Category: Meditations

Meditations – May 22, 2019

By Associate Pastor Chad Adelmund  Heartland Community Church, La Porte City
This week in “The Bible Doesn’t Say That” we are looking at the phrase “Follow Your Heart.” “You just need to follow your heart!” How many times have we been given this statement as a piece of good advice? Culture tells us this is the ultimate determiner in making decisions: “What is your heart telling you to do?”
In seeking out help, wisdom and guidance, we’ll speak to loved ones, people we look up to and respect, or even professional counselors, and all the conversations normally end with the same sort of counsel: “At the end of the day, you just need to do what your heart tells you to.”
Now that advice may be well-meaning by someone who believes it’s true, or perhaps by someone who doesn’t know what else to say, or even worse, it’s a last response given by someone with a dismissive attitude wanting to move on from the conversation.
However, if this is how we make life-altering decisions about topics like career path, which school to attend, relationships, when to speak up or when to stay silent, shouldn’t we really consider what that overused statement really means?
So, what does it really mean to “follow your heart”? First of all, we must ask ourselves, “What is the heart? And is it something beyond the muscle that pumps blood through our veins to the rest of the body?” According to Hebrew and Greek cultures, the heart actually represents the location of our feelings, desires and emotions. So if we break down the statement “follow your heart”, it would go something like this: Follow: Implies that something/someone is going to lead me. Your heart: According to this statement, what’s going to lead me is my heart. My feelings, desires and emotions are going to be my guide.
The simple truth is, sometimes our hearts cannot be trusted. For the person who has never trusted in Jesus, the Bible warns us that their heart is a very untrustworthy source of solid direction. Jeremiah 17:9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
God warns us not to simply trust our hearts because they are full of deceit and wickedness. The reason why our hearts are so depraved is that every human being is born with a sinful nature that corrupts everything about them. This doesn’t mean that no one has ever done a good deed in their life, but that even the good things we do are tainted with the stain of sin. And because of this sin, our hearts are infected and broken and can easily lead us astray. This means that the advice to simply follow your heart is foolish because a sinful heart cannot be trusted. Romans 3:9-12 “No one is righteous, not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”
We need a new heart for the person who has trusted in Jesus, the good news is that the Bible says you have been given a new, redeemed heart as a part of your salvation experience. When we put our faith in Christ, everything about us is new, including our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” So because a Christian’s sin has been forgiven and they have been given a new heart, God can and does work through the desires of their heart.
However, the Christian should still be very careful with the leading of their heart because we are still able to be deceived. The Bible warns us that Satan is a deceiver and is actively seeking to lead people astray by getting them to believe lies. It also warns us that some of Satan’s lies can seem very appealing. It says in 2 Corinthians 11:14 “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” So just because you pray about something and feel one way or the other doesn’t necessarily mean that feeling can be trusted.
We need a better source of truth. So, while the Christian can and should seek God through prayer and be sensitive to the leading and desires God put’s on their heart, this cannot be the final say when it comes to making decisions and understanding the truth. The feelings of our heart should always be tested first and finally by the words of Scripture. The Bible is the unchanging word of God, it never changes, isn’t affected by mood swings, isn’t susceptible to lies and will always lead us on the right path. The Bible can cut through all the mixed feelings and questions of our heart and expose the truth. Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful.
It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. When making a decision or seeking truth, it’s a good thing for a Christian to pray and ask God to move their heart. And if what a person’s heart feels goes against the Bible, ignore the heart…and trust the God’s Unchanging Word. Look for part 2 of “Follow Your Heart” next week!

Meditations – May 8, 2019

By Associate Pastor Chad Adelmund  Heartland Community Church, La Porte City
The Bible doesn’t say that!
This series is dealing with the reality that far more often than we care to admit, Christians actually do more damage by giving advice that might sound great, but in reality it falls short. The irony is we think what is being said is biblical and scriptural, but it’s not found in scripture anywhere. This false information can actually damage how people see God!
We start with perhaps the king of them all, so many well-meaning Christians give this advice to so many hurting people in their time of need and end up doing so much damage! Perhaps you’ve said this one before…“God won’t give you more than you can handle.” How many have recently felt overwhelmed by life? If feel like you are at the tipping point, and one more crazy setback might just put you over the edge! We all have, maybe you are not in this place today, but we all have or we will. Some well-meaning believer trying to help steps in and tells you not to worry it’s going to be okay because, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem, scripture never says that anywhere. There is this false idea that life gets easier after one becomes a Christian and in some ways this sounds right, and there is some truth in it. (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Jesus promises His burden is light, in at least some sense promising to lighten our load.
Unfortunately, so many have the idea once I put my faith in Christ, He wraps me in spiritual bubble wrap, protects me from harsh realities of life. Even in my short time as a Pastor, I hear people disappointed with God because they thought He promised them better when they became followers of Jesus. They thought He would say yes to all prayers, solve all problems, heal all diseases and life would be perfect from then on. So where does this misconception come from? (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT) “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” This is the passage that led to this misconception.
Let’s talk about what that passage actually says. The Apostle Paul is the one who wrote this and he is a man familiar with suffering, Paul encourages us to remember God is faithful. That He will not let us be “tempted beyond what we can handle.” This is referencing a temptation to sin, not relieving us of heavy burdens in life and often it’s the burdens we face that overwhelm us and actually lead to the temptation take easy way out. Following Christ is amazing, but it’s not always easy.
Here’s a hard truth we need to grab hold of, God will absolutely give you more than you can handle. He will often allow you to have far more upon you than you could ever handle on your own. This misquote is often spoken out of kindness, but has created unnecessary confusion and guilt. It suggests God causes all adversity and trouble, God will never give you more than you can handle means it’s God who is giving you pain and suffering. This can easily leave people confused about who God is. Is He an angry God weighing us down with pain? Or is He (as scripture states) a loving Father who has plans to prosper not harm his children?
Secondly, it leads to emotional guilt because If God never gives me more than I can handle, what is wrong with me that I can’t handle this? This causes broken people to feel like failures. So many of us are under unbearable pressure facing tragedies in our lives and at our worst moment, someone, in attempt to comfort us, tells us God won’t give us more than we can handle. For some, the only thing we can conclude is that we are broken because we can’t bear this!
That’s not what this passage is saying. Will God let us be overburdened? Yes. Will He leave us lost in temptation? No. Here is the truth, human suffering is Universal. (John 16:33 NLT) “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We will all experience hardship and suffering and it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, everyone experiences hardship. Many learn powerful lessons from it. The vast majority of pain and suffering in the world comes from enemy attacks or from consequences of living in a fallen world. God doesn’t cause all this.
God usually gets blamed for every accident and disaster. “How could God cause or allow that to happen?” is a question often heard. The reality is we are living in a broken and fallen world. As a result of the consequences of sin, suffering exists. A person who smokes two packs of cigarettes a day for 20+ years probably shouldn’t blame God when they get lung cancer. Humanity is living broken lives in a broken place and then God is blamed when broken things happen.

Meditations – May 1, 2019

By Christopher Simon
Controlling our desires
“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.” ~ Proverbs 16:26 NIV
The Old Testament story of Esau giving up his birthright for a bowl of stew illustrates a variety of important lessons, and perhaps the most relevant one is that our appetites can make us impulsive and prone to bad judgement: “Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” (Genesis 25:29-34 NIV)
Like Esau, we often make bad decisions and act impulsively because our appetites get the upper hand. Not only are we prone to the loss of our assets, but we are likely to say or do things we will regret. The lesson here is as much about controlling our impulses as it is about being careful to not make important decisions when our appetites are engaged. Going to the grocery store when you’re famished is a bad idea. Conversely, it is possible to make your desires and appetites work for you. As the saying goes, “Hunger is the best sauce.”
Desire is not inherently bad; it can be used for good or ill. Staying hungry, as it were, can be a strong motivator. Consider how to harness your appetites in order to improve your life.

Meditations – April 24, 2019

By Pastor Mike Ashman, Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee
The road here is closed. The county came by last week and placed a sign in front of the parsonage. Every so often, I see people gingerly go past, only to return only after a minute or so. I have heard that others have tried (and failed) sinking their vehicles up to their axles. A couple of weeks ago I ventured a trip to the cemetery, keeping the vehicle in four-wheel drive and praying for no other cars, or even worse large trucks.
I placed a note on our Facebook page that stated that while the road might be closed, the church remains open. The message can work on so many levels. I have witnessed many people who consider the church to be closed – at least to them. Somewhere in life, they have been left out, put aside, judged and sentenced. Don’t fret — the church remains open even though the road sign might stand in your way. If we consider the church as a journey rather than a destination, then we realize that God never truly closes the road. Some are gravel, the others six lanes with heavy traffic. All paths lead somewhere. Even a “dead end” is still a place and most times a difficult one to reckon with. Every path is opportunity for God to travel with us, sometimes leading, other times pushing from the back side. No matter what, God is there.
I will admit that more than enough times that I have felt up to my axles in muck and mire. I have been trapped by sink holes and ravaged by pot holes. No matter how hard I try, I am no longer able to move either forward or back. Those days, or weeks, or even months I finally admit that my journey is ultimately not mine at all. I am stuck in the mud of my own free will. I am the one, not God, slamming on the brakes mistaking them for the accelerator. So are you prepared for the trip of a lifetime, and even more? God is your GPS. You just need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Meditations – April 10, 2019

By Pastor Mike Ashman  Zion Lutheran Church, Jubilee  Rural La Porte City
This morning I woke up, looked out the window and said, “not again.” The grass was cover with snow that had fallen during the night. I wondered how much longer could this go on and went down to my office only to discover that it was still snowing. In the words of the immortal Charlie Brown, “Ugh.”
How many times did poor Charlie try to kick the football that Lucy was holding, only to have the football snatched away at the final second. As Charlie flew through the air, he screamed, both inside and out. But he never gave up. Charlie always had hope.
As Christians, we define ourselves as people of hope. Paul took a journey all the way back to Abraham, finding hope in the ancestors who lived and died as people of the promise. God cut a covenant – made a promise to the people that god would never abandon them.
During the time of Easter, we are reminded that Jesus created a new covenant in his death and resurrection that nothing will be able to separate us from God’s love, a promise that was signed, sealed and delivered as the women ran from the tomb with the Good News. Jesus was alive. This meant that our whole reality has changed, well sorta.
Like good ol’ Charlie Brown, we still often find ourselves flat on our backs with no football in sight. We find that we have not lived up to expectations, not ours, not theirs (add whatever group you might belong to), or God’s. We lined up our goals, hopes and dreams just to see them whisked away. Sometimes life isn’t fair, at least in our eyes.
Easter bears the promise that God has the final victory. Repeat. God has won the victory over evil and death, a victory God shares with us. We simply share in this victory. His victory is not just the sweet by and by – but right here and right now. Let it snow. Let it rain. In the end, God is faithful. There will be new life. There will definitely be new life.

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