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The Heart

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Intro

Take time to interact with the resources below.  [wpex more=”Why?” less=”Why?”]

Every one of us has a different learning style and are affected in different ways by different things at different times. With this in mind the “into” part of this section is intended to look at the content brought up by the book from multiple angles. Video clips, blogs and other interactions will help bring this information from our heads (information) to our hearts (transformation). You are encouraged to relate your story, your emotion, your perspective to the current content and see where God brings you.

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A Splinter In Our Mind

Like Neo the world has been pulled over our eyes and we have been led to believe that the physical world is what is most real about us.  There is a deeper understanding of reality that, if we embrace it, will usher us into a much greater story.  It is our choice whether or not we will take this invitation.

Do you see the parallels?  What stood out to you in this clip?  Does this make you want to learn more or retreat to safer ground?

Original Shame and Original Blessing

Original Shame and Original Blessing
Richard Rhor
Christians pinpoint “original sin” in the Genesis story of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though the phrase is not in the Bible. I think a much truer description of Adam and Eve’s experience would be “original shame.” They hide when God comes looking for them, and when God asks why, they say they feel naked. Then God asks Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” The implication is, “I sure didn’t.” A few verses later, we see a very nurturing image of God as seamstress, sewing garments and covering the two humans to protect them from their shame (see Genesis 3). How different than the much later and opposite notion of God shaming people for all eternity in hell. The older tradition reveals the deep mystery of transformation: God even uses our shame and pain to lead us closer to God’s loving heart. Of course! After forty-seven years now in active ministry, this has become obvious to me.
We live in a time of primal shame, and we don’t seem to know how to escape it. I find very few people who don’t feel stupid, inadequate, dirty, or unworthy today, even if they do not consciously admit it. When people come to me for counseling or confession, they ask in one form or another, “If people knew the things I think, the things I’ve said, the things I want to do, who would love me?” We all have had feelings of radical, foundational unworthiness. I’m sure they take ten thousand different forms, but the shame is usually there.
 In spiritual direction, so many people start with the premise, “If I behave correctly, I will one day get God to love me or even notice me.” We tend toward this behavioral model. But the biblical tradition actually teaches that first we must see God clearly, often by experiencing God’s mercy for our bad behavior–and then our right behavior will follow. We first must encounter and experience God’s original blessing, choosing, and loving of us. If you start with original sin or shame, normally the pit is so deep you never get out of it. This is why more and more the modern world resents Christianity, as any child would understandably resent a foundationally rejecting parent. All the good theology in the world is not strong enough to overcome bad psychology and anthropology. Some reformers actually thought of human nature as “a pile of manure covered over with Christ” or of human beings as “totally depraved.” I am afraid this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let’s try preaching original blessing and see if that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy instead!

Understanding the Heart

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What do you know about your heart?  Did you know your heart is what holds your deepest convictions, beliefs, pain, and joy?  It is only from our hearts that we can offer and receive love.  Over and over the Bible describes the heart as central.  Go to this link at biblegatway and read some of the 725 verses that talk about the heart.  Look for a few things that you didn’t know about the heart before.  Take a note in your journal.

Key Points

Review the key points for this section.

The Eyes of the Heart:
We are encouraged to act as though the unseen world is more weighty, more real and more dangerous than the part of reality we can see
We are cought up in a world at war, and this war affects us everyday of our lives
We have a crucial role to play and we must be trained to live this role.
The Heart of All Things:
The heart is central to all of life and to Christianity
The point of all living is love, to learn to give love and receive love
Christ’s mission for us is to give us back our hearts and set us free.

Journal Questions

Pick a few of these questions to react to.  Write down your unedited responses.  [wpex more=”Why?” less=”Why?”]

We don’t often take time to push the “pause” button. This puts us in a position of having an overwhelming amount of stimulus and an underwhelming amount of time and space to process life. Journaling takes the thoughts, emotions and even actions and captures them for a moment, giving us time to become more self-aware. The more self-aware we are, the more we can connect with God. There are no right or wrong answers so take a moment to write down your unedited response to these questions.

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Why do stories awaken your heart? What are some of your favorites from movies and books?   From the Bible?
Is the idea that there is far more going on here than meets the eye new to you, or is it a reminder of a truth that you have either forgotten or set aside?
In what way does your life feel as though you’re living in a war zone? What have been the losses, wounds, and casualties in your life as a result of the war? What battles are you currently facing? Whom have you blamed for the war? God.   Yourself. Others.
What does the thought that this world is at war stir in you? What governing beliefs does it disrupt?
Do you feel embarrassed or prideful to consider that you have a glory and a vital role to play? What role would you love to play?
Think about how it would look for you to live out of your glory? What kind of impact would this have on yourself, those around you and the world around you?
Looking back over your life, what has the Enemy done to assault your glory?
What would you like God to do for you in the area of your hidden and broken glory?
How is your heart right now?   How do you feel? What are you sensing in your spirit?
What does the Wizard of Oz story (pp. 36-38) stir in you? Can you relate to the Tin Man in any way? What word most describes how you have lived? Efficient. Productive.   Safe. Busy. Nice.
When have you lost heart (lost hope, thrown in the towel) and what impact did it have upon your intimacy with God and others?
Take a look at this list of indicators of losing heart. Which of these do you relate to?

[wpex more=”Indicators of Losing Heart” less=”Indicators of Losing Heart”] Conversational intimacy and sweet communion with God is infrequent.

I most often experience shame, condemnation and a sense of being disqualified or unable to please in my relationship with God.

My walk with God is reduced to a focus on external behaviors.

I am missing the giving and receiving of love in my relationship with God.

Most of the Christian activity and serving I do is out of duty and obligation.

I do not see myself as having a crucial role to play in the bigger story.

I mostly live in a fog and am very confused about decisions and the direction of my life.

I hardly ever show emotion, either laughing or crying. Emotion is weakness.

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Have you seen the heart as central to Scripture?   If not, what else did you think was central? What was the effect of these things on how you live? On how you view God?
What does the word intimacy mean to you?   Have you known intimacy with God?
What have been the obstacles set against a more intimate relationship with God?
Rewrite Isaiah 61:1 in your own words. Now read it out loud. Does this sound like something you want? Something you need?
What if this were true?
How does your heart react?

Solitude

Find a quiet space and time to spend with God.  Ask Him questions and then listen to God and your own heart.  Have your journal ready to capture what surfaces.  [wpex more=”Why?” less=”Why?”]

Often times the way God communicates with us is described as a still, small voice. We may be tempted to believe that God doesn’t speak anymore, but what if we just aren’t taking the time and effort to listen. Just like a small child learning to speak their native language, over time there becomes a familiarity and ease in which communication happens.

Sometimes a quiet place is a quiet room in the house or a walk in the woods. Allow your heart and mind to be quiet. If you get distracted from God or the question you want to ask, don’t beat yourself up, this is natural. Just say, “Okay God, I come back to you”. Ask the question again and notice your heart, thoughts, images, or words that come to mind and see what God is saying to you.

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Jesus resides in your heart. To get out of your head and into your heart you shouldn’t strive to “make it happen” but relax into His presence and fall back into His arms. Allowing your mind to descend into your heart. Listen to relaxing music (no lyrics) or just be in quiet stillness and be present to Jesus.
To get the conversation started ask Him: How have I missed the larger story and my role in it? How have I mishandled my heart? What needs to be done for me to move towards whole heartedness?

Worship

A few times a week pause your life to worship and connect with God.  Recalibrate what is most true about you, the world and God.  [wpex more=”Why?” less=”Why?”]

Taking time to worship God by ourselves in our everyday lives is essential to continue to move towards the intimate connection to God that we need. In watching the video, meditation or interacting with some other form of worship is not intended to be prescriptive. You don’t have to sing along, just be present. Instead of trying to make something happen, we want to have a posture of open receptiveness towards what God has for us. We can just soak in the goodness of worship with God and it does something to our hearts whether we know it or not.

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Head to the Heart

Find a quiet moment to watch this worship video.  Invite Jesus to meet you here.

Now take a moment to read the lyrics.  What jumps out at you?  Take a note in your journal.

[wpex more=”Head to the Heart Lyrics” less=”Head to the Heart Lyrics”]I open up to you, This love that makes me new
Oh may my heart receive, This love that carries me

From the head to the heart, You take me on a journey
Of letting go, And getting lost in you

My heart is open wide, I will receive your light
You give me faith like a child, In you my heart runs wild

Cuz there’s no shame , In looking like a fool
When I give you what I can’t keep , To take a hold of you

More than words, More than good ideas
I found your love in the open fields

From the head to the heart, You take me on a journey
Of letting go , And getting lost in you

There’s no shame , In looking like a fool
When I give you what I can’t keep , To take a hold of you

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Being Grateful

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Spend time being grateful for all the things that your heart absolutely loves.  Telling God, “Thank you, Father, for…”  Until you can’t think of anything else.  Nothing is too small, nothing is too insignificant.  Thank Him for it all.  This is an act of worshipping our Giving Father.

Take a moment to describe your takeaway from this section in the comments area below.  What did you learn?  How can you apply it in everyday life?  [wpex more=”Why?” less=”Why?”]

When we share with others our own perspectives it allows us to process in a different way.  When we get a chance to experience someone else’s perspective ours is broadened.  In just a few sentences we can practice synthesizing down what we have learned to a 30,000 foot overview.

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