Friday, December 7, 2012

Can you change your heart?

I rarely “hear from God.” And when I do it’s not a thundering voice from the sky, but a nudge that I know is His. Skeptics are welcome to say that it’s my own “internal dialog” and that it just happens to randomly poke me in some incredibly relevant way. That’s fine, but I know in my heart that it’s God.

And speaking of hearts, that’s what my last “personal nudge” was. I’m really reluctant to share it here because it’s in a personal context that makes sense to me but means it doesn’t stand alone very well. In fact, taken alone it would form a dangerously incomplete theology that would drive us to become watchful Puritans trying to clean up our lives so we “appear good” without a true change of heart. (Someone really important said something about “whitewashed tombs,” I think…?)

But, I know of at least one person who needs to hear this, so I might as well put it out for the world rather than just privately messaging him.

All that said, I believe God told me:

You’re not in charge of your heart; you’re in charge of your actions. You focus on changing your actions, and I’ll focus on changing your heart.

Why?

Because, let’s be honest: Sometimes, I don’t “feel” like “being good” or “doing the right thing” or whatever. Maybe you always, always, always do… and if so, I want to know who you are and how you got there. For me and the rest of us out here, there are times when I get annoyed with my kids for being kids. Or get short with my wife. Or frustrated with the client who didn’t read simple instructions. Or downright angry with the friends who are divorcing. Or exasperated with a church that doesn’t communicate well to its congregation. Or whatever.

And then I think, “Oh, I shouldn’t feel that way. I should be more loving toward them. Why don’t I feel loving toward them? Woe is me! There must be something wrong with my heart. Where is Jesus in my life? Is He even close to me right now?” etc. etc. etc.

And then God tells me (and only me – not necessarily you)…

You’re not in charge of your heart; you’re in charge of your actions. You focus on changing your actions, and I’ll focus on changing your heart.

So, I’m working on setting bad/negative/disengaged feelings aside and doing the right thing. Not as an attempt to be actively hypocritical and “look good” while wallowing in a terrible attitude. But, instead, I'm deciding to consciously choose to take action on something I know to be right, regardless of how I feel about it, and trusting that God will change my heart accordingly, as He sees fit.

Let’s see how that goes…

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Is God where you think He is?

Luke 24:5b-6a NIV (http://bible.us/111/luk.24.5.niv)

???Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!"

The moment a friend shared this with me, a literal chill went down my back.

I don't know what kind of conclusion I'm supposed to draw from it -- plenty I ones could jump to, and they might not be correct -- but it's been a very good reminder to be cautious of "seeking God" in pet theologies or worship experiences or catchy books or well-designed teaching programs or...?