Saturday, September 27, 2014

how's your heart?

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Proverbs 4 & 5
mark this: Proverbs 4:23
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
I am not sure if you are at all interested in the newest wave of television programs and movies that are in three dimensions (personally, I think that the glasses are cooler than the effects). But in any case, the Bible declares that we humans are, by nature, 3-D. Think back to the Great Commandment given by Jesus: "Love the Lord your God with all your HEART and with all your SOUL and with all your STRENGTH and with all your MIND (1)." Loving God is goes beyond the physical (strength) and beyond the mental (mind). So does everyday life.
Atheists and materialists would beg to differ. They say we are merely the sum of our genes and our environment, that there is nothing beyond the cells in our body and the synapses firing in our brain. But the Bible, thousands of years of history, and our everyday human experience proves them wrong. When you see a beautiful sunset, listen to Handel's Messiah, hold a baby, or eat a good soup on a cold day, something more is happening than just your nervous system relaying sensations. Whether you like it or not, humanity has a "soulishness" that cannot be explained by all the genetics or behavior science in the world.
The first chapter of C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man is entitled "Men Without Chests." But the chapter title makes no sense until the very last pages. Lewis takes the classic Christian understanding of what it means to be human. He divides us into three parts the head (mind), the chest (heart/soul), and the rest of us (strength). He then argues that our world addresses our heads via education, training, science & psychology (That which thinks, reasons, analyzes, decides etc.) Our world also address our bodies- fitness, sports, looks, lusts & desires (That which hungers for food, drink, pleasure, sleep etc.) But it fails to address the center of who we are, the heart. Our modern society produces people without chests.
I suppose that is why we have so many intelligent, beautiful, talented, athletic people- who are bankrupt when it comes to their soul.
The Bible, in today's proverb and elsewhere, takes the exact opposite approach. It certainly has much to say regarding our physical bodies and our minds, but it tells us to "Above all else, guard your heart..."
The most important thing about us is not our mental or physical capabilities. Everything that really matters are qualities that come from the heart: character, courage, honor, love, integrity, personality. Our heart is what makes us really “human” We are not machines (merely minds) . We are not animals (merely bodies). God is interested in your heart! Without your heart, you really have nothing. Think back to old Pharaoh during the time of Exodus. His body was afflicted by the various plagues. He knew in his mind that they were from God. Yet that did him absolutely no good because his "heart was hard and he would not listen (2)."
So the question for today is "how's your heart?" Is it open to God? Are you taking care of it?
If I have a physical or mental malady, I may find help from a doctor or medicine. But there is only one who can "create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (3)."
(1) Luke 10:27
(2) Exodus 8:19
(3) Psalm 51:10

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