Heart Issues

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Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 NIV

When we had a dog, it was important to give her a medication that guarded her heart against worms. Her health depended on it.

I was reminded of this when I read an article recently about teaching our children to fence in, or guard, their hearts.

As parents, we do our best to train them up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and teach them which behaviors are acceptable and which are not. With diligent and consistent discipline, we fence in their behavior and in the process teach them to do the same thing. At least we hope so.

But behavior is one thing, heart attitude is another.

While we pray the training we give them and the example we set are automatically going to affect their heart attitudes, I wonder – we may have control over their behavior (to a point), but do we truly have control over their hearts?

Does not behavior result from heart attitude?

We may act a certain way to be accepted, please others, get what we want, but that behavior may not reflect our true heart attitude. Most of us care what others think of us, and we would be aghast if they knew the true condition of our heart – if they caught a glimpse of the ugliness we do our best to hide even from ourselves.

When I gave my heart to Jesus, I gave Him my love, my life, my loyalty, my obedience in exchange for His love in me (Galatians 5:22), His life in me (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:10), His strength in me to be true and submissive (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9–11).

But my heart is still mine to maintain. I will always have a choice to love Him, obey Him, submit to Him, follow Him.

That’s why it’s important that I guard my heart and keep it pure.

“Above all else,” Scripture tells us, “guard your hearts, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

How do we guard or, in the words of the article writer, fence in our heart?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6–7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

God’s peace will guard your heart if you (1) pray and leave things in God’s hands, and (2) thank Him even before you see an answer. Let go and let God do His thing.

Another way to guard your heart is to watch what you allow in. Garbage in, garbage out. Build and maintain a fence that will allow only the highest and best in. Again I quote Philippians: “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (4:8). Guard whatever your eyes see and your ears hear, for these are the pathways to the heart.

We’re also to keep our hearts pure. And we can’t do that alone.

Prayer is the key here. Only God can purify my heart and cleanse me on the inside.

And so I pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . Point out anything in me that offends you” (Psalm 139:23, 24). And again: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

How are you guarding your heart?

Be the fence around my heart, O God. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 139:23–24

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

How To Love a Porcupine


Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19 NIV

 If you have a dog and you live in the country, you probably have had to remove porcupine quills from your mutt’s muzzle. No easy job because each quill has hundreds of barbs that snag as they are removed.

The quill pig, however, isn’t the bad guy in this scenario. He was only protecting himself. He didn’t know your canine was just being curious or friendly. When a porcupine feels threatened, it will use its only defense mechanism: 30,000 quills, which normally lie flat.

I mention this because some people are like porcupines with their quills out. You know anyone like that?

First there’s Miss Negative. You smile and say a cheerful, “Good morning!” to her, and she snorts and responds, “What’s so good about it?”

Then there’s Chip – the guy who goes through life with a chip on his shoulder. He ignores all the nice things you say because he’s too focused on nursing a grudge.

Then there’s Thundercloud, always scowling, grumbling, ready to let lose the energy built up in the storm of his mind and heart.

No matter how nice you try to be, these folks live their lives in “ready to defend” mode.

Jesus commands us to love one another – and not just the folks who love us and are easy to love. No exceptions or exclusions.

And He took this even further: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 KJV).

That means loving the porcupines in your life.

How? How can you even get close to them without getting wounded?

You can’t. So expect to get wounded. Think of the wounds Jesus suffered because He loved you.

Remember human love isn’t enough, not even in our best relationships, so ask God to love them through you, to fill your heart with His love. I’ve done this, and believe me, it works.

Remember the quills are a defense mechanism. The porcupine in your life is only protecting herself. She doesn’t want anyone to get too close because she doesn’t want to get hurt. “Be kind. Everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.” (Author Unknown)

Here’s how you can hug that porcupine in your life:

Be quick to listen. “The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” (Stephen R. Covey, emphasis mine) Be a careful, thoughtful listener.

Be slow to speak, and when you do, chose your words carefully. “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those to hear them” (Ephesians 4:29). I pray daily, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

And finally, don’t fly off the handle. “Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back” (Proverbs 29:11 NLT). “Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments.” (Author unknown, emphasis mine) Be patient, reflective and forgiving.

What porcupines in your life need a hug from you today?

May I be a conduit of Your love, Lord, to the porcupines in my life. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:25–31.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.