We are wrapping up our FOR TODAY teaching series today, October 10, which just so happens to be World Mental Health Day. I’d love to say we planned that, but we’re not that good… but God is!
In my last message, we talked about staying focused just on today, focusing on Jesus’ words to not worry about tomorrow.
In that message, I said we have to come to grips with the fact that God is in control and we are not. And for all those who suffer from “controlfreakitis”… it was a very challenging message from the Lord.
Well, control freaks, you are going to love today’s message because today I want to talk about what IS in our control.
If we want to experience God’s peace, a peace that surpasses understanding… if we want to take a stand to say our mental health matters and make it a priority, then here’s the reality… we have to guard our hearts.
In Proverbs 4:23, King Solomon, one of the greatest Kings to ever live, says this: "Above ALL else, guard your heart."
Above ALL else… guard your heart.
Why is guarding the heart so important when it comes to our mental health?
Proverbs 23:7, "For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is."
What we believe in our hearts, is what we will believe in our minds and that will affect everything we say, do, and believe.
Above ALL else… guard your heart.
I’m not as wise as Solomon, but here’s how it makes sense in my mind…
What we allow into our hearts gets direct access to the elevator to our minds.
So today, I want us to do a little CSI work. Does anyone watch any of the CSI series… CSI, CSI:MIAMI, CSI:NY, CSI:CYBER…CSI:VEGAS? If you’ve never seen any of four million episodes, don’t worry… every episode is the same. It’s a crime drama focusing on investigating crime scenes.
Now, I was finishing up my message this week, writing this section about doing some CSI work… and I kid you not, five sheriff's cars come pulling up onto our property and start investigating something back in our woods. Turns out they were investigating a dead body.
At least that’s what they were told was back there…
So for about 20 minutes, this place was popping. I called Deputy Pahner, whose family goes here, and I was like “Dave, what’s going on?”
Well, after some quick CSI work, it turns out there was NOT a dead body on our property. It was just a rolled-up sleeping bag covered in mud that someone THOUGHT was a dead body.
Never a dull moment here at Whitewater Crossing!
Today, I want us to do a little CSI work on our hearts to see what all we are allowing into our hearts and minds.
Because if we want to guard our hearts, we are gonna have to look at what we (CSI) CONSUME, SEE, and INVITE into our hearts.
What do you…
My momma always told me, “You are what you eat."
Then as I got older and involved in live productions, an audio engineer told me once… “Garbage in, garbage out." You are what you eat… garbage in, garbage out.
What are you currently consuming?
I’m not talking about how often you’re stopping at McDonald’s or Taco Bell and how that is affecting your heart, but you should be talking about that… your body is a temple housing the Holy Spirit. But that’s for another sermon and another day.
If we want to guard our hearts and minds, we first have to look at what we are allowing our hearts to consume.
What are you consuming on a daily basis?
If we consume conspiracy theories, we will be conspiracy theorists.
If we consume fear, we will be fearful.
If we consume hate, we will hate.
If we consume things that make us angry, we will be angry.
You are what you eat… garbage in garbage out.
What if we consumed God’s word more than we consumed Skyline? More than we consumed social media? More than we consumed FOX News or CNN?
We create what we consume.
In Luke 6, verse 45, Jesus says, "A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart."
What if we intentionally started to pay attention to what we consume, what we allow in?
In Psalm 119:11, King David says, "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."
In Colossians 3:16, the apostle Paul says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom…"
For the sake of our hearts and our minds, maybe it’s time for a diet change, maybe it’s time to consume a little differently?
There was a study done not that long ago with over 400K people from around the world by the Center for Bible Engagement. It showed that those who read their Bible at least 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week are:
57% less likely to get drunk
30% less likely to struggle with loneliness
68% less likely to have sex outside of marriage
61% less likely to look at porn
Not only does consuming the Bible help with protecting our hearts and minds, but reading the Bible four days a week also makes us:
228% more likely to share our faith with others
407% more likely to memorize scripture
231% more likely to disciple others
What if for the rest of the year, from now till Christmas... you do know Christmas is only 10 weeks away, right? You’re welcome.
What if for the next 10 weeks, we committed to consuming the Bible for at least four days a week?
I wonder if we did that, what kind of effect that would have on our hearts and minds? What kind of effect that would have on our relationships and the world around us?
Start with reading Psalms, Proverbs, and the book of Matthew. If you need a Bible that is easy to read, come talk to us and we’ll get you one.
Guard your heart by consuming the word of God.
2nd observation as we do this CSI work on our hearts is what do we…
If we want to guard our hearts, we have to take a look at what we allow our hearts to see or what we focus on.
What do you see in this picture?
Have you seen this before? This illusion came out back in the 1800s. I remember first seeing this back in elementary school and I was fascinated by it. What do you see? Do you see an old lady or a young lady? Psychologists believe what you see in this picture is connected to how old you perceive yourself to be.
What we see is connected to what is in our hearts… what is in our hearts is connected to what we see. Here’s the deal…
What we SEE is connected to what we CONSUME.
If we have hidden God’s word in our hearts… we will start to see God in all things.
A couple of weeks ago, our family had the chance to go on vacation. We go to the same place every year on the gulf side of Florida. It’s nothing too fancy, but it’s also not the no-tell motel… somewhere in the middle there.
So we’re at the gulf, which is typically very calm and serene. Clear blue-green water. White sandy beach and sandy ocean floor. But this one day, things weren’t so serene. We had these big rolling waves.
Now, one of my favorite things to do at the beach is to go out as far as I can, right on that edge where I can barely touch the sand, and then just cry out to God. Sing as loud as I want. Shout to God. A shout of praise. A shout of frustration. A shout of confusion. A shout of desperation. And all of it gets muted by the sounds of the waves.
So, as I’m out there, having some “one on one” time with God I started to get sucked in by this nasty undertow that was pulling me into this massive wave. Obviously, I survived. But in all honesty, there was a moment where I was genuinely afraid. I realized I couldn’t touch anymore, I kept getting tossed around by the waves, and I’m starting to get tired and starting to panic… And right then, this wave started forming in front of me and it kept getting bigger and bigger. It felt like this 100ft wave, but really it was probably only 6ft above my head… but still, it was huge.
At this moment, I was somewhere between scared and worried, and slightly concerned and peeing a little bit.
As I survived the tsunami that almost took my life, I found myself on the other side of this wave. That wave had pushed me back closer to shore. I could touch the sand beneath me again. And I had this thought. The thing I feared was actually the thing that took me to where I needed to be.
I wonder how many miracles have we missed because we feared the very thing God sent to deliver us.
Too often, our hearts are overcome with worry, and fear, and anxiety, and doubt… because our eyes are only seeing the waves, they’re not fixed on the one who makes the waves.
Let me be clear… sometimes we go through some really challenging and heartbreaking times. Sometimes it feels like we are being taken out by the storms of this life and it feels like the waves just keep coming and beating against us and it feels like we won’t last another second.
I want you to know the way through the storm is to look to the one who controls the storm. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith.
Psalm 121, "I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and the mountains."
If we want to guard our hearts, we need to see the wavemaker, not the waves.
3rd observation as we do this CSI work on our hearts is WHO do we…
... into our lives?
Just so you know, I’m landing the proverbial plane of my message here… but put your seatbelt on, because this may be a bumpy landing, this one may hurt a little.
I was reminded this week, you gotta break some eggs to bake a cake.
For many of us, our mental health is suffering right now because for too long, we have allowed unhealthy and toxic people to rent space in our minds.
Proverbs 13:20 says, "Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces."
Who do you invite into the inner circle of your life? Who you allow closest to you is who you are inviting to rent space in your head and your heart. I want you to think through who you keep close?
Are they healthy? Are they wise? Are they constantly negative? Are they chasing after Jesus or chasing after the next high?
Who you keep close is who you allow in.
And there’s limited space in your head, so choose wisely… because here’s the deal…
When you break it down, there are really only two types of people in this world… Life givers and Life suckers.
It sounds harsh, but it’s true. Which one are you? Do you build people up or tear people down? Which ones have you invited in to rent a room in your head and heart? Do they breathe life into you or suck the life right out of you? Do they fight for your greatest and highest good? Do they want something from you or for you? Do they speak life? Do they empower you?
If not, evict them.
I don’t know who you have working the front desk of your mind, not sure how some of these folks got past security, but it’s time to serve some eviction notices. AMEN?!?!
We have to be better landlords and caretakers of our minds. WE are the ones who get to choose who we allow to rent space in our head. There’s limited space. Limited rooms. This isn’t a free-for-all. ALL are not welcome in "here."
So, who do you have living in your mind? Whose voice do you allow to rent space?
You wanna know what is even more NUTS? Not only have we invited and allowed knuckleheads to live in our heads, but too often we give our enemy, the devil, the penthouse suite in our minds.
Don’t believe me?
How many of you in the morning, while you’re enjoying your "eggs and bakey" and enjoying your first cup of coffee… how many of you invite the enemy into your heart? Not a lot of hands.
But how many of us have invited bitterness into our hearts? How many have invited in resentment? Unforgiveness? How many have invited in anger?
See, when we do this, scripture tells us this is how we let the ENEMY into our hearts.
Ephesians 4:27, "Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil."
The Greek for foothold is topos, which means a location or a home.
When we invite bitterness, resentment, and anger into our lives, we are inviting the devil to have a home in our hearts and minds. And I don’t know about you, BUT…
It’s Time to Evict the Devil.
It’s time to evict life suckers, it’s time to evict those who don’t want the best for you, it’s time to evict the doubters, the naysayers, the ones who constantly pull you into their drama, into their misery, into their pity party.
You don’t get to dwell in our minds any longer.
We’re choosing life, we’re choosing joy, we’re choosing peace, we’re choosing God’s best for our lives.
Oh, we’ll still love you. But from a safe distance. We’ll send you a Christmas card, but you don’t get to come to Christmas dinner. You don’t get to live here anymore. There’s NO VACANCY for the devil.
It’s time to take back our minds! It’s time to clear out some space. It’s time to make room for JESUS!!
In John 15:4, Jesus says, "Make your home in me just as I make my home in you. Remain in me and I will remain in you."
Make your home in us Jesus.
We’re making room for the HOLY SPIRIT, making room for JOY.
We’re making room for LOVE… for PEACE… for PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, & SELF CONTROL.
Have your way with us, Jesus.
Help us to consume your word, Jesus.
Help us to see you, Jesus, and not the waves.
Help us to only invite you Jesus and YOUR life-giving people into our hearts.
Help us, Jesus, to guard our hearts… one day at a time.