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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Dean

Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog

There’s one thing we have to get right if we’re going to deal with gunk in our hearts. More on that momentarily.

Deal with Gunk in Your Heart: Learn to Think Biblically

We face a variety of temptations every day and all day. It’s easy to ignore what we might call little sins like impatience, anger, frustration, pride, gossip, etc. But even the little sins are still sin, and they plague us.

At the same time, so often we think or act like certain sins are mere feelings, that they just happen, and that we have no control over them. I might feel unhappy, angry, or anxious, and I might feel as though I can’t help it. I might feel depressed, and I feel I can’t help it.

We think this way because the world thinks this way. The world tells us that depression is a psychological problem to be coped with in one way or another. Some will say you need some non-directive counsel in the form of understanding and affirmation. You might be given some coping techniques that may or may not make you feel better. Others will say you have a chemical imbalance in the brain and what you need is medication. You may have a chemical imbalance, you may not. They don’t know. But they do know that psychotropic medication doesn’t relieve depression symptoms in as many cases as it does, or that in countless instances it makes persons feel worse and is often a catalyst for suicide. Of course, if you’re on medication, don’t stop taking it without your doctor’s supervision. That could be deadly as well. Regardless, there’s something spiritual going on if you’re depressed.

Deal with Gunk in Your Heart: Christ is the Answer

The truth is that we have two kinds of problems: spiritual or physiological. There is no third set of problems the world calls psychological. In fact, we get the word psychology from two Greek words put together. It literally means a word about the soul, or the study of the soul. Who better to deal with the soul than God? Psychological problems are spiritual problems, and in the Scriptures we have everything we need to deal with those problems (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16). And it’s that reality we have to get right if we’re going to deal with gunk in our hearts.

Deal with Gunk in Your Heart: Understand the Real Problem

But what about overlap? Aren’t there things that affect our mood like hormones for example? Yes indeed. A woman’s hormones are out of balance after she’s given birth. A person with diabetes will have sugar and insulin issues. These are physiological dynamics that often affect the spiritual dynamic. We think of mood swings in postpartum mothers and diabetics. However, the anxiety or anger these individuals may experience are not caused by the hormonal issues. The anxiety or anger is already in their hearts. Postpartum conditions and diabetes are like a barking dog outside your window when you’re trying to sleep or a person screaming in your face. They don’t cause your irritation but only stir up the issues already in your heart. Remember, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).

Now, here’s the point. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22). Your postpartum state, your diabetes, or whatever you face cannot keep the Holy Spirit from bearing His fruit in you. The truth is that depression and anger are rooted in faulty thinking: sinful thinking. But the good news is that Christ came to deliver us from our sin. He came to enable us to overcome our sin. In Christ we can have peace and joy (Phil. 4:4; Jn. 16:33).

Deal with Gunk in Your Heart: Fight the Real Battle

You can deal with gunk in your heart. It may not be easy. It may take time. It will take time. It will take effort. You’re in a spiritual battle, and the battlefield is your mind. You have to recognize that, and then you have to decide to fight the battle – long term. You have to constantly make a decision to stop thinking sinful thoughts and replace them with godly thoughts. You do that through the renewing of your mind (Col. 3:8-17). You meditate on God’s word, memorize it, and call it to mind when you are tempted in one way or another. You fight your flesh with God’s word. You fight your sinful inclinations with truth. Let me say it one more time; if you want to deal with gunk in your heart you have to fight. And fight some more. But remember, the battle is the Lord’s and He will give victory (Eph. 6:10-20)..

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Most people live under the grand illusion that we’re uninfluenced by outside ideological forces, that politically active organizations are civic minded, and that our government is basically good and seeks to spread that good across the globe. Most people are like sheep to the slaughter.

Martin Armstrong reminded me of Pol Pot, the brutal dictator and member of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Pot observed that certain tribes there lived on what they produced through subsistence farming and sought to force their lifestyle upon the whole country. His vision, rooted in socialism, led to the confiscation of homes, property, and money. Over two million people died, many of starvation in what can only be described as state sponsored genocide. The human carnage left on the plains of Cambodia in the wake of Pol Pot’s power grab became known as The Killing Fields.

The Bible is clear that human government is about control over people. Socialism is not about economic prosperity or even economic equality; it’s about state power and the wealth of the few who hold that power. Socialism is destructive of freedom, as all worldviews are, with one exception: biblical Christianity.

Armstrong makes a connection between Pol Pot’s driving worldview and the philosophy behind the Climate Change Movement. Many within the movement are seeking to rid the world of modern technology and push it to a simpler lifestyle. The stated rationale is to save the planet. Of course, that’s a fake rationale. The real goal is power. They’re agenda is foisted upon an unsuspecting and uncritical public through fear-mongering and the like. Those activists who unwittingly buy into the propaganda are mere pawns in a larger game.

For example, Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace is now coaching Greta Thunberg, the hysterical, underage climate activist. Thunberg is calling people, among other things, to give up their jobs because of Climate Change. Greenpeace has a checkered past, including violence, and they are merely using Thunberg for the political capital she gains them.

Part of the point is that ideas have massive consequences, and Christians should be aware of that fact. Further, rather than shy away from politics, or focus merely on a few moral issues, believers should also understand that part of our commission to preach the gospel to all the nations involves engaging the nations at a worldview level for God’s glory and their good. The gospel saves, and the implications of the gospel bring blessing to the world. We’re talking about taking every thought captive in obedience to Christ and helping others do the same -- for the advance of the Kingdom. As Abraham Kuyper noted, there’s not one square inch of the universe that doesn’t belong to Christ. We may be sheep to the slaughter because the world hates us. But we must never be sheep to the slaughter because we’re fat and happy grazing in the world’s field oblivious to the wolves circling round about us.

Dr. Dean and Christi Johnson invite you to learn more about God, His world, and yourself. Listen to their podcast, True Worldview, and find other helpful resources there as well.

A group of students at Adelphi University gave up their smartphones for one week in an effort to break them of their near universal addiction. It was an experiment conducted by their professor that yielded some predictable results. The students talked about getting sounder sleep and increased productivity along with improved relations with their friends. They saw the world in a different way than normal; they experienced their surroundings in a way they had not prior to their smartphone fast.

Certainly, smartphones are one way we’re pushing back the fall. God told us before and after the fall to image Him, take dominion over the earth, and create. That’s what He does, and we do the same, although in a different way. We have speed limitations, so we create bicycles, cars, and jets. We have communication limitations so we create mail, telephones, and smartphones. The younger generation has much less appreciation for the astounding things a smartphone can do. I talk to people all over the world, access information all over that same world, conduct business, pay bills, purchase goods and services, listen to music, watch football, trade stocks, read books, power giant televisions and speakers, and so much more.

Of course, smartphones offer certain opportunities for sin in various forms. Smartphones give us great opportunity to waste time, ignore persons with whom we could otherwise be engaged, miss the beautiful diversity of God’s world as it goes by without our notice, and so much more. Bad can turn downright ugly when one uses his smartphone in a voyeuristic, invasive, or combative way. We can fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others in a haughtiness that works both ways. We either gloat over our successes or become jealous of the good fortune of others.

Be Smart with Your Smartphone

The simple fact is that we just need to be smart about our smartphones. Such a statement is no mere piece of practical advice, but rather a principle rooted in the call of God upon our lives. We’re to do all that we do for the glory of God. How we use our smartphones and how much time we give to them matters to God. Here are some foundational precepts that will help us to do that – to be smart for the glory of God.

First, make sure you redeem the time. We need to distinguish between a legitimate use of time vs. an illegitimate. That doesn’t mean we can’t use our device for entertainment some of the time. But it does mean that we can’t use it for entertainment most of time. There are many, many things God has given us to do, and appropriate time must be allocated for each one of them. Think of those things as spokes on a wheel. Each spoke represents something we must do as we live in God’s world. At the center of the wheel is the glory of God. How do I do this thing that I’m doing for God’s glory? That’s your question.

Second, be present when you’re with others. Not only do you miss out on what’s real, or the enrichment of relating to a loved one, but you hurt those you ignore. You say to them your phone is more important. And then when you wake up down the road, whether its weeks, months, or even years, the regret can be overwhelming. God’s grace is sufficient for even that, but you don’t want to miss out on what’s best regardless of how good your web surfing may be.

Third, enjoy God’s world to the max. Don’t miss out on the beach, the mountains, or a sunny day in the park. Don’t miss out on that concert, that evening walk, or the tennis outing with your doubles partners. Don’t miss the fullness of God’s multifaceted, vibrant, and stunning world.

Now, that’s smart.

Dr. Dean and Christi Johnson invite you to learn more about God, His world, and yourself. Listen to their podcast, True Worldview, and find other helpful resources there as well.