Vulnerability: The Writer’s Dilemma

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It’s the question that inevitably comes up in writer’s group meetings: Do I really have to use social media to market my book? How can I use Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites without sacrificing my privacy?

There are, of course, some things we can and should do to help protect ourselves. The world can be a scary place, and none of us should take unnecessary risks. But lately, I’ve realized we are asking ourselves the wrong question. The real one digs deeper and is more costly, revealing our hearts’ deepest fears and motives.

This is the Christian writer’s true dilemma: What are we willing to sacrifice to be God’s witnesses to the world through our writing?

Humans hate being vulnerable. It’s one reason we obsess over our author head shots and count the likes on our Facebook posts. It’s why we construct the careful public image we hope others will have of us. We want to be accepted and liked. No one wants to be hurt.

Writing is a hard enough profession on our self-image as it is. We spend countless hours bleeding over a keyboard, only to have a manuscript rejected by a succession of editors. It often takes many years and tears to get established in the publishing world. Along the way we sometimes buy into the promotional poster we have crafted. We have AUTHOR emblazoned on our chests. Cue the book trailer.

The Author of Life, on the other hand, has given us the ultimate example of vulnerability. God, the Bible tells us, is all-knowing and all-powerful. He didn’t need us. Why did He create a universe He knew would turn away from Him? Can we fathom the magnitude of the pain to which the Creator became vulnerable in order to give us life?

We pushed away God in the Garden, and mankind has mocked Him ever since. Yet, after suffering generations of rejection, God has continued to pursue humanity. He didn’t even spare His own Son for us. Jesus came to this planet knowing our rescue would mean sacrifice, hardship, pain, and death. Why did He do it?

For pure love.

He cared more about mankind than He cared about His reputation or His own welfare. He didn’t care what it cost Him, if it meant the deliverance of His beloved creation.

These are the footsteps in which we follow. The Bible, the greatest book, was written in blood by those who were willing to sacrifice their lives and honor for others; who walked behind the Master into the minefield of suffering for the love of mankind.

We who write are part of that great chain of faith. Our words may or may not cause the world to take note. But the world can’t miss the passion for others that causes us to lay down our masks of invincibility to reach a planet dying to live.

It doesn’t hurt to be wise in the ways we interact with others. God will guide us in every step we take as we write for Him. It’s time to be bold. Be courageous.

Be vulnerable.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous!
Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NASB

 

 

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Marketing with Social Media: Pinterest -Guest Post

Pinterest

Do the words, “social media” strike fear in your heart? Today we are treated to a great guest post by Grace Thorson. Pinterest can be a powerful marketing tool, and Grace has some terrific ideas to help you make the most of this site.

Marketing with Social Media: Pinterest

It takes time to build up followers on Pinterest, because if you follow someone, there is absolutely no obligation for them to follow you back. To gain followers, you will need to stand out and remain patient. In the meantime, you can use these tips to bump up your chances of new followers.

Choose genres for your boards that best suit your focus. Are you a writer? Create boards for grammar tips, book-themed gifts, and quotes for yourself and others. Are you a gardener? Make a board filled with things a green thumbed individual would find useful. Do you homeschool your children? Are you a Dr. Who fanatic? Love dogs?

Pinterest is a great place for the homemakers, the crafters, doers, writers, moms, idealists, dreamers, artists, bloggers, advocates, teachers, and marketers. Pinterest is rarely used for chatting or conversing, but you can leave comments. Mainly though, this social media website is visual – all images – everywhere.

1. Connect your account through Facebook and Twitter – this will help you establish follows from friends and acquaintances. Unfollow any that don’t follow back.

2. Get the most traffic. Suggested peak times are: Thursdays from 2pm – 4pm, and on Saturdays from 1am – 8pm. Experiment and see what times receive the most response.

3. Use specific titles for your boards (use literal, but catchy titles – visitors will find it easier to search for and understand what each particular board holds) – add appropriate hashtags to your pins for others to discover – write a short, but creative sentence within your pins – add a simple, but welcoming introduction for each of your boards.

4. Find like-minded users on Pinterest and follow them. If you like all of their boards, then go ahead and follow them. If not, just follow one of their boards – this option is nice when you wish to follow someone back, but you just don’t find their boards to your liking.

5. After you’ve followed a pinner – pin, like, or comment on one of their pins. They may or may not follow back; this is where Pinterest gets finicky. At least, you got their attention in their activity feed. Give the new pinner some time for their curiosity to spark, and if they don’t show interest in your boards, unfollow them.

6. Remember, Pinterest is visual. Pin from either Pinterest itself, directly from the web, or upload your own. Add a Pinterest button to your blog posts for others to use – this should be easy to do. With your newly installed button, share your own blog posts onto your blog board through Pinterest. Don’t forget. Be inventive with your posts! The best pictures and photos get noticed the most.

7. Be aware that it’s possible to commit copyright infringement. Make sure the content you pin is from sites that encourage sharing.

8. Use Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about your boards on Pinterest. Mention following any new followers that follow you back. You’ll be showing others that you’re fair and will give the common follow courtesy to them.

9. Encourage people to interact. Create group boards for others on your profile. It’s a super fun way to connect, but invite only trusted members to pin to your boards. All group boards are exclusively invite-only. Example: The Cat’s Meow – members invited can contribute.

10. Suggest an activity for entrants to follow you on Pinterest for a +1 entry in a contest or giveaway. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Run an image contest on Pinterest for your own product or giveaway. Be clever with this, but don’t get carried away.

11. You don’t want to annoy your followers. Check your pins to make sure links lead to the correct subject matter. Some links to a blog/website will be broken or misplaced. I also recommend not pinning the same grouped images all at once – it will show in everyone’s home feed. Pin only a couple at a time – interspaced with various pins.

12. Don’t fit in, but don’t fall into the shadows either. Pin the best pictures, tips, quotes – find quality pins. Visit a well-known pinner, and be inspired by their collection. Create a home-like atmosphere with an inviting feel. Pin images and ideas to your boards that cohesively mesh together. Be sure to situate similar boards in row with each other:

Example: Your Blog – Writing Inspiration – Book Obsessed – Bookish Gifts

You want visitors to stay, follow, and pin. Run a powerful story of boards detailing your likes, loves, favorites, dreams, inspirations, goals, and ideas.

The possibilities are endless with Pinterest, so don’t be afraid. Venture out there and start pinning. Be sure to follow mine and Pamela’s boards on Pinterest. We follow back.

~ Grace Thorson
gracethorson.wordpress.com

Graceprofilepic

Grace Thorson is an editorial office assistant and a CMADDICT Contributor. She spends her spare time weaving stories, writing reviews, trekking on adventures with her camera, and reading books. Notes, coffee, and fuzzy socks are her constant companions.

 

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The Perfect Gift

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Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
-Revelation 19:6

It’s another Christmas Eve.

The tree sits in multicolored splendor in our living room, guarding the presents lovingly set under its branches in readiness for tomorrow’s festivities. It’s not quite ready, though. I still have one more run to town to run that last errand. There’s also one more gift I’m mulling over today as I sit here with you.

What do I give a king?

Kings must be the hardest people to buy for. They can have whatever they want. A person who possesses enough money and power can get pretty much all his needs and wants satisfied. He can even buy the feigned loyalty of those around him. There’s only one thing a king can’t buy:

Love.

Oh, he can get affection. He can get “like.” But I’m talking about passionate love, the head-over-heels adoration that sees no fault in its beloved; a love that gives sacrificially and completely and with a full heart.

A love like God’s.

This season commemorates Love Incarnate, the total giving of God’s best and highest and most adored treasure: His own Son. In this Son, He didn’t give us a half-hearted gift. He bestowed upon us – the undeserving and uncaring – the most valuable thing He had to offer:

Eternal life.

Not just in eternity. Life now, on this earth, every day.

What a gift! What a God! What awe it should inspire in us every moment of every day!

What do we dwell on?

Humans have a bad habit of minimizing the good others do for us while inflating perceived wounds. In the course of a normal day, which event are we more likely to replay over and over in our minds, the kindness from another, or an insult?

We especially do this with God. Most of us awaken each morning (Miracle #1) in a warm bed (Miracle #2) and never even once remember to be grateful for each gift of life, health, and provision God gives us. Day in and day out, we accept these gifts without so much as a simple “Thank you.”

Forget the love.

But let something go wrong. What is our first reaction? If we’re honest, we’ll admit our first thought is usually to shake our fist at heaven and shout, “Why me, God?” Did we arise that morning and raise our hands to heaven and shout with equal fervor, “You are so good to me, God!“? It’s easy to take for granted that which hasn’t cost us anything. Until we hurt. Then we miss what we didn’t realize we had.

This Christmas, the King asks for only one gift. It won’t cost much. But it must be extravagant.

Give Him your heart.

Always Living

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For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword,
and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,
and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12

It had been a rough morning, the crown to a rugged week. I was feeling pretty down when I arrived at church Sunday morning. I reflected back on the events of the last couple of months. There were times when the effort of living for Christ seemed futile.

I didn’t really believe that. I just felt that way. Tired. Discouraged. Insignificant against the battle that waged around me in a world determined to dig its way to hell.

Spinning my wheels.

Then the music started. I stood with the others as the worship team ushered the church into the presence of God. I halfheartedly joined in. Midway through the first song, the ice in my soul began to melt.

The pastor stepped onto the podium and opened God’s Word. From it flowed a message that has changed my life. It was the exact message I needed for that day and that moment, preached from just three verses in Luke.

Tears welled up in my eyes and threatened to escape down my face. I wished I wasn’t in the presence of so many other people. It didn’t feel right to be sitting at such a moment. I wanted to kneel. Or get on my face. God’s Word pulled me out of my self and into a place of grateful worship.

I have been a Christian for nearly forty years. I have read the Bible through many times and studied it for decades. And yet, on Sunday morning, I heard something new and radically empowering from three simple verses.

That’s what I love about the Bible. It isn’t just a book. It’s even more than a good book. It’s a living organism. Like the Creator from which it sprang, God’s Word is infused with supernatural power that breathes out the golden air of heaven.

It speaks. It speaks at the right moment, to our exact need. In His Word, God comes to us as the Healer, the Comforter, the Teacher, the Absolute Authority.

He wants to speak to you.

This Christmas, make the holidays holy days. Resist the temptation to push aside reading God’s Word and fellowship with others as those shopping days before Christmas get shorter and shorter. Take nothing for granted and set aside time to let God communicate with you. He has something important to say.

And it’s His birthday, after all.

 

photo courtesy Erik Thorson/2013

What Is Your Calling?

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” -Isaiah 6:8

He came to earth for one reason: to complete the work given Him by His Father. For that work He sacrificed a normal existence, His own human longings, and eventually His life. He suffered daily agony. He died completely alone, forsaken even by the Father He came to serve.

It was His calling.

As we indulge in the season’s festivities, may we never lose sight of the very large footprints in which we follow. Over the ages we have added a lot of glitter and shine to a work of God that was bloody and cold.

Birth is messy. Stables are messy. Dying is messy.

The Savior walked a path filled with danger and hardship. He didn’t have to. But He did, for a world that didn’t even care.

As the year draws to a close, where are you in service to your King? Are you confused because you aren’t sure what you’re supposed to be doing for God? Are you discouraged because your efforts to serve Him seem to have little impact on those around you?

Is the messiness of life too distracting?

He is calling you today, in the midst of the clamor. He wants to speak to you right now. In fact, He is waiting for you.

Go to His Word. Close the door on the world and open up the Bible. You will find the words you need for this hour. If you need encouragement, it is there. If you’re looking for direction, you’ll find it. If you’re hungry for fresh inspiration, He has it.

Wait for Him. Breathe in His life. Don’t move until you see the next step in front of you. Listen for the call. It will come.

May your response be, “Here am I. Send me!”

An Idaho Christmas

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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
-Colossians 3:15

Hello, Christmas…

Another Idaho winter has descended upon us.

In my neck of the woods, that means a little snow and a lot of gray days. But leave the river valley in any direction, and you’ll soon be skating on icy roads and snow. On the weekends it also means the occasional pop of birdshot as a Duck Dynasty wannabe wanders around the river road below us looking for an easy dinner.

It’s unnerving to look out the window and see a gun pointed my way.

Ah.

Christmas in Idaho.

It’s five days after Thanksgiving, and I’m feeling inadequate as my exuberant Facebook friends display their freshly decorated trees and trade Christmas recipes online.  In our log cabin, the only hints that Christmas is coming are a lovely poinsettia from my daughter-law, one Christmas card, and the meager pile of unwrapped presents I’ve bought for the annual family celebration.

My husband has hopefully set the decorations out in his shop in what may be a hint. I have yet to even venture out to take a look at them. I usually love Christmas, but this one has been dampened by the suffering of someone I love.

I worry. I fret. I give in to the  gloom.

Then I remember.

This is why He came.

Let heaven and nature sing!

Two thousand years ago, the world was much the same. Except it was a world without hope. This Christmas, we can be ruled by the Christ of peace, the Lord who delivered us from the futility of a life without Him.

In Jesus, Christmas dissolves into Thanks Giving and every day is a celebration. Our hearts are no longer controlled by either minor daily irritations or devastating loss. Until the day we see the magnitude of His victory, we ride out the highs and lows and choose to rejoice.

He rules the earth. Let heaven and nature sing: Joy to the world.

Maybe I should take a look at those decorations.

What’s He Here For?

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In the last two weeks we have looked at the person we call the Holy Spirit. I love talking about God, but I’m especially intrigued with the third person of the Trinity.

The three persons of the Trinity are enigmatic, cloaked in a mantle of mystery slowly pulled back through the ages to reveal the face of God. When we learn about Father God, we incorporate what we know about Him from our experiences with out earthly fathers. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the central figure of the gospels, painting a vivid picture of the Deliverer.

The Spirit, on the other hand, often remains in the background. Though equal in power to the others, He points humanity upward to them instead of drawing attention to Himself.  In a world clamoring “Look at me! Look at me,” He always inspires us to look heavenward.

The fact that He consents to live inside the cracked clay we call home never ceases to amaze me.

How do we wrap our minds around a Being who can be everywhere at once, whose power caused the universe to spring to life, who brought back the Savior Himself from the dead? How do we live with such a Being inside us? It’s a story more radical than anything dreamt up by Hollywood.

God in You, the Hope of Glory

In His person, the Holy Spirit is totally God. In His work and form, He functions as the “breath” of God. As such, He has a vital job to accomplish on earth:

  • He convicts us of sin. John 16:8

Before we can come to Him, we first must realize our need. It is the Spirit’s job to make us understand how we’ve sinned against God and our need of a Deliverer. He’s the one who makes us feel guilty when we’ve done wrong.

  • He frees us. 2 Corinthians 3:17

The Spirit is the One who breaks the chains of sin and walks us into liberty.

  • He sanctifies and sets us apart as His own. 1 Peter 1:2

When we accept our need for God and receive the cleansing sacrifice made by Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our bodies. His indwelling sets us apart as His own and begins the lifelong process of preparing us for eternity.

  • He transforms us. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When we become His, we are changed by the force of the same creative power that brought the universe into being.

  • He intercedes for us. Romans 8:26

In our weakness, we often don’t even know ourselves how to pray for what we need. The Spirit steps in, bringing us to the throne of God. Romans 8:26 is often used for speaking in tongues, but the Scripture says that this intercession is “too deep for words.” It is the place where our spirit connects with His in a cry for help.

  • He rebukes those who mock Him. Acts 5:9-11

The Spirit upholds the holiness of the Lord. He will not be mocked and must be treated with respect.

  • He empowers us for His work. John 7:37-38; 16:7; 1 Corinthians 2:3-5; Galatians 5:25

We can’t live a holy life on our own. Our best intentions and efforts can’t come close to pleasing God. We fall on our face every time. It’s His power that accomplishes what we can only long for without Him.

  • He directs us and gives us joy in the journey. Matthew 4:1; John 16:13; Luke 10:21; Acts 16:7

It’s not just about getting through this life. Jesus promised us abundance. When His Spirit is free to work within us, He fill us with joy. This is the incomprehensible place of peace Jesus’ disciples encounter through the darkest days of their lives. It rises above trials and smiles at the future.

  • He provides for our every need. Philippians 1:29

He is the great provider. In His care, every need we have will be met.

  • He reveals the future when necessary. Luke 2:26; Acts 1:16

Because He is all-knowing, nothing surprises Him. When it is necessary, He will reveal to His people future events. Usually, though, He counts on us to trust Him for our future.

This exquisite being, who dwelt in eternity in the highest heaven, has consented – even yearned- to live with us in our frail homes of flesh. He longs to be our protector and Lord. Only a mighty God could be powerful enough to be so tender, or strong enough to live with such weakness.

No wonder they call Him the Comforter.

 

Baptism photo courtesy Erik Thorson/ copyright 2013

Breath of God

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The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it,

but do not know where it comes from and where it is going;

so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

– John 3:8

This is the air I breathe,
This is the air I breathe,
Your Holy Presence, living in me.
-Marie Barnett

Sunday morning arrives in fine form. I’m in fine form, too. Dressed in my best Sunday clothes, I negotiate the thirty-minute drive to church with my favorite Christian band belting out “I’m awake, I’m alive” over the car speakers.

I slip into my usual spot near the back of the church and am soon joined by dear friends. The worship team begins to play and my heart leaps to the music. Joy infuses me as I give myself to join the voices raised to our Creator. Soon, the pastor challenges the congregation with a message from the Bible. I can feel God moving my heart in renewal. I know the Holy Spirit is there.

It wasn’t long ago I was in a different place as events beyond my control sucked the life out of me. I was frustrated and took it out on those around me. I wasn’t feeling holy or calm or civil. I longed for the comfort of the Spirit, but I couldn’t feel Him near.

Had I angered Him and made Him leave me? Was He powerless, busy, or uninterested? Or had He just deserted me?

Who Is the Holy Stranger Who Lives in Us?

The Holy Spirit is probably the least understood of that Godhead we call the Trinity.  Sometimes He is referred to as a force, a fad, or an “it.” And yet the Scriptures reveal a wealth of information about Him.

The Greek term for the Spirit of God is pneuma, or “breath.” He is, however, anything but a mere stirring of air. The Bible describes Him as a powerful and pure personality. Within these verses, we discover this about Him:

  • He is a real person, referred to by such pronouns as “He,” “Whom,” and “Who.”

Luke 4:18; John 7:39; 15:26; 16:7-14; Acts 5:3; Ephesians 1:13-14

  • He is the vital third Person of the Triune God.

Matthew 12:31-32; 28:19; Mark 3:29; Acts 5:3,4; 1 Corinthians 2:11

  • He is eternal and glorious.

Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 4:14

  • He speaks to and through mankind.

Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11; John 16:13; Acts 4:25; 13:2; 20:23; 21:11; 28:25; Hebrews 3:7; 10:15; Revelation 2:7

  • He is the Lifegiver.

Matthew 1:18; John 3:8; Romans 8:11

  • He is our helper and teacher.

John 14:26; 15:26; Hebrews 9:8

  • He can be grieved.

Ephesians 4:30

The Holy Spirit is not a thing. He is someone who can speak, be lied to, is grieved. He feels deep pain, great joy, and intense concern for us. He loves us enough to live with our mercurial human emotions. He cares enough to stay with us through the hopeless nights. He is sealed in His believers – for better or for worse.

What kind of a God leaves a throne to live in a clay house? What does He hope to accomplish by being here on earth?

Next Tuesday: What’s He Here For?

photo courtesy Erik Thorson/copyright 2013

The Safest Place on Earth

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In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation – having also believed,
you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Ephesians 1:13

When the Thief Comes to Steal

In his book The Holy Spirit, Billy Graham tells the story of an English missionary who died in India during the early 1900’s.  Immediately his former neighbors broke into his home and pillaged it, stealing the man’s possessions.  The English Consul was notified, and the official went to the missionary’s home.

Since there was no knock on the door, the official simply pasted a piece of paper across it and affixed the seal of England on it.  No one dared to break the seal, because at that time, that seal represented the world’s most powerful nation.  The power of England stood behind a piece of paper on the door.

In the same way, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit takes up official residence within us – effectively “sealing” us for Himself by His power and authority.

The Greek word for “seal” means “to confirm” or “to impress,” and it is used three times in the New Testament in connection with believers.  This sealing represents two important concepts:  security and ownership.

An Irrevocable Decree

Sealing in the sense of security is illustrated in the sealing of Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:17), and in the irrevocable seal of the king in spoken of in Esther 3:12 and 8:8. The Greek word is used in Matthew 27:65-66 to describe the Roman seal on Jesus’ tomb is the same word used in other New Testament scriptures to speak of the seal of the Holy Spirit.  It meant that whatever was under that seal was not to be opened except by order of the king.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered – I’m Yours

This seal also signifies ownership.  In Jeremiah 32:10 we read that the prophet bought a piece of property, paid for it in front of witnesses, and sealed the purchase in accordance with the law and custom, making him the legal owner.

History tells us ancient Ephesus was a port city, carrying on an extensive trade in lumber.  A merchant looking for lumber would walk through the timber, select what he wanted, and stamp it with his own signet, or sign of ownership.  When he was ready for the lumber, he would send an agent with the signet to locate all the timber carrying his seal.  His agent would then claim and take all the lumber with the master’s mark on it back to the man who bought it.

In the East, a seal on a document was more important than the signature.  The signet used to imprint a seal usually sat in a ring and was inscribed with words or symbols.  It often reflected an office of importance.  It was commonly pressed into clay, because of its resulting permanence, although wax was used, too.  Wax was not as desirable because it was prone to melt in the hot sun.  Clay hardened over time, so that the clay itself would actually have to break in order to break the seal.

We are the clay.  God is the master, and Jesus has bought us.

The imprint of God has been impressed into our hearts, sealing us by the authority of the Lord on High.  We are now His, under His protection.  The power of all heaven stands behind His mark.  He is sealed in us.  He can’t leave without breaking the clay and His promise to never leave or forsake us.  He is with us every step of the way as we walk through this world.

With this understanding, we can better appreciate the words of the apostle Paul:

 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

Not forsaken. Never alone. Under His guard.

Secure in the safest place on earth.

What’s in YOUR Heart?

 

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And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them.
And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
-Ezekiel 11:19

Our Heart, the Deepest Place

Anyone who’s taken even freshman biology can probably remember what’s in our hearts: mostly blood, muscle, chambers, and valves. But the heart is also a euphemism for the place where our innermost man lives. It’s the seat of our emotions and the chamber of our most secret desires. The Hebrew word for heart in the Old Testament also denotes the deepest place inside us, the room we rarely reveal to others.

It’s the place we rarely unveil even to ourselves.

The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
-Matthew 15:18-19

The heart is the real us. That can be frightening if we’re honest enough to take a good look inside. It’s so scary we often craft a careful wall of excuses and religious piety to cover our real motives. We may fool ourselves and others, but there is One from whom we can never hide.

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
I, the LORD, search the heart.
-Jeremiah 17:9-10

It’s a sobering thing to know God searches my heart. I know what’s in there. I don’t even like me when I look inside. It is beyond me that God, knowing what my heart clutches within its walls, still pursues me to gain that fickle devil for His own. He knows the state of my inner man, and He wants me anyway.

For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.
– 1 Samuel 16:7

Throughout history, God has always reached for the heart of His creation. The Bible tells us:

For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
– 1 Samuel 16:7

God wants our whole hearts – dirt, pain, and all. He loves us, not for what we give or do, but for what we are to Him. When we respond to this love and surrender to Him, He goes to work. He alone can cleanse, purify, and restore us.

It’s this work that changes from the inside out. It’s not about reforming ourselves. That will never happen. It it were about doing everything right, none of us could stand.

Even God’s beloved King David committed two terrible sins: adultery and murder. Although he was severely disciplined for his actions, God later called him a man after His own heart.

How could that be?

With All Your Heart

David was flawed, to be sure. But he ran after God with all that within him. When he fell, he cried out for forgiveness. He sought to be reconciled to God. He surrendered his life to his King.

Jesus told humanity:

YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD GOD WITH ALL YOUR
HEART,
AND WITH ALL YOUR
SOUL,
AND WITH ALL YOUR
MIND.
This is the great and foremost commandment.
-Matthew 22:37-38

This is the great commandment. If we love Him with all that is within us, He will do the rest.

Although David couldn’t trust his own heart, he could entrust it to a faithful Father. David came to understand this one thing: It’s about what’s in our hearts.

It’s about what’s in His.

Follow Me