exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 1 Tim 4:7 KJV
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb 5:14 KJV
Mind vs. Heart – Western Christianity is prone to rely on rational thought as an approach to God. We like to be educated and think things out. The church is prone to emphasize programs and mechanisms and so do businesses, education, etc. Employees are often made to feel likes cogs in a wheel. So this newsletter is simply about “why you should” and “how you can” exercise your heart.
Why – Let’s give our mind two reasons to take a back seat while reading this newsletter.
1. Decision making – We don’t really make decisions based on rational thought anyway. Most of your and my responses to life are made from predisposed filters in our heart. Some refer to it as subconscious drivers. Listen to Paul:
For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Rom 7:15, 21-24 NIV
This verse is centered around carnal tendencies toward sinful behavior. I want to suggest that for good or bad, our decision making process is centered in our hearts. That’s just how decisions work… you get the water that’s in the well.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Prov 4:23 NIV
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matt 12:35 NIV
2. Direction taking – We don’t follow directions anyway. Many mentors assume that if they just show people how to do something they will learn it. That simple formula doesn’t work because it skips what’s in the heart. Disciples often have hearts working against them until they understand their dream. Better and more training will not overcome self-sabotage!
What does work? – I want to suggest that since decisions and your life direction flow from the wellspring of your heart that we find out what’s in there! Many of us have been raised with a belief that only evil resides in our heart. When we’re first saved, and occasionally thereafter, we do need to cleanse our hearts through Jesus’ work on the cross. However, the will of God we were created for will also show up in our hearts.
It’s interesting that “exercise” in the verses above comes from gumnazo which means to “practice naked” and comes from the root word gumnos which means “nude.” Remember the fig leaves? We really can’t cover up what’s in our heart. That wellspring will promote us to success or sabotage our best efforts; one or the other. Trying to cover up what’s in our hearts is a disaster waiting to destoy a well-meaning initiative with great coaching.
So let’s talk about how to get in touch with what’s in our hearts; especially the good stuff.
Get in touch with your heart through art – Movies and books are two common ways to exercise your heart. Good movies touch our hearts because they tap into desires placed there by the Holy Spirit. We are “moved” when that chord is struck. I want to suggest you read The Shack by Wm Paul Young. It’s a readable paperback that will bless your relationship with God. It will move your heart and you’ll identify with the experience I’m suggesting. One phrase used in the Bible for this process is opening the eyes of our heart so that we can see a glorious inheritance.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Eph 1:18-19 NIV
We all need to experience our hearts “welling up.” Tears can flow through convulsive sobs, joy may surface, our hearts can leap and dance, laughter may burst out like a flood… there are many expressions of the heart. Don’t learn them; experience them. Experiencing your heart is the richness of your life in Christ.
Mentoring through the heart – Here is the simple crux of what I’m sharing that impacts discipleship. We all want to be trained to receive our inheritance in Christ. We also want to know how to train others. It all starts with knowing what’s in the heart. We need the mechanisms and the training too, but it doesn’t work until our heart’s desire is identified. Good mechanistic training just gets filtered until it supports a dream. Our mistake is that we start with some formula for success before we understand the dream that success will serve. That’s why our goal can’t be something like making money. Your real dream is connected to a tangible purpose. Money is just a tool to make a dream come true.
Please hear this; when your heart grasps its real Kingdom purpose, then the mechanisms, programs and training you need will naturally follow and so will your skills, and success, and finances, and ministry, and inheritance. Your heart will be working with you instead of against you! You’ll stop sabotaging yourself with hidden filters in your heart. (see Overcoming the Poverty of Self-Sabotage.)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33 NIV
Affirm you heart – Getting your wellspring to flow is best helped by talking about your dream. Before you understand with your mind how your dream could possibly come true, you must begin to articulate the dream with words. To our minds this “feels” very naked and uncomfortable… to talk about casting mountainous obstacles into the sea. However, it’s the natural progression of faith. We articulate what’s in our heart with goals and promises and creative proclamations that release the “how to.”
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. Mark 11:23-25 NIV
There is another healthy dynamic that comes with articulating and affirming your heart’s desires and dreams; The more you talk about it, the more you’ll refine the dream and give it substance. If your dream has God in it, others will resonate with it and support you… of course you might also stir up a hornets nest of resistance if you share it in the wrong camp! Mary privately “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” when she was exposed to her dream. Lu 2:19
Recommendation – I want to suggest Brian Klemmer’s book, If How-To’s Were Enough. He came up with the phrase, “When the intent is clear, a mechanism will appear.” pg 33. Their workshops and seminars reinforce the theme of this newsletter in a powerful way.