January 18, 2018
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Heart Issue

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. -Luke 6:45

I love you with all my heart. Follow your heart. I believe with all my heart. Create in me a clean heart. The heart of the matter. These idioms are not a reference to an organ that pumps blood but to the most essential, vital or critical part of something; it is its very core.

How can we know the condition of a heart? Can its condition ever change?

Jesus describes a good heart as one filled with good treasure belonging to a good person. This heart will produce good things: good choices, good words, good feelings, good deeds, a good life. A good heart is to be desired. Whether we call it a frame of reference, a worldview, or a paradigm, it is the part of our personality that guides us consciously and subconsciously.

We discover the condition of the heart by interrogating the underlying beliefs. We can influence the condition by replacing evil beliefs with good ones. This is the essence of prayer ministry for spiritual, emotional and physical healing.

We Are What We Believe

How we think, and what we believe, determines how we live. It sets up our emotional responses and influences the choices we make. What we believe to be true acts as truth to us. We assume responsibility over our conscious thoughts, but we are just as often driven by our subconscious beliefs. These are the tricky ones to discover.

The heart is self-referential, in a way. We create our worldview by accumulating conclusions. Our busy mind is willing to jump to a conclusion to avoid the work of developing one. Our sanity looks for agreement among our conclusions, and then puts great stock in its findings. Even a false conclusion, left undetected, can become a foundation for stubborn opinion.

The process is simple. We observe something, most often in the physical realm, and it catches our attention. This is neither good nor evil, it is just data input. Next we interpret the data, putting it into a personalized context. This is the beginning of subjectivity. Quickly our mind draws a conclusion, or jumps to a pre-existing one, which hardens into a belief. Free will then takes that information and makes a choice, triggering a response. The response might be emotional, behavioral, or both.

To test and purify the worldview, we need to interrogate the beliefs and replace faulty ones with truth. This grid helps conceptualize the relationship between emotions, beliefs and actions. It is a useful tool for interrogating beliefs.

Emotions, Beliefs, Actions

Acting Out

Whatever we do is fueled by what we believe to be true. We can trace back to the underlying belief by isolating the action.

A man came for prayer because of a drinking problem. He had tried to quit “cold turkey” but failed every time. Alcohol was ruining his life, his marriage, his family, and his finances. He was out of control when he drank, and had little success in keeping himself from drinking. I told him that alcohol was not his problem; it was his (lousy) solution to the problem. We needed to know what the problem was.

We began to interrogate his behavior. What triggered his desire to drink? When was he most susceptible? What might happen if he kept himself from drinking? The answers to these questions began to form a pattern, betraying his frame of reference. When you are most tempted to drink, what do you believe to be true about you? His answer was startlingly frank: “I’m a failure.”

Another example was a successful businessman with hypertension. He explained that his wife and friends thought he needed help because his life was all about work. He disagreed, but to keep peace he agreed to check into it. He valued hard work and providing for his family, though it required all his time and attention. He stated that he planned to take a break as soon as he hit his next goal.

We began to interrogate his behavior. The questions were similar to the ones asked of the alcoholic. The belief was deep within his subconscious and protected by a long string of justifications and rationalizations. Ultimately he truly searched his heart to answer what he believed to be true about himself that caused him to push so hard. His answer: “I don’t measure up. I will never amount to anything.”

A woman asked for help because her life was being run by everyone around her. People were demanding and pushy, taking advantage of her until she was used up, and then abandoning her. The specific action she was taking could be called passivity, timidity and conflict avoidance. She was at the end of her rope.

There emerged a pattern of withdrawal in her relationships and a victim mentality. She regularly declared: “I don’t want to be a bother.” To state this in the form of a belief she could have said: “I believe I am a bother or annoyance to others.”

We choose to act in a particular way because of what we believe to be true. These are examples of discovering beliefs through the actions they trigger.

Feelings

The way we feel, our emotional response, is fueled by what we believe to be true. We can identify the underlying belief by isolating the emotion. Emotions are neither good nor bad, they are simply responses to a belief. For this reason, we affirm emotions and interrogate beliefs.

A man came with anger management issues, which is just a polite way to say that he often blew his top. The unpredictable nature of his outbursts wreaked havoc with relationships, and the hurtful things he said caused lasting pain in others. Some considered him unlikable, and he understood why. But he could not seem to control his temper.

We investigated his anger response, looking for common triggers and patterns to the feelings. We discovered that he used a forceful expression of his opinion to win an argument. Coupled with that strategy, he escalated any difference of opinion, stated or otherwise, into an argument. No wonder others perceived him to be angry all the time. What did he believe to be true about himself that would create this emotional response? “I’m the one that defends the truth.”

A woman sought relief from sadness and bouts of depression. Her life was filled with disappointments and she didn’t know where to turn. Everything she had tried turned to ruin. Digging into her circumstances she discovered patterns of attempts and failures. What did she believe to be true about herself? “It’s hopeless. I can’t do anything right, and I might as well not try.”

We have an emotional response because of what we believe to be true. These are examples of discovering beliefs through the emotions they trigger.

Interrogate Beliefs

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. -2 Corinthians 10:5

In this verse we read about arguments, opinions, and thoughts. These are synonyms for beliefs that must be interrogated. Then the verse says that we take them captive to obey Christ. That means we hold them up against Him as the standard and compare them to truth.

This sounds harder than it is. The simple procedure is to confess the belief to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal His truth in the matter.

Underline that last sentence. Memorize it. Practice it.

The alcoholic in the first example prayed something like this: “Lord, I believe I am a failure. You know me better than I know myself. Please reveal the truth about who I am.” God reminded him of a memory verse that says “I can do all things through Christ.”

The workaholic in the second example prayed something like this: “Lord, I believe I don’t measure up and that I will never amount to anything. Please reveal the truth about who I am.” God revealed that He has a plan for a hope and a future.

The timid woman in the third example prayed something like this: “Lord, I believe I am a bother and annoyance to others. Please show me the truth.” God gave her a glimpse at her purpose, a special calling on her life, that was important to His plan.

The angry man in the fourth example prayed something like this: “Lord, I believe I am the one that defends the truth. Please give me truth.” God convinced him that he didn’t have the ability to defend the truth, but that was God’s job. He agreed to let God handle it, and the arguments stopped.

The depressed woman in the fifth example prayed something like this: “Lord, I believe I might as well not try since nothing ever works for me. Please help me understand Your truth.” God told her that success was measured by obedience, not results. She committed to obeying Him instead of trying to fix things herself.

Sometimes it helps to know where we came up with the faulty belief. We can ask God to reveal the root of it. Then He can show where we got derailed, and He can replace our faulty conclusion with His truth.

Calibrating Your Paradigm

Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" -John 7:38

The good heart is filled with good treasure and out of it will flow rivers of living water. We discover the condition of the heart by interrogating the underlying beliefs. We calibrate the paradigm (worldview) by replacing evil beliefs with good ones. Since the heart is self-referential, the more we operate according to the truth of God the purer our beliefs, actions and emotions will be. Wouldn’t it be great if every time you jumped to a conclusion, your mind was operating in truth? That is the goal of taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

Identify your beliefs and interrogate them with this simple prayer. You will find healing in the spiritual, emotional and physical realms.

 
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