As we continue to talk about our engine, it will be helpful to talk further about how we protect it. The truck has an array of gauges that help monitor the engine and other vital functions of the truck. From the driver seat I can see the temperature of my engine, exhaust, transmission and the front and rear differentials. I can monitor air pressure, fuel levels, speed, engine RPM’s and more. The purpose is to give the driver a clear picture of how the various systems are doing and be able to detect any malfunctioning before things get serious.
In order to access the power of the engine we must be careful about what goes into it. Fuel turning to gel, in seriously cold weather, is only one way for the engine to unexpectedly shut down. Bad fuel containing water or impurities can also shut us down. Therefore, the truck has a series of fuel filters to make sure there are no impurities getting into the engine. If we ignore the condition of the filters, these impurities will also shut us down.
The gauges give us a baseline of proper readings when everything is functioning well. The driver must remember where the “normal” readings are so he or she will know when things are getting out of whack. Many times, I would notice what I thought to be an abnormal reading on a gauge only to realize I had forgotten where the “normal” operating range was for that particular function. It made it harder to know if something was a little out of whack or a whole lot out of whack.
While my pick-up truck has a number of gauges, on a recent trip, I experienced the dreaded “Check engine” light. This light tells you that one or more of about sixteen thousand things is wrong but won’t tell you exactly what. Take me to your dealer.
I refer once again to King Solomon’s admonition in Proverbs 4:23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Solomon is saying that everything we do in life flows out of our heart so its condition is of utmost importance. We need to be very careful then about what is flowing into our heart. When we are taking on “bad fuel” we will eventually shut down. Therefore, God has equipped us with a spiritual “check engine” light.
Probably the number one illuminator of the check engine light in the lives of many men (myself included) is anger. We often have no idea where it comes from and tend to believe it’s rooted in the behavior of another or in some circumstance that has occurred.
However, the reality is that people or circumstances don’t have the power or ability to make us angry. Only we can give ourselves over to anger - but anger isn’t the primary issue. So, the “check engine” light is there to tell us to go deeper. The diagnosis is below the surface.
Jesus taught that, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
The angry language, is simply the indicator that underneath, something else is lurking. The question needs to be asked, “What is fueling the language?” Bitterness, anger, unforgiveness? As Jesus pointed out, if anger is what is flowing from our mouth, it’s because anger is ruling in our heart. Ouch. People and circumstances don’t make us angry – they simply reveal our anger.
Our ultimate diagnostic tool is the Word of God which is given to us to “Judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)
So, in the case of anger we read,
Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. (Psalm 4:4 NASB)
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9 NASB)
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:19-20 NLT)
Reading the Word of God is a non-negotiable for the Christian. Ninety-five percent of God’s leading for us is through His Word. It is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)
Men, the bottom line, is this. If you aren’t a student of the Word, you will never grow in your faith and you will never become a student of your own heart. In this case, ignorance is NOT bliss, it is spiritual suicide.
There are other issues at work as well that will also cause our “engine” to get clogged and eventually shut down. To get the best results our heart can offer, we must maintain a clear connection to Jesus and His word. Many destructive outside influences await the man who lives far from his heart. Things such as what we watch, what we listen to, who we spend our time with, and where and how we spend our money, to name a few.
The good news is that God is always available to help cleanse our heart, stand us back up and help us get running again!
Here are three main diagnostic tools that Jesus offers us:
The Spirit of God. First and foremost, God gives us Himself. Have you prayed about what’s going on? Have you written about it and sat quietly before Him? God is always wanting to speak to us – Do we take the time to listen?
The Word of God. Probably 95% of what God wants to tell us is already written. Being a student of His word will reveal most answers and confirm what God is telling you in your prayer time. “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11)
The family of God. A tribe – every man needs one. This is not optional. We all need a few trusted friends to whom we have given permission to speak truth into our lives. We can let a few guys speak hard things to us when we know that they are for us. Consider it, “therapeutic wounding.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Proverbs 27:6)
These are our God-given diagnostic tools – The Spirit of God, the Word of God and the family of God.
Is your “check engine” light on?
Don’t make it mysterious – Use your God-given diagnostics, take some time and figure it out. The road ahead is a long one. Do whatever it takes to avoid that unexpected shut down.
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