Heart of Stone
Recently I was given the opportunity to preach a sermon at a Colombian church in, well, Colombia; South America. The Parents of one of the guys that I mentor asked if I would preach a message during my 2 week visit to their city. I had a few other topics rumbling around my head when the Holy Spirit dropped the phrase “Heart of Stone” into the mix. I was excited about this topic, but I knew what was going to happen. This was going to be another one of those sermons where the Holy Spirit speaks through me and then hangs me up in front of everyone as the poster child for (Insert struggle or sin here). The truth is that I have lived most of my life with a hard heart. So I was well versed with personal experience and lessons learned.
My dad was a devout Christian so when the enemy couldn’t get to him, satan got at my dad by attacking his family. God called me into the ministry at the age of 9. I rejected that call, because I wanted material things that preachers didn’t have. I rejected God’s plan for my life, but I would spend the next 9 years hearing the Word preached in our little Assembly of God church.
As a result of running from God and a lot of misunderstanding between my father and I, I became the Prodigal son. I distance myself from my family, because of my struggles with homosexuality and anger, ran up huge credit card bills, got lost in pornography, masturbation and spent 10 years as an actively gay man. Thought, my life was out of control, I couldn’t turn to the church. Many Christians said that my sin was the worst. I couldn’t turn to God. All throughout my life I prayed constantly for Him to take away my attractions to other guys and he never did. I ran from God for 18 years. With every step my heart grew harder. At age 27 my hardened heart had had enough. I quit my jobs and returned home and to both my earthly father and my heavenly Father. It was December 22, 1998 and I had begun the process of letting God soften my heart.
God used Matthew 27 and the events surrounding Jesus’ tomb as a foundation for this message.
Matthew 27:62 The next day…the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “we remember that while (Jesus) was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come steal the body and tell the people that he has risen from the dead. 65 Pilot Answered “Take a guard. Make the tomb secure…” They went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
Matthew 28:1 After the Sabbath, ad dawn…Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen…
Well revisit that scripture a little later…
If you are an older reader you know I have mentioned this before, but it is worth mentioning again. I was born a very sensitive child. I used to hate how sensitive I was. I would tear up when I was happy, passionate or when I was excited about something new. It was embarrassing. I learned that God had gifted me with a sensitive heart so that I could sense the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sensitive hearts were created for God’s glory. The problem is that sensitive hearts are easily damaged and can be a target for the enemy. A sensitive heart can damaged by a single event, a single person or repeated offenses by the community.
Later in life, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that my tears were my physical, fleshly body’s response to being in the presence of the most High God. My flesh bowed down, even when my heart remained staunch and unwaivering.
My mother was a harsh woman who didn’t know what to do with my sensitive heart. She wasn’t always the safest person to be vulnerable around so when I was around her, I hid my emotions. After many years of stifling my sensitivity, I woke up one day and I was angry at the world and numb.
I continually suffered hurt and abuse. I withdrew from people who hurt me. I stopped trusting them. I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll harden my heart to protect myself from getting further hurt today”, but offenses and wounding over time caused me to build a wall around my heart. As you read this blog, please know that you aren’t simply reading the story of a broken man. God has brought you here on purpose. Listen closely for your story, in mine. Listen for the hope of God that will soften your own Heart of Stone.
Hard heart vs. Sensitive Heart. A hard heart is deaf to the Holy Spirit’s Voice, has troubling trusting God or anyone, is detrimentally self reliant and is full of turmoil. Satanic influence and unchecked turmoil run amuck in the life of a struggler, in my opinion, is a huge, contributing factor to someone taking their life. Whereas the various humanistic organizations around the world would have you believe it’s the fault of the church or Christians. A sensitive heart listens for the Holy Spirit’s Voice, trusts God and as a byproduct of that trusts in others, cares for people and has a peace about it, even as turmoil rages outside.
Some diagnostic questions for you. Is your heart in danger? Have you been wounded? Do you make decisions based on your feelings or God’s will? What do you do with your pain? — Keep it to yourself? Rage against the world? Do you rely on God’s strength or your own? And finally… Are you tired?
Jesus says in Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Do you consider your weaknesses humiliating or a place for God to show his strength? Have you surrounded yourself with bad people or people of faith?
1 Corinthians 15:33 “bad company corrupts good character.”
2 Timothy 4:3 …a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.
I will end, part 1 of this three part series with something my mentor John used to always ask our guys.
“Who knows you well enough, to look you in the eyes and ask you tough questions that make it impossible for your sin to survive another day?”