Aloha Friday Message – November 21, 2014 – Matters of the Heart

1447AFC112114 – Matters of the Heart

Read it online here, please.

Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

Genesis 8:20-21 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

Psalm 10:13 Why do the wicked get away with despising God? They think, “God will never call us to account.” New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience through the Spirit so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another constantly with a pure heart.

The word heart is mentioned more than 500 times in the Bible. It is the “place” where deep thought, imagination, intent, or purpose is framed and formed. The concept first appears in the Bible in Genesis 6:5, and is given as the reason for God’s decision to send the Great Flood. After the flood waters subsided, Noah offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise to God, and he promised (hence rainbows) never again to destroy all life in that way.

Fast forward to David’s lament and supplication to God about the persistent problem of the wicked, the people who are enemies of God because of their selfishness and arrogance. The wicked person puts the laws of God far from himself, and even scoffs at the idea that God is aware of that person’s evil behavior. David calls upon God to disarm the wicked and take away their power to oppress others. Elsewhere in the Psalms, as we know, the Psalmist says the just – or righteous – who are upright in heart rejoice in the Lord with praise. (See Psalm 32:11, Psalm 64:10, and Psalm 97:10-11) The righteous love the Lord and serve him and their fellow creatures. They preserve the land and everything in it. They nurture the oppressed, give alms to the poor, and bring peace in times of trouble. They submit to God by being merciful, for God is merciful. Those who do not submit to God in that way condemn themselves; that is what prompts this message today.

Today I am thinking about you and the goodness of your heart. There is a place in my heart for each of you. This means that it is not really my heart, but our heart. In contrast, I think of the cruel and arrogant hearts that claim to serve God but instead give themselves over to hatred, murder, violence, and a culture of death; their hearts are in darkness. Beloved, where is your heart? What is in your heart today? What imaginations do you form in the depths of your being and how are they like – or unlike – the God who created you in his image? If you could see your heart, or better, if WE could see your heart. What would we see? Would it be all smooth and beautiful, full of light and joy, a paragon of charity and devotion to God? Or would it be like mine, tarred with sin, scarred with wounds, irregular and untidy? Here is a little story by that famous author, Anonymous, that illustrates what I mean.

A Piece of My Heart

One day a young man was standing in the middle of the town proclaiming that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered and they all admired his heart for it was perfect. There was not a mark or a flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen. The young man was very proud and boasted more loudly about his beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of the crowd and said “Why, your heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine.” The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. It was beating strongly, but it was full of scars. It had places where pieces had been removed and other pieces put in, but they didn’t fit quite right and there were several jagged edges. In fact, in some places there were deep gouges where whole pieces were missing.

The people stared — how can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought? The young man looked at the old man’s heart and saw its state and laughed. “You must be joking,” he said. “Compare your heart with mine. Mine is perfect and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes,” said the old man, “yours is perfect looking but I would never trade with you. You see, every scar represents a person to whom I have given my love – I tear out a piece of my heart and give it to them, and often they give me a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart, but because the pieces aren’t exact, I have some rough edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the love we shared.”

“Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart away, and the other person hasn’t returned a MendedHeartpiece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges — giving love is taking a chance. Although these gouges are painful, they stay open, reminding me of the love I have for these people too, and I hope someday they may return and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?”

The young man stood silently with tears running down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old man with trembling hands. The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and placed it in the wound in the young man’s heart. It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges. The young man looked at his heart, not perfect anymore but more beautiful than ever, since love from the old man’s heart flowed into his. ~ By that famous author, Anonymous.

I have room in my heart for the people I love, and parts of my heart are built of the love I receive from others. Is there room in my heart, though, for those who hate me? Can I hold my arms open to embrace those who vow to do me harm because of the evil in their hearts? Evil acts are abhorrent to God and to us who are made in his image. Evil is offensive to anyone who knows and truly understands Love. Nonetheless, we must make the adage “Love the sinner, hate the sin” more than just a moral platitude. Why? Because of what evil does to the people who commit it. We cannot choose superficial moral indignity and be done. That would be choosing to leave those in the grip of evil in the darkness they themselves embrace. We cannot do that because we are commanded not to. Let’s look at Matthew 5:44-45:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

Does that mean we just let evil run amok and don’t take a stand against it? Of course not! We are to oppose evil, but pray for our enemies. So, yes, I am thinking of the atrocities that have happened this week – and for decades before – in Jerusalem, Darfur, Colombia and Mexico, Somalia, Nigeria, Rhodesia, Sudan – especially Darfur – and in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zaire, Libya, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria, the Philippines, N&S Korea, Syria, Israel and Palestine. No, we stand up to the evil, but we pray for those souls who are lost to it. That is the only way – blessed by God – that we can hope to get past this terrible time. Many speculate that it will get a lot worse before it even starts to get better. That is especially true if we do not call upon God to help and defend the innocent, the righteous, the persecuted, and the lost – even if the lost are part of ISIS/ISIL.

BattleKneesMed

Get on your knees and fight like the Devil himself is against you – BECAUSE HE IS!

Pray for ALL the people. Pray about the hearts in your heart. Pray with anyone and everyone who has loved, does love, or will love you. Remember, “When we pray FOR each other, we act as intercessors, “in-the-place-of” praying. It’s making a prayer on behalf of someone else rather than on behalf of ourselves.

 “When we pray ABOUT each other, we’re making prayers that are intended to be blessings. We ask God for this favor or that outcome for one another. I might pray for your health or you might pray for me to find strength in a trial.

 “When we pray WITH each other, ah, there’s a power in that. Usually this is focused on something outside of both of us, like the people who are suffering in troubled areas of the world, or a child who has been kidnapped.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved

chick

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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