Friend, do you know your TRUE heart’s desire? Knowing and fulfilling your heart’s desire can change the direction of your life–from burned out to rest-filled, from down-in-the-dumps to delightful.
Listen to the story of three of my counselees. Notice how different they are. Yet each is making a difference for God’s kingdom. See if your story is similiar.
- Kim teaches Sunday school to preschoolers, showing them the love of God through simple Bible stories, songs, and Jesus “parties.”
- Dora has a decorative flair. She beautifies her church’s worship center, making it inviting to regular attenders and visitors.
- Tanya cleans the homes of elderly folks in need of a helping hand and conversation.
In this brief article you’ll learn:
- why you want to know your heart’s desire.
- 2 quick steps to discovering your heart’s desire.
Why You Want to Know Your Heart’s Desire
You want to know your heart’s desire because. . .this knowledge empowers and energizes you to make a difference in your own life and in other’s lives. Most important, God wants you to know your heart’s desire to honor him. Does this make sense?
When you know your heart’s desire, you are energized to make a difference, honor God, and be happy.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
Sometimes this verse gets mangled. God doesn’t say he’ll give you anything you desire, though at first glance it may sound that way. Reread the verse part of the verse. God gives you the desires of your heart as you submit to Christ.
2 Quick Steps to Discovering your Heart’s Desire
God made you unique. There’s no one on this planet just like you. You have your own DNA, life experiences, upbringing, talents, and spiritual giftedness (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).
QUICK STEP 1:
What propels you out of bed in the morning (other than an amazing cup of coffee)? Are you keen on empowering single moms? Encouraging war veterans? Designing organizational systems? Taking photographs that tell a story?
It may help to jot answers to these questions:
- If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
- What do other Christians say you’re particularly good at?
- Which of the following people groups tug at your heart? The homeless; women who’ve had abortions; impoverished families; couples in healthy marriages; children with learning disabilities; substance abusers; families of prisoners; the elderly; the ill; women (or teens) in emotional pain; gifted children, other: ___________.
Look over your answers. Do you see a theme? Now write down: I believe my heart’s passion may be _____________.
If you’re not sure, this is OK. As you try out your interests, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Let’s go to quick step 2. It’s truth-telling!
QUICK STEP 2:
Did you know that usually people’s heart’s desire comes from their life experience, especially the difficult ones?
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On a 8 1/2 by 11 paper, turned sideways (also called “landscape”), write My Timeline at the top. Then make 3 long, parallel lines. Divide your current age by 3.
On the lines, you’ll record events (happy and sad and disturbing). The top line is for the first third of your life, the second line for the middle third of your life, and the bottom line for the last third of your life. Got it? Good.
Among the events to record are…
- Birth dates
- Death dates
- HS graduation
- Marriages and divorces
- Moves to new locations
- New jobs, lost jobs
- Other important events
Once you finish your timeline, prayerfully review it and notice what tugs at your heart. Perhaps you faced a home foreclosure and have a heart’s desire to minister to the homeless. Or, maybe you desire to write a book on fear or to teach Crown financial budgeting principles to others.
Maybe you lived in a blended family and have a heart’s desire to help second and third marriages stay intact. Or possibly you were a victim of a crime and your heart’s desire is to become a first responder, teach self-defense classes, or lead a Bible study in prisons.
Next, look over your timeline. Why not pray over what you discovered. Then, reread your answers to the questions in Step 1.
Finally, write a preliminary statement: my TRUE heart desire may be: _____________.
Chances are, over time you’ll refine your statement. Here’s mine.
Isn’t it amazing that God often uses your story to foster hope in others?
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When you live your heart’s desire, you help others, avoid burnout, glorify God, and are truly happy.
Do you have questions? Would you like help making your heart’s desire a reality? Then contact me. It’s beautiful to hope.
Counseling Hearts to Hope!
God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).
So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.
Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–
- whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
- therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
- all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
- sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.
Sin of Overeating?
McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”
Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem.
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But overeating does n
ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.
You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.
As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.
Description of a Food Struggle
A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:
My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.
In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.
Overeating Is Not an Addiction
Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.
Overeating Is Idolatry
The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.
You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.
God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change
Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.
Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.
RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
When you embrace the truth of who God is, your burdens lift. . .even in trials. Dr. Donna Hart, PhD, listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here, shares loving truth. Her article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission.
When our burdens seem too heavy a weight to carry, we can be tempted to believe that God has unjustly piled them on us. The heaviness of the burden may lure us toward unbiblical views leading us to distrust his goodness. Then we may feel depressed.
False belief: I should get what I want
One belief we are prone to have is our right to certain things or relationships. We can mistakenly believe we have a “right” to what we want. We fail to realize the truth that it is a blessing to have. It is not a right.
Then anger often emerges, prompting us to doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness. This path of thought will lead us to presume we know better than God. And we will likely try to do things our way.
Do you ever think God is arbitrarily making you miserable? If so, you may base your thinking on persistent feelings of discomfort, rather than upon God’s words of promise. So it’s is no wonder you’re miserable!
Asaph Questions God’s Character
Asaph questions God’s character in a similar way in Psalm 77:7-9:
Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show His favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld His compassion?
Fortunately, Asaph asks his questions from a place of faith in God. Our questions may be like Asaph’s, but they may not be asked from a position of faith.
An unbiblical interpretation of our lives can lead us down a slippery slope of false beliefs, which cause us to become more deeply saddened, thinking the future holds no hope.
False Belief: This world is all there is
Our hearts can start to think this world is all there is and seek only temporal relief rather than longing for his glory. Second Corinthians 4:17-18 says,
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When we continually reject the truth of the Word by believing our own thoughts and emotions about our circumstances, we start to feel guilty. We also assume he has rejected us, leaving us with little hope.
Our hearts often cry out as Asaph did, asking if his will ever return. But we must remember that it is not true that he has forgotten to be gracious or that he has withdrawn his love, leaving us victims.
We must rebuke the lies that cause us to think God is standing with a raised hammer just waiting for the opportunity to lower it on our heads.
Asaph foresaw the inevitable judgment on Israel. In his heart he cries to God as he anticipates the coming misery of the Israelites’ suffering in captivity. He voices his fears but continues to appeal to to God’s divine power to change all that is to come.
False Belief: Trials are bad
The truth is, God ordains our trials to teach us to trust him and to grow our faith. In those trials, we must exercise a strenuous faith and give God glory and honor regardless of the circumstances. Be determined to resist self-focused desires of insisting on comfortable lives with easy answers, and convenient timetables.
As we learn to give God the glory and honor him no matter the circumstances, he will help us to. . .
- make discerning decisions with the right perspective
- grow in our faith
- persevere with joy
Let us learn to not gaze long and hard at our own suffering. Rather, may we stay focused on the promises God has set before us.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Empty nest. Some women expectantly watch their adult children take flight and do life on their own. Other mothers fear their children leaving home. Still others must push them out the door. . .or the millennials may stay, like, forever.
In this two-part series on the empty nest, you’ll discover. . .
- Best way to prepare your empty nest, whether your kids are just out of high school or farther down the road.
- How to adjust and love the empty nest, including finding romance as an empty nester, planning retirement, and welcoming grandbabies.
The Empty Nest Book!
Author Michele Howe has written a book for any parent who finds herself in the midst of an empty nest. Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest tackles the questions moms face, the emotions they encounter, and the changes soon to come. I strongly recommend it and wished I had it when I counseled a 50-something mom I’ll call Mary. See the book on Amazon here.
Mary, whom I counseled by Skype, lived in western United States with her husband and adult son. The son was nearing age 30, had a decent paying job in sales, and hunkered down at home. And he promised to look for an apartment. . .soon. But his empty promise “was just a way to get me off his back,” Mary admitted. “How can I encourage him to face the world, and at the same time, prepare for an empty nest?”
In a friendly, interactive style, Michele shares spiritual wisdom from the likes of seasoned biblical counselor Paul Tripp, take-away action steps, personal stories as well as prayers. Indeed, it is a cross between a devotional and a parenting how-to book.
While an older empty nest-er would find encouragement, hope, and practical ideas in the pages of Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest, it best suits moms who are entering this season of life.
Preparing for the Empty Nest
GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL: Opening with readying high schoolers to leave home (whether for college or work), Michele encourages parents and children to talk about making solid choices, expecting stress and excitement, and relying on Jesus Christ.
Take-away action thought:
BUDGETING: Teaching children — and reminding yourself — to handle money with care and prayer pays off as you enter the empty nest years.
PRAYER: Michele shares how she prays for her adult children.
Today is the only day that I have to get on my knees and express my concern for by beloved children. Tomorrow I may be gone. What better way to demonstrate a robust faith in the God who loves to hear from his children that to offer up heartfelt prayers for our kids?
She also suggests keeping a prayer journal, dating your prayers, and recording God’s answers.
LISTENING IN TOUGH TIMES: Learning to be a good listener strengthens your relationship, especially when your adult children come to you with one of life’s challenges. “We need to patiently listen to them speak,” Michele encourages. “Let’s not interrupt. Let’s not allow ourselves to sink into a fearul abyss because our children are teetering there.”
Instead of choosing fear, choose faith.
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- Remind your children that God has been faithful to your family through the years.
- Champion his character into your kids.
- Comfort your children over and over and over, as God leads.
TRUST THE LORD DAILY: In preparing an empty nest, you may feel undone. Does your wavering faith mean God has changed? No!
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Has he distanced himself from you? No, again. Does it mean you can prepare yourself for new times? Yes!
Take-away Action Thought:
When I feel myself pulling my children too close for their own good, I will ask for the strength to loosen my grip and send them off with a smile of my face and a song in my heart.
In part 2, let’s take a peek at adjusting and loving the empty nest. Feel free to send me your questions.
Until then. . .
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
INSTANT GRATIFICATION: Our instant gratification mindset has snuck into the counseling office, says guest writer Shannon Kay McCoy, a biblical counselor listed on Heart2Heart Counselor Directory here. Often counselees want quick fixes. But Jesus wants something better! Shannon’s article appeared first here and is used with permisison. (Slightly edited for length.)
Instant gratification is not a new phenomenon. However, our expectation of “instant” is now faster than ever.
So how long will you wait for that cute cat video to load? I love cute cat videos, but if the video has not loaded after 10 seconds, I’m out! I move on to another site that has piqued my interest. And when I order something on the internet, if the shipping time is too long, I check to see if it is on Amazon Prime and order it there to get it in 2 days, even though I do not necessarily need it in 2 days.
And do you remember dial-up internet? I won’t even go there.
Instant Gratification Defined
Instant gratification is satisfying a desire immediately, without delay or deferment. It is the opposite of waiting. It is satisfying short-term pleasure instead of enduring the pain of long-term gain. Indeed, instant gratification often manifests as the ultimate in impatience. In fact, it is the difference between those who have the mindset of “strike while the iron is hot” versus “good things come to those who wait.”
Unfortunately, our culture feeds our innate desire for satisfaction now. With the wonderful inventions of computers, smartphones, and tablets, we can connect to anything we could possibly want. And this includes a selection of all types of entertainment on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, a library of eBooks and audiobooks, and real-time local and world news at the touch of a button.
Instant Gratification and Quick Fixes
How does the need for instant gratification affect the counseling ministry? We may now have the dreaded feeling that instant gratification and counseling do not coexist. To be a Christian is to be set apart from a self-centered existence to a Christ-centered existence. We no longer live for ourselves.
Galatians 2:20 states the theme of the Christian life:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The believer’s life is characterized as living by faith in Jesus Christ and not living in the flesh, which craves instant gratification.
Also, Christians often get caught up in the instant gratification mindset in ministry. In the counseling room, the counselee wants a quick fix to a problem and the counselor wants the counselee to change instantly. An instant gratification approach to counseling is detrimental. And just as we demand instant feedback on social media and 2-day shipping, we demand that God fixes the negative circumstances and change people immediately.
If God does not come through fast enough, then we will find another way to resolve the problem—often leading to an even worse situation. The result of such impatience is stress, frustration, anger, fear, discouragement, and despair.
Downside of Instant Gratification
The instant gratification trap causes the counselor and the counselee to abandon the core spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, and fellowshipping with other believers. Prayer is abandoned because it takes too long to see results. Studying the Bible seems pointless when we can Google any question we may have. Fasting seems bad for your health. And fellowshipping is a waste of time when we have other things that need our attention immediately.
Truly, there is no quick fix to counseling a couple whose marriage was damaged by adultery. And one cannot instantly work through the grieving process of losing a loved one. You also cannot say “Stop it!” to someone who is addicted to painkillers. When we try to fix the problem quickly or push for change instantly, then the essence of the Christian life is missed.
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The apostle Paul states the purpose of the Christian life in Philippians 3:10-11:
That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
The goal of counseling is change based on a relationship with Jesus Christ. The pain and suffering of life are meant to develop a greater intimacy with Christ and to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ. The counselor and the counselee also must be reminded of this truth. And we come to know Him better when we wrestle through the trials of life in this fallen world.
In Part 2, I will walk us through the process of delayed gratification.
Questions for Reflection
How is your daily life affected by this instant gratification culture?
Also, is your spiritual life affected by an instant gratification mindset?
And in what way is your ministry/counseling affected by a desire for instant gratification?