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Faith / No One Follows Their Heart
« Last post by Kranky Kat on December 31, 2017, 11:27:05 PM »
https://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/sermoncentral--no-one-follows-their-heart-3026?ref=?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=button&utm_campaign=scbpuOctober%2011th,%202017&maropost_id=742347701&mpweb=256-4737895-742347701

No One Follows Their Heart
By Jon Bloom on Sep 9, 2017

No one actually follows their heart. I know that sounds odd, given the prevalence of our cultural creed to "follow your heart." But if we think carefully about what the "heart" really is and how it functions, we will see that this creed doesn’t make sense, and why it ends up confusing and misleading people.  A few years ago, I wrote an article titled, “Don’t Follow Your Heart,” in which I argued that, considering the heart’s pathologically selfish orientation, it is not a leader we should want to follow.  Some readers objected, arguing that as Christians our hearts of stone have been replaced with new hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26), and therefore should be reliable to follow. I understand the point, though I believe it to be naïve. Romans 7 (and much of the New Testament) bears witness to and my extensive personal experience and observation confirms an active, deceptive sin nature still infecting the regenerate person, requiring us to remain wary and vigilant.  But in pursuing greater clarity, I'll push my argument one step further and say, No one follows their heart. Because God did not make the heart to work that way.

What Is “the Heart”?

What do people mean when they say, “Follow your heart”? I doubt most have thought carefully about it. Since it’s always wise to know who one’s leader is before we decide whether it’s wise and safe to follow, we must ask, what is this immaterial thing we call “the heart”?

Have you ever tried to concisely answer that question? It might seem manifestly obvious at first until you try it and realize the water is deeper and trickier than you thought. Here’s my attempt: the heart is the biblical metaphor for the part of our inner being (soul) that is the source of our affections.  Affections are our strong inclinations toward or away from someone or something. We tend to call these inclinations “loves” or “hates.” Affections are the gauges in the soul that tell us how much or little we treasure persons or things.  So we can say the heart is our soul’s treasurer, because Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

And since God is the supreme treasure in existence, we are to have the greatest affections for him we are to love him with all our hearts (Matthew 22:37).

Beware the Power of a Phrase

Our heart desires what it treasures. In other words, the heart is a “wanter.” So, when people say, “Follow your heart,” what they really mean is, “Pursue what you want.” But saying it this way casts a revealing light and blows away some of the dreamy, euphemistic haze from our cultural creed.  Words are powerful. They can cut through a tangled overgrowth and reveal glorious truth or devious lies. Or they can obfuscate and manipulate and deceive. “Follow your heart” and “pursue what you want” are good examples of what I mean.  “Follow your heart” has a noble, heroic, adventurous, courageous ring to it. And it seems to carry a weight of moral obligation, as if to deny it would be to betray ourselves. It sounds nearly sacred. If someone is on a quest to follow their heart, it feels almost like a violation to question whether they should.  But the phrase “pursue what you want” is more crass, and its inherent dangers are more readily apparent. When we hear it, we intuitively recognize the moral ambiguities in play and feel ambivalence due to the selfishness we know infects our motives. We might disagree on what wants should be pursued, but we are all agreed that not all wants should be pursued. We all know our hearts have plenty of wants that aren’t good for our hearts. But more than that, “pursue what you want” clarifies who follows what. The key words in this phrase are “what” and “want.” Our “wants” follow the “what.” If our heart is our “wanter,” it follows “what” it wants. If our heart is our treasurer, it follows (or pursues) what it treasures. In other words, we don’t follow our treasurer; our treasurer tells us what treasure to follow.

You Never Follow Your Heart

This is why the phrase “follow your heart” is confusing and misleading. It’s sort of like saying follow your follower, or treasure your treasurer, or want your wanter.  The truth is that you never actually follow your heart. The heart is the part of you that follows what you want. That's why the Bible never instructs you to follow your heart. The Bible only instructs your heart to do what God designed it to do: to feel right affections. God tells your heart to treasure what is truly valuable (Matthew 13:44), to love what is right for the right reasons (Matthew 22:37–39), to trust what is true (Proverbs 3:5–6), and to hate what is evil (Psalm 97:10).  What you follow what you pursue is the object that stirs your heart’s affections. The exhortation “don’t follow your heart” bears repeating because I believe the enemy uses the cultural creed “follow your heart” to obscure the truth and manipulate people into deception.  “Follow your heart” is not benign. It’s a powerfully sounding, yet vague, impressionistic idea that sounds so close to being true that, if we aren’t careful, we will simply accept it at face value. And then it becomes a value that informs how we make our decisions and leads us down all sorts of selfish and destructive paths, all the while telling us that we’re simply and nobly being true to ourselves. If Satan can get us to keep our eyes on what we believe are our hearts' sacred dreams, he knows he can keep us blind to the real treasure.  But God doesn’t want our eyes on our hearts, because hearts aren’t designed to be followed. Hearts are designed to be led and directed (2 Thessalonians 3:5). God wants the eyes of our hearts enlightened to see the real treasure and pursue it (Ephesians 1:18). That’s why he tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). God doesn’t want us to erroneously think we follow our hearts; he wants us to know we follow Jesus.
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Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes Thread
« Last post by Kranky Kat on December 31, 2017, 11:10:33 PM »
While eating at an outdoor cafe in the historic district, an art connoisseur noticed a mangy little kitten lapping up milk from a saucer.  The saucer, he realized with a start, was a rare and precious piece. After finishing his meal, we went up to the owner and offered him two dollars for the cat.  "It's not for sale," said the owner.

"Now, now" said the collector, "that cat is just ugly and no one would want it, but I'm eccentric. I like to help out underprivileged animals. I'll raise my offer to five dollars."

"It's a deal," said the proprietor with a smile, and pocketed the five on the spot.

"For that amount I'm sure you won't mind throwing in the saucer," said the connoisseur. "The little kitten seems so content drinking from it."

"No way," said the owner. "That's my lucky saucer. I've already sold 26 cats so far this week drinking from it!"
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Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes Thread
« Last post by Pippa on December 30, 2017, 10:50:09 PM »
A middle-aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience.  Seeing God, she asked, "Is my time up?"

God said, "No, not yet, you have another 43 years, 2 hours and 8 days to live."

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face lift, liposuction, and a tummy tuck. Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well look even nicer.  After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was hit and killed by an ambulance.  Arriving in the presence of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 40 plus years? Why didn't you pull me out of the path of the ambulance?"

God replied, "My child, I am sorry, but I didn't recognize you!"
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Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes Thread
« Last post by Pippa on December 30, 2017, 10:40:26 PM »
John and Nancy, married for 40 years, planned a second wedding to renew their vows.  Nancy described to her friend the dress she would wear.  Nancy's friend asked, "What color shoes?"

Nancy replied, "Silver."

John chimed in: "Yep, silver to match her hair."

With a pointed look at John's bald spot, Nancy's friend said: "So, John, I guess you'll go barefoot."
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Fun, Games and Silliness / Re: Jokes Thread
« Last post by Pippa on December 30, 2017, 10:36:46 PM »
The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: "Those who can: do. Those who can't: teach."

To corroborate, he said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan," he said. "Be honest. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make? I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best.  I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence. I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home. You want to know what else I make?  I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them criticize. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them write. I make them read, read, read. I make them spell 'definitely' and 'beautiful' over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again. I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English. I elevate them to experience music and art and joy in the performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves and their accomplishments. I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention.  You want to know what I make? I make a difference. And what do you make?"
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Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Grumpy Grandma on November 30, 2017, 10:19:40 PM »
Tuesday, July 11, 2017   

Freedom to Focus
Jocelyn Green

Today’s Verse

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 4:10–11 (NIV)

“Excuse me?” I managed to squeak out.

I had just explained to a woman that my existing commitments prevented me from accepting a leadership position for a local girls’ organization.  “I said I forgive you,” she repeated. “I forgive you for this, because Jesus forgave me for my sins.”

Hmm.  God does not require us to say yes to every request for our time and energy. It’s not a sin to know and communicate our limits. It’s not a sin to prioritize and make choices that best align with God’s purpose for ourselves and for the health of our families. Before adding another commitment to our lives, as good stewards of our time and energy, we can calculate whether we have the resources to see it through. We can consider whether that opportunity is something God would have us spend our time on.  The instructions in 1 Peter 4:10–11 make clear that we get to use our own gifts, not someone else’s. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 12, we see that the body of Christ works for one purpose God’s glory even as we each have different roles to play. When we recognize which season of life we are in (including its limitations), we can more easily see the most pressing work laid out for us as well as the tasks that don’t fit within this frame. Understanding that our work was prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10), and that we are to work at it with all our heart (Col. 3:23), we can be confident as we focus our time and energy with discernment.
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Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Grumpy Grandma on November 30, 2017, 10:12:58 PM »
Monday, July 10, 2017   

The Wrong Question
Jocelyn Green

Today’s Verse

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1–5 (NIV)

The common refrain among time-starved, noise-saturated, overworked Americans is, “How can I achieve balance?”

We’ve been asking the wrong question. Nowhere in the Bible does God tell us to pursue balance. Your purpose in life is far bigger than that. Jesus said that being his disciple requires us to deny ourselves, to lose our own lives so we can find life in him (Matt. 16:24–25).  As we follow Jesus, with our crosses on our backs, we aren’t balanced we’re leaning, hard, toward our Savior, whatever that may look like in our current season of life.  If we define balance as a state of equal attention given to equal priorities a static, even keeled division of time Jesus himself was not balanced. Sometimes he feasted, sometimes he fasted. He preached to the multitudes, but also escaped from the crowds to pray alone. And yet soon before he was arrested and crucified, Jesus said to the Father, “I have brought glory to you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

No, Jesus was not “balanced” but he was passionate and complete, because he did the work the Father gave him to do.  Balance is not our goal. We are free to lean in whatever direction God is calling us. Whether it’s a time to build or tear down, to run or rest, to raise small children or start a company, we have the freedom to order our days accordingly and without guilt. In reliance upon God, we each can lean into the current season of our lives, understanding that other seasons will follow.
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Faith / Re: Devotion
« Last post by Grumpy Grandma on November 30, 2017, 10:05:15 PM »
Friday, July 07, 2017   

Pockets of Celebration
Jerusalem Jackson Greer

Today’s Verse
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”  Genesis 2:2–3 (NIV)

I went back to Genesis and read the story of creation again, falling in love especially with the phrasing in The Voice translation:  Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six. So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. On the seventh day with the canvas of the cosmos completed God paused from His labor and rested. Thus God blessed day seven and made it special an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day. (Gen. 1:31—2:3)  Savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. An open time for pause and restoration. Thus God blessed it. And God rested.  Blessed. Rest. Pause. Restoration. Savoring. Beauty. Appreciation. Goodness. These are the ways the purpose of Sabbath is shown to us. What if we celebrated Sabbath through these ideas? What if these were the touchstones for creating a Sabbath practice in our home?

In his book God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, pastor Ken Shigematsu writes, “The golden rule for the Sabbath is to cease from what is necessary and to embrace what gives life.”

We began to embrace what gave us life instead of what made us productive. Keeping the Sabbath, albeit unconventionally, we created pockets of time to celebrate rest, creation, and each other throughout our week. And miraculously, these little pockets of celebration spilled over into our attitudes and habits, helping us to take down our idol of exhaustion, burning it in a fire of repentance, allowing a more whole way of living to rise from its ashes.
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Faith / Hugh Hefner Did Not Live the Good Life
« Last post by coco pops on November 30, 2017, 09:38:32 PM »
https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/311001-hugh-hefner-not-live-good-life.html?utm_source=cl-sundaysend-nl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=text-link&utm_campaign=cl-sundaysend-nl&maropost_id=729722000&mpweb=256-4639137-729722000

Hugh Hefner Did Not Live the Good Life
By Russell Moore - September 28, 2017

Overnight, we learned of the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Hefner is the iconic figure who not only made pornography socially respectable (and even more lucrative), but also spent a life constructing a “playboy philosophy” of sexual freedom that would supposedly undo the “Puritan sexual repression he saw in American life.”

The death of any person is a tragedy. Hugh Hefner is no exception to that. We can’t, though, with his obituaries, call his life “success” or “a dream.”  Hefner did not create, but marketed ingeniously, the idea that a man’s life consists in the abundance of his possessions and of his orgasms. To women, he marketed frenetically the idea that a woman’s value consists in her sexual availability and attractiveness to men.  The “bunny” logo was well-chosen because, in the end, Mr. Hefner saw both men and women as essentially rabbits. This path was portrayed vividly by John Updike in his Rabbit Angstrom series. It is not a happy life.  And yet we are not actually rabbits. We can see our deaths coming, and we outlive those deaths to give an account of our lives. If you want to see “success,” look instead to the man faithful to the wife of his youth, caring for her through dementia.  In the short-run Hefner’s philosophy has won, on both the Right and the Left. The Playboy Mansion is every house now. Many church leaders implicitly or explicitly say, “This is fine.”

In many cases, those who hold to what the church has always taught on sexual morality and the value of women are the dissidents now, regardless of how “conservative” a movement proclaims itself to be. Thou hast conquered, O grotto.  The long-run, though, is quite different. Jesus will reign.  In the meantime, the Good Shepherd searches the thickets for his lost sheep. And sometimes for a lost rabbit, too. The sign of the good life is not hedonism but crucifixion. The sign of the good life is not a bunny but a cross.
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Faith / 10 Common but Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce
« Last post by coco pops on November 30, 2017, 09:29:04 PM »
https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/311180-10-common-illegitimate-reasons-divorce.html?utm_source=outreach-cl-daily-nl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=text-link&utm_campaign=cl-daily-nl&maropost_id=729722000&mpweb=256-4679787-729722000

10 Common but Illegitimate Reasons to Divorce
By Tim Challies - October 3, 2017

It is clear in the Bible that God’s intention for marriage is that it remain in effect until the death of one spouse. I believe it is also quite clear that God has provided a limited set of circumstances in which a marriage can legitimately be severed. However, many people even Christians offer reasons to divorce that are not sanctioned by God. Jim Newheiser helpfully outlines a number of these in his book Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: Critical Questions and Answers. Here are 10 common but illegitimate reasons to divorce.

1.  “My spouse isn’t a Christian,” or “I wasn’t a Christian when I married my spouse.”

Nowhere in the Bible is this seen as grounds for divorce. In 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 Paul very clearly urges men and women in such situations not to divorce their unbelieving spouse. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 women married to unbelievers are called to “be subject to their own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”

Rather than seeking for an opportunity to get out of the relationship, Christians are told to seek for opportunities to share their faith with their unbelieving spouse.

2.  “We weren’t married in a church.”

Matthew 19:6 renders this an illegitimate excuse when it says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Marriage is sanctioned by God and is not dependent on the context in which those vows were made. Regardless of where you were married or who married you, if you have made a covenant of marriage, the Lord expects you to keep it.

3.  “I need to get out of this marriage for the sake of my kids.”

This is, of course, a justifiable concern, but one that Paul does not neglect to address. In 1 Corinthians 7:14 he says, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.”

According to Paul, here is another opportunity to endure for the sake of the gospel, so that your children, too, may see your godly example of faith. However, in the case that your spouse poses a threat of danger, be it emotional or physical abuse, your children’s safety is a priority.

4.  “My spouse is a huge disappointment.” “He is a loser (poor provider).” “She hasn’t taken care of herself physically.” “I would have never married this person if I had known what I was getting myself into.” “I deserve better.”

Even the best of marriages may enter lulls where thoughts like these remain prevalent for periods of time. Marriage can be hard. Your spouse may grieve or disappoint you greatly. However, this is not a legitimate excuse to bolt, but an opportunity outdo him or her in love (Romans 12:10), to grow in trust in the God who ordained your marriage (Proverbs 3:5-6), and to reflect the faithfulness of God until the very end (Matthew 25:23).

5.  “We are no longer in love.”

If God commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), we can love our spouse, even if we can’t muster those romantic feelings that once defined the dating or honeymoon phases. The marriage covenant is binding until death, not until one or both of you falls out of love. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is no longer your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”

When you love your spouse out of obedience to Christ, trust that God can help it grow from the heart and restore the romance that’s been lost.

6.  “I married the wrong person,” or “We were too young.”

Perhaps your marriage was built on a foundation of sand. Maybe your spouse does not meet your present criteria for a godly husband or wife. That does not mean that your soul mate is still out there waiting for you. The idea of a soul mate is not rooted in anything scriptural. The person God intended for you is the person you are with now. If you are struggling with these thoughts, you would do well to confess any sin of disobedience or foolishness before God (1 John 1:8), receive God’s forgiveness and continue in the assurance that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).

7.  “I owe it to myself to be happy. God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.”

There is a crucial difference between worldly happiness and godly happiness. The first is dependent on circumstance, the latter prevails in spite of circumstance. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

God cares deeply about our eternal happiness! The darkest seasons of marriage can tempt you to despair as the happiest and healthiest marriages around you shine even more brightly, but true happiness in God pushes through those seasons to thank God for any sufferings you may face for his glory (1 Peter 2:21).

8.  My marriage is a constant struggle In any of the above cases, believers can be faithful to the vows that they made even if their marriage is a struggle. If you believe that you can be happier outside of the will of God, then you are captive to a lie crafted by Satan. Do you really want to pit yourself against the sovereignty and wisdom of God?

Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”

It is better to struggle through marriage than to defy God by breaking the marriage covenant.

9.  “All my friends say that I ought to leave him/her.”

Even friends with the best of intentions can lead you astray. This is why it is important to commit yourself to the full counsel of God in his word, allowing that to become your ultimate counsellor, no matter what differing opinions you hear elsewhere. This is also why it is so important to choose your friends wisely and to stay away from bad company (Psalm 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:33). Surround yourself with people whose wisdom is grounded in biblical truth.

10.  “God will forgive me.”

Apostle Paul directly addresses this in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Our God is full of grace, but that should not cause us to take advantage of it by being bound to sin. Instead, it should cause us to live in the freedom of his will, desirous of keeping his commands. Christ died so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15).

If you truly love Christ, you will not separate “what God has joined together” (Mark 10:9).
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