A Heavy Heart


How is it we associate weight with our heart? Where does this come from? It might come actually from the ancient Egyptians who proposed that a man’s heart would be weighed against a feather in the afterlife. If a man’s heart was heavy, he would be consumed by a crocodile. If it was lighter than a feather, then he would be welcomed to the joys of the afterlife.

Some scholars propose that this is the idea behind Solomon’s statement here in Proverbs. Perhaps Solomon was borrowing from ”pop culture” much as we do when describing death, like ”buy the farm” or ”six feet under” or something else to cushion the reality that is death. His use of ”weigh the heart” could be a sidelong reference to the Judgment which all men must face after death, as in, ”it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that, the Judgment.”

However, if we take that route, Solomon is referring to something we can do nothing about until it’s too late. Perhaps he is offering a warning. We think our ways are right and good, until they’re not. We need to remember that we are accountable for our actions. There is a higher authority to whom we must answer to.

Other translations interpret rather than translate, saying that the Lord ”examines” the heart, or ”ponders” it. This makes the statement more immediate rather than final. It makes the Lord’s activity more present. He is now examining and we can learn from this examination. There is the chance to repent here from wrong-headed thinking. So that when we challenge our thinking with God’s examination, we have the chance to change.

I believe this is how Solomon is intending this statement. Interpreting this passage for us rather than simply translating it robs us of the cultural thought process of his time. Tell me what the Hebrew says instead of telling me what it means. Let the commentators tell me what it means, not the translation. I doubt Solomon believed in a soul-eating crocodile or a set of scales weighing hearts against feathers. But he employs the picture to remind us of God’s authority over us. We are not our own. We all must answer to our Creator.

Heavenly Father, remind me today of Your authority over my life. I need those reminders because I am naturally rebellious in my thinking. I hate for anyone to tell me what to do. But help me to be humble of heart before You and others. Remind me that I am often wrong and need correction. Help me to see your truth in everything I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Guide my Feet


Not sure where your life is going today? It’s Monday morning and you are back to the same ground you’ve been doing for years. Nothing has changed. Monday is a painful reminder that your life has been put on hold indefinitely. Yes. It’s a job. Your family is cared for. Your needs are met. Your marriage is good. But it’s Monday and life is dull. It’s been this way for years and you just don’t know how to get out of this rut.

May I suggest something? The excitement you at looking for will not be in a new location, job, or marriage. It doesn’t really matter when you are the same. What needs to change is you. If you keep looking at the world through your own lenses, it will only be as exciting as you can imagine. Take a look at your world through God’s vision. What do you see?

God sees relationships and work that He is blessing. God sees a great foundation for ”greater works than these.” Imagine the contrast of a family if one element of your blessed life is removed. Good job but bad marriage. Good house but unreliable work. Food on the table but one child is hooked on drugs. Imagine if one thing was knocked out of your perfectly boring world. Doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?

Yeah, but I’m still bored. I’m sorry others aren’t as blessed as me, but that doesn’t change my situation. Maybe remind you of one verse in Philippians? ”Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Both of these drivethe engine of joy. Are you godly? Are you striving to be more like God every day? Do you appreciate and thank Gid for the blessing you enjoy every day? Do you bring the needs of others before God? Do you see others as God does? If you feel you have reached a plateau in your spiritual life, that’s not God’s fault. The depths and mysteries of God cannot be fathomed. If that doesn’t at least pique your curiosity, then you seriously need to work on your faith. Read more. Listen more. Get out of your own head. You already know everything in there. Submit to God in your daily activities and see what He can do with them. It’s not all about you.

Heavenly Father, being back to Monday isn’t what I had in mind for a good time today, but You remind me that life is more about my own needs. You remind me that I was put on this earth for You and Your purposes. Show me today what I can do to grow in my faith and not be so consumed my my own little world. Help me to grow past the dull and into the light. Show me the path. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Freedom of Speech

In the first amendment of the constitution, the government is specifically forbidden to abridge the freedom to speak your mind. Curiously, it was not the government who the first to discover this freedom. It is also found in the Bible.

In Hebrews 10:35, the idea of confidence, or boldness in some translations also translates to freedom to speak. This freedom is not merely guaranteed by a government, but by the Lord God, who expects us to speak on His behalf to this lost and fallen world. We have the freedom, nay, the authority to speak to this world about the grace given to us as Christians and extended to everyone because of the shed blood of God’s most perfect gift, His Son Jesus Christ. Would that we would express this freedom.

But it is not merely evangelism, but a whole life changed and encouraged by this fact. Jesus Christ died for me. He took my penalty upon Himself so that I might live. What does that mean for you? What does that look like to you? Does it mean the same glum and unhappy face from day to day, or do we “count it all joy my brothers when you encounter various trials”? I will agree that life is not always roses, but it is always God’s Into each life, a little rain must fall. But this life isn’t what we’re all about, is it?

Thus we have the freedom and the joy to share our praise, our worship, our exultation of the Lord God. If we don’t, who will? Who on earth has more reason to be glad than we do? We have the answer to life’s question, “Is this all there is? Is there nothing more?” Is life only about stuff? Is life only for the here and now? What happens when I die? We have glorious and amazing answers to all of this and more. But who wants to hear about from the joyless, graceless people we are painted to be?

I have seen a problem among the small churches, both which I have pastored and attended. It is an utter sense of helplessness but ironically pride which many pontificate over, saying that if the lost only knew better, they would come to my church. Many small churches feel helpless because “we just don’t attract new people.” “Nobody comes to church anymore. Aren’t we really friendly?” Blame often shifts to leadership and especially to the Preacher. “If only our preacher were better, or younger, or had a more engaging family, then people would flock to our church.” And so many small churches look for the younger, prettier, less experienced preachers who tend to be black and white in their preaching, passionate for lost souls but poor communicators, and in a few short years, frustrated because the church doesn’t share their vision for the lost. Don’t get me wrong. Preaching ought to be express morality and ethics in stark terms. But there are ways to do that without alienating people, especially people who are hurting. Young preachers just don’t have enough life experience to do that yet, especially when they have been brought up in this small church setting.

Small churches don’t fail because they are small. They fail because they stop participating. The attitude of “let the young people do it because they have the energy” causes the old to simply be, rather than sharing their knowledge and wisdom. As a result, the older people, who have the financial assets and the leadership roles, find the younger people’s direction distasteful, too loud, too expensive, and it is letting in the riff-raff. Because the older members have the purse strings, they disdain and look down their nose at the younger and their ilk. Younger people, including that young pastor with the pretty wife, move on. Some manage to keep their faith and attend another church. Others, finding themselves unwelcome at Church, stop going anywhere.

The lost don’t understand denominations. When the lost are rejected from one church, one single congregation, they feel rejected by all of them. Their defense before God? “We tried, but they rejected us.” You cannot hold that evangelism is all about bringing people to church to hear your preacher (oh, and then they’ll find Jesus when they hear his profound arguments and amazing preaching) and simultaneously reject visitors who come to your church because they’re not like you.

The biggest example of this in my recent memory was a community dinner that a church held, offering free food and activities to any who would come. They decried often how they are friendly church, and people would know this if they would only visit. This after an effort to invite people by going door to door and making personal invitations. Many invitations and visits were made. On the day of the dinner, one couple came. They had heard about it through a friend. That single couple was welcomed, but everyone else who were regular attendees sat on the opposite side of the dining room. They didn’t interact, and the whole thing actually came across as awkward. Only a handful of outgoing members went and sat with the new people. Tell me. What aspect of this story tells you that this is a friendly church that is excited to see new people?

Ok. Enough of my soapbox. We have the freedom and the responsibility to exercise our freedom of speech, not guaranteed by a government, but by God. every aspect of our speech ought to reflect our status as saved people.



Freedom isn’t free. Everything costs someone something. Free samples at the grocery store costs the store something to entice you to try new products. Buy one get one free costs the store, and you still have to buy one, but it may attract you to shop there again. Free healthcare and free college is a loss both to the hospital and the college, as they still have to pay staff to provide a service. People rarely work for free.

Your salvation in Christ is also free. No money changes hands when you offer yourself to Jesus and are baptized. But you know that the transaction was paid for at the cross. Your salvation, free to you, was paid in blood.

Paul calls attention to another freedom in us. He says we have been called to be free. We are called by God to be free. But this freedom isn’t for indulging the whims if the flesh, but for serving one another. You were not made free to “do whatever you want”. That is an improper and selfish kind of freedom, and it usually leads to bondage. No, we have been called to be free, free from our sins and our ever present anxiety of death, to use our hands and help, our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds to help one another.

That may not sound much like American Freedom, but remember we threw off the tyranny of an English King in the hope that we could govern ourselves as individual citizens. Which means we would become educated on the issues and do right by our neighbor. We would elect sound men of good character to run the government. We would be faithful to interact in our communities. We would give our loyalty to our own country and be willing to die for her because we believe in her ideals. That is freedom.

As Christians we have the freedom to be educated in the Bible. To love and pray for our neighbors. We have the freedom to jump in and help when help is needed. We are called to be free. Let us use it, for we were not called to huddle in our churches.

God bless you on this Independence Day!

The Power of Liberty


What is it that keeps liberty pure? Because we have seen liberty go awry in many contexts. When liberty is used as a reason for wantonness, vice, even the freedom to commit evil acts, it is no liberty, but misery.

What keeps liberty pure and desirable is truth. It is the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. Without truth, liberty is an excuse for excess and selfish deeds. Truth brings to liberty our need to help our fellows, to realize that we are not alone, that we live in community with others. Liberty with truth demands a heed to the fact of our creation and special place as images of the Almighty God; that we are eternally responsible for our actions in this life.

Liberty that is sought and bought by this truth will truly set us free. We would not be set free again to bondage, especially to sin and vice, but to be truly free, free even from our fleshly desires. We would be free from the sin that so easily entangles us. That is truly freedom.

Would you seek freedom today? Seek truth. Desire it. Claim it. Pursue it. Let truth dwell in your richly. It is the Gospel. God bless you today.

Why go to Church just to obey a set a rules?


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2Co 3:17)

Many feel that the Church is a system of rules, or that it is legalistic. Perhaps you’ve thought that mandating Church attendance is a legalistic pursuit. That we should be free to attend as often, or as little as we wish to. The operative word here is “me.” A me-centered faith doesn’t do a whole lot, and ends up being legalistic. The same statement might be applied, “I only need to go to church once a month to be a Christian.” Now who’s being legalistic?

The question again isn’t about what I must do to be saved? That’s well established. It’s, “what must I do to grow in Christ?” When asked that way, we realize the hill is a little steeper. How often should I go to Church in order to grow in Christ? How often should I read my Bible, pray, go to Bible study, witness to my neighbor, in order to grow in Christ? I know that if I don’t do any of those things, I will not grow.

We know that faith in Christ isn’t based a set of rules, but that we often resort to rules to make our conscience comfortable. Abolish the rules you have set in your own life and pursue Christ with abandon. Demonstrate to others that Christianity is the free-est form of living there is, because we have total freedom in Christ.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Php 4:8-9)

Free, Free at Last!

Hey, It’s Independence Day again. Another year, another birthday for our wonderful country. But when we look around us, we might wonder, freedom from what? In a land where our income is taxed, our property is taxed, our sales are taxed, and even our death is taxed, we might ask, “Where was the freedom promised to us on “Independence Day”? What are we free from? We can’t do anything that we want to. We live in a society that governs our behavior, from the kind of toothpaste we use in the morning (approved by the FDA) to the kinds of television we watch (approved by the FCC) to the roads we drive on (managed and patrolled by State Troopers). Almost everything we do has had a government hand in it at one time or another. But we have freedom at the expense of security, and security at the expense of freedom.

As Christians, we celebrate freedom of a different kind, the freedom from sin. You may not be aware of it, but if you have not made a confession of Christ, you are in slavery, to sin. What is sin? Sin is disobedience to God. You may say at this point, but I don’t sin, I haven’t killed anyone, or stolen anything big. I might remind you that God’s standard is far stricter than one or two major sins. James (2:10) tells us that any sin, from a white lie, to looking too long at a pretty woman, can convict us in God’s court. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” In God’s court there is only one sentence, life, in the worst prison ever devised, Hell. The Bible calls this the second death. It is eternal life in torment and suffering. Does that sound like freedom to you? It doesn’t to me either.

You see, true freedom doesn’t come from a bottle, a pill, a checkbook, or even a TV. It doesn’t come from being able to do whatever you want. It comes from doing what He wants. He wants you, all of you, to live with Him, for eternity, in paradise. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But this is no bait and switch tactic. The hours will be long, suffering will be part of the territory, and all the things you wanted to do before will have to be checked against a ever-loving yet just God. The freedom here is within you. You have the choice between slavery to sin and death, or servant hood to a loving, graceful Father. You might be asking, how do I sign up? It’s easy. Just tell Him you want to serve Him. The Bible says that if you are not willing to confess His name before men, so will He be unwilling to confess your name before His Father. (Matthew 10:32) It’s not tough. Be free, at last!