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What is the Heart?

"Faithfulness expresses itself in words and actions, but its beginning point is always in the heart.” ~ Gary Carpenter; What the Bible Says About the Heart

“For if he can disable or deaden your heart, then he has effectively foiled the plan of God, which was to create a world where love reigns. By taking out your heart, the Enemy takes out you, and you are essential to the Story.” ~ John Eldredge; Waking the Dead

I am curious about the heart. Not the physical one we all have beating inside of us, but the metaphorical heart we talk about. One Friday night, during the time I was the Youth Minister at the Stronghurst Christian Church)while watching the Southern Rebels get killed in football I overheard a conversation next to me: “He is the smallest guy on the field, but he plays with heart.” What do we mean when say things like this? What exactly is our heart?

A phrase I use a lot with in student ministry is: a burning heart moment. I coined this phrase from the account of Jesus appearing to the two disciples traveling to Emmaus. In response to recognizing Jesus it it recorded in Luke 24:32; They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (NIV). Burning heart moments are those moments when we know God has spoken to us. But what does it mean for our hearts to burn? Is it the same as heartburn?

There are two books that have gotten my interest in the heart moving: What the Bible Says About the Heart and Waking the Dead. The heart is an issue that I would like to study and write about. It is a concept that we use a lot, but perhaps we fail to grasp the significance of it.

I am asking for your help on this journey I would like to take. I would like to hear from you on your definition of what the heart is or the answer to this question: What does it mean to have a “heart to heart” talk? I would also appreciate the names of any books dealing with the heart or stories that you think illustrate what the heart is all about. Leave a comment or e-mail me because I would love to read your thoughts.


Jon said…
Awesome. Have you read Eldredge's book Journey of Desire?
Paul said…
Hey Jon,

I have read Journey of Desire. I probably should have just put "John Eldredge's writings" because he deals with the topic alot.

During my one semster in seminary I meant to do my research paper on this topic, but what I discovered is that there is very little about the "new heart." If I wanted to do it on the evilness of man's heart there is a wealth of information about that, but not on the new heart God gives us. That is another reason why I think this is a worth topic to pursue, because most Christ-Followers still don't trust their hearts.
Jon said…
I keep meaning to get back to this, because for us 21st century Christ-followers, there may not be anything more important than this very question.

I'll suggest that a starting point might be to ask "what isn't the heart". Here's my take on the stuff that isn't heart: reason, rationale, critical judgment, strategic thinking, logic, argumentation, discipline, routine, knowledge, practice, structure. Stuff like that is pure "mind". It's very intentional, deliberate, controlled.

It's a slippery conversation, because every fiber of our being wants to engage with those faculties I listed above. They won't work. The heart cannot be evaluated, or described, or comprehended, or understood using those means any more than we can comprehend beauty in that fashion.

We just might need a whole new language and a whole new vocabulary.

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