I have lived in the South for two and a half years. While it has involved an adjustment, having previously lived 19 years in Canada, it has been enjoyable. Perhaps a little too enjoyable. At a doctor’s appointment this summer I was shocked to be told that for the first time in my life, I have high cholesterol. After telling me all the terrible things that could happen if I do not drastically adjust my diet, my doctor instructed me on how to get it under control. At first I couldn’t believe I was in such a condition. However, after considering the South’s propensity to serve enormous portions of food in restaurants as well as frying anything even remotely edible, I began to realize how I had allowed myself to endanger my heart, one bite at a time. (Please pray for me, I am trying to get myself into better shape!). The troubling thing is that I hadn’t felt any different. If the doctor had not taken those blood tests, there might not have been any sign my heart was in trouble, until I collapsed from a heart attack.
Scripture warns: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Apparently it isn’t just cholesterol that endangers our heart! God promises: “I the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10). God also warns: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5). Significantly, when we begin to trust in people and their resources rather than in God and His, it is clear evidence that our heart has departed from God.
But this is a common malady of God’s people. We become more concerned with what people are doing than what God is doing. We can talk for hours about what denominational leaders or pastors of mega churches or government leaders are doing but we have little to say about what we have seen God doing. We get passionate about political causes but not spiritual ones. We become upset at what people are doing but not inspired by what God is undertaking. God promised that when our heart was in a proper condition, our lives would not “cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).
Today I see far more people talking about what others are doing than the number of people actually “yielding fruit.” I am afraid that when my heart get’s in trouble, I start acting as if people are the key to my success. People’s voices and actions begin to carry more wait for me than God’s voice. I worry more about political processes or bureaucratic tweaking than revival. I rely on manipulation and politicking more than the Holy Spirit’s filling.
I have to confess to you. I am not a young man any more! I am middle aged. Hearts that have pumped as long as mine has inevitably pick up harmful residue. Likewise, people who have been in ministry for a while are in danger of allowing harmful elements to creep into their heart. It can be cynicism, or laziness, or loss of passion, or a critical spirit, each of which can be lethal to our spiritual life. It can be hard to watch my peers show the wear and tear of years in ministry. If you are someone who has developed high levels of spiritual cholesterol, I pray you’ll take it seriously and make the needed adjustments. Now is not the time to be slowing down or doing less. Now is the time to be yielding spiritual fruit like never before.
Last month I was in Australia where there is a movement emerging that is seeking revival for that continent and beyond. Be praying for God’s work there to unite people to do together what they can not do separately. I have also been watching a movement of God developing among the native Indian peoples across North America. There will be a North American wide summit in April 2011 that could be the beginning of a major movement of God among that great people. God also continues to work among Christian business people. These men and women are doing some incredible things for God’s kingdom!
These are exciting times to be serving the Lord! Make sure your heart and life are in the condition necessary for you to play an active role in God’s work in the days to come.