Don’t Follow Your Heart

In entertainment, you will find a common theme: follow your heart. Whether it’s for a spouse, career, dream, or even morality, you must follow your heart, open your heart, trust your heart, listen to your heart, ad naseum.

But God disagrees.

After giving instructions to Israel in the wilderness, God tells them to sew tassels with a blue cord onto the corners of their clothes, to help them “remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after”[1]. When He says that our propensity is to whore after our heart, He’s picturing it as a seductress trying to lure us away and bring death to our lives. He warns that the hearts is, “more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?”[2]. It isn’t a fountainhead of wisdom or freedom, but a sewer of lies and slavery.

How can I prove this? My own life is testimony to this truth. Whenever I followed my heart and my eyes, I found pain – sometimes not right away, but in the end, it yielded a crop of bitterness and heartache. I’ve seen the same result in others as well. No peace, no life; just the fleeing illusion of fulfillment resulting in the mold of discontent and destruction rotting the soul.

The Disney movie, Frozen, became a global hit a few years ago. The song, Let It Go, sung by Elsa (who had been hiding her icy powers but was now on the run) became many little girl’s favourite tune. One stanza says:
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free![3]

Elsa was finally able to do everything her heart desired.

But the irony was (as stated by Tim Keller – I don’t remember the source) she was locked inside an ice castle, completely alone. Instead of receiving freedom, she made a prison!

So what is the solution? By following a bunch of rules?

Trevin Wax, in a critique about the movie, states:
“A popular idea in our culture is that there are only two ways to live:

  • Through authenticity, expressed in rebellion against cultural constraints
  • Through an ordered life, expressed in rule-keeping

Many people see these as the only options. And sometimes, Christians are assumed to be lumped in with the second group – the rule-keepers of religion. To the stodgy, religious types, ‘Let It Go’ is an anthem to the beauty of spontaneity and freedom.
But Christianity doesn’t see morality in either of these ways.”[4]

The solution is found in Elsa’s sister: Anna.

She doesn’t “let it go.”

She doesn’t forsake the older sister who rejected her all her young life.

She doesn’t follow her heart (although she does fall madly in love with Prince Hans, who just wants to kill her and her sister to gain their kingdom – again proving the point).

Instead, she gives her life to save Elsa – the complete antithesis of the Let it Go song. By giving up her life for another, she found meaning and life in the end.

Following your heart doesn’t bring freedom and life.

You find freedom and life by trusting the One who knows our heart all too well and yet gave His life to deliver us from it: Jesus, the Christ.

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”[5]

 

 

[1] Numbers 15:39 ESV

[2] Jeremiah 17:9 CSB

[3] http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/idinamenzel/letitgo.html [accessed May 19, 2017]

[4] https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/trevinwax/2014/02/17/missing-the-point-of-frozens-let-it-go/ [accessed May 19, 2017]

[5] Luke 17:22

Disney and the Church

Yes, I’m going there.

And yes, it’s about the news that Disney’s new version of The Beauty and The Beast will have a gay character.

Here’s my opinion whether Disney should or should not do it.

Disney is a private company. It has that right to do whatever it wants. It is not a Christian organization – it is a business.

Please understand what I am not saying. I’m not saying that I approve of sin being flaunted in kid’s movies. I’m not saying that I will allow my four-year-old daughter to watch questionable films.

What I am saying is the reality of the situation: Disney (and you can add others, like Target, Apple, etc.) has the right to do anything legal in its privately held business.

However, those businesses also have to understand that I, and others, have the right to reject your product. Don’t nod your head in agreement to the previous paragraphs and then cry “Bigotry! Homophobia!” and the like when consumers say, “No thank you!” It’s called free market capitalism. As a good friend of mine says, “Just sayin’.”

We also have to realize that the world will act like…well…the world. So why do we act surprised when companies decide to do things that are against God? We were once like that too, before Christ.

With that out of the way, here are my words to a Church that has lost its influence in Western culture and will continue to lose in the next few years. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe our sovereign God is allowing this perversity in the entertainment industry to force us away from the screen and into the closet of prayer? Is God allowing Satan to increase his influence so that we can snap out of the siren call of TV, the Internet, and countless movies, and heed the call of the Holy Spirit to have intimacy with Jesus?

Or here’s another perspective (which I owe to my wife): it’s interesting that we’re freaking out about a gay character in a movie, but don’t flinch at scenes of gratuitous violence, women wearing skimpy clothing (or nothing at all), adultery, or romps in the bedroom by heterosexual couples who aren’t married. I’m not talking about violence et al that is part of a movie revealing its horribleness and showing true evil (think Schindler’s List). I’m talking about wickedness that is portrayed as normal or fun.

Ron Auch, a Pentecostal author, puts it this way (keep in mind the edition I have is from 1991 and it deals mostly with television since the internet was just getting started):

Do you really believe God wants us to spend our time cleaning up society through political reform? What about our own hearts?…Does God really wants us to clean up television programming? Just consider how much time “Christians” waste in front of their TV sets watching worldly filth, while at the same time they claim they haven’t enough time to pray as they ought. How much more would they watch television [or movies for that matter] if it offered more wholesome viewing? Prayer would be cast right out of the window if television was morally upright.[1]

Realize what I am not saying: a total abstinence of television, movies, or the Internet. But what I am saying is that maybe God is allowing evil to corrode all forms of entertainment in the hope that it will show that something is wrong with us and that we need to change.

At the time of writing, I have just completed a physical. At 47 my body is not working as it should (no thanks to Adam and Eve) and therefore need regular check-ups.

The good news is that I’m in good health – except for one thing: my cholesterol is a little high. My blood report shows that the bad cholesterol is high and the good cholesterol is not high enough. To reverse the numbers, I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, more fish, and less red meat, peanuts, and cheese (I nearly wept at the restriction of cheese). Plus, I need to exercise more often. My doctor assured me that following her recommendations should bring my cholesterol numbers to a more healthy reading.

The Church has also seen its health numbers: its spending too much time in front of a screen and making excuses for the filth. And God has given us the path back to spiritual health:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.[2]

The Church’s prescription is summed up in one word: Repent.

 

[1] Ron Auch, Taught By The Spirit, New Life Press 1991. pgs. 62-63

[2] James 4:7-10 ESV

The Passion Conundrum

As I prayed through Psalm 39, one word popped into my mind: passion.

Our sex-soaked society, which deforms wholesome things into ugliness, translates the word passion as sexual desire. But it means more than that – something more glorious. Most dictionaries define passion as having powerful feelings for something or for some cause that will “cause you to act in a dangerous way.”

I believed I needed to curb, stifle or kill my passion. Medieval monks would have agreed – although some were passionate about burning heretics at the stake!

I can be overtly passionate with things like truth, the Bible, and Jesus Himself. But I am sinful; therefore my passion can be destructive and mean.

I stormed out of a meeting one day, brimming with anger and frustration. But not without slamming a door. After emailing an apology (among other things) I fell into a deep depression, which I’ve not had for many years. When I called a friend about the situation, I burst into tears. Ah, the curse of being a passionate man!

I mentioned before that my passion can cause me to act in a dangerous way, especially when my passion turns into anger. The Scriptures agree. God says that sometimes it is appropriate to be angry, but don’t sin and deal with it by evening[1]. He advises to be quick to listen, but snail-like in speaking and anger, because it doesn’t bring God’s righteousness[2]. Wisdom scolds the fool’s rage[3]; but views the patient person as better than a warrior[4].

Yet it was passionate people who accomplished amazing things for God. Like David: whose passion lifted him up to defeat a blasphemous giant; Peter: who spoke boldly before murderous men; and Paul: whom God redeemed and converted his passion for killing Christians into birthing new believers in the gospel. But all three had glaring faults due to their passion. David is not only associated with Goliath but with Bathsheba as well; Peter denied Christ thrice while cursing; and Paul had a bitter argument with Barnabas because he refused to give the same grace to cowardly John Mark that Jesus gave him on that road to Damascus.

So if God uses passionate people – dangerous yet effective people – then what am I to do with this conundrum called passion? It can kill, but it can accomplish much for his kingdom.

I started off by saying that I prayed through Psalm 39 and one word popped up into my mind: passion. I imagined a wild horse, brimming with life and fury. But the horse needs to submit to its new owner. His will must be broken to conform to his master’s desires. His passion must be restrained. But when the master commands him to fly across the plain, that passion can be released.

I need to be like that horse. I cannot control my passion without the Holy Spirit. Only He can rein this passionate beast through daily crucifixion[5]. But when the kingdom of God needs a storm, it can be resurrected and unleashed .

Dear Jesus, let me faithful to the call!


 

[1] Ephesians 4:26

[2] James 1:19-20

[3] Proverbs 29:11

[4] Proverbs 16:32 NIV

[5] Luke 9:23