SCARS OF THE HEART

DALE HILL

Kids, especially boys love to show off their scars from fights, from sports, from daredevil tricks. It gives them an opportunity to brag about how tough they are, which is important during the coming-of-age years.
They usually fail to mention that they may have cried like a baby with the pain of the cut or puncture.

The stories usually get embellished a little beyond any conceivable reality, especially if it involves what happened to the other guy. Be that as it may, their scars serve to prove that they have dared something great.

However, as we grow into adults, we tend to leave off the braggadocio and begin to take on a more realistic approach with the stories of our scars. Especially with men, the story becomes somewhat matter-of-fact.
· I got shot.
· I cut myself.
· I was in a car wreck.

Jesus did the same thing.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. [Jhn 20:19-20 ESV] 

We’ve been told all our lives that we will inherit a new body at the resurrection. And from that we have drawn all sorts of ideas about what that will be like.
However, the only thing we truly know for sure is that the corruptible body we now inhabit that is subject to sickness, disease, and death, will become incorruptible. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [1Co 15:53 KJV]

Have you ever given much thought to Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances?
· When He appeared to Mary, she didn’t recognize Him until He spoke her name.
· When He appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they didn’t recognize Him until He broke bread with them.
· When He appeared to the eleven—and then to Thomas with the others—they didn’t recognize Him until He showed them His hands and feet.

From this we can see that His voice, manner, and body had not been changed by the resurrection. Everything was still the same as it was just a few days prior—EVEN THE SCARS.

Why weren’t the scars removed from this new body which could now walk through walls?

The scars were proof of the price He paid to get what He got.

And what did He get? YOUR SALVATION!! My salvation.

Thomas needed to see the nail prints in order to believe, but Jesus said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” [Jhn 20:29]

Scars are a silent witness to past battles. They are a testimony to having survived something that, at the time they were incurred, looked like it was trying to destroy the person.

What about your scars?

What about the scars that no one can see? Not the scars on your back, but the scars on your heart.

We have all experienced what the psalmist did, and what he prophesied about the Lord in Psalm 55:12-14— For it is not an enemy who taunts me– then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me– then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.

Have you ever been offended by a friend from church?

Or, again in Psalm 41:9— Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

We’ve all got scars on our heart, evidence of a wound that often feels as if it is still festering.

Childhood events

  • A best friend betraying you
  • A parent not attending a special event
  • Abuse—sexual, emotional, physical

Adult events

  • Spousal abuse
  • Cheating spouse
  • Friends gossip
  • Church affiliations going sour

Scars of regret—

  • Feelings of failure

A scar is proof that you have survived the event, but we tend to pick at it, much like some people pick at scabs on their arms. That tends to hinder the healing process, because we keep the wound “fresh.”

We re-live the hurt over and over again usually trying to make sense of the whole thing.

  • Why did that happen?
  • What could I have done differently?
  • Why did he treat me that way?
  • I didn’t deserve that.
And even though it is a never-ending downward spiral, we will come back and do it again and again.

When my wife left me, I had a huge hole in my heart. I did not know who I was, what my purpose was, why I even existed. I was completely lost.

I would constantly rehearse what she did. I would occasionally think about things I might have done differently, or about how I could have been better; but it usually came back to what she did

I was playing the blame game.

I needed to be healed. I needed healing from the pain of a failed marriage. I needed healing from the pain of not being good enough. I needed healing from the pain of having failed as a father. I needed healing from the pain of having not been a good enough leader.

During this time, I began to learn more about the truth, and how we so seldom speak truth, especially when it comes to our pain.
We say things like—

  • You made me mad
  • You hurt me
  • You snubbed me
  • You made me feel small

None of which is true. Each one of those is an accusation, blaming the other, and avoiding the real issue of the pain we feel.
The truth is—

  • I got mad when you…
  • I felt small when you…
  • I felt hurt by your…

We need to learn how to access our true feelings and express them in a way that does not blame another. Our feelings are our own, not someone else’s and they have no control over them. They are yours and yours alone. YOU are responsible for your feelings. Therefore…

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.[Eph 4:15, 25 ESV]

We usually only think of these verses in relation to how we record events. Tell the truth. Don’t lie about it. We all know there is more to it than that.

Some try to apply these verses to correcting others with, “You know I love you, but…” This is certainly not what Paul meant.

One day I took a few hours to examine our marriage, the break-up, and what had transpired in the interim. There was some deep soul-searching going on as I tried to lay everything out before the Lord.

I scheduled a meeting with a therapist, and was telling what I had learned through all this. All of a sudden I began to cry. It turned into a deep gut-wrenching wail as all the pain I had shoved down in my being came gushing out.
From a fetal position on the floor, I screamed out, “She never loved me!” and almost immediately the sobbing ceased. Everything became still. There was a quietness in the room and in my soul. Then I said, “That’s not true. She was not able to love me the way I needed to be loved.”

That was the moment my healing began. Notice that I was still blaming her, but I was giving her an excuse.

Then it hit me—I was not able to love her the way she needed to be loved.
That was the truth that set me free.

I still carry a scar; but it is no longer fraught with the pain it once was.

Learning to speak the truth about things can go a long way toward healing the hurts of the past.

What about you?
Do you have a scar, a wound that won’t heal, because you keep picking at it?
Is there a pain in your life that you have not allowed the Lord to touch?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. [Heb 4:15-16 ESV]

 
PRAYER God of grace, you sustained Jesus when he was betrayed and abandoned by his companions. Help us, Lord, to know how to speak the truth of our pain. Help us to learn to come immediately to you, the one who took our pain and suffering to the cross so that we may be healed. When we are frightened and alone, lift us on the bright wings of your Spirit, that we may find our safest shelter and our truest friend in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

DECEIVED BY DESIRE

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.  [Jas 1:14-15 ESV]

DEATH—we have such a limited understanding of this term as it is used in the Scriptures. Of course, we have the same problem with the concept of “eternal life,” thinking it only refers to something after life on planet Earth.

Eternal life, which is not my focus here, has both a quantitative and qualitative aspect as revealed in the Word of God. “Death” falls into the same category, having both quality and quantity in its realm.

Death, as used in the Bible, refers not only to the cessation of physical life, but also to the abundance of negative things in life before one quits breathing.

You may be thinking, “Preacher, are you telling me that all this crap in my life is the result of sin?” Maybe. But, I CAN tell you this—“Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight.”

[Pro 26:2 ESV]

Notice, then, the process that James lays out. 

First, there is desire. Second, desire conceived. Third, desire births sin. Fourth, sin grows up. Fifth, death is born.

Today, however, I am only going to address the aspect of desire.
Where does it come from?

Before I answer that, let’s ask a different question—

Have you ever heard of advertising?

Of course, you have.

You may have a knee-jerk reaction to the question within the context of this little article and say that advertising only plays to what is already within a person’s mind.

I won’t argue with you on that; but I will take it a step further and ask another question. Why do Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and other major name-brands continue to advertise when it is obvious that the whole world already knows of their existence?

Could it be that they understand HOW to create desire?
Consider this—

“A successful advertising message transcends the audience perceptions of needs and wants. It creates an emotional appeal that subtly convinces the audience that the item being promoted will make a difference in their lives by either making them happy, giving them status, satisfying a desire or providing security.”How Does Advertising Affect Wants & Needs? | Chron.comhttps://smallbusiness.chron.com/advertising-affect-wants-needs-69071.html

It is simply a matter of vying for your attention amid the clamor of everything else also pushing itself at you.

Therefore, the point is to be able to gain access to your mind.

Here’s the rub—the Holy Spirit doesn’t do that.

That is why it is up to you to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” [Pro 4:23 ESV]

It is up to you to guard what goes into your mind. If the television or the radio is on, the advertising will find its way into your heart. It is THAT powerful.

People have told me for years that they don’t pay attention to the ads.
THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ADVERTISERS WANT YOU TO BELIEVE!! 
They know better. That is why they continue doing what they do, spending billions of dollars to promote their products.

What is the sum, then?

According to the Holy Spirit’s word through James, your temptations are a direct result of your desires.

You are the only one who has any control over your desires.

SOME CALL IT KARMA

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. [Gal 6:7-8 ESV]
The writer begins with “DO NOT BE DECEIVED,” because it is such an easy thing for us to ‘wander’ off the path. Remember, the Lord refers to us as sheep who often go wandering.

The word “deceived” is translated from the word meaning “to wander.”

Sort of like a dog with its nose to the ground, not paying any attention to its surroundings—just following a trail.

We tend to be like that. Some juicy morsel comes along that tickles our fancy, and next thing you know, we are off wandering into something that will get us into trouble.

That happens because we are not aware of our boundaries.

As Christians, followers of the Lord Jesus, we should constantly be aware of our boundaries, which are established by the Word of God. However, we have “matured” and no longer need to be constantly in the Word. We think we ‘know’ the Word.

Any cursory observation of the Church today would reveal how far off from the mark that truly is. We have wandered off into all sorts of strange and weird things for which there is no biblical basis.

Our boundaries lack even the strength of an amoeba’s cell wall.

When the Bible has this statement of “Be not deceived,” we should straighten up and take notice. There is something important here that I should pay attention to.

Yet, when this particular warning about sowing and reaping is issued, our response is usually along the lines of, “Well, duh! Everybody knows that.”

Do they? Do YOU?

Are you constantly cognizant of your actions and thoughts? Do you seriously consider the ramifications of your actions, your speech, your thoughts?

According to these two verses,

everything you say, think or do is sowing a seed.

 

It is a law, a guiding principle just like the law of gravity, that should inform your life.

While most people are aware of the law of gravity, it appears that they are not quite as aware of the laws of motion. If they were, we would not see nearly as many car wrecks as we do on a daily basis.

The law of sowing and reaping as presented here in these two verses is just such a principle. However, the reaping of sowing to the flesh is not nearly as swift as the law of sowing to “me first” on the highway.

And, because the time required for the reaping is so slow, we tend to overlook this principle and sow to the expediency of the moment—not thinking about the consequences of our behavior.

As the preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” [Ecc 8:11 ESV]

While this verse speaks very plainly to the failure of our justice system, it also speaks to the issue at hand.

“Because results of our behavior do not show up immediately, we tend to do whatever we want.”

But, don’t be deceived, God is not mocked. What you sow is what you will reap.

To put it simply: are you planting for YOUR future, or the future of the Kingdom of God?

Regardless, do not be surprised at what shows up in your life, for YOU are the one who planted the seed.

MINDSET

DALE HILL

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
[Rom 8:6 ESV]

First, notice that there are only two areas offered upon which the mind can be set—the flesh or the spirit. This dichotomy is consistently taught throughout scripture, but I will only include one other at this time.


“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” 
[Mat 6:24 ESV]


We may have a hard time seeing the depth of what Jesus meant here, because of the words “can” and “cannot.” We use them quite loosely to indicate different things.


The hard-nosed teacher, when asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?” will reply, “I don’t know. Can you?” The student asked in the form of gaining permission, while the teacher replied with the word’s strict definition of ‘ability.’


When we are told, “You can’t do that,” we say, “Watch me.”
“You can’t do 65mph in a 35mph zone.” “Yes, I can. Watch me.”

 

We so often use the word in relation to what is legal or acceptable that we have completely obscured its true meaning, which is one of ‘ability,’ not legality.

 

The word that is so translated in this verse is the same. It is the Greek word “dunamis” which means ‘ability.’

 

When Jesus said “you cannot serve God and money,” He was not saying it is illegal. He was saying it’s not possible.

 

It is not possible to have your focus on two different things. It is definitely not possible to have your focus on two things that are opposed to one another. That is like trying to see what is directly in front of you and what is directly behind you at the same time.

 

That is the thought in our verse from Romans. You will either focus on the Spirit, or you will focus on the flesh. You cannot have it both ways.

 

Paul is not, however, laying out a command here so much as giving us a way of measuring, of discovering, of knowing where the mind is.

 

If you are setting your thoughts on yourself, then when you begin to see ‘death’ all around you, you have a clue as to what is causing it.

 

This is not the death of the dissolution of the body, but the death of bad things happening, things not going right, everything getting messed up.

 

If this is what is happening in your life, then you might want to take stock of where your mind has been.

 

Only YOU have control over the thoughts that are allowed to take up residence within your mind.

 

Where is your mind set? Where is it set most of the time? Where do you want it to be?