The Heart’s Overflow

“I made a Covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”

Job 31:1

 

As men, we think that we are strong enough that we will not be mastered by anything. This mindset and prideful thinking allows us to get into situations that we never thought we would find ourselves in. You see, sin is conceived in our hearts and minds long before it finds it’s way out into our actions or reactions. In it’s basic terms, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). In other words, just as a river feeding a pond will eventually cause the pond to overflow it’s banks, so what we allow into our hearts and minds through our eyes and ears will overflow out of our mouths and conceive actions.

We are warned of this natural course of events in Galatians 6:7,8: “do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” Building on this concept of a man sowing and reaping, we can imagine a man’s life being divided into numerous gardens that require his attention, care, cultivation, and sowing. These consist of the garden of his wife, another for each child, one for work, one for his personal time, and one for his own spiritual walk. How, as well as what type of seed a man sows into his various gardens determines what grows for him.

If a man either by neglect or choice fails cultivate and sow healthy seed into his spiritual garden then it’s plants will wither and die. Then there will be nothing to feed on, or overflow out of this area when the circumstances have need of it. Additionally, whether it is the spiritual garden or another, if he fails to properly cultivate it, identifying weeds and pulling them out at the root immediately, then soon the garden in question will be overcome by weeds to the point of overflowing. It is also important to note that the health of one garden will affect the surrounding gardens.

So a mans primary garden to be cultivated, weeded, and watered should be his own spiritual garden, as it also will provide strength, resources, and nourishment to the other gardens in his life. “Remove the log in your own eye before removing the speck in your brothers eye.” (Matthew 7:4,5). The health and well bring of his own garden then spills over into the care and cultivation of his wife and kids. But this first means removing the little foxes and weeds from his own garden. This means choosing to flee the immoral woman (1 Cor. 6:18), whether on television, on the Internet, in an advertisement, or walking down the street.

This means “taking every though captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) so that we do not give the devil a foot hold (Eph. 4:27) in our gardens.

Admittedly, it is a difficult thing to do. After all, men were made to be visually oriented (remember that was a blessing when it comes to providing protection for his family). Yet, many men figure there is no harm in admiring a pretty woman as she walks past. Put mildly, this is how a slippery slope operates. Eventually, once the seed has been planted and watered enough, the eyes will no longer be satisfied with what they once were. This is how even the most dedicated of Christian men move from ads featuring women, to pornography addiction. And this is how the same man can go from a simple, playful flirt with a coworker or stranger to adultery.

This is how King David went from observing Bathsheba bathing on the roof, to committing adultery, to murdering one of his Mighty Men. This is how King Solomon found himself with 300 wives and 700 concubines, and still saying that having them all was not satisfying but chasing after the wind.

We become dissatisfied with the blessing God has given us, and lust after something else. This is why one of the qualifications for elder stated by Paul requires the man to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6) this indicates that he does not lust after other women but tends and cultivates his garden with his wife.

When a man focuses on his wife and does not lust after other women, or compare his wife to the other women he sees, then a process begins to take shape that I like to call ‘the ship-effect.’ When a military ship leaves port and goes to sea, the only people that the crew sees and interacts with are the other crew members. The longer they are underway, the more attractive the members of the opposite sex begin to be. The same can be true when a Godly husband leaves port and focuses his eyes and desire for his wife alone. Proverbs 5:18,19 says: “rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.” This can only be true when a man’s heart and eyes solely belong to and long for his wife.

Crossroads:

What do you allow your eyes to see and even to study?

What condition is your heart and mind in?

What is the condition of your personal garden and the garden with your spouse?

Left turn: enjoy all that your eyes can see and try to prove King Solomon wrong.

Right turn: choose the path less traveled, and turn your eyes and heart back to God and your spouse.

Challenge: make a covenant with your eyes to not look lustfully at another woman and focus all your attention on your bride. (when you fail repent and start again – don’t give up the fight to break-free from this pattern).

Good vs. Great

“Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it”

(Colossians 4:17).

Or said a different way: “Be faithful to the calling to which you have been called.” Too often, as Christian men, we are guilty of neglecting the ‘great’ that God has directed us to do. This or these items are the things that God spoke to our hearts through the Holy Spirit for us to accomplish for His glory. Yet even when this calling is clear, we allow ourselves to become distracted with the good things that we could be doing, instead of focusing on the great we were called to. These good things, in and of themselves are not necessarily bad or sinful things, but added together they still accomplish the job they were intended to do. Think about it. If God called you to spend your energy and resources on something great for His kingdom, why would He then throw so much good your way to keep you from accomplishing the great He called you to?

In examining my own life, most of the time, the goodthat was placed before me like a carrot on a string were things to accomplish that had little to do with eternal consequences. The great calling He called me to has everything to do with eternity. So, is it possible, in my own life at least, that these good things are not actually placed in front of me by God? Could it be my own flesh…. Or could it actually be Satan deliberately trying to distract me and create such a burden for me that there is no way for me to accomplish God’s great calling in my life?

Now a Godly man must be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit so that he can determine whether the good that has been placed in front of him is an opportunity from God, or a distraction from God. There will be opportunities from God to do good and to be a witness for His glory. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).

Our calling from God also does not free us from the other commandments and responsibilities that He has given to us. For instance, we are still required to work, provide for our families, be gentle with our wives, teach our children, to protect them, and to mirror Christ to them. On the other hand, things that cause us to be removed from these expectations God has placed on us, or His calling for us, should be prayed about and properly dealt with. For instance, if my hobby is to restore an antique car (non-eternal), causes me to neglect my God-given responsibilities to wife or kids (eternal), and causes me to put aside or devote less time to the calling to which He called me, then the goodhas crowded out the great and must be removed, even if it is painful.

Crossroads:

What is or are the calling(s) to which you have been called by God?

Do you focus your heart and energy on this calling or have you crowded it with other things?

Do things need to change in your mindset or ability to say no or yes to other possibilities?

Challenge: apply what you have learned about your calling, and work to become faithful to that/those callings. (Remember, your primary calling is your personal walk with God, then your wife, then your kids.. Only after these callings by God is what else He has called you to).

Coming into Focus

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

       Throughout scripture we are called many things as Christians. Often as men, we think of these titles as side jobs, or things to which the chosen few are called to fulfill. This mindset allows us to not feel guilty as we focus our attention on material gain, climbing the corporate ladder, or achieving praise from the Christians and nonChristians around us. Yet we often fail to accomplish more than the chasing after the wind that King Solomon concluded almost everything a man can set his mind to do was.

As Christian men, we must set our eyes, minds, and hearts on the things above, not on earthly things that easily distract us, or cause us to sin (Colossians 3:2). These things above, include what God has specifically called us to and desires us to become. While some men are ‘called’ to be priests or pastors for their communities, Christian men are called and specifically assigned to be the priests of their households. This means that we possess the primary responsibility for the spiritual well being of our wife and children.

Obviously, we cannot force someone to accept Christ into their lives, and we certainly should never expect a family member who does not believe to act as if he or she did. It is the condition of the heart that must be prayed for and the focus of all.

In order for the man to properly fulfill his role as priest, he must be actively reading and learning scripture, praying, and striving to live a life that is acceptable to God. While no one is perfect but Christ alone, we must strive to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

This of Moses for a moment. While the children of Israel shied away from knowing God personally, it was Moses who climbed the mountain time after time to meet face to face with God. He went without food, he endured hardship, he maintained his faith even when there was fighting and complaining in the camp. He even interceded for them when God declared He was done with them and would start over with Moses.

Instead of climbing a mountain, are you willing to grow calluses on your knees in prayer and intercession for your wife and kids? Are you willing to invest the time and energy into doing whatever it takes to meet face to face with God on behalf of one of your children or your wife? Are you willing to walk into the Holy of Holies? After all, you are part of a chosen people – the people called Christian (little Christ’s), and you are a royal priesthood – washed in His blood for His service.

We say we believe, but do our hearts and actions flow out from this belief or from the worship of what lies below.

 

Crossroads:

Are your eyes set on things above or on the earthy things that can distract you?

What is the condition of your heart?

Are you setting your heart and mind on becoming a royal priest, or neglecting this responsibility in your family?

Challenge: set your heart and mind to become the priest of your household. Make it a point to spend time reading scripture and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you so that you can teach your family.

What’s in Your Sabbath?


“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you.”

Deuteronomy 5:12

The word sabbath means “a day of rest and religious observance.” The idea many people have regarding the sabbath is: that it’s just a church-established day of worship and rest. Ironically, if this were really case, wouldn’t it then hold true that people within the church would be the first to model a holy day of rest and focus on God?

Yet it seems that the opposite is almost true.

Churches cater to the desires of it’s attendees by scheduling earlier and earlier services, so that the people can come ‘worship’ and have their one hour with God for the week, and then run off to enjoy a day off of work, not a sabbath. It is opposed to the sinful nature of man to actually take a day of rest and worship of God.

How can I say that? Because church is engrained in our culture as something we do as opposed to something that we are. Jesus said in Mark 2:27: “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” In other words, the God who created us and saved us, placed in our bodies and souls the need to actually rest once every seven days from our work. Yet the culture, and Satan who drives it, demands a constant work, racing through our lives to achieve and invest all of our energy, resources, and attention, into something that will not actually last.

The ultimate chasing after the wind in an effort to make a difference, or be remembered. When in fact, society is quick to forget. All each of us leave physically here on earth is our buried bodies that are given a headstone with a single sentence that defines our whole lives – and even that is forgotten and neglected. On the other hand, the very thing that the world cries out for us to neglect, the soul that will live forever, is what we neglect in our physical race.

On the seventh day, after God had created everything, He rested from all that He had done, and established that day as holy (Genesis 2:3). While God did not tire, and thus need to rest, He established the example for us, as a father would to His newly created children.

As the church, and we as Godly men, choose to neglect God’s example and command, we teach our children by example, that one can pick and choose what parts of God’s Word, Law, and Commandments to follow and which ones they will ignore. In other words, by our example of choosing to lift ourselves up as judges of God’s law, we become the primary examples for our children to ignore God’s word, and neglect our commands. After all, if we will not submit to God’s word and direction, why should our children submit to ours?

Do you think I am being harsh? Do you think that I am making a bigger deal out of our choices and example, and their potential consequences? Before you judge, lets consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:19 we are told: “anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Crossroads:

How do you spend your Sabbath days?

Do you make it a point to rest or to work, or to spend time cultivating your family’s interactions?

Challenge: prayerfully consider how you spend your sabbaths and compare that to God’s design and purpose for the sabbath. If there a changes that need to be made, enact them.