tuesday january 13, 2009
Captive Heart. Captive Thoughts.
Awwww, thanks for thanking me! I love hearing from you girls! Love it! Thank you for writing to me! I totally understand how our thoughts can be a huge battle ground. I love that you are concerned about keeping your heart and motives pure. That’s awesome! How cool that God speaks to our hearts, you know? God is guiding you! Come on with that!!! I love that you are looking for a guy in the right place. Keep your eyes open to a guy who shares your love for God! Keep your eyes open to the guy who is passionate about God and will fight for your pure pursuit of God as well! A guy like that – is well-worth a second thought. If you get a chance will you take a peek at what two of our girlfriends asked me about concerning guarding their heart – and then read my response to them? I know it’s a lot of reading – but I would love to encourage you with the verses and thoughts mentioned in that letter.
You are right – our thoughts matter to God. (Psalm 26:2, Matt 22:37-38, Phil. 4:8) And the truth of it is, I could try to come up with a ten step program for keeping your heart motives and your thoughts on track, but the program would ultimately fail. And Jesus knew that, too, which is why He didn’t teach that way. He made it so much easier. He taught us in Mark 12 that the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” He went on to teach, “The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” How amazing two commands could cover so much ground in our lives as far as living for God! Be encouraged! Jesus taught us such life-giving truth knowing full well that we could do it with His help, that this love - God’s love - would compel us to live the life we were meant to live in Him (II Corinthians 5). Because we love God, we seek to live for Him. In seeking to live for Him, we “DO” life – or act out our daily lives - differently than we used to. Paul writes in II Corinthians 10:5b “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Such strong imagery! And think about that. Paul writes that we take as a PRISONER – every thought – then what? What does the verse say we do with every thought? We make those thoughts – not free to roam about our heads – but we make them obedient to Christ – our Savior – the Savior of even our thoughts!!! Again – strong imagery! We have control over every thought – not vice versa. I love that! Now, I hear you, my friend – you’re just THINKING about this guy – I realize that – and it sounds completely innocent. You’re interested in him – of course you’ll think about him. We don’t want to get all weird like sayin’ it’s not godly to think about a guy you like. You also want to look nice for him. So, in the same sense we don’t want to say that it’s ungodly to want to look pretty. That would just be silly. However, your concern – that these thoughts about him – about how you look - are influencing your motives…that’s where I go – uh-huh…capture those thoughts – each one of them – and make those ideas obedient to Christ. You’re probably thinkin’ “Okay –sounds a little freaky… What does that look like?” Great question! For me, I need His Word. When I have a yucko thought in my head, I slam that negative thought with the truth that I learned from the Bible. God is faithful to provide the TRUTH I need to capture those thoughts and redirect them – and I only know the truth - what is good and right to think about - and what is not good and right to think about - because I get in His Word and study it every day. Check this out: Psalm 119:9-16 “How can those who are young keep their way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord’ teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statues as one rejoices in great riches. I MEDITATE on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.” God’s Spirit indwells every believer. He directs us by His Word and His Spirit. (Psalm 119:105, John 16:13) Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20 that it is “no longer I who lives, but Christ in me.” Amazing! Employ that truth in your life.
Consuming thoughts about this guy – any guy - could lead you into some pretty sad situations. “Sow a thought, reap and action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” (Samuel Smiles) The upside of that truth – Consuming thoughts about God – making our thoughts obedient to Christ – can lead to some pretty amazing situations. Love God, and in loving Him with all we do, with all we think, with all we are, He guides us and grows us in our relationship with Him and with others. Ask God to help you in this. He’s a good daddy. He knows how to give good gifts – good gifts we need. Ask Him to help you capture thoughts and make each one obedient to Christ and to teach you what that looks like for you as His daughter. God knows there is no other relationship that will ever satisfy you like the one He longs for you to have with Him. He knows no thought will ever bring greater joy and help to you – than those thoughts made obedient to Christ. Embrace every opportunity to learn from God and love Him in word, thought, deed! I sooooo want to encourage you to dive into your Bible and study it to know the heart of the God who loves you passionately! And you’ll find yourself thinking about Him more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more…need I say more?
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world cause by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness self-control, and perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” II Peter 1:3-8
posted by laura lewis
tuesday january 6, 2009
Question 1: I have this problem of getting emotionally attached to guys very quickly, I always end up crushed and my heart destroyed because they leave or go after another girl. I know that I am to guard my heart and I try so hard to but, either I'm not doing the right thing or not trying hard enough. Because in the end, I get the same result - emotional attachment and a broken heart. I really would like practical ways to guard my heart and possibly a vivid picture of what a woman guarding her heart looks like when she interacts with guys. Thank you for listening.
Question 2: I have been so hurt and taken advantage of by guys in the past. It took me a long time to gain a man's trust back and now that I’m finally getting there, and have met awesome Christian guy friends who truly care about and support me as a sister in Christ, I struggle with how much is too much in opening my heart to them. In the past I didn’t guard my heart but now I feel like my heart is a steel wall. I am so scared of self-disclosing myself and placing myself in a vulnerable position, because I am so used to getting hurt and I've almost become numb to the pain. I am at a place now where I am totally pursuing God, waiting patiently, and trusting that His timing is the absolute best. At the same time, however, I’m not quite sure what a girl-guy friendship is supposed to look like. How much should we open our heart to them? --- and have it be in a healthy way? Also, what does it look like to be content in Christ alone? -- will I still have that attraction to another person, even if I know that God wants me to be single in this time right now in my life??
Hey! Thanks for writing to me! I love living out our faith with you girls! LOVE it! Both of these questions came around the same time – within days of each other – so I thought I would write to you both at the same time. You both have been hurt by guys in the past, and both of you refer to guarding your heart – and want to know what that looks like as a young, single woman.
I am so excited about what God has in store for us to learn together! IF you don’t have your Bible right there with you, will you grab it so you can think about some Scripture with me? God’s Word is our guide! Thank you for this opportunity to share this lesson with you.
Turn to Proverbs 4. I love the book of Proverbs. It was authored by our God, penned by King Solomon, son of King David. My study Bible explains that Proverbs provides instruction on how to live wisely and successfully in “the fear of the Lord.” Fear of the Lord is reverence for, trust, and commitment to the Lord and His will. If you have a study Bible, it may say much of the same as an introduction to this book.
Ladies, both of you use the statement “guarding your heart” that is mentioned in Proverbs 4:23.
“Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching. For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, ‘Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you. The beginning of wisdom is this; Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.’” Verses 1-9.
“Listen my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many. I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Don not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go your way. For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble. They eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.” 10-17
“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” 18-23
Okay, so we’ve landed on the verse that began our journey through Proverbs 4. “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” What do you think Solomon meant for his sons to understand about this? Before you answer, think about every verse that came before, and now read with me a little bit after that verse.
“Keep your mouth free from perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths of your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
That’s all 27 verses of Proverbs 4. So how are you doing with my question about the verse about guarding your heart? What can we understand about what this means? Looks like? There is a cross-reference in my Bible to II Kings 10:31, and it is about Jehu, who was anointed King of Israel. Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord with all his heart. He was not careful to turn from sin – and his kingdom suffered for it.
Jesus speaks from the wisdom in this verse in Luke 6:45. “Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their heart, and evil people bring evil things out of the evil stored up in their heart. For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
This guard for our heart, girls, is God’s Word – God’s instruction and wisdom. This guard over our heart is you and I keeping God’s Word in – and sin out. Guarding your heart is not putting up a wall between you and a guy. Relationships require wisdom. Knowing who to spend time with – who to share life with – what that looks like, requires guidance from God, and He is the one who gives wisdom. So when you ask, “what does it look like to guard your heart?”, consider from Proverbs 4 that this instruction is about getting Wisdom from God – holding to His Word and keeping your life free of anything evil. We can absolutely apply that idea to relationships, as far as considering whether or not the relationship honors God. We can ask ourselves questions like: Is it wise to be in this relationship? Does this person honor me, my relationship with God, seek to protect my purity - my integrity? What are my motives for being with this person? What will the progression of this relationship look like? Does that picture honor and glorify God? These questions embody guarding your heart as it relates to Proverbs 4.
When you consider going on a date with someone (yes – even one date!!!), be very wise about who this person is and why you would want to venture into a relationship with him. Is he a follower of Christ? Does he demonstrate a love for God and others above a love for himself? Is he someone who you can respect? Why? What are those reasons? A guy worth your time should be a whole lot more than a nice shirt and great hair. And if that’s all you know at the point when he is asking you out – my suggestion – say no. This is guarding your heart. You don’t know him well enough to go out on a date with him. You might say, “Well how am I supposed to get to know him?” Glad you asked! That’s his problem! Let him pursue you! My sweet husband pursued me three months before he asked me out on a first date! Three months!!! I still tease him about that, but I most certainly respected him for it. The dating scene has changed so much, ladies. Wow! Casual cups of coffee here and there are cause for concern, girls. For a woman, I don’t care how casual the date, we always have a heart attachment. Will he like me? Does he find me beautiful? Will he think my goals are interesting? (You do have goals right?) Will he ask me out again? There’s nothing casual about those feelings. The way to avoid that kind of hurt is to avoid that kind of dating pattern. Know his intentions, and do not be a time-filler, lonely night, last minute kind of come to the rescue of this poor lonely heart kind of girl. Do not put yourself in those casual situations. Have enough respect for yourself to put up the picket fence around your dating life. Check out these great books: And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh, Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot, Lady in Waiting by Jackie Kendall). Ladies, I realize that you can get your feelings hurt even if this person you go out with is someone you have known and hung out with as friends; even if you have the guidelines set up; relationships still crash and burn. Let’s face it you can’t always avoid pain when you venture into a relationship. HOWEVER - you can avoid being disrespected as a woman who loves and lives for God. Ladies, hold on to God’s Word. Get wisdom. Proverbs 4 is all about avoiding what is evil and clinging to the Word of God which is the guard that will keep you from shame and guilt. So the relationship wasn’t right. Let it end in a dignified manner. Trust God with the direction He has given both of you, and move on.
Philippians 4:6-7 gives us huge direction that I hope encourages you. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
posted by laura lewis