Friday, 22 June 2012

What's At the Heart of It All?

In my previous blog – Part I, I suggested that because of our sinful nature we invariably put someone or something on the throne of our lives in place of God.  Often I put me on the throne of my life.  There are times when my happiness, my fulfillment, and/or my enjoyment trump anything that competes with it.  Before becoming a Christian, I played golf on Sunday morning.  After I became a Christian I still wanted to play golf on Sunday morning.  At that time playing golf with my father meant more to me than going to church.  The expression that is used is “idol of the heart”.

Something becomes an idol when I allow it to control my behavior, particularly when it is something that is sinful.  For example I love chocolate.  I eat it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m celebrating, and when I’m discouraged, when I’m anxious – well you get the picture.  Now there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate but when, out of my  emotional state, I seek chocolate as a comfort food, my sin nature has kicked in.  I should be turning to God, not chocolate. Enough about me, let’s focus on you.

Perhaps your work is your idol.  You get accolades for how well you do your job.  You feel in control, you feel confident, and you feel a sense of achievement you feel no where else.  So you work an extra ten hours a week instead of spending it with your family.

Maybe your idol is your kids.  You are determined to find what it is they excel in and give them every advantage to develop it even if it means that you spend half of your free time driving to some lesson or some event.  You live vicariously through your child.  Their ability to excel in school, in sports or at playing the piano means the world to you.  So much so that you neglect your husband and you begin to drift apart.

Perhaps you are obsessively compulsive about having a clean house such that you yell at the children for leaving a toy out.  Maybe you keep your car in show room condition and get irrational if I bird makes a deposit on the hood.

Maybe you come home from a hard days work and just want peace and quiet.  When your son comes screaming into the room you send him to his room for a time out, though he was just being a boy.  At that moment your peace and quiet were more important to you than bonding with your son.

I could go on but I’m sure you would prefer that I don’t because I might eventually get to what you idolize.  Life always works best when God is on the throne, don’t rob Him  of His rightful place.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

What's At the Heart of It All?

Noted author and lecturer Paul Tripp is convinced that all marriage problems are heart problems and that all heart problems are worship problems.  I thought it would be worth unpacking his statement to provide some insights as to what might be causing turmoil in one’s marriage.

What is meant by a heart problem?  The heart when used in this context represents the mind, will and emotions.  Thus whatever I am thinking, feeling or motivated to do comes from my heart.  Since most often my behavior is a function of what I am thinking about, it follows that my thoughts control my behavior.  The heart can best be changed by the intervention of the Holy Spirit because in our sinful human nature we are usually not desirous of making a change.

The uses of the word worship may also need some further explanation.  When Christians hear the word they most often think of singing hymns or going to a service, or praising God.  In this context however it means anything that we hold in very high honor, we place supreme importance on, and to our way of thinking may be the most important person, place or thing at any given time.  The object of our worship could be our children, a favorite fishing hole, our spouse, our job, etc. 

When we put this together it says that our behavior is controlled by our thoughts which in turn are controlled by what we place a very high importance on.  In other words we worship that on which we place a high value.

The  idols we worship
No self-respecting Christian would ever acknowledge that they worship their children, food, their job, their hobby, their spouse, their solitude, or anything else above God.  And I would say to you everyone on this planet puts something ahead of God at some point each day or each week.  At some point you put your desires for your life ahead of God’s desires for your life.  We are all self-centered.  We all dethrone God and enthrone ourselves when it suits our purposes.

 It can be very subtle.  One of Paul Tripps favorite sayings is that “the desire for even a good thing can become a bad thing when it becomes a ruling thing.”  That is what is meant by worshipping something other than God.  Some parents put their children first, that seems like a good thing but in actuality it may be a bad thing.  The proper hierarchy always has God first, our spouse second, and children third.

Fill in the blanks. “The most important thing in the world to me is _______”  Or, “the one thing I can’t live without is ___________”  Whatever you wrote on those blank lines is, if you were honest, what  you worship.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Agitated for No Reason

Years ago one might hear the expression, “I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning”.  On the one hand I knew what that meant; on the other hand it never made much sense to me.  It meant I am feeling grumpy, disgruntled, unhappy, ticked BUT I’m not sure why.  Why it ever made a difference what side of the bed you arose from remained a mystery, unless of course you slept next to the wall, and then it could matter.

So much for my walk down memory lane.  There are times when I am having a case of the grumpies for no apparent reason; I’m just feeling out of sorts and in a bad mood.  These times can put a stress on marriage.  If my wife suggests I’m in a bad mood that only makes  it worse, because I know she is right and I can’t explain to her why I’m doing my best impression of  Eeyore, the Winnie-the-Pooh figure who is characterized as  pessimistic, gloomy, and depressed.  And because my wife is a particularly caring and sensitive person she jumps to the conclusion that somehow she is to blame.  Now if she presses me for an answer I tend to get more ticked because I have no answer.  If she ignores the fact that my demeanor resembles that of a crotchety old man I’m upset because she doesn’t notice that I’m unhappy.  This is what you call your basic no win situation. 

What  I have come to realize is that if I turn to God’s Word or go to God in prayer when  I am besieged by the grumpies my mood changes quickly.  There is something about talking to the Creator of the universe that brings things into focus.  It is preposterous to think that the One who holds the next breath of 7 billion people in His hands even cares about what side of the bed I got up on, but He does.