This is a timeless question that maybe every human has asked, at some point in their life. And I suspect that Job, in the Bible, asked this question or some version of it, during the massively difficult season in his life. So do we obey God because there will be good outcomes? Do we obey God to avoid negative experiences? Do we obey God because life will go more smoothly? Do we obey God because it makes us feel good?
Why obey God?
During my life, I have obeyed God for the reasons I just listed and more. Sometimes, my obedience has facilitated good outcomes. And sometimes, I’ve obeyed God and stuff hasn’t turned out like I wanted. So I’m coming to the conclusion that I choose to obey God because I love God and more importantly, I’m loved by God. When I keep genuine love as a core motivation, my soul stays more tender and healthy 🙂
It’s interesting that the root for the words, “discourage” and “encourage” is the word courage, which traces to the Latin root for “heart.” So when we are discouraged, this literally means, “away from the heart”. And encourage, by contrast, means “into the heart”. But the common ingredient for both of the words, encourage & discourage, has to do with the heart.
So let’s think about this: what happens in my heart is only known between God and me. People can observe the external results of that internal status, but the state of my heart and what happens there is known most clearly by God. Maybe this is why Solomon said, in Proverbs 4:23, that we should guard our hearts, since this is where the wellspring of life starts. With this verse in mind, let’s be certain that we are keeping our hearts wide open to God’s presence because this is how we can live in a state of encouragement rather than being discouraged by experiences, conversations and various other challenges that can arise. Choose to live with God’s presence in your heart, encouraged and deeply loved!
How we treat people reflects what we think about them on the inside. So if we treat the barista like an extension of the espresso machine, then we’re thinking of them in terms of an object rather than a living human. This happens alot when we get in transactional modes of interaction & neglect to see the person with whom we’re interacting.
When we try to change someone: correcting their attitudes, challenging their political opinions, getting them closer to Jesus, making them “better”; let’s be careful that we’re not treating them like a “project“. The exceptions to this concern can be the parent, teacher or mentor roles, all of which are most affective when we perceive the recipient of our input as a human & not merely a project.
I think what made Jesus so entirely irresistable by the masses of humanity, when He walked on the earth, is that He interacted with everyone with authenticity, genuine love and sincere interest. He engaged with each individual as a person, not as a project nor object. This is what happens when we interact with others from the place of genuine love rather than manipulation, achievement or domination. Let’s allow our lives to remain in genuine love so that our interactions with others resound with redemption & reconciliation!
I have a friend in Cambodia & he has a heart of gold. Vimean is his name & he always provokes me to love well. He lives on the outskirts of a massive garbage dump & he’s always generous, super encouraging, positive & eager to share about Jesus. Vimean’s heart is golden. I was thinking about him in contrast to some other folk who have gold in their hands. Sometimes wealth in our hands can be really helpful but let’s always be sure that our hearts are full of gold no matter if our hands have money or not. Money in the hands doesn’t guarantee that a person has a heart of gold.
I’m a taxi service for three wonderful children & I’ve had this honor for more than 10 years. So I’m kind of immune to my car being messy, full stop. I’ll not paint any sordid pictures for your imagination, but let it be enough to know that I’m endeavoring to train both my kids & me to be more orderly. Seems to me that we live in a world filled with clutter & chaos such that it could quietly seep into our thoughts & feelings to contaminate & confuse, leaving us unraveled & ineffective.
Let’s keep the Prince of Peace front & center in our hearts & thoughts. Just because there’s chaos in the world doesn’t mean that it gets to dislodge Jesus’ preeminence in my living 🙂
My husband went skiing this morning & just before he left, he asked if we had any un-contaminated water bottles. The backstory on this is that I’ve had a cough for more than a week and have germified all of our water bottles. I did some quick hygiene work (soap & boiling water) so he could take a few water bottles with him, contamination free ,)
All that is to say that sometimes we drink out of contaminated water bottles, figuratively speaking, when we pick up garbage from other people. Here are some examples:
when someone is having a bad day & they do / say something rude to you, when you dish back their cranky there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
if you pick up a friend’s offense from a situation or conversation they describe to you, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
if you bring a failure expectationinto a current opportunity, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
if you secretly hope that a person fails because you’re jealous, there’s a good chance you drank from a contaminated water bottle
There are lots of other examples for consideration, but let’s always remember to daily practice Prov 4:23, guarding our hearts, so we don’t let contamination get into our bloodstream or life 🙂
I purposely waited to make this post until after Valentines Day, because for some people, Valentines Day is a painful reminder that they’re single. For other people, it’s a day to celebrate love & not just romance. If you think about it, it’s better to be single than hooked up with a yucky person or someone who is evil but pretends to be good.
The choices that we make are very important and how we see our lives and the world around us are very much active choices that we make, whether we realize it or not. And how we see our lives is a direct result of what we allow in our hearts. So the grand conclusion of this meandering blog is that we must be careful what we allow into our hearts and thinking (Proverbs 4:23) because these inputs help to shape the way we see & interact with our world – mental hygiene my friends 🙂
I recently slipped in our big snow storm and hurt my ankle and no, I’m not any good at injuries of any sort. My norm is just to ignore them & keep going – no time to be gimpy! Unfortunately, this little ankle thing isn’t responding well to being ignored.
I think the same can be true with us spiritually. Sometimes there are injuries in our hearts that require some attention. Here a few ideas that could help:
ice: it cuts back on the swelling and the agitation; when our hearts are hurt, it’s helpful to cool down before making any decisions or having some conversations (cooling down doesn’t mean simmering to re-load ammunition or nit picking to fester the injury more)
elevation: lifting up our hearts to the Holy Spirit gives space and opportunity for divine involvement, where there is always healing, repair and rejuvenation
rest: sometimes we need to give our hearts a chance to recover and “breath”; heart trauma or injury often requires some time and processing to get to a place where there can be constructive progress (just be careful that rest doesn’t turn into withdrawal)
When my kids ask me, “Guess what, mom?” my answer is always, “I’m listening”. There are lots of different ways to communicate beyond just verbal communications: through our clothes, what & how we drive, our body language, text language (hope u r feelng gr8!) and much more. Perhaps, we are always communicating, even when we don’t realize it.
On the flip side, I think that God is also always communicating – through His creation, various conversations, relationships, a still small voice, music, His Word & lots more. Perhaps God is talking even more than we listen or realize. With this thought in mind, I always want to say to The Trinity, “I’m listening”. I’m listening not only with my ears, I’m listening with my heart, listening with my emotions, listening with my mind, listening with eyes, . . . . I’m listening. May God give us hearing ears & sensitive hearts 🙂
When I was growing up, my mom put a premium on our family eating fresh stuff – fruits, veggies, meats . . . . She would always pick fresh over anything canned, frozen or processed & I’m so glad she did!! As a result, I’m a relatively healthy person & I enjoy healthy foods!
With this in mind, I think it’s important for us to think about what we feed our hearts / spirit. There’s alot of emphasis in our culture to eat more nutritionally, minding the trans fats, vitamin intake, etc. But let’s take this idea a few more steps – let’s also be mindful of what we feed our brain, the books we read, movies we watch, things we study, etc. And to go one last step, let’s consider what we feed our spirit / heart. Truthfully, I think that what we feed our hearts has tremendous influence on our thoughts & even the foods that we eat. Far too often I think we try to change ourselves from the outside working into the inside rather than letting the power & fuel of God’s Word change us from the inside to work out the change to the outside. Let’s make the ongoing decisions to feed our spirit “health food” – high octane Bible & Holy Spirit presence. I find that when I let the Holy Spirit work in my heart, His power & presence effect changes in my thinking, conversations, attitudes & behaviors in very constructive ways 🙂
Life has LOTS of distractions. Since i’ve sit down to write this blog, i’ve erased it 3 times, turned on my itunes, checked my blackberry, told David to be nice to Benji while playing chess & thought about the funny story of construction men looking in my window after i gave birth to Benji (its funny now but it wasn’t at the time).
Focus is a big deal. Right now, there’s alot of bad news you could focus on or you could chose to keep your eyes on God. I find that when i focus on God, its easier to give myself to Him, even during the busy-ness of the day. When i get my eyes & thoughts on other things, like concerns, worries, uncertainties, people frustrations, work issues, etc, i find that my heart gets jittery & unsettled. I pray that you would have God’s grace to give Him your focus throughout your day, its activities & demands.
This has been an interesting week with the stock market – to say the least. Reece says that the stock market in America dropped 17% in the last week – virtually unprecedented in recent history. I think the economic thing is making the global community a bit jittery & understandably so. However, it is my humble opinion that the economic crisis is revealing a deeper abyss – the misconception that wealth is the solution to the emptiness that echoes in the chasm of each human heart on the planet. While I completely appreciate the value of wealth & its ability to improve the ability of the poor to survive, let’s not be misled that it is an answer to the neediness of our hearts.
Reece told me about something that happened in Louisiana with a drilling rig on a lake that accidentally broke through the bottom of a lake only to discover a salt cave under the lake – watch the video below to see what happened. While you’re watching, think about this question: could our present economic strain be revealing a deeper chasm?