Tag Archives: heart


I am fascinated by words.  I guess that’s not surprising, for someone who likes to write. In particular, I find that exploring the etymology (origins) of a word often gives me a much richer understanding of shades of meaning that are not obvious at first glance.

Take the word integrity for example.  It comes from the Latin word integer, a term that is still used in mathematics and computing science to refer to an unfragmented number – a number that can only be whole (no decimals, no fractions).  The word integrity stems from a root that means not touched.  As well as referring to moral soundness and honesty, it is also used to refer to the quality of data (data integrity), the soundness of a structure (the integrity of a ship’s hull), and so forth.

One of my goals in life is to be a man of integrity.  In pursuit of this goal, recently I took some time to return to the ancient wisdom of the book of Proverbs.   I was reminded of the following words which a wise man spoke to his sons many years ago.

Above all else, guard your heart
For it is the wellspring of life

The author of this pearl of wisdom was Solomon, the King of Israel and author of the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, renowned as the wisest man of his day.  Solomon told his sons that he himself had been given this same advice by his own father, David, when he was still a little boy and the only child of his mother.

Solomon’s mother, of course, was Bathsheba – with whom Solomon’s father David had committed adultery in the greatest failure of his kingship, a scandal that had huge repercussions. So when David told Solomon to guard his heart, he knew what he was talking about.  David, to his credit, was never one to hide his sins. When he erred, he was quick to humble himself, admit his fault and turn back to God in repentance. And so, not many years after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba, David – probably recognizing that it was pride and presumption that had led to his own downfall – impressed upon Solomon the importance of keeping his heart surrendered to God in single-minded devotion.

At first it seemed that Solomon was getting the message.  As a young man he showed great humility.  When God appeared to him in a dream early in his kingship, offering him any gift he might desire, Solomon — recognizing his inexperience and his need of God’s help to be a good ruler — asked above all for wisdom.   Tragically, later in life he didn’t follow his own advice.  His heart became divided and he allowed his pagan wives to lead him astray, worshipping their gods as well as the Holy One of Israel – with disastrous results.

Farther along in the book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote that the integrity of upright people guides their choices, but that people who practice duplicity (deceit) end up being destroyed by it.  Solomon discovered the truth of these words to his own cost.  His own duplicity – his breach of faith with God, and therefore with the people he served – led to the destruction of all that he had laboured to build.

Self-deception is the easiest thing in the world, a malady from which none of us is immune.  We are all capable of convincing ourselves that something is right when it is what we want to do.

That is one of the reasons why accountability relationships are so important.  My friend and mentor Larry Kreider, who is the international director of a family of churches and ministries, considers this so important that he has submitted himself not only to an apostolic council with whom he shares the leadership of DCFI, but also to a team of leaders  from other streams in the Body of Christ.  He has learned the value of a yielded heart.

Recently Marion and I felt directed by God to seek out a new church affiliation.  (If you’re interested in knowing why, read my previous post).  To us, this is a big decision, not a small one.  We want to bring a blessing to our new church, and help it to be effective.  We are hungry for genuine Biblical community, because we understand its power to transform lives.  It’s our heartfelt desire to leave an imprint, to influence the next generation with the values of the Kingdom.  For this to happen in an age of cynicism, we need to demonstrate that we are credible by living transparent lives. We find that many people are looking for someone they can trust, someone who is believable. To be trusted, we need to demonstrate that we are believable people.

This does not happen overnight. Trust can only be gained over time, but it can be lost in an instant.  Trustworthiness is a quality of character, the fruit of a lifetime of turning away from self-deception and cynicism, and choosing instead the way of humility and integrity.  It’s about the daily choice to run into God’s arms instead of running away when we’ve stumbled, the choice to run towards community instead of into isolation when we’ve been hurt or have failed in some way.  To have a believable testimony we need to be people who live without pretense.

For this reason I am very grateful that one of the elders at my new church has agreed to keep me accountable by reading my personal journal.  It’s in a protected blog, but I’ve given him access whenever he wants it.  Why would I do this?  Because life is too short for religious games.  I want reality, and the only way to get it is through honesty.  If my brother sees something in my journal that he is concerned about, he can ask me about it any time he wants.  I want my heart to be an open book before him. The only protection I want is the protection that comes from walking in the light.  That’s the only way to have genuine Biblical community – the kind of community that produces people of integrity who are prepared to be worldchangers.


The overflow of the heart

Words are one of the main ways that we influence people and situations, for good or for ill.  The tongue has huge potential to serve the purposes of the Father and bless those around us.  And so, at times I am humbled to see how God has used my words to touch others with His power and love.  The trouble is, the same tongue also has huge potential to serve the purposes of the Enemy and curse those around us.   And so, at times I am dismayed to see how the Accuser has used my words to bring discouragement or confusion.

Jesus said that a good man brings forth good fruit out of the goodness that is stored up in his heart.  I have learned that my tongue inevitably reflects what is in my heart.  I seem to need to keep learning this lesson.  I know that words that bring blessing come out of a heart that is full of God’s grace.  In the words of a popular worship song, my goal is to be so controlled and filled by God’s goodness that His character comes out of me “from the inside out”.

We all deal with many concerns every single day.  We encounter many people who may affect us in different ways.  We are exposed to thousands of influences every day of our lives from friends, workmates, family, television, movies, the internet, and so forth.  But which influences do I actually allow to grab my attention?  Which ones do I cultivate and allow to affect my heart?

My tongue will ultimately always reflect what is in my heart, and the condition of my heart will be a reflection of the things to which I have given my attention.  And so I have a choice.  The more I allow myself to be distracted from the presence and goodness of God by other concerns, the more distant I become from Him, and the more my heart becomes dull to God and vulnerable to being weighed down and polluted by darkness in various forms.   In this condition, even when I try to do good with my tongue (give advice, encouragement, or whatever) my words are likely to do as much harm as good.   On the other hand, the more I choose to expose myself to the presence of God, the more His Spirit penetrates my heart and makes it soft and pliable and able to reflect His goodness, purity, truth, love and power, and this will be reflected in the words that come out of my mouth.

Am I going to bless or curse with my tongue?  Is my tongue going to be a reflection of the Father of lights  or the father of lies? The answer to that question lies ultimately in how I decide to use my time.  Am I going to devote myself to the pursuit of the presence and goodness of God,  the source of all goodness, or will I give myself to things that ultimately really don’t matter?   I am more determined than ever to invest my life’s energy in seeking the face of God.  What about you?