12 ways to wreck itSo we have started the big fall series where we are talking about the 12 ways to wreck your heart here on Sunday mornings and then we are giving you the tools to heal your heart in our Sunday afternoon classes and more importantly in your time alone with God all week long, which is really meaningful to us here at MRC.  This series was a big deal to us to put together because we know something from scripture.  The spiritual battle that is waging all around us, is being fought over your heart.  It is that important.  In fact, it is the most important thing for us to take care of…

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. NIV

Above all else…the most important thing you can do is guard your heart.  Why?  Because it is the well spring of life!  This is why this series is so important, and also why we wanted to get ‘The Heart Test’ to you early and often.  Because your heart is that important.  Ken over the last few weeks has shared this compilation of scripture from Proverbs…

Keep vigilant watch over your heart, that’s where life starts. …a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. …a miserable heart means a miserable life.  Provers 4:23, 5:13, 5:15 MSG

So one thing I’m hoping you understand by now is that your heart is a big deal!  That is why Ken started the series by explaining to you if you want to wreck your heart…you take the heart test and you ignore it.  What is funny is that many of us probably heard that sermon, agreed with what Ken said…and then what happened?  We took the heart test, and jumped back into life, completely ignoring the results and two weeks later we wonder how in the world that happens.  We sat here, and heard the message that we can’t ignore the condition of our hearts…and then we go back into life, and now we pick our heads up and wonder how we lost another two weeks.  Wondering how in the world we ignored out hearts!  Life has an amazing ability to happen and just keep happening…and it seems that the moments of clarity that would keep us focused on our heart condition are few and far between!  This is no accident, this is a world at war.  This is the way things go, and today we are going to push into just how that happens even more.

You know it’s funny that we lay these series out way in advance, and then later I realize that I am going to be talking about something that hits me in my own life so hard and I don’t know if there is a way that my own heart gets taking out faster than this one.  Today we are going to show you an easy way to wreck your heart.  Be too amazing for God, get too busy!  This is a challenge, and I will say probably the biggest challenge of my life.  I love what God has done for me.  I am amazed that He loved me enough to send Jesus to take care of all my sins and wash away all my junk.  It is something that I can’t get out of my mind.  It is something I am so passionate about and it’s something I want everyone to experience in their own life!  And if I’m not careful, in all my passion and in all my excitement I can really end up in a spot where I destroy my own heart…doing a lot of really good things.  Wait, what?  How can doing good things be a bad thing?  Here’s what I’ve discovered…Satan isn’t going to beat me with the “big stuff.”  He’s not going to convince me to rob banks, or do drugs, or kill someone…so what he does is play off of my passion.  If he can’t beat me in a fight, he will just give me a million fights to fight in, and let me fight myself to death.  My wife would probably tell you that I can do this to myself in a hurry.  He will just line up a bunch of really good things, and watch a person like myself with more passion than brains jump in all the way.  This is my challenge and it is something that I feel pretty qualified to talk to you about today!  You want to wreck your heart, be amazing for God…do too much!  How does this happen?

I think for some maybe they forget who the hero of the story is…remember that whole last series we did about the God story?  How Jesus is the hero and it’s not you and it’s not me.  While I think for some they may think they have to be Jesus but that isn’t my issue.  I clearly recognize I’m not Jesus…all my issues make that easy to identify!  I get who the hero is…and I know I’m not Superman here.  My problem is that I WANT to do good.  I want to help people, and there is a million good things going on and a million opportunities to serve people all around me.  You know what, it is hard to say know to a good thing isn’t it?  Don’t you feel like if you say no to coaching your child’s sport it means that you don’t love kids.  If you say know to serving in missions you are saying you don’t care for people in need.  If you say no to serving the anti-trafficking group it means you support human trafficking.  You want to help it all, because it is all good stuff right!  Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but I when I see a need and I want to make it right or serve it, or make it better; but it’s at the expense of my own health…you see it?  It comes at the expense of the condition of my own heart.  And typically by serving all these good things my own priorities can get flipped on their head and a month or two down the road I wonder what just happened…I have that rare moment of clarity and wonder how I got to the spot I end up in!

Well maybe I am not alone in this…and today I want to try to bring clarity to this…because I believe that the reason this happens to me is that I lose focus on “why” I should do things, and “when” I should say yes to things…because I am not always being deliberate enough in “how” I make my decisions on “what” I should be doing!

You know this past week I ran into a moment in the life of Jesus that has really challenged me in this area of my life and I want to share it with you now because while it seems really subtle and may be something you have read in the Bible and moved on…it really hit my heart.  This is a really big deal moment.

Mark 1:32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”  NIV

So to give you some back drop to where we are, Jesus’ ministry is taking off.  He is healing the sick, and he is casting out demons.  There is momentum, and he is helping everyone.  He is doing a lot of good here.  This is an exciting time right!  He should be super pumped about what all is happening.  People are clamoring for me him, and they all need him…and what does Jesus do?  He goes off early in the morning and spends time alone with God.  He is tending to his heart condition.  This is important, and something we all must do, but it’s what happens next that really is a challenge for me.  Let’s look at those last two verses again…

36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else-to the nearby villages-so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 

So the disciples are pumped!  There is so much good happening here and there is more and more people who need Jesus do heal them.  The people are looking for him…and what does he do?  He leaves and goes on to the next town!  Wait, shouldn’t he stay?  Shouldn’t he do what everyone wants him to do here?  Shouldn’t he cater to these hurting people…after all he is gaining more and more momentum here.  What does it mean that he says it’s time to move on?  Does this mean that Jesus doesn’t care about people?  Does it mean he doesn’t want to heal them?  This is a big moment here and maybe the most challenging question for me and maybe for you is this. Would you be willing to leave this village and go to the next one?  Or would you stay…I will tell you this if it was me, even if I knew I was to leave and actually mustered the courage to do so, I would have felt bad, and felt pressure, and felt insecure about all the people that I just disappointed in this town!  But Jesus has something that we all need a clear focus and mission.  He has a clear driver of His decisions.  That is the key, and that is a big step in the right direction for us all.

  1. We must have a clear driver of our decisions. 

Jesus was able to make a clear decision to move on to the next town because he clearly knows why he has come!  He tells the disciples that they must move on, and how did he end that statement… “That is why I have come.”  Yes, there are people pushing in on me from all sides, but I know why I am here…and I don’t answer to them.  I answer to the one who sent me!  Jesus is modeling a very important lesson for us here and it’s one that is hard to learn and harder to achieve.  You must have a clear driver for your decisions.  If you do not, others will make those decisions for you!  Do you have this kind of focus?  Are you making the decisions of your life this strategically?  Do you have a clear idea of what you are trying to accomplish in life?  Let me tell you something, if you don’t you will be dominated by the expectations and demands of others.  You will live being pulled by opinions, feelings, and judgments of others.  By your family, your friends, and the people all around you who want something from you!

Listen to me, if you don’t have a clear driver of your decisions you will be driven through life by others, pulled in directions you don’t want to go…and you will be very busy, very cluttered, and probably spending the few moments of clarity that you have wondering how in the world you ended up in the spot you are in.

How do I know this?  Because this is my struggle.  I know very clearly what God has called me to do but a lot of people seem to know what I should be doing and it is a real challenge for me to be this strategic especially when it is a good thing!  So what would you do if you were Jesus here?  Could you move on to the next town while everyone around you wants you to go back and help all those in need right where you are?  This is a big, big challenge for me on a very personal level.

  1. Setting and Holding the Right Priorities.

If the most important thing we can do is have a clear driver of decisions, this second part really goes hand in hand with it.  We must set the right priorities.  I know for me, that I can set the priorities in my life but they can often get all jumbled up, because as people and life press in the world has an amazing way of telling me what my priorities are!  Reminds me a lot of the whole “reservation skit” that Jerry Seinfeld made famous years ago; “it’s one thing to take a reservation, it’s a whole other thing to hold the reservation.”  Well, in many ways your priorities are reservations made in your life.  It’s one thing to journal about them, but it’s the holding of the reservation that really is the key!  So we must set and hold the proper priorities in our lives.  It’s really hard to do a talk on busyness without bringing up poor Martha, who is really looked at as the Bible’s busy-body…well let’s see if we can pull something out of this story today.

Luke 10:38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  NIV

I love this story because it drives some people nuts.  I think there are some out there that really understand what Martha is doing and they don’t like that Mary (who is obviously very lazy) is being honored here.  After all the house DOES need cleaned, and the food DOES need made.  If everyone acted like Mary here wouldn’t Jesus have starved to death?  Here’s what is really interesting about this story.  Jesus never says that a clean home and preparing food weren’t important things.  He also never argued with Martha that Mary should or shouldn’t be helping with the house and all the preparations.  He never says it is wrong to serve as Martha is serving…after all SHE IS SERVING JESUS CHRIST!  Serving Jesus is a good thing!

Well, there it is…Martha is doing a good thing.  I don’t know about you but I find a lot of “good things” out there that I should be doing.  Or maybe that I could be doing and it is really hard to say no to good things isn’t it?  How do you say no to serving Jesus?  It’s in all these “good things” that we can let our guards down to our priorities.  We can get all screwed up doing a lot of good things with the best intentions when in the end…they weren’t the best thing for our own heart condition.

We can get so caught up in the good things that we are doing to serve Jesus that we can forget something very important.  In the end it isn’t what we do for Him or what we bring to God that matters, but it is what God brings to us…remember Romans 12?

Romans 12:1 Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. MSG

This is what Martha is missing, and this is what Jesus is trying to show her (and us) through this story.  Martha was trying to win Jesus’ approval through her hard work and again.  But the important thing isn’t what we bring to Jesus but what he brings to us.  This is something that Mary understood.  My question to you now is do you understand this?  I think this is such a difficult thing to wrap our minds around.  It’s just so hard to look at all of the sins and mistakes we make and really think that Jesus could love us this unconditionally.  It is so hard to really accept God’s grace isn’t it?  This is so hard to center on and understand.  God’s love and God’s grace.  Do you know where or how you go to find this truth and center your life around it?  You find this truth in the quiet, still moments of your life with God.  It’s in the stillness, it’s in your ability to quiet your soul that you can hear from God and can truly grasp his love, and his grace…I believe David grasped this better than any other…

Psalms 65:1 Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, And also obedience. 2 You hear the prayer in it all.  We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt, 3 Our sins too much for us — but you get rid of them once and for all. (MSG)

There is no irony that Martha struggles with this, and Mary does not.  Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, while Martha can’t sit still.  You simply cannot gain a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love for you if you are in constant motion…regardless of how good of a thing it is that you are doing.  It’s in the quiet moments with God that we can center on the most important fact of truth that you could ever know…That God loves you.  If you ask me Jesus is pretty cool with Martha here…and he is trying to get her to focus and to take a look at her priorities.

So this is it…do you want to wreck your heart?  Be too amazing for God.  Do as many good things as you can possibly do and you will accomplish it.  But if you want to find and center yourself fully on God find a clear driver of your decisions and be strategic in what you decide to do.  If you don’t drive your decisions someone will drive them for you and that isn’t what God wants for you.  The second thing you must do is set and hold your priorities.  Setting them is important and really what Jesus helped Martha with so she could see what really matters…but it’s in the holding of the priorities that is really the most important part!

You know, you are going to find this hard to believe but every day I’m getting older.  And I’m realizing that I only have so much energy.  While at one time that amount of energy seemed almost unlimited; let’s just say I am understanding how limited the tank is these days!  So the key for me is to put my energy into what matters, and to say no to what doesn’t matter…even if it seems like a really good thing.  Seriously would you have faulted Jesus for going back to town and helping all those people?  It would have been a good thing to help and heal them right?  Can you seriously fault Martha for wanting to serve Jesus?  That is an amazingly good thing but Jesus encourages her to focus on the most important thing.

God doesn’t want you running through life tired, exhausted, and too busy to even think straight.  God wants you freed up to give your time and energy to what really matters.  As we grow older we start to realize and become sensitive to the fact that we only have so much energy!  God wants us to put it into what matters most and what exactly matters most?  It is Him!  Remember it isn’t about what you bring Him it’s about what He brings you!

  1. How to Create the Driver of Decision and Focus on Priorities

So I know my job is to help you wreck your heart here on this Sunday morning but I wanted to get practical with you for a moment and try to give you a way to keep track of this in your own life!  Here’s the deal…I don’t want this to be another Sunday without change.  I don’t want this to be one of those clarity moments where we wish we could act the way we are talking and not give you anything to take and apply so here’s what we need to do.  We need to look at our schedules and our lives.  It’s time to stop and think about what matters and what drives our decisions.  Do you have one?  If you don’t drive your schedule it will drive you.  So I want you to begin a process where we start to get very deliberate in this area of our lives.  If you don’t run your schedule and set your boundaries and fight for your health someone else will.  And here is what I know.  THE HARDER THAT YOU WORK TO PLEASE OTHERS THE WORSE IT WILL GET.  THE MORE GROUND YOU GIVE THE MORE THIS WORLD WILL TAKE.  THE HARDER YOU TRY NOT TO LET PEOPLE DOWN…THE MORE DISAPPOINTED THEY WILL BE!  We need to be deliberate here…and we need to get this right.  So how do we do this?

First-We carve out time and space every day to meet with God.  Ask yourself, am I a morning person or a night owl?  Where do I have the time?  You may need to take something out of your life to put God in…some will say…”Sam there is no way, I’m way too busy.”  But here is what I know, you have time for what you want to have time for.  Maybe it will require you to turn off the TV, miss a football game…or not play video games, or something else…but you are putting your time into what matters to you.  Figure out where you want to put your time and carve out time and space for God.

Second-Pray, Read Scripture and Journal.  Spend time in God’s word and then write to Him.  Be honest with him and do your best to center on Him…and at the end of each journal entry, I would challenge you to write down your priorities.  Write them down each day…it should look something like this…

  1. God
  2. My Heart
  3. My Spouse
  4. My children
  5. The rest

This is what it looks like for me…and maybe it’s a little different for you, but by doing this it helps me to center myself each day on what really matters.  Now here’s the key, it’s easy to get into a rut and write this down each day and not act on it…again it’s the holding of the reservation that really is the most important part.  If you don’t set these and live this out on purpose…you will be bounced all over this world like a ping pong ball and wonder how in the world you got where you were…and that isn’t what we want for you.

So this is what I want you doing this week.  Take a good hard look at the calendar and the priorities of your life.  And as you leave here today I want you thinking about what drives your decisions.  Jesus was able to turn down a good thing, to do the most important thing.  He clearly knew what and why he was here…and he never wavered from that regardless of what everyone around him told him he should do.  I find that so challenging, and I can honestly say that I would not have been walking to the next town without feeling the weight of the many people I just let down.  Jesus really modeled something big for us there.  The second thing you need to be asking yourself is what are your priorities?  If you don’t have clear answers to these two questions you need to find clear answers to these two questions or life will answer them for you.

You want to wreck your heart?  Leave here today and do nothing about this…continue to say yes to all the good things.  Work harder and harder for God trying to earn something you just can’t earn!  Allow other people’s feelings and expectations to pull you through life and you will die doing a lot of good things wondering where it all went.

Your heart matters…it is the most important thing and in these two small stories I believe we find two very large lessons.  I would love to let you know today that I have this all down pat…but I have to confess this may be the biggest challenge of my life.  To fight for my heart, my health, and my boundaries as I see all the people that need help in this world.  To set and hold my priorities as everyone around me tries to tell me what I should be doing.  Yes there are a lot of good things out there that we could be doing but in the end God wants you focused on the most important thing…that is your relationship with Him.

Does that mean that we don’t serve others…no…its just means that our hearts come first!  We serve out of the overflow of love that comes from our relationship with God.  You can’t serve others well without this first area of your life being right!

Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life…it’s time to do this on purpose…if you don’t run your life, someone will…and that isn’t much fun.  The choice is up to you.