Tag Archives: heart

God’s Input

Grace 101


It appears to me that the Lord gave us two important venues for input, the head and the heart.  They are different, but both are important.  Some would use the terms, mind and spirit.  What I mean is that there are things God wants us to know that are absorbed through reasoning or understanding and there are things He wants us to know through feeling or intuition.

Because of our different backgrounds and demeanors, we often lean toward one or the other of these two ways of learning spiritual truth.  Some people seemed geared toward gathering information for the mind.  They read and study and discuss.  Others seemed geared toward emotions and sensations.  They try to feel whether something is true or good.  And, even though both of these are affirmed by Scripture, one group believes its way is the only right way, while the other looks down on those who learn differently.

For example, God gave us the Bible to teach us important things and to encourage us in our walk.  He also sent the Spirit to speak into our hearts.  They are not the same, but they are both important.  Unfortunately, some groups completely dismiss anything to do with the Spirit, or relegate the Spirit’s influence to something mysterious and dangerous.  For them, it is the Bible only.

Other groups almost forget that there is a Bible.  I am hearing more people say that the Bible is dull and has some difficult things and we don’t need it because we have the Spirit.  For them it is the Spirit only.

But we forget that there are many spirits and some desire to deceive us.  How is the heart able to choose which voice it welcomes?  That’s one of the important functions of the Bible’s message to the mind.  And the Bible becomes either a confusing mess or a tool for abuse in the hands of those not guided by the Spirit.

Here’s what I mean.  The Bible is truly a love letter from God to us.  It tells us how He designed us, what dangers confront us, and how to find our help in Him.  It shows us examples and illustrations of what God wants us to know.  But apart from the heart ministry of the Spirit, we find it very hard to see the love of God in the Bible.  Love is communicated to the heart.  If we push away the work of the Spirit, we will see only the judgment and anger of God when we read.

Sadly, that’s how the evil one has compromised the Scriptures in the lives of so many of God’s people.  Because the Bible was misused and the love of God was missing, they learned to see it as something negative.  It brought condemnation and fear and guilt and all kinds of what my kids used to call “bad thinks.”  So these folks try to live on what the Lord speaks into their hearts.

But then they have another problem.  How do they know whose voice they are hearing in their hearts?  The evil one whispers his lies.  Their own flesh provides its version of wisdom.  How can they discern the voice of the Lord?  Well, apart from the wisdom of the Bible, it is very difficult.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  If I had to choose one of the two, I would always choose to be led by the Spirit.  Always.  Give me the personal relationship, the One I can talk with and listen for.  But I don’t have to choose.  I can listen to the Spirit and read the Scripture and each helps me see the truth and learn the wisdom of the other.  My faith grows through my mind and my heart.

Just because the evil one has misused the Scripture by twisting it in the hands of those who will not listen to the Spirit does not mean that the Scripture is bad for us.  God meant it for our good.  His love is seen throughout the text.  The problem is in the grid some use to present it and the grid in which we learned to see it.  I have written several posts on this idea of the grid and you can find them beginning here.

Read the Bible, but pray first.  Ask the Spirit to show you the love of God.  Ask Him to push aside the old legalism, the source of shame and fear.  Ask the Spirit to lead you into the truth you need.  You will be surprised at the wonders you find.


Filed under Grace 101, heart, Legalism, Relationship

How can I protect my heart?

The key to protecting your heart is to only give it to one person.  If there is one person you can trust completely, who has only your best in mind, who will never betray you or leave you, and who is strong enough to never fail you—that’s the person you want to give your heart to.  Anyone less than that is risky.  Of course, there’s only one person like that I know.  Only Jesus.

In a world like ours, we talk about safe people.  They are harder and harder to find.  Part of the problem is that we expect too much.  We expect others to be like Jesus.  But they are not and cannot be.  They will fail us.  Some will be mean and cruel and hurt us on purpose.  Others will hurt us just because they are weak and broken themselves.  No one has what we need—except Jesus.

So, will Jesus always do what you want?  Will He always have a miracle handy to bail you out of trouble?  Yes and no.  Probably more than you would guess, but less than you would like.  He is generous in His love, but He will not be commanded by anyone.  The thing to remember is that He loves you.  He is wise enough not to give you everything you want, but He still loves you.  He will always love you.

The Scripture says that the Lord is a strong tower and we can run to Him and be safe.  Knowing that we always have Him allows us to risk relationships with others.  Not expecting them to give us what we can only get from Him allows us to relax as we relate to them.

Two facts change everything.  We are accepted by Him and we do not have to be afraid. 

Those who do not know they are acceptable will often compromise to feel accepted.  They will allow their hearts to be manipulated and controlled, just so they can fit in or feel loved.  But if you are already accepted by the One who really matters, then perhaps you have some protection against the manipulations of others.

Those who live in fear will sometimes do terrible things to themselves and to those they love just to find some peace.  They will give themselves over to almost anyone who will make them feel safe.  Sadly, the ones who offer protection and formulas for security are often the ones who do the most harm.

So trust Jesus.  He is strong and good and He loves you.  From the relationship you have with Him, you will be able to reach out to others.  Love your spouse and your kids and your friends, but don’t expect more from them than they can give.  Don’t trust your heart in their hands.  Jesus will keep your heart safe.


Filed under grace, heart, Relationship

The Heart is not the Brain

No kidding!  If there was a competition between the heart and the brain for who could gather more information, which do you think would win?  I think the heart would win easily.  The heart is a gatherer.  It remembers things your brain has long forgotten.  Its nature is to gather information, classify it, and store it.  And it never forgets. 

Why do you dislike certain people, even before you hear them talk or know anything about them?  Why do you collect certain things?  Why do you open yourself to someone so easily when you know better?  All of these things are based on the categorizing and evaluating done in your heart.  Your brain has little to do with it.

Of course, I am not even trying to be anatomically or even psychologically correct here.  I am trying to tell you what you have already experienced and why.  You already know what I mean when I say that your heart is not your brain.  If it were, you would not have done some of the things you knew you shouldn’t do.  No, the heart is a different creature.

The heart is filled with fears, anxieties, successes, pride, shame—and all kinds of things it has picked up through your life.  I have written about the flesh in previous posts.  It seems to me that the heart is the place the flesh stores all its stuff.

Years ago, when you were a little baby, something happened that frightened you.  Your heart stored that event and all the little details.  Today, when something happens that connects to that event, you become afraid.  Your brain doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, but your heart knows.  In fact, it is hard work to convince yourself that you don’t have to feel that fear.  You believe it is irrational, abnormal.  People think you are being foolish.  You don’t want to be afraid, but it just happens. 

Then along comes someone or some teaching that uses that fear to manipulate you.  Maybe they cause the fear to rise so you will do something.  Maybe they offer hope that the fear will be conquered and you open yourself to them.  And they get you to make commitments and do things you would never do if you were thinking clearly. 

The heart can be manipulated.  It can be deceived.  It can be damaged by those who reach in and try to control it.  The heart is vulnerable. 

There is so much more to say, but I will just add two more points.  First, this is why you feel this combination of anger and grief and fear about some of the relationships in your life.  Your brain says you were stupid, that you knew better.  But the problem wasn’t in your brain.  The problem was in your heart.  Now that your brain is (sort of) aware of the situation, you will be more careful; but you don’t know if you can trust yourself.  Your feelings get mixed up because someone has messed with your heart and you don’t know what to do about it.

Second, there is more than hope.  There is victory.  “God is greater than our heart,” the Bible says.  In fact, there is an opportunity in Christ to look past the input of the flesh and the feelings of the heart to the truth about yourself and the world around you.


Filed under heart, Relationship

Close to my heart?


The topic of friendship is filled with emotion for most of us.  On one hand we think of people we almost couldn’t live without.  On the other we remember betrayals and pain.  Some friends are there when we really need them.  Others are there when we don’t want them.  Friendships are about hearts and hearts are complicated.

In spite of the fact that we rarely include the heart in the list of things that make up a person (spirit-soul-body), the Bible talks a lot about the heart.  In fact, the Bible speaks of it so often and so simply that it seems to assume everyone just knows what the heart is.  And maybe we do.  The philosophers and scholars can do or say what they want, but we understand that the heart is the center.  The heart is who we are. 

The heart – the core – the center.  If you take away everything on the outside from a person, what do you have left?  Change his location, his companions, his appearance, and you still have the same person because of his heart.  The heart is different from the mind, but certainly connected to it.  The heart is different from that thing in your chest that pumps blood through your system; but, just like that, removing the heart from a person takes away life. 

So, if you wanted to drain life from another person, you would want to deal with his or her heart.  If you need to control, you would want to control the heart.  And, if you wanted to destroy, you would have to destroy the heart. 

No wonder so many forces want your heart!  No wonder we are cautioned to protect our hearts!  No wonder we hide our hearts in response to betrayal or deception. 

Family has special access to our hearts.  Friends are closer to our hearts than others.  But narcissists, legalists, exploiters, and others want access to your heart.  They know that they don’t really have you unless they have your heart.  So they learn how to get in.

This week, I want to write about our hearts.  Do these thoughts prompt any questions?


Filed under heart, Legalism, Narcissism, Relationship

Welcome to the ministry of Grace for the Heart!


I am grateful that you would be interested in this ministry and in the topic of God’s grace.  I am grateful that this ministry is touching lives around the world and bringing a message that will encourage hearts in a new way.

 So what’s in a name?  As the concepts of this ministry developed over the past few years, I became increasingly aware that the real issues for most of us are issues of the heart.  We are “heart people” whether we know it or not.  Our culture certainly reveals the truth.  Consider the issues of the day.  Whether you are talking about divorce, pornography, homosexuality, abortion, or gambling; you are speaking of heart issues.  Even in the church we struggle with things like music, authority, or comparisons… all issues of the heart. 

 James, in chapter four, acknowledges that the cause of strife in our lives is our desire, particularly unfulfilled desires.  We struggle to fill those desires but fail because we look in the wrong places.  We think we can fill the needs of our hearts through power or privilege or respect, but they are only filled through the grace of God.  And, when we do think of God, we ask for the wrong thing. 

 So many Christians have denied their heart needs.  They have made their faith into a system of mechanics and academics.  They create formulas and rituals that will, according to their system, guarantee spiritual progress.  Never mind that the formulas don’t work.  That’s just a signal to come up with different formulas. 

 Yet, sometimes the truth is revealed that formulas and rituals are not the answer.  The heart needs a person… another heart with which to connect.  The one true Heart, the One who loves beyond all understanding, is God Himself.  He has come to us in the Person of Jesus to show us His love and to invite us into a full and real relationship with Him.  This is the Grace of God for us.  He has reached out to us.  He has taken the initiative and He has done the work, all so we can live in relationship with Him forever.

 So, we have come to understand the truth of our lives and the truth of the gospel… that Jesus is God’s grace for the heart.  The heart of the believer needs Jesus, not in idea or system but, in Person.  The heart of the unbeliever needs this message from God’s people, the message of love and grace, rather than another system by which to fail. 

 This is our ministry, to proclaim the grace of God in Jesus!  This is Grace for the Heart!  Visit our website at www.gracefortheheart.org

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