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October 23, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

Heart Failure

Our hearts: seen various ways yet continually misunderstood and underestimated. When it comes to something as important as our heart, we should understand how it works and how keeping it healthy keeps us safe.

Rafer also addressed the “heart of the matter” vs. “symptoms” in his blog last week! God has a message for us as His people regarding the heart. If you haven’t read it, check it out!

I am going to draw some parallels, so go with me for a second.

THE DEFINITION

Physical heart: A hollow muscular organ which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system providing the body with oxygen and nutrients.

(It’s hollow…hmmm, that’s another blog.)

Heart failure: occurs when your heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should.

Spiritual heart: The center of personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotions.

This is “us” the person we are. It causes us to love, have compassion, grieve, be angry, and have sympathy. It’s from where our desires spring and what assists many of our decisions.

Spiritual heart failure: A lack of nourishment by the Word and prayer, being lead by the flesh instead of the spirit, lack of joy, lack of purpose and lack of fruit.

God’s Word tells us about our heart in Proverbs 4:23;

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

THE SYMPTOMS

Just as if our “physical heart” is not well taken care of or “guarded” there will be complications, pain and a possible flatline. Flatline means no life. The body and all its functions halted by this one life-producing vessel.

Our “spiritual heart” determines our life’s course. If not well taken care of and “guarded,” we will experience like consequences, complications and pain that could have been avoided. Being a follower of Christ is certainly fraught with its difficulties and pain, just as Jesus’ was. He said, “you will have trouble in this world but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Though, this is not the natural difficulty of a believer I speak of. I’m speaking about the bad habits, apathy, hardness, numbness and sin. These are the disgusting things that creep slowly into our heart. When not guarded, our already deceitful heart, tainted by the natural disposition to sin, will become increasingly infected. It is quite frightening indeed to think of our heart in that condition, determining the course of our life.

We will, by nature and choice, live by what is placed within our heart. Selfish desires give way to quarreling and lack of compassion creating a harshness toward others through our actions or our words. “For, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” We pick up bad habits that are damaging to others, our bodies, our relationships and, last and most frightening, apathy.

THE DIAGNOSIS

Apathy:

1. absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement

2. lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting

You see, if apathy is present, you probably already went through all the other previously mentioned issues, ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit to make a change. The scary thing about apathy is that it is the hardening of our heart. God warns us about the hardening of our heart. There are several scriptures that speak to this, I will mention just a few (emphasis added).

Hebrews 3:7-9 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear His voice, do no harden your hearts as when they provoked me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried me by testing me, and saw my works for forty years.”

Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;

Proverbs 28:14 How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

Zechariah 7:12 They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts.

That is not where I want to be. To leave my heart unguarded will result in a slow fade to a place of apathy, hardness and not hearing.

One of my favorite authors wrote, “the thing about trying to make ourselves stupider than we already are, is that we often succeed.”

Don’t ignore the Lord while you can hear Him speaking. If so, you may end up in a place you cannot hear Him at all. A place you never intended to go, like the prodigal son eating with the pigs.

Our loving Father will allow us to go there if we insist. But, when we are finally ready to look up and receive Him into our arms, we see Him running to us! His pursuit never stopped nor did His love. He is faithful.

Just as family history, poor diet, lack of exercise and medical conditions could lead to physical heart failure, so there are also causes that lead toward spiritual heart failure; someone sinned against you, you’re worn physically, mentally, financially, emotionally etc. Some of these things are beyond your control. The physical problems can be reversed, treated, cured, and even prevented with healthy decisions and needed medications. The spiritual heart can also be treated, healed, softened, cured and problems can be prevented if we would guard our hearts.

THE TREATMENT

Hebrews 3:12-15 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.

Let’s do this continually, brothers and sisters. Guard you heart and one another, for this determines the course of your life.

Anyone who teaches speaks as one who has been spoken to. Praying that my difficulties will be used for His glory and the good of others.

~Megan~

 

October 20, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

Defining the Relationship

October 16, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

Differential Diagnosis: The Symptoms v. The Illness

I’ve been watching House, M.D. lately. If any of you have watched an episode of House, you know how they tend to set things up: person gets sick, they go to House, House and his team write down the symptoms and do what they call a “Differential Diagnosis”. Basically, they look at the list of symptoms and call out different sicknesses that the symptoms may elude to. Midway through each episode, the team thinks they’ve found a cure for the sickness, only to find another symptom that throws the diagnosis off. Obviously, until they find exactly what the particular sickness is, treating the symptoms only heal the person temporarily.
It’s the exact same with everything else in our lives. On the simple side, a 2-year-old throws a tantrum and a parent tells them to stop. The child will stop only to continue crying silently. Symptom, taken care of; real issue, the child doesn’t want to share, hasn’t been dealt with. On the more serious side, take someone who always makes jokes about their marriage. You could tell that person to be more serious but, in reality, they make jokes because they may not know how to communicate their hurts, unhappiness, or fears, with their spouse or anyone else for that matter.
When different situations are being handled the same way and things aren’t changing, we should begin to look further than the situation and our feelings. We should take notice of the deeper issues. Because nothing will change or be changed until we begin to look at the root or the heart of the matter.
In Matthew 23, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees about their motives: 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside may also be clean.
Yes, Jesus was talking about motives but it applies to dealing with our issues as well. If we talk about, pray about, work through our issues, (cleaning the inside of the cup) our outside will be cleaned as well (no symptoms).
The person that is mean or angry all the time may have been hurt in the past and they haven’t forgiven the person who hurt them. The person who can never be serious may be afraid to be vulnerable because someone may have broken that trust in the past. The person that doesn’t want to change may be dealing with fear due to past changes that have caused bad situations they couldn’t control. Most of the time, we operate out of the heart issue via our symptom.
House and his team correctly diagnose the sickness and find a cure by the end of each episode.
In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
We, humans, are the “they” in that scripture. So, let us take Jesus up on that offer. Let us begin and keep uprooting those things that continue to “steal, kill, and destroy” our lives. Because only then can we fully accept and live out the abundant life.
Be blessed and walk in victory.
“Love Jesus. Love people. Love life.”
- Rafer Jr.
October 14, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

October 13, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

How many times do we tell God, “I need your help. I need you to take care of this situation. I need you to fix this. I need you to guide me. I don’t know what decision to make.” We beg Him & beg Him. Maybe His response to you today is, “Talk to me when you read your Bible.” And maybe all the answers are right there.
-Whitney
October 6, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

Righteous Wrath

September 30, 2014 / The Vine Community Church

Purpose

I was thinking this week about the beginning of Fall and thinking about how all of us are pretty locked into our schedules and routines of life. Because of this, we tend to get busy and push away things from day to day that are very important.

I am reminded of a recent situation in my life where I was so busy, I totally forgot about a previous obligation I had, all because I was not paying attention to my own calendar. I felt really embarrassed because I let someone down. It is all right to make a mistake, although we should always learn from them and move on, doing things better.

I want to tell you that I am praying for you as God places you on my heart and mind. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking and praying for those God has brought into this church. We must never get too busy to be available for God to use us in someone else’s life. I believe that all of us are placed where we are for a reason. I cannot wait to see what God wants to do with His people in regards to His plan. May we all understand His calling on our lives and speak into each other’s lives with conviction and encouragement.

Having said all of these things, I want all of us to be challenged to really step out and get involved in community, both within and outside the church. God has specific plans for each of us and He wants us to do life together. In the busyness of life, my prayer is that we would all take time to slow down and do exactly what God is asking of us. It will be hard, it will be uncomfortable, it will be awkward, yet rewarding in our faith. Take some time this week and evaluate the things you are doing and the reason you are doing them, and then pray to God to guide you in those things as you continue them or get rid of them to make room for what He wants from you.

This church is here to encourage you as you make changes and draw closer to God. May we find our purpose together and serve each other as we do life together.

Love you,

Derek

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