Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guard Your Heart (Proverbs 4:20-27)

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (v. 23)

I’ve often struggled in what it looks like to love the Lord with all of my heart, soul and mind. Jesus said that doing so was obedience to the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37). What comes out of our hearts when we love God, through our relationship with Christ as Savior, is the second greatest commandment. We are enabled to love our neighbors as ourselves. Those who annoy us, serve us, teach us, hate us, or who desperately need us to act - we can love them all because we as sinners have been loved.

Our heart is the seat of an obedient life, and it impacts our ability to sync with the will of God. Both Christ in the New Testament and Solomon of the Old Testament considered the heart to be a significant factor in our relationship to God. We must protect it so that what comes out of us is the life of the redeemed in Christ, not a life controlled by sinful desire.

Proverbs 4:20-27 offers some practical wisdom on how to guard your heart so that you can live wholly devoted to God in Christ. How do you disallow sin to be your driving force for decisions? How do you practically allow the Spirit of God to minister to you so that you can continually behold new life in Christ?

First, Proverbs commends a wise son (just as applicable to a daughter) to receive instruction. This doesn’t mean you wait around for someone to confront you on sin in your life, or that you idly rest in nominal Christianity. In Proverbs, wisdom must be sought after as a treasure. That means you have to situate yourself in a place to receive instruction and give honor to what is good. You actively humble yourself to faithful Christians who are more wise than yourself. Where have you placed yourself? Under whom are you learning to be a perseverant saint?

Secondly, you choose a straight path. This means that daily choices reflect the same values as when you sit in church. They are based on a redeemed relationship in Christ. Walking a straight path is difficult when your heart is not fully devoted to God. Most of us choose devotion to ourselves, love interests or even food – much more readily than we do Christ. Our choices should reflect our devotion to God in Christ, a place of humility as God’s grace is heaped upon us to do what is right.

It really is that simple. Humble yourself to a place of learning, and seek out a Biblical teacher who will instruct you on a faithful Christian life. And start making choices that keep you on the right path, a protection for your heart in Christ.
(C) by Kendra Hinkle 2008.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Lord, my ugliness is buried in your beauty. I am so grateful that you bear my sin and shame. May you increase as the one-and-only in my life.

My small group has been writing "Letters from Your Tempter," which focus on a particular sin area each of us struggles with. We take turns composing a letter in the style of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. Prayer and discussion ensue. The experience has deepened our connections and vulnerability in a very creative way. We celebrate. We cry. I love this!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Top of the Food Chain

My trusty 1993 Ford gracefully pulled up to a four-way stop. No cars to the right. No cars to the left. Squirrel on the left. Squirrel approaching. What!

The only car around and a squirrel decides to run up to my car and the open driver's window. He's got a nut in his mouth and seems to be asking for more. He just stands there and waits. Hello! I am at the top of the food chain and my car can squash you. Go away. Be intimidated! Grrrr!!!

No luck. He just stood there watching me a few inches away. I started to get scared he was going to jump in for a ride.

Instead of humiliating myself and conversing tersely with the thing, I reved my engine. He got my drift and ran off.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

An Offering of Praise

The Tabernacle had no original instructions for those who ministered through music before the LORD. The instructions in the Bible focus on construction, Levitical function in sacrifices and instruments, and transporting its components as they traveled. But when David prepared for the building of the Temple many years later, he assigned a portion of the Levites as those who would minister to the LORD through music and song (1 Chron 23).

Lately I've been thinking on this transition, and why it was introduced through David as a holy practice in the Temple before God. Some of our earliest memories are of David playing harp for King Saul to sooth his troubled spirit. David authored of many Psalms and danced unashamedly before the Ark as it entered Jerusalem. Music and song were part of his life. Was the introduction of music and praise as work in the Temple David's idea or God's?

"All this," said David, "the LORD made me understand. . ." (1 Chron 28:11, 13, 19 NAS). The reassigning of Levites to work within the Temple was part of the new plan. Music and praise, a common aspect of Israelite life, was now part of the practice of worship in the Temple through Asaph and His sons. Energies would no longer be spent packing and carrying the Tabernacle from place to place, but the LORD would cause His name to dwell in the Temple. Morning and night songs of praise would rise to Him, along with sacrifice.

Dr. Allman, a DTS prof, says that praise is not to be taken lightly. Praise is a statement of faith in the person of God - something that we hold as absolute and should be reflected in our lives. What the sons of Asaph sang would be a statement of faith and worship of the LORD. As a nation they would be accountable in the way they lived out their lives. Word and deed, song and sacrifice, should be equal.

In my life, in my church, are song and sacrifice equal? Is song given without sacrifice? Do I praise by word without living out the same truth? Does my church sing but not act, speak but not practice faith?