Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Heart Condition That Will Set You Free

Standard

by Joyce Meyer

I have a heart condition – and so do you. I’m not talking about my physical heart. I’m talking about my soul, which is my mind, will and emotions. This is the heart of our inner life.

Our inner life is more important than anything else because it is based on our thoughts and attitudes, which determine how we live. Real life is the life that’s in you, not your circumstances, like where you live or what job you have or who you’re in relationship with… Real peace and joy come from God’s Spirit in us, not things or people around us. And when your heart is right with God, it’s amazing how peaceful, content and even happy you can be in the midst of difficult situations and turmoil.

Matthew 5:8 says the pure in heart will see God. And Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to “keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life” (The Amplified Bible).

The scripture in Proverbs makes it clear that it’s our responsibility to guard our heart. And we need to do it often because each day there are countless opportunities for something to creep into our heart that is not pure or pleasing to God.

The Litmus Test of a Pure Heart

Checking your motives is a good way to determine what condition your heart is in. Motives reveal why we do what we do, which is actually more important to God than what we’re doing. If we’re really honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we want to impress people, and this is what’s causing us to do what we do.

But I’ve learned a powerful secret: When we no longer have to impress people and we are living to please God and do what He wants us to do, we will have real freedom to be who God created us to be and enjoy life.

Think about it. If your schedule is hectic, is it because God is overloading you with responsibility or because you’re striving to do what you feel other people want you to do? Have you ever said, “Well, so-and-so expects me to do this, so that’s why I’m doing it.” Or maybe you were afraid someone would be mad or disappointed with you if you didn’t do what they asked. I’ve done it. And it just made me miserable and even resentful at times.

I also used to do things because I was nosy and just wanted to know what was going on – even at church! I wanted to be involved in some groups because of it. And at one time I even pushed Dave to be an elder so he could go to meetings and then tell me what was going on.

How to Check Your Heart

As I grew in my relationship with God, He showed me what it means to have a heart like Him. He is a God of grace, mercy, truth, compassion and generosity. Whatever He tells us to do, it’s because it’s for our good, not His benefit. He gave His best for us when He gave Jesus, His only Son, to die on our behalf so we could be forgiven of our sin through His shed blood.

No matter what condition your heart is in, if you’ll trust God, He can heal you and make your heart like His.

If you aren’t in the habit of checking your heart and really guarding it, I want to encourage you to spend a few hours alone one day and think about what you do and why. If you’ll be honest with yourself, God can help you see the truth about your condition. And the truth will always make you free!

Advertisements

The Light of Depression

Standard

Twice, I have seen my father cry. The first time, I was 12, and my sister, Jenny, was 14. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and needed further testing. When we arrived at the hospital, my dad walked around to her side of the car, gathered her into his arms and held her. None of us understood what was happening to my sister’s body, but when I heard my strong dad’s voice break with tears, I knew we were on a new and unexpected path.

Almost 10 years later, in the fall following my college graduation, I was the one my father gathered into his arms. At 22, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital. At a time in my life when the world was supposed to be opening up to me, I found myself retreating. Apathetic, uncaring, tired, and with no particular vision for any future, I subtly drifted into a world without hope. My family and I knew I needed help.

As a child, I had great passion for life. The simplest of pleasures brought unexplainable joy. I seldom demonstrated a melancholic personality. In fact, my parents learned that birthdays, Christmas and any reason for celebration would find me in a delirium of excitement. I loved life, and I loved being alive. When depression struck, I was dropped into a world where wearing my own skin was foreign and ill-fitting.

My mom says that one of the hardest days of her life was the day I checked into the hospital. My personal belongings were rummaged through, and I headed down the long hallway to doctors and a treatment team that became my “family” for the next month. Her drive home, leaving me behind, was heartbreaking. She was left to wonder and guess at why her daughter was in so much pain and why she couldn’t fix it this time.

I was numb, trying to see through a haze that had settled upon what once was vivid and bright. All color had seeped from a life that used to hold such joy. Some people didn’t understand my depression. They regarded it as a bad case of the Sunday evening blues, believing that if I tried harder and stopped feeling sorry for myself, I would “get better.” But I wasn’t just dealing with apathy toward routine. I couldn’t remedy being sick with a strenuous run, a good movie, or simply the passing of time. Depression transcended my circumstances and invaded my soul. It was more like a day terror — like waking up to a nightmare. Clinical depression painted my world black while screaming quietly that I was worthless.

I remember driving home from work the week before I checked into the hospital. My co-workers hadn’t noticed any difference in my performance or behavior. I was great at keeping up appearances. I was good at performing. But that evening, I recall wishing I weren’t alive, wishing my car would turn down an empty road and I could disappear. Upon arriving home, I headed straight for my room and slipped under my covers, hoping to sleep. I wanted to escape life because it hurt to breathe.

By the end of my first week at the hospital, I had made up my mind to leave. It wasn’t working. I packed my bags, headed to the front desk, and announced that I was calling my parents to come and pick me up. But my treatment team told me I needed to stay. Defeated and scared, I returned to my room, unpacked my bags and cried myself to sleep. It was time to get honest with myself.

I was angry. Me, happy Alice, with so much going for her. Stripped of the world’s accolades, it didn’t matter what school I had attended, where I had vacationed, what awards or pageants I had won. It didn’t matter who I knew, didn’t know, or thought I knew. What mattered to those surrounding me was that I was honest about my feelings. They didn’t have to be pretty. I didn’t have to look good. I could just be — and that was enough.

It was the kindness, compassion, love and truth demonstrated in the hospital that began unlocking my wounds, hurts and distorted thinking. I was learning from the worn lives around me. Lives I would have once felt pity for or wanted to distance myself from. They were the ones who possessed strength and courage. They had suffered abuse, neglect, addiction and illnesses. They felt misplaced and forgotten; they were told they didn’t matter. I came from a family filled with love, but as I and others in my hospital “family” shared our suffering, I found I needed their love.

When I was depressed, I was completely turned inward. I couldn’t see past my own shame. It warmed me, but like a scratchy wool blanket, brought its own discomfort. The irony is, until I recognized my depression for what it was, I wasn’t able to turn outward and accept love and love in return.

Getting help and getting rid of the junk cluttering my mind were part of getting better. Hope came gradually, with small steps that slowly returned feeling and clarity. I was changing. My thinking was being altered. I was given a truer sense of who I was: a young woman who needed to be loved for herself, not for what she could offer — not for how she could make you feel. Being honest in the hidden places of my heart. Taking personal responsibility. And slowly, the desire to live, the courage to want to live, began to return. Once truth reveals deception, the lie can no longer deceive unless we choose to let it.

A year and a half after my release from the hospital, I drove along a country road. The moon was bright. The stars brighter. Snow gave a fresh milky coat to the trees, and the night air was full and dark. I felt so alive. I hadn’t believed there would ever be something good enough or rich enough to make up for the pain and darkness I had known. My pain had been deep. But on this quiet stretch of road, I knew it had all been worth it. I knew that life was different because of my experience. Suffering had painted color into my life, and I could be thankful.

Living What You Read

Standard

You can read you Bible all day long and underline and highlight it until it looks like a coloring book.  But until you actually start living and enjoying what it says, you wont make any difference in your life.  The good news is, in Christ, we have what we need to live the way the Word of God tells us to live.

Second Peter 1:3 tells us, His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that (are requisite and suited) to life and godliness, through the (full personal) knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His won glory and excellence (virtue).

What is excellence?  It simply means to go the extra mile, to exceed the requirements.  It’s always so refreshing to be around someone who’s excellent— they’re constantly surprising you through over-delivering.