Never Again

Guard Your Heart

My child, pay attention to what I say.
    Listen carefully to my words.
Don’t lose sight of them.
    Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
for they bring life to those who find them,
    and healing to their whole body.

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

Avoid all perverse talk;
    stay away from corrupt speech.

Look straight ahead,
    and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
    stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
    keep your feet from following evil.

Proverb 4:20-27, NLT


I'm going to make a confession, don't tell anyone. I can be a bit...emotional at times. There, I've said it. And the truth is, I'm not ashamed of feeling. I'm not ashamed of feeling joy, or sadness; anger or love. God created all of these emotions. But, have you ever noticed how much the world wants us to lock up our emotions and just walk around like we don't feel? They want us to be robots who aren't affected by anything. Everyone wants us to be tough and wear armor that is unpenetrable.

So, I'm going to make another confession. I like to watch Once Upon a Time. The first season was the best, but they've hooked me. What I've noticed about the show is the over arching theme of "the heart". All of the character, the heroes and the villains, are trying to either save or protect their hearts. There are even characters who can enchant hearts and use them to control another person.

I feel like this them is much like our world today. Emma Swan, the show's savior, learns in an episode that she needs to find a way to have armor to protect herself from the world, from being hurt emotionally. She uses her red leather jacket as that armor. It seems so silly that a piece of clothing could protect her emotionally.

The proverb above says that we should allow God to protect us and guard our hearts. We don't prevent ourselves from feeling or loving, we just give it all to him and he will keep us safe. I hope you'll join me in worship on Sunday as we talk about how we can take this idea further and finish our series "Never Again."

In Christ,
Faith


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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

Change Someone

We have all been in situations where we wish someone would be different or make better choices:

  • An irresponsible person who does not do what should be done
  • An employee who is not performing up to standards
  • A person who is not investing in a relationship
  • An adult child you wish would grow up and make better choices
  • A coworker who is not matching your effort

We want people to change and wish we could change them. So, we try. At first, it’s subtle, an encouraging word here, a mild criticism there. When that doesn’t seem to do the job, we step up our tactics with nagging, manipulation or passive aggressive schemes. And guess what? Nothing changes.

We Try to Change Them

We see what needs to happen. We know it would be in their best interest. So, we try to change them, motivate them to do things the way we think they should be. There is only one problem; they have a will of their own. We get frustrated because we can’t control them.

It’s impossible to get someone to change who does not what the change for themselves. We may be able to manipulate someone into some temporary behavior modification, but for change to take place, the other person must want the change.

God endowed us with free will, the ability to choose for ourselves. God made us that way so we could freely love and serve God. The downside of that wonderful gift is that we can also use it to turn away from God ­­­­– and we do so often. That gift of free will is not only exercised in our relationship with God but every relationship. That is why it is impossible to change another person.

As much as we want another person to change, as much as that change would be good for them and us, we cannot make it happen. We must respect their, God-given ability to choose for themselves.

Acceptance

Once we have accepted that part of their make-up we can help them decide for themselves. We can influence, but not control. We can influence them through incentives, exposing them to opportunities, and setting consequences in place. John Maxwell once famously said, “People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.”

We cannot make an employee or co-worker do their jobs with greater effort or passion. But, we can outline our expectations and put consequences in place that will clearly show that they have or have not met those expectations. Then allow them to choose their path.

That is what Jesus did in the Scripture cited above. Jesus told the man what would be required for him to inherit eternal life and left the decision to him. Jesus looked at him, loved him and placed the matter in his hands.

When we love someone enough the give them a choice and the consequences of that choice, we respect them and honor their God-given free will. And, by the way, save ourselves a lot of grief.

Blessings,

Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.