Priority on the Heart - Part 3
We have explored the premise that God liberates us and then provides a missional mandate for generational impact in the world around us (Isaiah 61:1-4). We have expanded this to see that God’s liberation is ongoing, and I have suggested a strategy to engage in this process. We have looked at how God provides hot water (difficulties and trials) in order to show us what is in our heart (the brew). And we have unpacked five principles to help us process our heart conditions. Alongside each of these principles, I suggested a question to ponder. Let’s conclude by connecting those questions to an activity.
Activity for Application
Step 1: Get three pieces of paper. [If you are visual and artsy, make each paper a different color and cut out large heart shapes.]
Step 2: On the first paper right down a list of current and personal hot water circumstances. This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list at this point. If it is just one, that’s okay.
Step 3: On the second paper, write down your response to the listed hot water(s). Are you anxious as a result? Do you feel angry as a result? Are you prone to fear as a result? Do you scream, shut down, seclude, run to food or drink as comfort, etc.?
Step 4: On the back of the second paper, write down the underlying idol, or distorted affection, that is connected to that response. As mentioned in the previous article under Principle 3, this step can be challenging. It may take time and effort to identify the distorted affection. You may have to navigate through some emotions before you get to the root cause. In fact, the goal of this step is to uncover what we are actually believing about ourselves and, more importantly, what we are believing about God. When we say out loud what we are believing about God in a particular moment, we often recognize the lie. At this point we begin the trajectory of freedom because we can move on to the next steps in the process.
If you find yourself stuck at this step, here are a few suggestions to help. The first suggestion is to remember to ask clarifying questions that unpack the reason for your response. Seek to understand the desires you have that drive your response. Remember: our desires, longings, and affections can be good things, but when they become a main thing, they gravitate into a distorted version of the affection. I have found asking “why?” of myself helps me navigate deeper into my response. Asking “why?”, can help us understand what is driving our responses to the circumstances we are facing. The second suggestion is to fill in the blank to this statement, “If only ______ would happen, then I would truly be happy.” By filling in this blank we can have a tangible expression of a heart desire. If the answer to this question is not centered on God, then we have highlighted a distorted affection. A third suggestion is to consider the 4G banners that we have around the worship space at Crosstown. Take these statements and see if you can identify the thread of unbelief woven through them. A final suggestion is to consider two common roots: unforgiveness and discontentment. If you come to a roadblock in the unpacking process, it is worthwhile to ask the Lord if either of these are connected to your responses.
Step 5: After completing Step 4, make sure you pause and seek God in repentance for these identified distorted affections. The distorted affections of our heart are a big deal and need to be dealt with in prayer.
Step 6: On the last piece of paper, write down biblical truths that target the distorted affection(s) that you identified in the last step. What are the truths that counter your wrong beliefs about yourself and God? Write down specific references to passages and return to these passages often to meditate, memorize, and apply to the identified distorted affection(s). This is how we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.
I can’t stress enough that this exercise will take time and should be repeated often. Remember, the touch of the Messiah is ongoing. Please be patient with yourself and God. This is not a “finish in one sitting” exercise. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to show you your heart (Ps. 139:23-24). Know it is good for hot waters to flow, your responses to flare up, and for you to engage your heart in this process. I encourage you to consider sharing your findings with members of your Missional Family. Processing our heart conditions in community is a really important part of our sanctification.
The process I am suggesting in this series is not just an activity. This is a way of life. A worldview. As we become more fluent in understanding and engaging our hearts, we will experience the continual touch of the Messiah. Furthermore, if this process becomes a way of life, it will take center stage as we go about fulfilling the missional mandate of Isaiah 61:4. As we take on this process of prioritizing our heart, we are better equipped to engage those around us because we are able to ask questions that probe the heart. As we listen to those around us, the Holy Spirit will reveal what truths need to be planted, watered, grown, or harvested. I believe that Isaiah’s mandate for generational impact in the world around us largely involves the process of prioritizing the heart.
Look at Numbers 11 and use the Israelites as a case study to unpack the tea bag analogy, the principles, and the exercise explained in these articles.
Memorize the 4G statements referenced in this article.