Archive for the ‘heart issues’ Category

A message for complainers from  Justin Peters.  Another article that complements the video is Far Too Easily Displeased – Jon Bloom admits he is a grumbler by nature and reflects on what it is that makes us grumble.

Mothers tell their abortion stories: Sunday’s New York Magazine features testimonials from twenty-six women who have had their unborn children aborted. The stories are raw and revealing. These are not stories of feminist liberation and power. They are the stories of women who have pangs of conscience over what they have done. Some of them have muddled through the aftermath by suppressing their consciences. One woman even says, “There’s no room to talk about being unsure.” Other women aren’t able to pretend and are obviously living with a heavy burden of grief and regret.

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about this article in the New York Magazine in Their Abortions—What Do These Abortion Testimonies Really Reveal?

Effective Personal Evangelism – Jeremy Walker has completed his series of articles on effective personal evangelism. He gives us a lot to think about!

Fred Zaspel writes about the death of their 29-year-old daughter:

Surely a day will never pass, in this life, without sensing this deep, gaping hole in our hearts. We just cannot imagine life without Gina. How we loved her.

I have often suspected over the years that Christians who romanticize death have likely never experienced the loss of a close loved one. Death remains a dreaded and a devastating enemy, and there is just no way to make it pretty. It still stings, deeply so, and when it comes close like this it leaves us feeling all but completely undone.

Yet for Christians there truly is a difference. And during this past week since Gina passed, agonizing as it has been, we have learned first-hand that we really do not sorrow as those who have no hope. The weighty promises and massive truths that God has revealed to us in his Word truly are life-shaping and soul anchoring, and they provide a sure point of reference for even the most hurting heart.  You can read the whole thing here.

Are These Enemies of Marriage in Your House?

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John Calvin:

If there is no more effective remedy for anger and impatience, he has surely benefited greatly who has so learned to meditate upon God’s providence that he can always recall his mind to this point: the Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient.

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation. (Institutes 1.17.8)

Kevin DeYoung comments

As you read over the quotation about patience, remember that it applies to parenting too, as we can often be “unjustly wounded” by our children.

It may also help to remember that Calvin struggled with outbursts of anger his whole life.

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Phil Ryken (adapted from Loving the Way Jesus Loves):

“Most of us tend to think of irritability as a natural response to life’s little frustrations. We also tend not to worry too much about our irritability, although some Christians may perhaps be wise enough to make it a matter for prayer. When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you respond graciously to that special person who always annoys you?

We should take our irritability much more seriously, because it is the very opposite of love. We know this because 1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “is not irritable.” Irritability is the antithesis of charity. It is not merely a way of complaining, therefore, but actually a way of hating.

Ryken uses Mark 6:30-44 to show how Jesus dealt with a situation that irritated the disciples. Understanding the anatomy of irritability can help us battle it.

Please click here to read more from Ryken about who gets irritated, when we tend to get irritated and how we treat people when we are irritated!  Very practical stuff!

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A prayer about anger

Once again Scotty Smith has written a prayer that deals with a problem so many wish they could get a handle on: anger.  His prayer is about “owning, understanding and stewarding our anger.”  Here’s how it goes:

Dear Lord Jesus, anger, sinning, devilish activity and footholds, I’m way too familiar with all four. I can think of certain door-to-door salespeople I wish I’d never given a “foothold” across the threshold of my front door. One minute into feigned niceness and well crafted “pitch,” and I’m ready to usher them on their way. Oh, that I’d be that wise when the devil approaches my heart and home.

Of course, if the dark one knocked on my front door in a red jumpsuit with a three-pronged pitchfork in hand, I’d have no problem turning him away. Unfortunately, he usually creeps in from the basement of tiredness and self-righteousness, or the back door of pent-up irritation and resentment. I can’t and won’t blame my anger on him. He’s the parasitic pariah who exploits anger for his evil machinations.

Jesus, help me understand and steward the emotion of anger. It’s always been a confusing feeling to me—one causing fear, shame and ambivalence. In this Scripture, you’re not telling us never to be angry, but to be careful not to sin when we do feel angry. Grant me big grace for this one, Lord.

I’ve been on the receiving end of destructive anger and demonic rage, and I don’t wish such a crushing of the spirit or implosion of the heart on anyone.  Though I’m not typically loud and large with my anger, I certainly own and grieve the ways my anger has brought just as much hurt to people I love. A slow radioactive leak of fury can be just as damaging, in time, as a fury bomb.

Jesus, help me be angry at the right time, for the right reasons, in the right way. Give me a holy passion for justice. Help me become a courageous warrior of the heart and advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. Help me turn over tables to your glory, and not merely throw tantrums for my pouting.

Melt the icebergs of tension and stress in my heart and body. Change my rigidity into playfulness. Redirect the energy I waste trying to feed and keep my control idol propped up. Slay the beast in me that assumes the right not to be interrupted or inconvenienced. May I be much more committed to pre-sunset resolves and reconciliations, than giving my anger a warm bottle tucking it in for a good night’s sleep.

Right now, Lord Jesus, I throw open every door and window of my heart. Come in and establish multiple footholds of mercy, grace, and compassion. I abandon myself to your beauty and bounty today. So very Amen I pray in your peerless and priceless name.

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What is a right heart?

Over at J. C. Ryle quotes, a right heart is  a. . .

  • new heart
  • broken and contrite heart
  • heart which believes on Christ alone for salvation
  • purified heart
  • praying heart
  • heart that feels conflict within it
  • honest, undivided, and true heart
Read Ryle elaborate on this here.

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The angry person is the last to know

This is one article by Ed Welch we should all read

“The problem with anger is that those who don’t have the problem take it to heart; those who are angry are confident in their right-ness and over time can become massively, utterly, completely deluded, blind and (this is no exaggeration) can feel quite good about themselves after bludgeoning someone close them, as if they have set the world aright. Arrgghh. I hate anger.”

. . . .If you believe you have a problem with anger, if you have confessed that to others, and if you have a ruthless agenda for putting this monster to death, then you are in the advanced course of sanctification and please feel free to teach the rest of us. For the rest of us, here are a few questions:

  1. Do you stretch and enlarge the category of anger so it includes you? I know a man who doesn’t think he is angry even though every hour or so he threatens to rip off someone’s head. His narrow definition of anger? An angry person actually rips off someone’s head. Since he only wants to rip off someone’s head, he isn’t angry.
  2. Have you enlarged the spectrum of your anger by filling in some of the details from the Sermon on the Mount? (Matthew 5:21-22) For example, at one extreme is murder, at the other is our internal muttering, “what a jerk.” What’s in between? Of course, everything on this spectrum is murderous.
  3. In the last six months have you confessed your sin of anger, to both God and the injured person?
  4. In the last six months have you asked those closest to you, “When have you seen me angry in the last few weeks?” When will you ask them? Is the real cause of your frustration/anger usually something or someone other than you? Do you understand the real cause is not “THEM” and is really “I WANT and I’m not getting what I want”? (James 4:1-10)
  5. Do you know that Jesus was never angry because of something done to him? Do you care?
  6. Are you ever wrong? Angry people, against all the odds, are nearly always right.
  7. “Do you have a right to be angry?” This is God’s patient question to Jonah.

Keep reading.

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Jared Wilson:

David Powlison’s list of questions in Seeing With New Eyes are good for a diagnostic test on our lives now and again to help us identify idols.

1. What do I worry about most?

2. What, if I failed or lost it, would cause me to feel that I did not even want to live?

3. What do I use to comfort myself when things go bad or get difficult?

4. What do I do to cope? What are my release valves? What do I do to feel better?

5. What preoccupies me? What do I daydream about?

6. What makes me feel the most self-worth? Of what am I the proudest? For what do I want to be known?

7. What do I lead with in conversations?

8. Early on what do I want to make sure that people know about me?

9. What prayer, unanswered, would make me seriously think about turning away from God?

10. What do I really want and expect out of life? What would really make me happy?

11. What is my hope for the future?

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John Calvin was famous for calling the heart of man “an idol factory.”  Idols arise in our hearts from our desires. Most of the time people talk about their heart “needs” but we don’t really have needs in our hearts so much as we have desires.  Hebrews 4:12 doesn’t fault us for the “needs” of the heart but rather for the “thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Brian Hedges in Christ Formed in You has a great chapter called “The Cure Has Begun” which deals with this issue.  He writes, “We will never get to the heart of sinful behavior until we uncover the underlying desires of the heart that motivates us.”  (p. 57)

TIm Chester observes, “Sin rises because we desire something more than we desire God. Overcoming sin begins by reversing this process: desiring God more than other things.  The Bible calls this repentance.”–Tim Chester,  You Can Change, p.  116.

So here’s a question to ask yourself:  What desires do you need to turn from? What do you need to desire more?  What do you need to desire less?  Fight desire with desire today

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Am I proud?

Here’s a diagnostic test that help us discover 50 fruits of pride in our lives.  Pretty convicting but helpful in reminding our pervasive and serious a sin this really is.

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“Standing at my window one day, while the cholera was raging in London, I saw two corpses carried by, followed by one little child, walking alone next the coffins, with a few neighbors behind. That child was now an orphan. Both parents had been carried off by the pestilence. The sight of that child produced deep emotions, and awakened painful sympathy in my heart.

I was led to think of the sorrows and privations of orphanhood, and then of the happiness of the Lord’s people to whom Jesus has said, “I will not leave you as orphans.” A believer can never be an orphan! He has an ever-living, ever-loving, ever-present Father! But many of the Lord’s people do not realize this, therefore they do not live and act under its influence.

There are believers who are always complaining of their circumstances:
They are worked too hard.
They are tried more than others.
They have such a vexing family.
They have such a demanding job.
They have such financial losses.
They have no end of things to vex, harass, and distress them!

Complaining Christian, “Do you have a father?”
If so, had your Father anything to do with fixing your lot?

Did He place you where you are?
Is He wise?
Is He good?
Has He ever told you, that all things shall work together for your good?
Does He know what is best for you?
Has He left things to ‘chance’–or has He arranged all in His own infinite mind, and does He work all by His unerring providence? If He does–then are you justified in complaining?
Have you any real cause to complain?
Will it better your circumstances?
Will it please your Father?
Will it any way help you?
If not, leave off complaining, and “having food and clothing, let us be content with these!”

Seek grace from God, that you may . . .do all that is required,
bear all that is sent, and endure all that is to be suffered–to His glory!”

James Smith (1802-1862) was a predecessor of Charles Spurgeon at New Park Street Chapel in London until 1848.

(HT: Truth Matters)

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