Heart Matters: A Clean Heart

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; 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, NASB


A Clean Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10, NLT

OLD_HEART_5If you’ve ever met a toddler, then you know we are born into sin. Oh, I joke. But only a little, because as adults we haven’t changed much. We still fight with selfish desire and even know how to throw a grown up tantrum. Did you read yesterday’s Dose?

David, a man after God’s own heart, knew a thing or two about selfish desires. Maybe you know the story about his relationship with Bathsheba, but in case you don’t, I’ll sum it up for you. David had a crush on Bathsheba, which was a bit of a problem because Bathsheba was married to another man named Uriah. That didn’t stop David, who proceeded to commit adultery with her, in which she conceived a child. If that’s not enough drama for you, he then proceeded to have her husband killed. I recommend reading the whole story in 2 Samuel 11.

God was anything but pleased with their behavior, and both David and Bathsheba endured devastating consequences of their actions when their child died. David, his soul crushed with grief and by the weight of his sin, cried out to God with a heart of repentance in Psalm 51. While this story lacks no element of sin and drama, it is also a beautiful picture of God’s redemption. He didn’t choose someone more worthy to take David’s place on the throne, instead He restored a repentant David and He restores us too.

Each and every one of us sin. We often compare our sins to others in an attempt to justify our actions and attitudes. Or we may believe that God gives more weight to some sins than others, but nowhere in scripture is that faulty way of thinking substantiated. Adultery, gossip, addiction, pride, greed: sin is sin. Each of us stand guilty before our Holy God.

Is there sin that has been allowed to reside in your heart for too long? Have you made a choice that you feel is so horrific you haven’t sought forgiveness from God because you can’t even forgive yourself? Friend, 1 John 1:9 tells us, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (NASB).

If you are willing, like David, to confess and repent of your sin, God is waiting to create in you a clean heart and to renew the spirit within you.

Praying for a clean heart,


Heart Matters: Rules vs. Relationship

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; 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, NASB


Rules vs. Relationship

And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

Isaiah 29:13, NLT

countrychurchIt was Easter Sunday, 1994, when I went forward for salvation at my small country church as my Dad played Softly and Tenderly on the old, upright piano. I also remember the floral print, puffy-sleeved Easter dress I was wearing. Did I mention it was 1994?

I absolutely believed that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, but on that day I lacked an accurate understanding of the gospel. I had missed the part about grace and falsely believed I needed to earn or prove myself worthy of salvation.

Not knowing what to do next, I took matters into my own hands with the expected gusto of a typical, albeit misguided, Type A Personality, and jumped into Christianity with both feet. I was NOT going to mess this up! Jesus died for me, and I planned to prove myself worthy!

I promptly threw away my favorite Salt-n-Pepa CD, vowed I would never utter another curse word, and I read the book of Revelation in my rose-colored King James Version Bible. All that same afternoon.

You want to know what happened? I ran out of steam. I backslid. In record time, actually. The Book of Revelation overwhelmed me, and honestly, at that time it scared me. I couldn’t just snap my fingers and stop cursing and I really missed my CD. I was buried under the enemy’s condemnation at how quickly I could mess this thing up, thus leading to a decade long journey as a prodigal.

Hindsight is 20/20 and while many factors led to this particular series of events, my heart was at the root. My heart was seeking to be worthy of the gospel, but I had missed the point that I was worthy because of the gospel. Focusing on outward obedience to prove myself worthy, my actions proved useless because my heart was empty.

I had rules but no relationship.

Maybe you have been there yourself, or maybe that is where you find yourself today. Maybe you’re striving in order to earn His love, favor, or salvation? Friend, there is no checklist that we can keep, no sacrifice we can give, no deeds we can do, and no rituals we can perform that will make us worthy of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Not a single one of us are worthy of His love, yet He loves us anyway!

I pray today that if that’s where you find yourself, you wouldn’t stay there a minute longer. Seek Him, pour your heart out, and pray for a relationship with the One who made you.

Resting in relationship,


Biblical Truths I Learned From My Cats: You’re Always Welcome At Home

It amuses me what God sometimes uses to teach us lessons. Lately, it seems my four cats (and others in my life) have been the source of a few biblical truths.


You’re Always Welcome At Home

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Luke 15:20


Jack_sleeping.JPGJack is a young orange tabby who belongs to my sister. He is a sweet, energetic young cat with unquenchable curiosity and superior hunting skills. Here in Florida, many of us have a lanai – a large, screened area of our backyard, often enclosing a swimming pool. This is Jack’s favorite hangout. Mostly because of the lizards. Jack loves hunting lizards. My sister finds them in her house on a regular basis. Sometimes they’re dead – other times, not so much. Jack doesn’t care if he actually kills the lizard. It’s all about the hunt. He loves being outside so much that she installed a “kitty door” so he can go in and out as he wishes, safe inside the screened lanai.

My sister’s previous home did not have a lanai, only a small screened porch. Jack was terribly curious about the great outdoors, and would make an effort to scoot out the door every time one was opened. Usually we were very cautious and managed to keep him indoors. One night, however, he slipped past and escaped through the open garage door.

I drove the hour to her house. We spent hours looking for that cat. My sister walked for miles, calling him, looking under bushes and cars, winding behind homes. We drove all around her neighborhood, and after dark, drove around more. At two a.m., we finally decided to try to get some sleep. She was consumed with worry about him. We made posters to put up the next morning, and fell into bed about three a.m.

At six-thirty the next morning, she woke me. Bleary-eyed, I stared at what she held in her arms – little Jack, purring away. She was so happy he was home, snuggling him and petting him. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t quite as forgiving. I was still annoyed at having to drop everything and drive an hour to her house, then spent hours looking for the little bugger. She, however, was only focused on the fact that he was home safe. Jack was no worse for the wear, and after a good meal, crashed on the screened porch for a nap.

Sometimes we all have a desire to wander off, to go looking for something more, to see if there’s anything bigger or better out there, much like the prodigal son in the book of Luke. We wander away from God in search of worldly things. Often, it’s not even intentional. We just look up and suddenly realize we’ve wandered quite a distance from God. Things that far away aren’t nearly as good as we thought they might be.  Sometimes we wonder if God would even take us back.

But here’s the good news. Just like my sister welcomed Jack, the father’s reception of his son is a picture of God’s love for us. He took his son, who had been lost but was now found, in his arms and hugged him. Then proceeded to have a party. God delights in our return to Him, too. He desires nothing more than for His children to come to Him, to be in His presence.  Job 22:23 promises that if we return to the Almighty, we will be restored. Hosea 6:1 promises that if we return, we will be healed. And James 4:8 declares that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.

If you’ve suddenly looked up and found yourself feeling far from God, all you have to do is turn around. He is already filled with compassion for you. If you let Him, like the prodigal’s father, He will run to you and welcome you back. And heaven will throw a party.

In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10 NIV