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Remember the value of heart connection with God and guard it because your life depends on it

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brian CarmackProverbs 4:23 (New Living Translation) "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

Fed Ex did an ad; it's the closing scene of the movie "Cast Away." A delivery man with a scraggly beard rings the doorbell. A lady answers. He hands her the Fed Ex box that looks like it's been through a typhoon and says, "Hi, I was marooned on an island for five years with this package, and I swore that I would deliver it to you because I work for Fed Ex." She receives the box with a simple, "That's very admirable, thank you." Before turning to leave, he says, "By the way, what's in the package?" She responds, "Nothing really, just a satellite phone, a GPS locator, fishing rod, water purifier and a packet of seeds..."

Just like this Fed Ex employee guarded the package for five years, we too are told in Proverbs 4 to "Guard your heart…" Why? And how?

According to this scripture, the heart is what determines the course of your life. The Bible also tells us it is the center of spiritual activity. It's the seat of the conscience. It's our character. It's our connection with God.

Obviously, the Fed Ex package contained much of what the man needed to survive and could have cut shorter his time stranded on the island. Unfortunately, he didn't know the value of the contents. Much like being stranded, stress is something we must deal with on a daily basis. If not kept in check, the extremes of stress can maroon us on an island of physical and emotional issues.

Jessie Shaw of "Newsweek" says the following concerning stress: "It is exceedingly clear that the chronic stress of 21st century living is not a mere inconvenience, but a major problem that needs to be recognized and treated seriously. Unless we as a society learn to slow down, breathe, examine our values and change our hectic lifestyles, we will continue to suffer from cardiovascular disease, immune deficiencies, depression and a host of other illnesses.  Further, we will pass these traits and poor coping skills to our children who could experience even greater suffering given their exposure to severe stress from the first days of life."

How do we cope? How do we overcome? Much like the Fed Ex employee who didn't open the box and use the satellite phone, I too fail to acknowledge that within my own heart is the opportunity to connect with the greatest rescue team in the universe: God the Father, The Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:6-7 "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

We need to open the heart, connect daily with the God who can save, heal, deliver, and give comfort and direction. If you haven't today, take a moment to pray, reach Heavenward, and see what a connection with God can bring.

My second point is, the heart needs protection. In order for the heart to connect well with God, there needs to be a filtering of what it contains. Our vacuum was plugged in and running, but it wasn't picking up the crumbs on the carpet. I opened up the filtering system and realized it was completely clogged. After removing the dirt, hair, etc., I turned it back on and the crumbs came up quickly. 

The heart needs to be protected. Much like the Fed Ex employee protected the box for five years, we too need to show due diligence in guarding the heart God gave us. 

2 Timothy 2:22: "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

It could be a movie that is full of images leaves me feeling dirty. It could be a thought process that distracts me from a loving relationship with God. A heart that is "clogged" with the things of this world will diminish our focus on God and make it much harder to hear God speak. If not protected, the heart can become callous and apathetic toward anything that relates to knowing Him.  

Don't be marooned in stress. Filter out what destroys your faith. Remember the value of heart connection with God and guard it; your life depends on it.

Brian Carmack serves as Lead Pastor at Eastside Church in Prineville. If you have questions or comments, he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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