heart helps....

spiritual health

Our spiritual health is the center of who we are; it is our relationship with our Savior and King. Balance is so critical to our relationship with God because the reality of who we are as people is that every aspect of who we are is tied together. We cannot love God wholly if we have an unhealthy balance in our person. What I mean by that is that if we are mentally or emotionally off, our thinking is wrong or our emotions are just crazy, our spiritual life is affected. If our spiritual life is off, God isn't at His rightful place in our hearts, then our mind and emotions will be off. If our relationships are unhealthy, our spiritual life will be hurt and if our spiritual life is unhealthy, we won't have healthy relationships. Jesus called us to love Him wholly with our hearts, soul, mind and strength because we cannot love Him any other way. Our lives cannot be categorized, they are intertwined. If I do not love Him with my mind, I cannot love Him with my heart. And if I do not love Him with my heart, I will never love Him with my mind. We foolishly try to put our relationship with God into it's place, along with all of our other responsibilities. We look at it as another hat we wear when, in reality, it should be the center of who we are, not merely a part of who we are. My life is defined by my love for God. These "heart helps" will deal with our "heart love" for God:
  • Love Letters: Knowing God Through the Psalms
  • W.O.W
  • Devoted Daughters
  • Helen's Hymns


Love Letters: Psalms 27
The book of Psalms is where my journey with God began. This is not a book of theology or doctrine; it's about raw human emotion and how it is that we have a relationship with God. Every one of us have a different life story. Every one of our stories shape who we are and what we believe to be true about God. Knowing His Word is central to Knowing Him because our lives our filled with false assumptions and wrong beliefs about Him. We take the pain and heartache caused by others, those is our lives who have disappointed and devastated us, and we transfer those to our assumptions about God. It's not something that we even realize we are doing, but it's why we remain so distant from God. We will never draw close to Him, know Him, really love Him, if we don't get honest. The Psalms screams honesty; David hid nothing and he didn't pretend to have it all together. God is not afraid of what you really think and feel; you (and I) are. It is not possible, however, to know God, to love God wholly, without being honest, blatantly honest. This is where God and I began. This isn't some step by step guide to know God. It's just my story and my journey. You and I don't have the same past or present, but His Word is the same to each of us, it is His revelation of Himself, and so it is at His Word that we must each begin. Warning! If you are weepy like me, you probably don't want to do this around others! Here's the thing; we have to get down to those hidden places of the heart, those places we would just rather keep buried, if we are ever going to know Him. Why must everything begin with Knowing Him? This is what I've learned to be true: If I KNOW Him, I will LOVE Him; If I LOVE Him, I will TRUST Him; If I TRUST Him, I will OBEY Him. Everything begins with Knowing Him, so here we go. I think back to my own personal testimony and my memory takes me to a normal weekday morning, myself as a new bride less than 6 months married. I woke up that day, after days of battles in my mind and heart, resolving that day to go where ever God wanted to take me. I sat on our blue denim couch in our tiny (TINY) garage apartment and for the first time, dumped out my heart to God (there was nothing pretty about it, I dumped it, not poured it or laid it-I dumped it). I had years of hurt stored up and it was all just in the way of God and me. A wall had been built and I was ready to start demolishing. The Psalms is where the walls came down. God spoke to my broken heart that day and said, "Heather, that's not me." You see, people had hurt my heart, disappointed me, devastated me, left me lonely and afraid; I could not trust, I could not hope. Here I was a new bride to an amazing man, and I was going to screw it all up because I was so broken. I was saved, but I was so distant, living in so many lies about God. I assumed, without even realizing it, that everything I thought to be true about people, was also true about God. Thankfully, I had a patient, Godly husband who walked through this painful process with me, never giving up on me, but I knew I had to get things right with God. Many of us become children of God, but we remain distant from Him because we don't want to go there, to those places where it hurts the most, to the ruins of our life. It's where we have to begin, though. So walk to them. Stand in the middle of them. For He brings beauty from those ashes. Get out a notebook, some kind of journal and let the healing begin. Ask God to expose the lies in your heart and mind about who He is; ask Him to replace those lies with truth. You see, when you seek Him with all of our heart, you will without a doubt find Him. Don't live believing what you think about Him, seek to know Him, truthfully, wholly. In your journal, that will become more sacred to you than anything else, for this will become your Love Letters to God, begin by writing a list of what you believe to be true about God. Now let me just clear one thing up; No church answers are allowed. Be real. Be honest, even with yourself. I knew God loved, but I didn't really believe He loved ME. I knew God was full of compassion, but I didn't honestly believe He had compassion on my broken heart (after all, others had it so much worse, right?). I could go on, but it wasn't until I started writing it down, putting words to it, that I realized how messed up my beliefs about Him were. I literally made a list called, "What I really believe about God." If you feel that He is distant, uncaring, cold, write it down. Let yourself go to that place where your heart is open, exposed. This is only the first step and we will go to the next steps over then next few days. I end today with a verse that struck me when I first read it; honestly, I couldn't even see myself knowing God this way: "My heart has heard You say, 'Come and talk with me,' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming,'" (Psalm 27:8) My heart was no where near a place where I could hear God whisper, cry out, those words to me, much less respond. I did not want to come close to God; I thought He was like the people who failed me and broke my heart. Start this journey with God and let Him take you wherever you need to go to Know Him the way He longs to be known by you.    

Psalms 28:8-9
What I love about the Psalms is that I learn something new each time I read them. As I stated in my previous post on Psalm 55, my walk with God began in the Psalms and that's been over 12 years ago. I've read these chapters over and over, yet God never ceases to amaze me. I fall in love with Him a little more each time because I get to know Him a little deeper. His Word truly is alive and when we approach it as His Word to us rather than just ink on a page, it absolutely transforms us. The writer of Hebrews tells us that His Word cuts right down to the heart. Precious daughter of the Most High, if His Word does not change your heart, you are not reading it the way He intends. We approach His Word the way we approach our significant others' love notes to us; we approach it with delight. We approach it with a teachable heart and humble attitude. We need His Word to live this life. We need His Word to know Him. I will do a post soon on how to study His word, but for now, let's just soak it into our hearts. This was my first step in my own journey with God. Take a look at Psalms 28:8-9; "The Lord is the strength of His people; He is a stronghold of salvation for His anointed. Save Your people, bless your possession, shepherd them, and carry them forever." Notice, first, the descriptive words of God: strength, stronghold. Now notice in the next verse the action words: save, bless, shepherd, carry. From these verses we learn two incredible truths; Who God is in my life and What He does in my life.
  • Who is God in my life?
  • The strength=power, might, fortress
  • Stronghold of salvation=rock, refuge of deliverance, victory, help
  • What does He do in my life?
  • save=free, deliver, rescue, defend
  • bless=an act of adoration
  • shepherd=guide, lead, protect
  • carry=accept, bear, hold up, lift up, honourable, exalt 

Do you know Him in this way? He is your fortress? Is He your refuge of help and victory? In your struggles with sin, whether they be battles in your mind or old habits, He longs to be your rock, the One and only one who can give you victory. The problem is that we don't let Him. We've reduced God to a genie in a bottle; we go to Him when we need something. It's a little ironic that the things we search for as women are only found in Him. We search for that "rock" to be in our lives, that one person who can make us feel safe, that one who can just help us. We beg and plead in our hearts, please just help me somebody. Why we don't run to the One who Is, I will never understand. What is your reaction when life gets a little crazy? Who you run to or what you run to indicates where you are with God. 
These four action words provide for us a clear description of our relationship with God (or what it should be, what it can be). When you became His, isn't that just what He did? Free you, deliver you, rescue you, defend you from your guilt and shame? Isn't that what He does everyday of your life? When I'm in the middle of the pit I've dug or the shame I've created or the pain someone has caused, He is the One who free's me, He is the One who rescues me. Bless; now this is beautiful ladies. "Bless your possession" means to display an act of adoration on Your heritage. Did you catch that; bless does not mean some monetary thing He dumps on us, this is so much more. He covers me, His heritage (just think, God sees you as His own heritage), with His adoration. Is that not beautiful, is that now what your heart is constantly longing for? Someone to adore you. Well, He does and His deepest desire is to display His adoration to You. He is my shepherd, the one who tends to my needs and never leaves my side, who gently guides me and wisely teaches me, who protects me from the attacks of my enemy. The word carry indicates an acting of picking up. You know that place from where He rescued you? He lifts you up out of that place and carries you to a place of honor, after all you are His own adored heritage. The enemy of your soul wants nothing more than for you to stay trapped, enslaved. Your Savior came to set you free. This is not talking only about the salvation of your soul, this language here is an ongoing process. This set of verses is referring to those who are already His; that's you. You may have been rescued from a life separated for God but what rescuing do you need today? Allow Him to save, bless, shepherd and carry you.

Psalms 55:22
While I am no Bible scholar, I have come to treasure His Word. It is my Savior's love letter to me. God is my Father, my Redeemer, my Peace, my Prince, my Warrior. How can I not immerse my life in His Word to me? I have not always known Him like I do now. He became my Savior when I was a child, but my relationship with Him did not begin until I was a new bride. The Psalms is where my love for Him began. The truth of the matter is that we cannot know God without knowing His Word. There are so many false ideas that we hold about Him. We need His Word to fill our lives with the truth about who He is; we cannot have the love relationship with Him that He desires if we do not truly know Him. The purpose of the Psalms is not theology but serves to show us what it means to have a relationship with God. I sincerely believe that falling in love with the Psalms transforms our love for Him. As our church is reading through the Bible this year, I want to begin with a Psalms that we had in our reading from last week. You will hear me speak of context over and over. As we dig into this familiar verse, keep in mind the context. Psalm 55 was written by King David as his cry to God following the betrayal of his closest and most beloved adviser. This man was not only held in high esteem by King David, but by the entire nation. He betrayed David to follow the King's son who created a coupe to overthrow the King. There is no greater betrayal that one could experience. In this Psalm, David pours his heart to God. This is a consistent pattern in David's life and one that we would be wise to follow. I don't think we allow ourselves that freedom. After David expresses his hurt to His Father, he makes an incredible declaration, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." Understanding the context gives the magnitude of this verse that much greater significance because we understand that David penned these words in his deepest sorrow. Let's go a little deeper, though. Notice the action words, the verbs: cast, sustain, allow, shaken. One thing we have to remember is that our translations use the closest words possible to the original language but going back to the original language provides a much greater picture of the full meaning. In this verse, the action words have the following meanings:
  • cast= to throw away
  • sustain= receive, bear, hold
  • allow= withdraw, handover, give back
  • shaken= slip, fall, bring down
Now, go back and replace these action words with the original meaning. Let me quickly make a note about the word "sustain." This is an interesting word; it has a three part meaning that signifies a process; He receives the burden, bears the burden,and holds you. "Throw away your burden onto the Lord, and He will receive your burden, He will bear your burden and He will hold you; He will never withdraw from or handover the righteous to allow them to slip or fall." Stop, for just a moment and consider your own personal burdens. Our tendency as women is to carry them. We are either self-sufficient or scared. We shut down or flip out. We are either numb or an emotional wreck. We either become cold or we lash out at those around us. Our coping skills aren't the best. This one verse tells us how to cope with life. I don't think that we know that we can have this kind of relationship with God, though. We expect others to fix everything, to make everything okay or we just try to make it on our own when our one reaction should be to throw it on God. This is not easier said than done. This is real. It really is this simple. We take one single action. We don't gently lay it at His feet. We don't pretend like it doesn't hurt. We don't bury it in our heart. We throw it to the One who will receive it, bear it and hold us. You can find this promise declared in the New Testament, as well, in 1 Peter 5:7. David made this declaration in the middle of his deepest pain. Ladies, God did not just save you for some day. He saved you to declare you righteous so that He could bear your burdens for you. Before Him, you are made right, your are declared innocent and because of that standing, He will never withdraw from you. He will faithfully receive your pain, your heartache, your fears, your hurt. My prayer for  you is that you begin to allow Him to hold you rather than you continuing to hold your hurt. 

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