Your Heart

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Some seasons are harder than others.

In some seasons it seems like having a hard heart is easier than feeling the pain of it.

It is not.

Your heart is made to process the pain. When you harden your heart instead of processing the pain it is like locking the pain inside with no way out.

Don’t harden your heart.

Don’t give up.

Push through the hard parts but don’t lose your heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Guard it, grow it, fill it.

Don’t just get through your present struggle, process it all the way through. Feel it, embrace the pain and let it work all the way through and all the way out.

Take care of your heart.

Clean it out.

Pull up the weeds of bitterness and resentment and if needed, ask Jesus to do heart surgery.

How is your heart?

Quiet Down 

  
Sometimes God will use a situation where jealousy and envy rise up to sabotage your good day to work that very thing out of your life.

He can’t address it until it comes to the surface.

The heart that burns and the eyes the sting.

The thoughts that come unbidden and unwanted: 

“this isn’t fair”, 

“why not me?”

“who do I try?”

The discouragement that overwhelms your system and threatens to shut it down. 

“Quiet down before GOD, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭MSG‬‬

This verse isn’t a command to stuff it down but rather pour it out in your prayer closet before God until there is nothing left. Until you have nothing left to say. Until you can see the lies separate from the truth and hear Your Father’s voice come through.

You live in a world of people and it is impossible to ignore them. You were made to interact with them and have healthy relationships with them. It is difficult to have healthy relationships with others when you don’t have a healthy relationship with yourself. Envy is an emotion and it isn’t good or bad.  It is an indicator, a gage of something that needs attention. What you do with that emotion and how you process it is what matters.

Your inner life impacts your outside life in every way. What fills your heart, mind and spirit matters.

Take time before God to honestly pour out what is going on inside of you and ask Him show you what the emotion is indicating. What is the belief behind it? Does it line up with His Word? 

When the emotion of jealousy or envy rise up like a fire consuming you, take your eyes off “them” (whoever triggered it) and find a safe place to get before Jesus. Pour it all out, this really isn’t about them but about you. Get to the place where you can quiet down and listen. To be silent and receive. To not worry or fret over others lives but fully trust God with your own. 

Don’t fret, trust. 

Lead With Your Ears

  

Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭19-21‬ MSG)

We tend to do the opposite: anger rises up, we lead with our mouths then follow with our ears.

We speak before we listen and defend before we understand.

You don’t have to allow anger to dictate your reactions or our words and you don’t have to prove you are right.

Being humble is leading with your ears and trying to understand someone else’s point of view.

Being humble is asking for God’s help and advice in how to respond to it.

Being wise is following His advice and putting it into practice.

Lead With Your Ears

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“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.

God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage.

In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭19-21‬ MSG)”

We tend to do the opposite: see anger rise up, lead with our mouths then follow with our ears. We speak before we listen and defend before we understand.

Being humble means you don’t have to prove you are right.

You don’t have to allow anger to dictate your reactions or your words.

Being humble is simply asking for God’s help and advice.

Being wise is following it and putting it into practice.

Choose wisdom, be humble and lead with your ears.

90 Seconds

I knew the moment I hit publish on yesterday’s blog that I would regret it. Ugh. Let’s just say that I found myself counting to 90 so many times that I would get to around 30 seconds and have to start over… a lot. Wave after wave of stress and frustration pounded me. I had a verbal eruption here and there that I regretted immediately (of course) only to be followed by another wave of anger. I felt like I was trying to swim in the ocean on that day when the riptide is strong and waves break hard and fast close to shore. You can’t get out past the waves for fear of getting pulled under and so you stay close to shore only to be rocked, pushed and pounded on by the incessant churning of the waves. After a bit of feeling beat up by it all, you just want to get out of the ocean. Forget swimming- go lay in the sun (or under the umbrella in my case) and enjoy the day that way. Swimming isn’t going to fun.

But life isn’t like a day at the beach. Life moves on, things need to happen. I couldn’t just go hibernate in my room until it my emotions settle down. I had to just do the best I could through it (which, I must admit, wasn’t all that great).

Today is the first day of school whether I like it or not. School supplies are unpacked from store bags and packed into school backpacks. Lunch is made. Clothes are clean. These things needed to happen no matter what internal state I was in. Yesterday I counted to 30 seconds, then 45 seconds and sometimes even made it all the way to 90 seconds so many times I lost count.

That is what I get for writing about the Red Zone. I should know better. Today I am going to write about the unmerited grace of God, peace that passes all understanding and love that drives out fear (1 John 4:18).

Yea, bring those on today.

Waves of grace, an ocean of peace and surround me with God’s fearless love.

Bring it on.

And may I not have to count to 90 seconds one time today, please.

May your day be filled with God’s unmerited grace, His transcendent peace and fearless love as well. Amen.

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The Red Zone

I am sitting here getting an estimate on the damage my little car incurred last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday was a long and stressful day. I woke up early to write then spent the rest of the morning on the new Student Ministries website. A bit after the noon hour, I wrangled the boys into my little blue car to head down to the church for the rest of the day. I swung by In & Out on the way to pick up a hamburger for Bobby and the drive thru line was looooonnnnnng. I pulled up behind a big gold Yukon SUV and prepared to wait. I didn’t have to wait long because about a minute after I pulled in, the guy in front of me decided the line was too long and pulled out. He slammed his gold Yukon in reverse and slammed into my little blue Toyota Yaris ☹. The boys were mildly freaked out, the front of my little car is scraped, jammed and generally looks abused. No one was hurt, information was exchanged, my car still drivable and I continued on with my busy day.

Around 5pm, I had to run and get dinner for the family before Worship practice began and didn’t want to take my sad little car so I took Bobby’s instead. I slipped into the 110 oven that it had become and it took my breath away. It has been HOT- Vegas hot. We have been reaching 108 degrees consistently for the last week and have forgot what it feels like. I rolled down the windows and pumped the air conditioning to full blast and drove on.

Feeling hot, tired and not admitting to being a bit shook up from the earlier fender bender, I left my phone in the car when I went into pick up pizza. When I came back out to the car this was the message displayed on my phone:

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Oh! My poor phone! It had hit the Red Zone. It was too hot and could not function correctly. I appreciated the message. It was better than seeing it flip out and not understand why. I turned on the car with the air conditioning on full blast and held my phone up to the vent. It took a couple of minutes but my phone cooled down and started working again. Yea!

As I was sitting in yet another drive thru line (Starbucks) a few moments later (because i needed an iced coffee!!!) and holding my phone to the vent, I thought about how great it would be to have a message come up on my forehead when I reach the Red Zone. You know the Red Zone- it is that moment when an intense rush of anger surges through your body, bypasses logic and causes your mouth to spew emotional vomit. You are an emotional volcano. The combination of exhaustion, stress and a crappy day begins the rumble. Then someone utters the words that cause the crack and sets it off. You are in the Red Zone. The old wounds, old fears, old misunderstandings and insecurities that have been “lying low” in your heart stirs, then builds pressure finally erupting in a hot show of scorching verbal lava hurting everyone it touches – starting with those closest to you. How great would it be for a message to flash on your forehead before you hit the Red Zone and verbally spew on those you love? It might look like this:

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Seeing that warning come up on my phone and imagining it on my forehead made me realize that I needed to cool down too. It would be easy to let the circumstances of the day escalate my emotions to the Red Zone but I just didn’t want to go there. I read that it takes 90 seconds for the initial physical reaction of anger to move through your body. Then it is over. You can continue to feel the emotion when you choose the thoughts that feed it. You can also choose to let it move thru you and then choose thoughts that will cool you down rather than heat you up. Maybe that is part of what 2 Corinthians 10:5 means: “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

My phone cooled down and is working fine. I made it through the day without hitting my own Red Zone and I am functioning fine myself.

Things happen to us that we have no control of but we can choose how we react to them. We can, with God’s power, choose what we dwell on as well as choose what words come out of our mouths.

I hope you have a fantastic day and that there is no need for a Red Zone Warning to go in effect. If you do have one of “those” days, I hope this blog helps to remind to cool off before engaging your mouth and let the emotion of anger move thru you instead of causing an uncontrolled verbal eruption that will burn all those closest to you.