The Heart of Stone

Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart.

By Kathy Pollard

I know what a stony heart feels like, don’t you?

  • It’s when I am indifferent to the needs of others.
  • It’s when I am disengaged in worship week after week.
  • It’s when I’ve been involved in sin and my conscience is no longer pricked.
  • It’s when I withhold forgiveness.
  • It’s when I no longer hunger for the Word.
  • It’s when I stop thinking souls.
  • It’s when Calvary doesn’t move me.
  • It’s when my heart has become divided instead of devoted.

It is an unhappy thing when you know your heart has hardened in any of these areas but you lack the desire or discipline to do anything about it.  Perhaps the choices you made over the past year were hard on your heart.  Perhaps you can tell you’ve drifted away from God, or you’ve allowed your connection to your church family to grow cold.  When that happens, it’s easy to become disheartened, discouraged with yourself, or indifferent in your spiritual walk.  Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “What’s the matter with me?  How did I get here?”

Listen to what God said to His people.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

God gave this beautiful promise to people who had misrepresented His holy name.  They weren’t acting like people who belonged to Him.  Those who saw them acknowledged their hypocrisy.  In modern terms they said, “They call themselves ‘Christians’ but they don’t act like it” (v. 20).  Yet God still wanted their heart.  He wanted to redeem them and give them His Spirit (v. 27).

This encourages me.  There are times when my heart problem is obvious to others.  But there are times when only I am aware of the hardening while I continue to go through the motions.  Either way, I can know that God still desires to cleanse me and save me (v. 29, 33).  God is willing to act on my behalf for my good (notice all the “I will” statements He makes in v. 23-38).  This may not be pleasant at first.  It may be in the form of exposed sin or an unhappy trial.  But I can see how necessary it is to shake me out of my complacency.  It reminds me of the song, “Break my heart, dear Lord.”  I am thankful for the opportunities God gives me to soften my heart again.


I Was Such a Taker Yesterday

I felt like I was on the receiving end all day long.  I went to bed last night with a full heart and an overwhelming love and gratitude for God and His family.  Here’s a sample of what I got:

  • A sermon that served as a reminder of God’s merciful grace and His presence in my life.  It seemed tailor-made for me.
  • Lots of warm hugs
  • Some sisters specifically asked how I was doing with my boys leaving home.  They hugged me and told me they were thinking about me.
  • A couple of friends know of a confidential situation that is weighing on me.  They took the time to listen and assured me of their prayers.
  • A new Christian led a public prayer for the first time.  It was heart-felt and beautiful.  I was reminded of God’s power to transform lives.  I was filled with joy and grinned all the way through the prayer.
  • A couple of men responded to the invitation yesterday morning.  Others went up to sit with them on the front row to offer support.  I love that.  It makes me feel good.
  • Last night a godly, faithful widow responded to the invitation.  She mentioned a specific sin she struggled with and asked for forgiveness and help to overcome it.  I was so touched by her humility and courage.  My love and respect for her grew even more.  She went forward to ask for help but I wonder if she knows how much she helped me?
  • The fellowship seemed to linger longer yesterday.  We stood in the parking lot “forever” chatting.  No one seemed in a hurry to head home.  We talked about nothing overly significant…just flowers, school, our kids.  On the way home I told Neal how dear it is to just share LIFE with so many fellow Christians.

The tone of this post is completely self-focused.  And really, I left some things out that I was able to take away from yesterday.  The focus of our coming together to worship shouldn’t be “what can I get out of this?”  “Does it meet my needs?”  We are to gather together to GIVE.  We’re to bring our hearts to God (Matt. 15:8,9).  We’re to bring our sacrificial offering (2 Cor. 9:7).   We’re to encourage and exhort one another (Heb. 10:24,25).  We’re to offer up praise (Acts 2:41-47).  And yet, I couldn’t help but notice all that I GOT.

Yesterday wasn’t an isolated case.  I always “get” when I gather with fellow Christians to worship and learn and grow.  Even though my purpose and focus should be on bringing, giving, and offering, it’s amazing how I can leave with a heart so full of everything I have taken in.  It reminds me of the saying, “You can’t out-give God” (Luke 6:38).

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).



Revive Me, Week 13- Be a Greeter

Revive Me, Week 13– A Year of Growing Stronger in the Lord

Be a Greeter

When you think of your home congregation, what are some words you would use to describe it?

active, warm, loving, sincere, giving, evangelistic


cold, dead, apathetic, stuck in a rut, cliquish


Part of how your home congregation can be described is directly related to your role in that same congregation.  If you are consistently warm and friendly, the congregation is warm and friendly because you help make up the church.  If you keep to yourself or just go through the motions, the congregation does, too, because you help make up the church!

You definitely have an effect on the Lord’s church.  How the church is seen in your community depends on what you do or don’t do every time you meet with the saints.  God can use your efforts to grow His kingdom!

One easy way to make sure you’re doing your part to make the church warm and loving is to be a greeter.  Smile and speak to all who come.  Have you ever visited a congregation and left shaking your head because no one spoke to you?  That should never be said of the Lord’s church!

“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16).

“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (Matt. 5:47).

“Greet” appears 59 times in the New Testament.  It means “to welcome” and also means “to respect; to be happy about; to embrace.”  What an impact we could make if we greeted EVERYONE who comes into the assemblies in that way, visitors and members alike!

“The way we behave toward people indicates what we really believe about God.”  –Unknown

Suggestions for the Week:

  1.  If you have a church directory, go through it and see if there some names you’re not as familiar with.  Jot them down and make a point to have a real conversation with them the next time you see them.
  2. Don’t spend all of your “fellowshipping time” with your familiar friends.  Step out of your comfort zone and use that time instead to grow in your relationships with others.  Look for those who might be overlooked or neglected.
  3.  Spend time in the foyer before and after worship looking for visitors.  Greet them warmly.
  4.  If you struggle with remembering names, don’t hesitate to ask again, write it down, or do whatever it takes to help you.  Calling someone by name the next time you see them makes them feel special.
  5.  Encourage your children to be greeters.  Ask them to go up and talk to three others before they run off to play with their friends.  You can assign different ones each week (senior citizens; teachers; elders; teens, people they don’t know, etc.).
  6. Make a point to speak kindly (sincerely so) to those who are prickly.  You might even surprise them with a hug.  Who knows?  You may be the one who softens them up!
  7. Create a culture of warmth by asking a different person each week to join you in greeting others.




Selfie Sunday

If you’re familiar with Instagram, you may know that there are certain types of pictures you post on certain days.  Sunday is the day you’re supposed to share a picture that you’ve taken of yourself and so it’s called “Selfie Sunday.”  I’m not going to pick on Instagram or make big deal out of that, but I do find it a little ironic that “Selfie Sunday” falls on the Lord’s day.  All Instagram aside, I wonder if we are sometimes guilty of turning the Lord’s day into Selfie Sunday?

  • Am I so distracted by others around me or my own problems that I am disengaged during worship?
  • Do I ever feel like I am checking off my to-do list by putting in one hour of praise?
  • Do I take advantage of all the people I’ll see at worship by trying to promote my business or sell a product?
  • Am I too eager to get on with my day that I skip lingering and fellowshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ?
  • Do I enable my own shyness by refusing to greet visitors or encourage those around me?
  • Once worship is over, do I go about my day without letting the words of the hymns and lessons penetrate my heart?

I enjoy reading about the early 1900’s, and I’ve learned that many Christians back then tried to devote their entire Sundays to God.  Even after worship, they would study their Bibles in their own homes, find a quiet place to meditate, or gather with friends to sing songs.  Doesn’t that sound spiritually refreshing?  Is there anything wrong with watching a game on Sunday afternoon or getting some extra work done?  Of course not.  But I can’t help but think we might have things a little out of balance and that looking for ways to spend more time focusing on our Father and less time on ourselves couldn’t hurt.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness” (Psalm 29:2).

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for giving us a day each week in which we can worship and praise You for Your goodness and holiness.

Photo credit: Mendy Moore



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