Tag Archives: God

Back to the Basics

So I know I am supposed to read my Bible and pray every day. And I mean to, I really do. But somehow, I don’t.

I end up going to church and Bible study like four or five times a week. I listen to Christian music in my car. I pray sporadically when I think about it, and I read about Christianity and theology and such online. Shouldn’t all that be enough? Does God really want even more of my time?

Yes and no. God wants me, not necessarily my time spent doing things about him. He wants to talk to me and he wants me to talk to him. Because God desires relationship. And God works in us through relationship. This means I need to be talking to him and listening to him and devoting time to spend with him. So yes, he wants my time. But not if it’s not focused and purposeful.

And yes, God talks to me through music on the radio, and as I learn more about him, I can’t help but feel closer. And coming together with a community of believers, whether I am serving or attending, puts me in God-designed fellowship and relationship with other believers. The more I’ve learned in all that blog-reading, the more I’ve realized the importance of being in community and surrounded by other believers.

But I also need to be alone with God. I am more introvert than extrovert actually.

And I’m coming back to reading the Bible.

I’m setting aside all my questions about feminism and Christianity, about Biblical interpretation and translation, and about the Biblical way to do church and faith and life with God, all the questions that cropped up when I began to look into why I believe what I do.

Instead, I am just reading.

I’m not deconstructing or structuralizing or any of the fancy lit crit things I’ve learned in Grad school.

I am soaking in the words about the Word.

And I can feel something changing. I’m not sure what it is yet. I feel softer, more teachable. I feel more in tune with God’s heart, and I’m frankly amused by some of what I’ve missed before with my reading-for-instructions or critical-reading methods. Like when Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine for his tummy aches (vs 23). And sends greetings from real people who knew Timothy and Paul and sent their love. I am seeing the real people behind the Holy Text, and it’s that much more profound.

I quite like reading my Bible. I think I am going to make this a habit.

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Guarding Our Hearts?

So the Bible, in Proverbs 4:23, tells us to guard our hearts, for “it is the wellspring of life” (NIV). This is an awesome verse, and it is super important for us to be careful what goes into our hearts. I know that what I watch on TV, listen to on the Radio, and read during my free time soaks into my mind. Probably because we live in a media-saturated generation, and probably because I am an extremely verbal person, what goes into my mind severely affects my heart. I can’t read several books in a row with explicit language without that language coming into my mind when annoying things happen. I can’t listen to an entire Evanescence album, no matter how much I like their sound, without getting depressed. What we put in affects us.

This verse has been applied to dating relationships more and more lately, though, and that trend is starting to worry me. Should we be careful of who we let into our hearts? Yes! We just did a great series at church about the power of friendship and the importance of being wise in who we ally with. Your heart is important! We need to be wise and guard against things or people who will turn us away from God and his will for our lives.

BUT

We as Christians have gotten a little obsessed with guarding our hearts. Who has seen this image on Pinterest? Or Instagram? Or Tumblr?

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Honestly, this picture scares me a bit. Rather than seeing a heart protected from harm, I see a heart that cannot be opened to new friends, to new love, or to new revelation from God. It reminds me of a J.K. Rowling Tale about a man who hides his heart in a treasure chest so it can never to hurt, only to find it hard and useless when he wants to love. And it makes me so sad!

The Bible, with constant admonishment to be wise in what we take into our hearts, also warns us against hardening our hearts, where we no longer heed God’s words and we have no love for our fellow man. If we over-guard our hearts, we close ourselves off to love, which is not what God wants us to do at all! (for more of those thoughts, check out Emily Maynard here).

Perhaps the image would better illustrate what God wants if the heart had a shield or clearly removable armor rather than being entirely sealed. Or if it had other hearts around it, because we are supposed to love and protect our friends right?

So what do you think it means to guard your heart?

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