The Heart-Mouth Highway

I love the old spiritual, the “Dry Bones” Song. You remember — “Toe bone connected to the foot bone, foot bone connected to the heel bone, heel bone connected to the ankle bone, ankle bone connected to the shin bone, now hear the Word of the Lord.” (click to hear)

When I sing it to myself, I like to mix up the bones and even add a few. “The head bone’s connected to the knee bone, and the knee bone’s connected to the ear bone.” Or something like that.

If you want your skeleton to work right, though, the correct bone has to be connected to its corresponding bone.

Bone Surgery

There is a surprising connection that often determines how well our life works: the heart bone connects to the mouth bone.

Now at first glance that seems weird, but I didn’t make it up. Check out God’s x-ray:

“… For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 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. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matt. 12:34-37, NLT)

So, remember this: If you question if someone is good or bad, study the fruit of his life. Listen to what comes out of the mouth—yours and others. It’s the best sign of what is in the heart. The heart is KEY!

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (Proverbs 4, ESV)

If the motor of your car spits, sputters, and pops, you need to head for the mechanic. You hear what’s going on in the motor.

It’s the same with our heart. We constantly do a “mouth check” because it reveals what is in our heart. When we’re humming along with praise, encouragement, and faith-filled self talk, we’re getting about 50 miles per gallon.

But, if negativity, doubt, criticism, judgement and vulgarity typify our words, we better stop and peek under the hood. Something is wrong.

I Say What I Think

A lady in a church far away once told me, “I’m just a country girl. I say what I think.” I concluded that is okay if what you think is worth saying. In her case, a lot of things that came out of her mouth caused confusion, hurt, and division.

Let’s try this for a day. Keep a diary of what you say (or what you would say if you weren’t keeping track of it and planning to study the results.)

Are you speaking well of others? Are you expressing faith or doubt? Do you praise God often during the day? Speak up for the Lord? Do your words encourage or discourage? Unite or divide? Any curses?

Do you discourage yourself with all your “poor mouthing” about yourself?

Is your mouth the exit point for a lot of “everything is going to the dogs,” “that fellow is just sorry, there’s no hope for him.” Are you “trash talking” or praising and lifting others with the product of your heart coming out of your mouth?

Do you speak in faith and give God the glory or do you whine like you didn’t have a powerful, living God?

Do the words you hear coming out of your own mouth encourage you or discourage you?

If the product is nasty, bring your heart before God and ask Him to cleanse it, to give it faith and courage, to fill it with patience for others and yourself.

“Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk around,” says the old spiritual. And strangely, the heart bone’s connected to the mouth bone and when the connection functions the way it should, you don’t walk. You run!

illustration: dall-e


Let God Top You Off

I’ve got a theory: when you look for a good breakfast restaurant, don’t consider the building’s exterior. No, you count the number of pickup trucks in the parking lot, then you go inside and see how many old fellows with big bellies and baseball caps are telling tall tales.

If there are a lot of both, chances are you’re on to something good.

Another feature of good breakfast places is friendly waitresses who talk loudly, call you “honey,” and keep your cup of coffee topped off. Empty coffee cups are a “no-no” in a good breakfast place.

I think the Lrd has a lot in common with a waitress in a good breakfast restaurant (though I have my doubts if he calls us “honey.”) I’ll tell you why.

God Tops Them Off

In Acts 4:31, we see the infant Church in a tough spot. God healed a lame man who started walking, leaping and praising God. It was a busy time at the temple, so a crowd ran together. I imagine that thousands of them had seen this man begging at one of the temple entrances over the years.

Now, wow! What had happened?

They started praising God. Most of them, anyway. Some felt this miracle put their leadership and their doctrines in an unpleasant light. Peter and John, God’s instruments of healing in this case, ended up facing some hostile religious bigwigs.

“By what power or by what name did you do this?” they said, figuring their position and power would intimidate these simple men. Peter and John had a secret weapon, though—God’s Spirit filled them. We saw it happen to them and many others in Acts 2 and here the power of the Spirit shows up in them just as when the lame man was healed.

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them …” (Acts 4:8, ESV)

They had been filled with the Spirit in Acts 2, but here God “topped it off” like our friendly waitress tops off my coffee cup and they boldly spoke the truth to the pompous leaders.

Their boldness alarmed the leadership council, and they warned them to be silent. They left with the threats of what would happen to them if they kept speaking of Jesus ringing in their ears.

You know how well that worked.

The Place Shakes

So, the two disciples hurried to the brothers and sisters and tell them what had happened. It’s one thing when you face a battle and you stand, topped off with the Holy Spirit. But now the adrenaline of the moment has worn off and the council’s threats stirred the whole church. They needed help.

Look at their prayer. (Acts. 4:24-29). I would have prayed for protection. Not them. They prayed for boldness, and more healings and signs from heaven to affirm that their message was true.

It’s logical, isn’t it? Winning armies don’t simply ask for places to hide. They go on the offensive. These “crazy” folks ask God to do the same things through them that had gotten them into trouble.

And God answered! The place shook, and the Spirit filled them anew. I don’t think the Lord just topped them off. He filled them to overflowing … again!

Topped Off And Overflowing With the Lord

Maybe that’s the problem with us today. God’s Spirit fills us, but instead of getting “topped off” when the enemy challenges us, we depend on our own devices. Christians hide in church. The ballot box promises to help us vote the baddies out. We cower. Or we do nothing and simply live for ourselves.

These Christians knelt together and asked for boldness. Persecuted people asked for God to keep showing up. They announced the Good News of Jesus’ salvation.

And God topped them off. The result of God’s filling is boldness to speak for Jesus. “Top us off, Lord, until we overflow! Please!”

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31, ESV)

Seek Him Shouting

We don’t to sport a face that makes people think the pastor baptized us in lemon juice when we seek the Lord.

Here’s a question: could the “normal” way of seeking the Lord for those who love Him be with thanksgiving, joy, and gladness?

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Ps. 105:3, ESV

Only to sit and think of God,

Oh, what joy it is!

To think the thought, to breathe the Name,

Earth has no higher bliss!

F.W. Faber

What if Psalm 100 were the basis of our relationship with God instead of the sourpuss attitudes we often live with?

Read Psalm 100 song and pay attention to the verbs that power us into God’s presence as we pray it:

“Make, serve, know, come, enter, give.”

Make a joyful noise to the Lord? If there’s one thing mamas don’t want their kids doing in church, it’s making noise! Here we’re commanded to make a joyful noise to the Lord as we go into His presence.

I suspect God likes it. Have you ever walked by a sports stadium when noise thunders to the skies and the stadium shakes? The home team scored!

Hey, the home team scored! Let’s celebrate! God is God. He made us and takes care of us. He’s good. His love and faithfulness never quit! (100:3, 5) His goodness and mercy pursue us like a couple of baying hounds nipping at the heels of their prey (Psalm 23:6).

Makes you want to make some cheerful noises when you realize that.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into His presence with singing. (100:2) If one word could describe your relationship with God, what would it be? “Plodder? Smiler? Rejoicer? Dutiful? Or…?”

Lord, forgive me that gladness hasn’t always characterized me. I’m more of a plodder, a ‘do-my-duty’-er.

Sing, David, sing!

God is a singing God who loves beautiful melodies and happy hearts singing and expressing joy. And why not, sadness?

 Three Things We Need To Know (100:3)

Know that the Lord, he is God!

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (100:3, ESV)

The Lord is God, not you, not me, not the government. The enemy isn’t God. God is God. He’s the Source of our existence, the Eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God. He is love, hope and so much more. I’m not God, but the One Who is, is on my side. He’s for me.

We are His, not our own. We don’t exist of ourselves. Humanism tries to take back ownership from God. It’s an old lie. Underlying its claims is the idea that we know what makes us happy and fulfilled better than our Maker. We scream for our rights. I’m not my own. My body belongs to God, along with my soul and spirit. That’s not slavery. That’s a committed relationship. Not only am I 100% His, He is 100% mine.

If I rebel, I don’t have the same relationship with Him. I’m a rebel instead of a son.

We’re His people. The sheep of his pasture. Those who don’t hang around sheep, are probably saying, “Ooooh, how sweet.” Yeah… Is there anything dumber or more helpless than a sheep? Smelly, good to eat and good for wool. That’s about it. That makes one of them a tiny bit more valuable than a chicken, huh?

But a good shepherd has a committed relationship with these sheep. They are incapable, but he is more than capable. He takes care of them. Be thankful. This universe is a tough place. We’re about as capable of taking care of ourselves and providing for ourselves as a sheep. Yet God looks after us and helps us.

Come into His presence thanking, praising and blessing His name. Eugene Peterson puts it like this:

“Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’

“Make yourselves at home, talking praise.

“Thank him. Worship him.”

(Ps. 100:4, The Message)

 Why are we thanking and praising Him?

God is good. He saved me and gave me a wonderful family. Health has been His gift to me as well.

 God loves me and cares about me. My life is important to Him. He loved me before I was born and He will love me forever.

 God has always been faithful to me. He’s done what He said He would do and never let me down. He is faithful. Faithful and True is His name!

 And there is a reward for seeking the Lord like this: “So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. And he gave them the lands of the nations…” (Ps. 105:43, 44 ESV)

 Claim the inheritance that God has given His people. Seek Him with joy. Obey Him and see His mighty hand in action for you.


Hmmm …

What the wicked dread will overtake him: what the righteous desire will be granted. Proverbs 10:22

Are you a “dread-er” or are a “desire-er?” God I don’t want to dread, I want to desire.  When dread is larger than desire we are paralyzed and don’t move towards desire. We stop and what we’re afraid of catches up to us to devour us. When we move towards godly desire, dread can’t catch us.

A Healing To See God’s Glory

Here’s a guest post from a friend, Melanie Clark. She tells us how God intervened in a special way by healing her eye.

I am thankful that I could see the beauty in the places we went. (During a recent family vacation).

Nearly 8 years ago, I woke up to a red spot in the middle of my vision of my right eye. It got bigger, and everything started turning black. My eye doctor got me in immediately, and took a 3D scan of my eyeball, which showed bleeding into the retina. He immediately was able to get me an emergency appointment with a retinal specialist at Mercy (hospital), and I had hours of testing, an angiogram, all kinds of fun things. They determined macular hemorrhage – a blood vessel in the macula of my eyeball had burst.

While I was there, an older lady was told she was permanently losing her vision, and there was no cure. Her cries were heart-rendering, and I kept getting teary-eyed thinking about the possibility that I would no longer see my kids’ faces. How I cried out to God desperately to let me have sight, so I could watch my kids grow up.

My life group prayed earnestly with us, and God provided the miracle. The bleeding stopped, and the only damage was a slight squiggle in the center of my vision when I am looking at a computer screen.

A year after that, at my annual eye appointment, my doctor told me how lucky I was to have my vision. He told me another patient had the same exact thing, and permanently lost her vision, and the bleeding was starting in the other eye, too. Since then, I have heard of others who also lost vision.

God has not always answered all of my prayers. I have not always seen miracles. But this one is so precious to me. I thank God for my sight, to stare at my kids until they tell me to quit, to see the beauty of creation, and to give glory to God that something that we often take for granted, like being able to see, is something I can rejoice over on a daily basis.

Let God Redeem Your Hurt

My oldest son, Steve’s first teaching job was at a school for abused children. Leadership told him, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Some of these abused children grow up to be abusers themselves.

Trying to save a drowning person could get you drowned.

We’re often dangerous to others when we are hurting. You men, when your wife is pregnant, agree with her. She’s dangerous. If she says 2 + 2 equals 10, you reply, “I always thought that.”

Don’t tease her about her weight or how she walks. If you do, you deserve what happens to you.

Agree with her. She is right. Always!

Everyone Deals With Hurt

Every one of us has been hurt. No exceptions. How you react to that hurt or brokenness determines a large part of the quality of the life in our heart and between our ears.

I don’t think the goal for those who love Jesus should simply be healing from hurt. We need to live from a place of redeemed brokenness. Are you living out of your pain or God’s work in that pain, redeeming it and changing it into a vessel of blessing?

When you live out of your unhealed hurt there is:

–A constant low-level pain. We can’t forget what happened and it eats at us. We lash out to protect ourselves or to get even. The people we strike at aren’t usually the people who hurt us. Anger!

–Constantly a “limp”, not from a healed wound but a hurting wound. When I was a kid I stepped on a thorn and pulled it out. I thought. The foot remained sore and got infected. Finally mama “operated” and found the head of the thorn still in the foot. When it came out I got well.

–Our vision of the future is colored/compromised by the past and our thoughts are constantly drawn behind us instead of living in the moment and hope of the future. If we’re not careful our hurt becomes our identity and without it we don’t really have a reason for living. It we’ve suffered a great loss, a period of mourning is natural and healthy. But one day we begin to live again. There will always be a scar but scars are healed hurts.

It’s different when God touches you life and you begin to live out of “healed hurt”:

–There is understanding. “I’ve been there. I’ve hurt like that. Still do sometimes.” I can minister by identifying. The word compassion comes from Latin. It means to “suffer with.” A healed hurt gives you the ability to understand and identify with another’s suffering.

–There is power. I believe God’s power that healed us stays with us and we can use it to heal others, especially those who go through what we are going through. I went through a terrible experience when I was a teenager. More than once as a pastor, I’ve listened to people tell me about going through the same experience. I was able to counsel with the word that God gave me and pray with real fervor because I felt their pain. There is connection.

–I think this hurt is parallel to the Cross. Jesus identifies with us because He was there. I felt He spoke to me once from Isaiah 53 and said that when I hurt He felt the very same pain that I feel. He carried our sins, sorrows, afflictions, sicknesses and pains on the cross. Tell Him about yours. He already carried it for you. He knows.

No Excuse For Hurting Others.

Your pain might be the reason you hurt others but there is no excuse for hurting others. Get help. Get healed.

How do you get healed? (Easier said than done, huh?)

–We admit we need healing. Doctors can help those who don’t come to them.

–You come to the Lord Jesus. You let Him redeem your heart and life. He heals, not only from sin but also sickness, doubt, pain. It starts here.

–There is power in the “cross process.” (Eph. 1:19) I’m not against psychology and counseling at all but there is a limit. With the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus working in our life there is no limit to the healing and redemption of our hurts.

–Every day we look into His glory. ( 2 Cor. 3:18). He changes us daily. Sanctification should be in process for everyone of us.

–We use the healing processes He put in place. We find a Christian friend to talk with, a mature Christian to talk with, even a professional to talk with, especially if this counselor is a Christian.

–We become a channel of healing to others. It’s so easy to spend our lives gazing at our belly button. “Poor me.” Do something! Quit griping. Quit waiting for someone to choose you for something great. Choose yourself. Do something! God’s Spirit has already chosen you.

–We get in his Word and prayer. You might respond, “I don’t have time to pray or read the Word.” You know what? I walked 500 miles. That’s the equivalent of walking from Springfield, MO. to Chicago, IL. Did I mention that I didn’t do that in one day? It was usually about 2 ½ miles four or five days per week for a year.

If you read the Bible 10 minutes a day each day of the year you will have spent 60 hours in the Word! 60 hours! Same for prayer. I call it the ten-minute revival. Anyone who doesn’t have 10 minutes (or two times ten minutes) is WAY too busy and will probably soon drop dead from a heart attack.

If we feel it’s important we will do it, won’t we? And if it’s not important, we’ll just surf the Internet some more or binge watch something ignorant.

Let’s get before God, let Him heal our hurts and them let Him redeem those scars so that they are a blessing to others.

Hmmm …

“The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” A. W. Tozer