Is My Heart Healthy?

Healthy Heart

Twice in my life I have struggled with chest pains and the doctors have given me an EKG.  They hook sensors up to your chest and they check your physical heart function.  While the physical health of our heart is very important, the spiritual health of our heart is even more important.

The following are notes from a message by Don Cousins that I found very valuable.   Pastor Don says, “The world says that we need to order everything in our external world, family, home, work, finances, health, etc.  the way we want it to be then we’ll know inner peace.  I don’t think I’ve spent a day in my life when everything in my external world was the way I wanted it to be.  To live in such a way to make that happen is simply exhausting!

Jesus cares more about who you are than who you appear to be. Jesus cares about our heart, our inner person, our mind, will, and emotions. The place of understanding, passion, and courage. The seat of our appetites and emotions. The Bible says life is not meant to be lived outside in, but inside out. ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ —Proverbs 4:23 NIV  Jesus wants to transform us, so that who we appear to be matches who we really are. Jesus wants to shape our hearts, and then we’ll be able to negotiate and handle everything that happens in our external world. Our experience of shalom peace is not dependent on our external world, but on what’s happening inside our hearts. Peace can only come from having our heart right with God through faith in Jesus and the abiding of His Spirit within us. Then we can have shalom in spite of what’s happening in our outside world.

So how do we know if our spiritual heart is healthy?  Here are 10 checkpoints for us to consider.

Personal Awareness Checks

  1. Unwholesome Talk -But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  —Matthew 15:18 NIV  (This might be negative, complaining, critical, judgmental, demanding, perverse, profanity, life sucking language, etc.)
  2. Impure Thoughts –For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. —Matthew 15:19 NIV (This might be feelings of resentment, lust, jealousy, etc)
  3. An Angry Spirit –Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart since as members of one body you were called to peace –Colossians 3:15. 26″In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold…   30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  —Ephesians 4:26-27,30-31 NIV
  4. A Complaining Attitude -Do everything without complaining and arguing, —Philippians 2:14 NLT
  5. Anxiety and Unhealthy Fear -For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. —2 Timothy 1:7 NIV   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. —Philippians 4:6 NIV  When I exercise, my mind is able to wander.  When my mind wanders I usually find what’s really in there.  When my heart rate accelerates, I’ve learned to ask myself why?  And there’s generally a direct correlation that my increased heart rate is indication of my spiritual heart disease of anxiety.  I need to get my heart right before God.

Spiritual Awareness Checks

  1. Diminished Hunger for God’s Word -Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. -—Colossians 3:16 NIV
  2. Discouragement in Prayer -Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up (lose heart). —Luke 18:1 NIV
  3. “Lip-service” Worship (critical of others “rule breaking”, to serve/give out of obligation-“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” -—Matthew 15:8-9 NIV
  4. Sense of Oppression -When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer —Psalm 32:3-4 NIV
  5. Missing Pasion or Misplaced Values -For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. —Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV John Wesley said, “If you light yourself on fire, men will come to watch you burn.”  What are you on fire about?  Are you passionate about the things of God?  That’s in indicator of a healthy heart.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  —Matthew 6:21 NIV

“After going down that list, I have to admit I have a little spiritual heart disease going on.” –Don Cousins.

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “ The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”  Our hearts want to convince us we’re healthy, we’re fine.  But only with the Spirit’s daily help can we maintain a healthy heart. Is my heart healthy?  How bout yours?

To hear Pastor Don Cousins message, go to www.discoverychurch.org and look for Matthew’s Main Messages, June 17th, 2018.

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I Am Free!!

I Am Free Raging Bull Six Flags

I love rollercoasters.  Raging Bull at Six Flags is one of my favorites.  Being 202 feet in the air in a side less train is incredible, and the 20 story drop into the underground tunnel at 73 miles an hour is exhilarating.

When my emotions are on a rollercoaster I don’t find it as fun.  Recently I was flying high with excitement and gratitude for how good life was that day.  And then in less than 5 minutes, after one conversation, I was in an emotional free fall into darkness of fear and insecurity, being tempted with reproach and despair.  How does that happen?  And how should we respond?

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  5We destroy arguments, and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  We need to grow in assessing what thoughts we should allow and what thoughts we need to get a hold of and get out of our minds!  I’m learning anytime I have thoughts of anxiety, insecurity, fear of rejection, or resentment, amongst others, it’s a thought I need to take captive.  It’s a lie.  It’s positioning itself to set up against what God would have for me.  My litmus test is the fruit of the Spirit.  If our minds are not full of the fruit of the Spirit, we should regularly ask ourselves, “What thoughts do I need to take captive?”  Then pray, “Father, I take captive thoughts of insecurity or anxiety, please empower me to be obedient to the mind of Christ for me.”

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”  Are you willing to confess “stinkin thinkin” as your own sin?  Or do you prefer to blame someone else for the thoughts in your mind?  We can be enmeshed victims, or we can be differentiated overcomers.  When we are willing to confess our sinful thoughts and attitudes and emotions, we differentiate from people and circumstances and God can heal our emotions so we can be full of the fruit of the Spirit.  What do I need to confess? And then pray, “Father I confess thoughts of insecurity, I know these are not what you have for me.  Or “Father I confess thoughts of anxiety and fear.  Please forgive me, I know you’ll never reject me!”

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  In a military sense, we understand that someone has to stand up for liberty.  But do we understand what it takes to stand up for psychological and emotional freedom?  Ephesians 6:12-13 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”  For many of us, our interpersonal relationships or daily circumstances seem to be at war against our emotions.  However the scriptures teach it’s not our fleshly relationships or our bodily circumstances that we at war with.  We are war with cosmic powers, or demons of darkness.  You are not at war with your spouse, kids, coworkers, finances, or that person at church.  The demonic world is full of rejection, reproach, fear, anxiety, despair, adultery, rebellion, idolatry, pride, etc. The Bible says in James 4:7, “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  What am I standing against?  Then pray, “Father I stand against and resist demons of dark thoughts and dark emotions in the name of Jesus.  Help me stand firm in the freedom you have provided for me.”

Matthew 18:18 says, “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.”  What needs to be bound?  Let’s cut to the chase.  The “demons of darkness” from Ephesians 6:12 need to be bound in the name of Jesus from whispering all their depravity into our minds.  Matthew 8:31 says, “And the demons said, if you cast us out, send us away into the pigs…”  You would do those around you a big favor if you didn’t stop at just taking the thoughts captive and binding it up.  If that demon of darkness is whispering to you, you can be pretty sure he and his “spiritual forces of evil” (Eph 6:12) are whispering to those around you too.  You’re not alone in temptation.  Where does this need to be cast to?  Why not bind it all up in Jesus name and cast it back to hell where it belongs?!!!  Then pray, “Heavenly Father, I bind demons of insecurity and anxiety in Jesus name and cast them to hell.  They have no place here Lord, may you fill me with your Spirit and may His fruit control my life.”

But be prepared, if you pray these kinds of cleansing prayers, it may get worse before it gets better.  Luke 11:24-26 says, 24“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”  Jokingly, demons must be like cats because they hate the water!! I can remember times of standing against something in prayer for our church, and then having it come back seven times more violent.  But just keep standing.  Plead the blood of Jesus over yourself.  And having done all, stand firm.

If this resonates with you, please spend time in prayer.  Use the song links below and spend time in quietness asking God to help you understand what you need to stand against.  Answer the bold questions above.  And then pray the prayers in italics for yourselves, your loved ones, and your churches!

I’m Free –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CJX4NT6jMw

Child, You’re Forgiven – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vI9npdwLATc

So the next time the rollercoaster of your emotions is on a free fall to darkness, please take time to reconsider what you need to stand against.  Pull back from arguing and wrestling with people and circumstances, and stand firm for the spiritual freedom of your mind and heart.  Then you can celebrate, “I AM FREE!”