by:  Cris Corzine-McCloskey

Happy Independence Day! I think everyone is excited for the weekend. Except for my dogs. There is nothing they hate more than the 4th of July. But not me. I love fireworks and cookouts. This year feels especially good since we now have our restaurants open and can get haircuts—nothing like a pandemic to make you appreciate the little things in life.

I think I’m not the only one who feels that way. I see people smiling at each other and showing patience with all the inconveniences. Some people have told me they think it’s getting uglier out there, but I don’t see it. As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I have quieted my heart to hear from God. I’m also guarding it against all the negativity.

Heart guarding may be a novel concept to you, but it’s an old Biblical principle found in the book of Proverbs. The verse says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When the book of wisdom tells me something is essential, I am going to listen.
Jesus talked a lot about the condition of our hearts. He said we need to make sure our treasures are in the right place because wherever our treasures are, that’s where our hearts will be. If we treasure our bank account above Jesus, it’s a sure sign our hearts are in jeopardy, and we need to readjust our priorities.

He also told us our hearts are depositories for the Word of God. He said the Word goes in like seed, and if our hearts are not guarded, that seed won’t be able to grow. I want my heart to be full of good soil so all the love He’s planting in there will produce a bumper crop. That’s way better than the alternative. Because here’s something I’ve learned over the years, our hearts are always growing something!

As the old adage says, garbage in, garbage out. If I start letting fear, lust, anger, offense, and despair get inside me, my heart gets full of rocks, thorns, and thistles. And whatever is in my heart will dictate my choices and come out of my mouth. That’s how affairs start, and fear and hatred grow. It’s why we have a whole world full of crazy.

As a Christian therapist, I see many believers who are not guarding their hearts. I know that because I see what’s going on in their lives and hear what’s coming out of their mouths. You can’t hide it. What’s in your heart will eventually be displayed for all the world to see.

Are you tired of your marriage? Are you offended and angry? Short-tempered or anxious? Watch out, you might be growing a weed patch. That’s okay, I know someone who’s happy to get in there and clear out the debris.

When I am in my prayer time, I like to visualize Jesus, plow in hand, cultivating the soil of my heart. He digs deep into places I don’t even know about. Every once in a while, His plow hits something stony. He bends down and picks up an old offense or hidden fear, and tosses it by the wayside. He’s after anything that will get in the way of love growing in my heart. As He’s plowing and planting, I’m guarding. He and I are working together to make my heart a better place.

Imagine what would happen if all of us believers stopped following our hearts and started guarding them, instead. No more garbage in, garbage out. Instead, it would be Kingdom in, love out. And that, my friends, is how love grows and makes the world a better place to live in.

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