For the next few months I have a challenge for you.
It has to do with your heart.
Your heart plays a bigger role in your life than you may realize. Its rhythms are essential. If it is a strong or a weak muscle, either way it will impact everything else you do. And your heart stops working if the blood it pumps has problems. But there’s more to it than this.
The state of your heart also controls impulses, desires and the content of your character. If your heart is sad or hard or cold or callous, you cannot live with the relative poise you need to do life well.
I am interested in helping you maintain your heart.
The ancients knew that there was something more to our hearts than anatomy. They knew that our passions and desires flowed freely from our chest. And they knew that if left unchecked our hearts would seek to control us. Our hearts need to be rooted and grounded.
Homer put it this way, “Ever unstable are the hearts of the young; but whatever an old man takes part in, he looks both before and after, so that the issue may be far the best for either side” (Iliad 3.108-110).
The great Apostle Paul wrote letters to the earliest Christians. In his letter to Christians living in what is now Turkey, Paul shares how he prays for them: “I pray that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together, with all the Lord’s saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3.17-18).
Our hearts have the capacity to ruin our lives in moments of unwieldy desire. And yet our hearts can root us deep into the soil of the Creator’s love. We cannot get rid of our hearts. We shouldn’t want to. But we can learn what it is to have our hearts shaped.
I plan on illustrating this in the next few months at Grassroots Church. Part of my goal in this time is to help you learn some heart-maintaining practices.
Over the next few months, pick a few of these and try to incorporate them into your life. See if you can take one small step towards any one of them. They will help shape your heart for good:
- Read the scriptures. Ten minutes of reflective reading a day.
- Read the spiritual masters. Ten minutes of reflective reading a day.
- Take a walk in creation and note what it teaches you about God.
- Become part of a web of faith. Engage in a local faith community by attending small groups of people of faith or volunteer with people of faith.
- Learn to pray. Read a book on prayer and take a few minutes to practice a day.
- Find a good book on Jesus’s resurrection and take notes on why resurrection is so central to the Christian faith.
- Find a place to serve in your local community.
- If your situations at work or home are not fracturing you as a human being, stay in them. Try to redeem hard situations rather than escape from them. Journal through this experience. What did you learn about God, yourself, others?
- Journal. If you are suffering. Keep a journal. Give words to your suffering. Ask God to be with you in them.
- Journal. Pay attention to when you are not loving (see 1 Cor 13 to help learn what love is and what unlove is). Ask God to help you see how He might be making your love more pure.
I’d love to hear how things are going. Feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave some comments below and let me know.