Encouragement From The Word

Follow your heart?

“Follow your heart.”  It’s advice we read everywhere, especially on social media, usually accompanied by several sappy emojis.

One would think that its popularity suggests it is a universal truth – and some people think it is just that.

But, honestly, I think that’s why the world is in the ethical pickle it’s in today.

Okay, truth be told, the other extreme isn’t always better, is it?  “Follow your brain.”  While this has a certain appeal to many, when we do what is logical without regard for its impact on others, that can be scary, too.

When I work with people in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, I often have to deal with questions surrounding the Thinking-Feeling continuum.  Yes, thinkers feel, and feelers think; it’s just that for each, one is more reflexive, preferred over the other.  (This is why working in teams is both very beneficial and sometimes challenging.)

So what’s so wrong with following one’s heart, then, if feelings are legitimate and important?  Well, I don’t think I could put it any more clearly than did the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah:

The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17.9, NLT).

The heart was seen in those days not as the seat of emotion (that was the bowels, if you can believe it!), but the seat of one’s life and strength.  To talk about the heart in the Bible was to talk about the soul, the spirit.

And here’s Jeremiah, pouring rain on our parade.  But he’s right.  The Bible illustrates for us time and again just how untrustworthy our hearts can be.  Heck, the news illustrates for us time and again just how untrustworthy our hearts can be.

Should we trust only our minds, then?  All parts of us are under the curse of sin.  But our redeemed hearts and our redeemed minds, in tandem, can be powerful tools for doing the work of God’s Kingdom in the world.  

The trick is to ensure they are redeemed – not just once, but daily!  When we invite the Lord to pour out his Holy Spirit upon us as each day begins, we engage in an ongoing conversion of our lives.  And that prevents our hearts from becoming the “idol factories” that theologian John Calvin wrote about so many years ago.

So don’t focus on whether or not to follow your heart, or your mind.  Follow Jesus, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  That’s what will make all the difference.

Encouragement From The Word

I Give You My Heart

Reuben Morgan, a musician who is part of the Hillsong Church movement that began in Australia, penned these simple words.  Meditate on this short prayer to centre your day in the Lord.

This is my desire
To honour You;
Lord, with all my heart
I worship You.
All I have within me,
I give You praise.
All that I adore
Is in You.

Lord, I give You my heart,
I give You my soul,
I live for you alone.
Every breath that I take,
Every moment I’m awake,
Lord, have Your way in me.

I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.   And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36.26-27, NLT).

Encouragement From The Word

To love and serve

I was doing some research for a message this week, and I encountered a prayer-hymn. It struck me to the point I thought it would be worth sharing with you.

It was written by Richard Baxter, a 17th-century Puritan clergyman who wrote widely and deeply about Christian faith.  His seminal work is called The Reformed Pastor, which is worth reading even if you’re neither Reformed nor a pastor!  (Truth be told, he wrote it in response to The Country Parson, Anglican cleric George Herbert’s work on pastoral care.)

Background aside, I think you will find this a prayer worthy of your lips.  If you’d prefer to sing it, it’s set in Common Meter (8.6.8.6).

Lord, it belongs not to my care
whether I die or live:
to love and serve thee is my share,
and this thy grace must give.

Christ leads me through no darker rooms
than he went through before;
he that into God’s kingdom comes
must enter by this door.

Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
thy blessed face to see;
for if thy work on earth be sweet,
what will thy glory be!

Then shall I end my sad complaints
and weary, sinful days,
and join with the triumphant saints
that sing my Saviour’s praise.

My knowledge of that life is small,
the eye of faith is dim;
but ’tis enough that Christ knows all,
and I shall be with him.

So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (Psalm 90.12, NRSV).