! It gets you prepared for the main event…SEX! I am not here to tell you what to do, but as for me there will be no kissing until my wedding day. Why? Because I want to honor God and my husband, and I don’t want to start something that we cannot finish as unmarried Believers. Sexual purity is important to me because I want to honor God. Period.

6. Allow him to pursue her! Proverbs 18:22…Women, let God lead Him to you, God doesn’t need your help so stop looking and be patient! Men, let God direct you to her! You don’t need to date every girl in the church, allow Holy Spirit to present options to you! When you’re thirsty (anxious) people can tell and it’s a turn off. Your focus should be on God not checking out if “The One” is in the congregation that Sunday! (No you don’t have to meet your spouse in church, thank you Holy Spirit because I know that would be someones question)

7. Monitor what movies and music you both listen to. Proverbs 4:23…Everything you hear has the opportunity to get into your heart, and what comes out your mouth first is planted in your heart. We are warned many times to guard our hearts because what is sowed there will come to harvest, and you want only the good to harvest. So movies with messages contradictory to what the Bible says should be avoided because you don’t want that harvest. Along with movies that promote sexual promiscuity, lying, adultery, murder, envy, etc. should be avoided. Doing things God’s way always produces a good harvest.

8. Watch and Wait. Psalm 130:5…Don’t be so impatient that you rush into making an unwise decision. Be patient and wait for the real person you are dating to be revealed to you. Once people get comfortable and let their guard down, you’re able to see those flaws that they were hiding. Are they flaws that they’re working on? Or flaws that they practice and are growing in? Can you handle the real person you’ve gotten to know?

I pray these few tips helped you as it as helped me!

Some Books & Teachings that helped me (I have personally read and listened to ALL of these and MORE):

Your Knight and Shining Armor: Discovering Your Lifelong Love

101 Questions to Ask Before Getting Engaged

Single, Married, Separated, and Life After Divorce

Being Whole in Your Single and Married Life

For Single Women Only

Keys For Living Single

The Purpose and Power of Love and Marriage

Waiting and Dating

Can Christians Date?

The Real Crazy In Love…


So I’m reading this book and I come across the question someone asked the author Francis Chan…”Why would a loving God force me to love Him? …threatens me with hell and punishment if I don’t begin a relationship with Him.”

 

Well I sat there because that was a interesting question. I read it again for clarity and thought about it. Here’s my thought process…

In the beginning God created everything. He decided that He wanted to create beings that He could commune with so hence humans, and Angels were created to be “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Wow God thought that much of you and me to create Angels for our use and to worship Him of course! Only angels aren’t  like humans because humans are more like God (Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26 NIV). So why wouldn’t God want something like Him to have a relationship with Him? As much as we try we can’t have the same relationship with dogs, because they aren’t like humans. A true and fulfilling relationship can exist between those things that are alike in nature (take a moment and let that marinate).

With me so far?

Ok, but one Angel got high and mighty and because angels were given free will (like us), he decided he could be better than God. Now we all know the story of the angel name Lucifer…but more importantly why would God create all this knowing that most of His creations that He created to commune with Him would reject Him? I mean it wasn’t like He created hell in the beginning scriptures saying “this is for all those who refuse to love me” (please go and check Genesis now), and He didn’t specifically create Lucifer already evil. No He created a beautiful Angel named Lucifer but iniquity was found in him so Lucifer decided to go against his very Creator (Ezekiel 28:15). He created Lucifer anyway despite knowing what evil he would do. Knowing that as a result some of His most prized creations would not choose Him and reject Him.

Who does that?! A God that loves us like crazy does! Despite a few out of many that would believe and have relationship with Him,  He would still decide to create us anyway. Just ponder on that for a moment. Kind of reminds you of Jesus…for all He died and yet the majority still refuses to accept His existence and divine power. He could of not given us free will but then He would never know our true intensions. You learn the true intentions of people by giving them the option to choose what they want, it reveals their true desires.

That made me think of us humans. Usually when you force people to like/love you they end up disliking/hating you even more, but given the choice to get to know you for themselves most people eventually like/love you on their own. Their choice. So how great of a risk of God to already know most of His creations would reject Him but choose to create them anyway for the very few that would love Him in return. Wow. Would any human be up for that challenge? It’s like you choose to have 10 children and only 3 love you in return and are obedient. The other 7 don’t take the time to get to know you, they pretend to love you, they hate you because of what they have heard about you, or they see one of their siblings who claim to love you do things they know they’re not supposed to do and are turned away, or refuse to believe you exist at all. But before you had your children you knew this was going to happen. Still want to have those children when the majority won’t love you?

 God can’t force humans to do anything. Why? Because He gave us all free will, and with that free will we have the option to love Him or not. The choice is always ours. The punishment wasn’t created for His most prized creations but for the one who thought he should of been God himself and his angels that wanted to follow him, but it’s also a place we choice to enter by our actions or lack of actions. Lucifer knows we are Gods’ prized creations because we are just like Him, and his goal is to get as many as he can to follow him into disobedience. Lucifer is jealous of you because you are just like The Creator something he’s always wanted to be! So why decide to go to a place that wasn’t designed for you (“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matthew 25:41)?

But with truly loving God means following His direction and rules.

Are you in love with God or strong like?

Remember the Kindergarten game ‘Follow the Leader’? Well the same is true for us…we follow our leaders by submitting to their leading. My Leader is Christ, who resides in Heaven with our Father. Lucifer is the leader of Hell and his followers will join him there.

Choose ye this day!

(Yikes! This is only the 3rd chapter!!!! Anticipating Chapter 4:  Profile of the Lukewarm…)

Have you read this book? Or are you currently reading it? I’d love to hear your insight!