Information and Motivation – Have you ever been to a motivational seminar? …where you see the possibility for something brand new? Then we go home with our new knowledge and excitement and it lasts until our first encounter with our old lifestyle, whereupon it evaporates. We have little understanding of the role our hearts play in making changes.
Our minds and feelings are on the surface and easy to discern. However, our heart or subconscious is much less obvious. In reality, the decisions we make are predominantly driven by our hearts in a rather mysterious way. When we “decide” to do something new or “feel” that we should change something, we often just impose a conflict on our hearts that causes us to be double-minded and stressed instead of changed. Listen to Paul’s explanation of how it feels.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do… Rom 7:15-16 NIV
It is also true that our hearts (or conscience / sub-conscience) often need to be changed. Our hearts may condemn or condone our behavior in a wrong way or a right way.
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 1 Cor 4:4 NIV
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. Rom 2:14-15 NIV
Guard your heart – “Guard your heart, for out of it come the issues of life” (Pro 4:23). In Hebrew, “Issues” means boundaries, the limits we set on ourselves. When we change the limits / boundaries in our hearts, we can fulfill our destiny and receive everything God has for us. Some boundaries are very good, while others are protection mechanisms that keep us from our best… fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear success, etc.
How our hearts get programmed – God created us, so we all come with a certain amount of pre-programming in our DNA that draws us into our destiny. In addition, we inherit certain things from our ancestral heritage at a heart level. We also pick up a few things in the womb via the emotional state of our mothers. The rest comes from our family upbringing, our religious beliefs and our culture. The final package is much more resistant to change than just tampering with our thoughts and feelings might suggest. Education and motivation will not save us from the direction of our heart. Saying a few mental affirmations in the morning will just result in some extra stress and failure for that day.
How we change the programming – First, let’s consider how we change our hearts in the wrong direction. Let’s say someone has offended or hurt us by their actions. We might generate a vow that will embrace the thought that, “I’ll never let that happen again.” Our definition of self now includes the conclusion that “I have been wronged” in our self-concept. Now our hearts will adopt this vow deeply and confirm it by periodically drawing us into that exact same painful event at every lap around the mountain. Most of us have experienced the pain of becoming like the thing we most abhor. In fact the more the Holy Spirit convicts of our need for change, the more we are inclined to be sensitive to the same failing in others… and offer our self-righteous judgment, the Pharisee phenomena of all religion. The easiest way to spot a hypocrite is to catch someone complaining about all the hypocrites in church!
…for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Rom 2:1 and Mt 7:1-5
Change for the better – Changing our hearts can be fairly easy, once we learn to simply reverse this process. It starts with love. Just as we felt the hatred of an offense and created a vow, now we need to feel the love of God and the brethren, and feel the prophetic promise of our particular destiny. The pleasure and thrill of that future is so enticing, exciting and welcoming, that we commit to achieving it and make a vow in the positive direction. We have not arrived yet, but our hearts are now aligned with something positive, and circumstances begin to offer opportunities for success at every lap around the mountain. Now we just have to act on them. What might stop us? Fear of change, old vows, wrong programming, lack of skills, etc. Our hearts must have the answer for this question, “Why do I deserve success?” The answer lies in our identity, who we believe we are… in Christ, in business, in life, in relationships, etc. Our hearts get convinced in several steps: 1) we have to see the possibility (hope), 2) believe that it could happen (faith), and 3) we have to experience some beginning success in our new identity (progress). Let’s think a little more about each step.
1. Hope – the spark begins when we allow ourselves to explore the desires of our heart and find where they overlap with the desires in God’s heart. Since we’re created in His image, it’s not too hard to meditate on those areas and find them, if we look. It’s quite exciting to dream.
2. Faith – the next step is simply the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. When you touch a hope that is shared by God, you will feel a green light in your spirit that will cause your heart to leap. This too is a fairly simple process – if you give yourself permission to try. You will move from an intangible hope to the substance of faith. Faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for (Heb 11:1).
3. Initial progress – Change is not just a cerebral process. You have to get out and put the plan for success in place and do it. Faith without works is dead – remember (James 2:20, 26)? This step is also fairly easy and does the most to change our hearts / self-concept.
4. Anticipation and Optimism – Once we have hope, that mixes with faith to produce the initial steps, then we begin to look at things differently. Our hearts are actually creating favorable circumstances and opportunities. We had been programmed to look at the negative. Now we begin to see new open doors. For example, Elisha’s servant saw a SMALL cloud the size of a man’s fist, not exactly a thunderstorm, but Elisha looked with ANTICIPATION and when he saw the SLIGHTEST change, he interpreted it as the beginning of the breakthrough that he was believing for and anticipating.
Change as a lifestyle – Jesus suggested that we should be like a child with regard to the Kingdom. The reason is that when we get one thing fixed in our hearts so that we can be successful in that area, the next one shows up fairly quickly and the process starts over. Successful people know this and look forward to change with anticipation and consider it an adventure. They call it “growth.” It’s scary for everyone, but the satisfaction of receiving our inheritance far outweighs the pain of sitting on the sidelines… surrounded by the boundaries that keep us safely imprisoned in bad programming and unforgiveness.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt 6:14-15 NIV
Creative genius is seldom rooted in intellectual genius or emotional enthusiasm. It is nearly always someone whose heart is aligned with God’s and who can follow the intuitive leading of his own heart. I believe in education and enthusiasm, but I want them to ride in the back seat of a car driven by my heart down the path of life in Christ. At some point, the voice of the Holy Spirit and the leadings of our own heart start resonating with the same message. The Father and I are on the same glorious page, building something great in the mountain of my heart’s passion.You’re being invited into the Kingdom right now. The fear and stress can stop you, or the promise of possibility can motivate you to the next level. The enemy would like to convince you to remain under the bed… the economy is in trouble, world events appear close to war, currencies may fail, your past failures, etc. However, in the Kingdom, you are being invited to your finest hour and your greatest success… if you can make a few changes in your heart. It’s worth it! Plus, we’re being invited to change this world and fix it. Join the party!
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Ps 16:11 NASU
I’m reading Wired for Success, Programmed for Failure by James B. Richards, excellent insight on this topic.