Guardian of Your Heart

“God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!” (Matthew 5:8, CEV)

Do you want to see God? The sixth Beatitude says we should have a pure heart to see God. What is the heart? If nothing else, it is those feelings we associate with the red shape drawn on our Valentines cards, with two rounds at the top and a point at the bottom… Right?

Nah, the heart is more than that. Like the Trinity is God –Father, Son, Spirit – thinking, saying, and acting the same, there are also 3 organs that “speak” to each other a special way inside your body: the heart, the brain, and the stomach. Did you know that according to research, all three organs have their own neurons and neurotransmitters, meaning the heart can communicate to the brain feelings of pain and emotion? Likewise, the stomach can communicate hunger and digestive feelings. Some websites say different things, implying the heart and stomach can “think” on their own, but then others say they can’t. Really, though, what is “thinking”, and what is “feeling”, if not a collective effort of the body’s functions?

Think about a scenario: a man is waiting for his wife to stride downstairs donned in her little black dress for the date –wouldn’t his heart be racing as he envisions the dinner and car ride home? How about another: a kid walks in the bedroom while her parents are watching a midnight horror film and catches a glimpse of blood and gore – wouldn’t her heart be pounding when she runs back to bed and feels monsters underneath? In the same way, your stomach grumbles and you think, I’m hungry. It’s all feelings, and feelings are the government of your thoughts.

To be what God intends for us to be, you and I need to give our brain the role of guardian. Imagine that your organs are a family, your heart and stomach being dependents (children), while your brain is the independent (parent). They come to your brain with emotions of anger, fear, an adrenaline rush, or a lack of appetite. Your brain executes a plan determined by surroundings. For example, someone is walking nearby in the street, at the same pace as you, oh, but maybe a step or two quicker; immediately, an adrenaline rush begins to occur and your mind works out the facts of whether you have a stalker. Is the person suspicious looking? Is he armed, strong, and are you alone? Then suddenly, he crosses the street and heads towards the other block. Your reasoning grows serene at the realization he is a mere stranger.

In the example above, the heart was an influence to your thoughts. How? A pumping heart can affect your thoughts, making your brain scramble to keep calm.

But whether or not the heart’s neurons can grow fearful or the brain itself does the “feeling” and the “thinking” does not matter for this discussion. We can wait until later for science to discover the details. Right now, whether he means the Valentines heart or the muscly organ, Jesus has our answer in Matthew 15:16-20 regarding the role of the heart:

“Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him. “Don’t you see that anything you eat passes through the digestive tract and out again? But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the man who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile; but there is no spiritual defilement from eating without first going through the ritual of ceremonial handwashing!” (TLB)

The Old Testament also speaks of the heart. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says:

“The heart is the most deceitful thing there is and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is! Only the Lord knows! He searches all hearts and examines deepest motives so he can give to each person his right reward, according to his deeds—how he has lived.” (TLB)

That’s why the heart needs a guardian, because it needs to stay dependent on the brain to make sense of things, and connect with the knowledge of the Lord and His Word. There may be neurons in the heart (estimated to be 40,000), but there are billions more in the brain and the brain is where laws, principles, logic, solutions, and memories are kept.

“For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are…” (Hebrews 4:12, TLB)

Meanwhile, the stomach (where an estimated 100 million neurons are!) is temporary to this life, and probably sends signals to keep us alive, but does nothing for our spiritual walk. As Jesus said to Satan when he was starving in the wilderness, to keep temptation away,

Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say:

‘No one can live only on food.
People need every word
that God has spoken.’”

(Matthew 4:3-5, CEV)

Paul also makes the argument, in the context of sexual immorality and how wrong it is, that the stomach and the body is temporary and that the body should therefore be used for God’s purposes instead of man’s whims.

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”

(1 Corinthians 6:13-14, KJV)

Therefore, the mind should become the guardian of the heart and stomach, watching over them from a leader’s perspective. The mind is where the higher intelligence of Jesus Christ and his gospel is stored, along with steps on how to get to heaven, saving a person from the “second death”:

But those who are cowards, who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who are sexually immoral, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8, ICB)

We must stay on the “road of right living” to stay safe:

“The road of right living bypasses evil;
watch your step and save your life.

First pride, then the crash—
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.”

(Proverbs 16:17-18, The Message)

It takes smarts to decipher “right living”! However, it’s not too hard a concept: even Abraham was considered righteous because of his faith, which is the same as it is now, with faith in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 15:6: “And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He [God] accounted it to him for righteousness.”

In conclusion, with the smartness of your brain, the knowledge of Christ, and the grace of God, you can make your heart pure and keep it clean and fearless in the sight of God.  You’ll find a beautiful treasure waiting! Your pure heart will become the loving kindness behind the logic – the brain’s benefactor – and compassionate intuition will aid your deed doing.

 “So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith. We have been cleansed and made free from feelings of guilt. And our bodies have been washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22, ICB)

 

 “…Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be hidden from him to whom we must explain all that we have done.” (Hebrews 4:13, TLB)

 

”No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God [Jesus], is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.” (John 1:18, NLT)

 

“By the power of your hand, O Lord,
destroy those who look to this world for their reward.
But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones.
May their children have plenty,
leaving an inheritance for their descendants.
Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.”

(Psalm 17:14-15, NLT)

“You can either doubt God and think he is in no part of your life, or you can believe God and think he is in every part of your life - everything changes.” ~Lacy Andrews

 

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Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 3

COCOA: Detective Snowy, Detective Snowy, where are you?  (sniff, sniff) I smell trouble.  (sniff, sniff) Something is wrong.

(HAPPY and FABLE enter)

COCOA: Has anyone seen Detective Snowy? We need to make tracks and find the last clue. I can’t find my detective.

HAPPY: No, Cocoa. I haven’t seen her anywhere.  It’s not like Snowball to be late for VBS. Something must have happened.

FABLE: She was going to the mouse alley earlier this morning to visit her friends.  But she should be back by now.

COCOA: Detective Snowy is not here. I’ve sniffed everywhere. I’ve got to get busy and find her.

HAPPY: I’ll help you find Snowball. She might need some help.

FABLE: Yes. Let’s go to the mouse alley and find her.

(SNOWBALL enters “mewing”, without her spy glass and hat.)

COCOA: Detective Snowy. There you are! But, what happened to you? You look like you’ve been in a cat fight!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, don’t call me Detective Snowy. I’m just plain old Snowball.

COCOA: Snowball, what happened?

SNOWBALL: I went to the mouse alley this morning. I was with my friends Stuart and Fival, telling them about VBS, when the mean cats showed up.  The cats started chasing all the mice in the alley.

FABLE: It’s not nice to bother the little guys.

SNOWBALL: Those mean cats hurt Stuart and Fival. I got really mad. I tried to hold on to my temper like Jesus would, but I got so mad.  I started yelling at those other cats.  They had no reason to be mean to my friends. And I got madder because they wouldn’t stop it when I told them to. They started calling me names and THAT did it! I started throwing things around. I scared all the ugly old cats away, and I don’t think they’ll be coming back; but I broke my spyglass and lost my cap.

COCOA: Wow, you’ve had a rough time!

HAPPY: We should have been there to help you defend the mice.

FABLE: Are you okay, Snowball?

AllFour

SNOWBALL: I’m okay, Fable.  You all are such great friends.  You are loving and caring, and so faithful. You’ve got the characterprints of Jesus. I wish I had found the last characterprint before I got so angry. I don’t feel like I’m very much like Jesus. I didn’t find anybody who was brave and courageous.

COCOA: Snowball, Jesus did act like that in the temple. You missed our Bible story today. The Bible says that Jesus got angry with the ones who were being mean to others.  God doesn’t like it when someone hurts others. Jesus showed us how mad God gets.  He threw the table down and ran the mean people out of the temple.

HAPPY: That’s right. God gets very angry at evil.

SNOWBALL: Yeah. But I still didn’t find the last character print. I’m not good enough to be a detective.  I needed to find someone who is brave and courageous.

FABLE: Snowball, I think we know who is brave and courageous.

SNOWBALL: Really? Who? Please tell me. Who is it?

HAPPY: It’s you, Snowball. You defended those poor little mice from the mean old cats, even when they insulted you.

FABLE: Jesus did the same thing.

COCOA: You are very brave, Snowball. Just like Jesus.

SNOWBALL: You guys can’t be serious! I can’t believe this. I have a characterprint like Jesus? Are you guys playing a joke on me?

HAPPY: No, Snowball. We really mean it.

SNOWBALL: Wow! I never thought I’d find any characterprints in me. I was surprised to find Cocoa was humble and loving, but me!? This is more than I ever expected! Are you guys positive I’m like Jesus?

FABLE: Yes, Snowball. We’re positive.

COCOA: So, Snowball. How do you feel now that you’ve found all the characterprints of Jesus? Are you proud of yourself?

SNOWBALL: Well, yeah. But not as much as I thought I would be. You all get the credit, too. A little. I did do most of it myself.

COCOA: What!?

SNOWBALL: Let’s review the character prints we found. Cocoa, you were humble when you took a flea bath, and you were loving when you let me change your name. Okay, it was ridiculous to change our names.

FABLE: Happy was faithful. He didn’t stop liking you when  you changed your names. He didn’t make fun of you either.

HAPPY: Fable was forgiving. He forgave Cocoa for what Cocoa said to him.

COCOA: You don’t have to  bring that up, do you?

FABLE: Don’t worry, Cocoa. I forgive you.

SNOWBALL: And I was brave and courageous. I saved the poor lSnowball-ENDittle mice from the mean cats.

COCOA: Yeah! You’re not Detective Snowy – you’re Catgirl, champion of mice!

SNOWBALL: Catgirl?

COCOA: Yes, you can be a super hero….and….I’ll be your dog!

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa. Let’s just be friends.  Let’s help each other be like Jesus. He’s the real super hero. Jesus Christ is the champion of the whole world.

COCOA: That’s right! Jesus loves everyone!

FABLE: And Jesus is forgiving.

HAPPY: Jesus is faithful.

SNOWBALL: Jesus is brave and courageous! He helps everyone who needs his help. He saves us all!

HAPPY: I hope everyone enjoyed VBS.

FABLE: I sure did.

SNOWBALL: So did I. I learned a lot and I hope I can come back next summer!

HAPPY: Well, bye everyone!

SNOWBALL: Yeah, bye everyone!

FABLE: I hope you continue to have the character prints of Jesus all your life.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, why aren’t you saying goodbye to everyone?

COCOA: I’m thinking about changing my name to Champion.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, say good-bye to the audience.

COCOA: Good-bye to the audience. Oh! Bye everyone. I hope you will go into all the world and make tracks for Jesus!

SNOWBALL: Hey, Cocoa, Fable, Happy, let’s go eat! I’m starving!

COCOA: Yeah! Let’s make tracks to my house! I’ve got some mice in the freezer!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! Don’t make me mad!

COCOA: I’m just kidding, Snowball.

(All puppets leave stage.)

(Behind curtain) COCOA: Ow! I’m just kidding Snowball.

THE END

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 1

SNOWBALL: Hello, I’m detective Snowball, and I’m here to see if anyone in this room has characterprints like Jesus.

(COCOA enters)

COCOA: Hey Snowball. Whatcha doing?

SNOWBALL: Well, if you weren’t late, you would have heard me the first time.  I’m a detective, and I’m going to find out if anyone in this room has the characterprints like Jesus.

COCOA: Hah! Hah! That’s funny Snowball.  You can’t be a detective.

SNOWBALL: Why not?

COCOA: You can’t even sniff out your own litter box! You can’t find any clues.

SNOWBALL: I can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Fine. If you really want to help, you can be my dog.

COCOA: All right!  I’ll sniff out any clues there are! I’ll be the best dog detective anyone’s ever seen!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?

COCOA: Yes?

SNOWBALL: You are NOT a dog detective.  I’m the detective. You are just the detective’s dog. Okay?

COCOA: Oh, okay.  Sorry. What clues do we look for first?

SNOWBALL: First, we’re looking for the meek and humble characterprints.  Also, the forgiving and merciful prints.

COCOA: Oh, yeah!  That should be easy!  Wait! (sniff, sniff loudly) I think I smell something! It’s… it’s… (sniff more, then pause)… IT STINKS! Who’s wearing dirty socks? Yuck!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?  I think you’re smelling yourself now.  Which reminds me. Before we get started, you need to take a flea bath and get a leash.  After all, I think ALL dogs need to be on leashes.

COCOA: WHAT!?  No way! I can’t do that! That goes against my dog instincts!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, even your instinct STINKS! If you don’t go get a flea bath right now, I’ll…..

(FABLE-enter-interrupts)

FABLE: Hi Snowball. Hey Cocoa. Um, Snowball, what are you doing?

COCOA: She’s Detective Snowball, and I’m her dog!  We’re trying to find someone with the characterprints of Jesus.  We don’t waste time sitting around writing silly fables!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! You’re terrible.  Now I’m convinced you don’t have any characterprints.  That was a very rude thing to say to Fable! If you keep that up, I will have to disown you.  I do not want such a stinky animal for MY dog!

FABLE: That’s okay, Snowball. Don’t be mad at Cocoa.  I know he didn’t mean it.  Not everyone enjoys writing stories like I do. To Cocoa, writing fables might be wasting time, and I respect his opinion.  I don’t expect him to like everything I do. After all, none of us are ever exactly alike.  We can be totally different, yet we can still be very good friends.  We can still like each other.  Jesus wants us to be different, and he wants us to be very good friends to everyone.

SNOWBALL: Fable, that was such a forgiving thing to say. After all, Cocoa is only a DOG, and dogs don’t know anything when it comes to being polite.

FABLE: Well, Snowball, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say about Cocoa.  Do you realize that Cocoa is actually very humble by being your dog? He is trying to help you.

SNOWBALL: I guess you’re right, Fable.  Everything I said was true, but I guess I shouldn’t have said it.  Sorry Cocoa. I do thank you for your help.

COCOA: That’s okay! I forgive you, Snowball. Fable, could you do me a favor?

FABLE: What is it, Cocoa?

COCOA: Well, I sorta was just thinking….could you help me, um, take a flea bath?

FABLE: Oh, sure, Cocoa.  Come on. Let’s take a bubble bath!

(COCOA and FABLE leave)

SNOWBALL: Well, I guess I solved the first two clues.  Fable is forgiving. He could have gotten really mad at Cocoa, but he didn’t.  He didn’t yell; he didn’t throw things around, or anything.  Just like Jesus at the cross.  Jesus could have gotten really, really mad, and called the angels to help him get off the cross, but he didn’t.  He died because he loved his friends and his enemies.  And Cocoa, that silly dog, didn’t have to take a flea bath, but he did it for me, so I would be happy.  What a friend!  He’s a good dog.

(COCOA comes back)

COCOA: Okay, let’s make tracks!  I’m ready to find the next two clues! What do we look for next?SnowCocoa

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, we can’t look for any more character prints today.  VBS is over and the kids are going  home.  But we’ll look for more tomorrow.  Come on, let’s go eat lunch.  I’m starving.  Let’s go get some hot dogs!

COCOA: Um, Snowball? Can we eat pizza?  I don’t like to eat hot dogs.

SNOWBALL: Okay, Cocoa. Hey! You look great! You’re really a “hot” dog!  And humble too.

(COCOA and SNOWBALL exit)

 

VBS & Puppet Skit Fun

As a kid, I loved playing with puppets.  I would always write my own puppet plays and play them out for Lacy or for my stuffed animals or parents (depending on if Lacy wanted to play puppets with me or if she wanted to just watch.)  In 6th grade my best friend and I were the puppeteers for the school counselor, although that wasn’t much fun because the voices were pre-taped and we just moved the puppets’ arms around and their mouths according to the voices talking.

In Sunday school, I was a puppeteer when my parents taught the children’s Bible hour.  It was loads of fun, and I loved helping my mom write the plays that would speak to the younger kids each Sunday.  I would have even more fun playing the voice of one or two of the puppets.

In the summer of 2000, my church was holding a 3 day VBS, “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus”.  There were 5 lessons:

Lesson 1 – Jesus was humble.

Lesson 2 – Jesus was forgiving.

Lesson 3 – Jesus was faithful.

Lesson 4 – Jesus was loving.

Lesson 5 – Jesus was brave.

The point of the VBS was to encourage the kids to be detectives and find out ways to be like Jesus Christ.  I remember, the instigator of the VBS was trying to come up with a fun way to close out each day’s activities, and so my mom offered us to make a puppet skit and put it on for the rest of the kids (and adults, too).  I had so much fun with VBS that year.  Mom played the cheery Happy the bear, Lacy played the lighthearted Cocoa the dog, I played the sassy Snowball the cat, and we got another gentle-voiced woman from church to play the amiable Fable the panda.  Needless to say, our skits were a hit.

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