Be aware of the elasticity of your heart.
I’ve learned through hard lessons that a stretched heart never returns exactly the same.
The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart.” I think part of the reason is that once the heart stretches, it’s changed. Forever.
Let’s say you had a dream. You pursued it with passion. It didn’t work out. You failed. But in the process you stretched your heart for something new. You’ll have to find yet another dream to fill the void you created by stretching.
You thought you had the job. You were beginning to get excited about it. You even looked at houses in the area. You didn’t get the job. Your heart stretched. You will have to refuel your passion where you are now or you’ll be miserable. Your heart was stretched.
You felt a call to missions at some point in your life, but you ignored it. You’re not serving right now and your heart is empty. Your stretched heart has never been the same.
And it works in other ways too. You looked at things online you shouldn’t have seen. Now you want more. And more. You can’t seem to find satisfaction. You stretched your heart.
Be aware of the elasticity of your heart.
My advice is to find something to fill the new space you have created. You can’t just “get over it”.
You have to fill the void left behind because of the stretching. That may require prayer, discipline, accountability, practice or even counseling. Maybe all of them.
But your stretched heart is too important to ignore.
“Above all else – guard your heart“. (Proverbs 4:23)
Talking about religion and politics can be dangerous among friends. It's doubly so for businesses.That double-edged sword became crystal clear last year after Chick-Fil-A's COO made comments about the chain's opposition to gay marriage. It sparked a massive backlash from the media, gay and lesbian couples, and even the mayor of Boston.
The controversy also helped the company shatter sales records after former Arkansas governor and Fox commentator Mike Huckabee organized a "Chick-Fil-A appreciation day."
Many other big companies in America are also religious, including some that might surprise you.
[Kim Bhasin and Melanie Hicken contributed to an earlier version of this article.]
Chick-fil-A provoked a firestorm of criticism after its COO made comments about gay marriage.
Founded by devout Southern Baptist Truett Cathy in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia, Chick-fil-A has since expanded to become a major American fast-food chain, with more than 1,500 locations in 39 states.
Throughout its success, the company has stuck to its founder's religiously-motivated decision to be closed on Sundays, and has donated significant amounts of money to conservative groups.
The chain's religious bent turned controversial last year after Truet's son and Chick-Fil-A COO Dan Cathy made controversial comments about gay marriage, saying, about the company that "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit"
Forever 21 prints a reference to one of the most oft quoted passages of the New Testament on the bottom of all of its bags.
Purchase a skimpy $15 top or $19 skirt from trendy but budget-conscious clothing retailer Forever 21 and you may notice "John 3:16" printed on your shopping bag.
Printed on the bottom of each of the store's bags, the biblical reference is perhaps the most obvious reference to the religious beliefs promoted by the store's owners, the Chang Family, who are born-again Christians.
Mrs. Chang told Bloomberg Businessweek last year that the store had religious roots, citing that "God told her she should open a store and that she would be successful."
The store provoked criticism in the summer of 2011 when it released a slew of religious-themed tees emblazoned with slogans such as "Jesus ♥ You" and "Holy."
Tyson Foods employs 1290 office chaplains to provide "compassionate pastoral care" to employees
Many customers may not realize it, but Tyson Foods is a very religious company that embraces spirituality in the workplace.
Founder John Tyson speaks openly about his Christian beliefs, and the company's core values say that it "strive(s) to honor God" and "be a faith-friendly company."
Since 2000, the company has employed approximately 120 office chaplains who are there to provide "compassionate pastoral care" to employees, according to Tyson's website.
In-N-Out Burger famously cites Bible passages on its cups, containers, and wrappers.
In-N-Out, the California-based burger chain is beloved for its commitment to fresh ingredients and its secretive "special menu."
It is also well known for the citation of Bible passagesprinted on the chain's cardboard cups, containers and wrappers.
The company does not address religion or the passages on their website. Company spokesman Carl Van Fleet told USA Today in 2005 that the founders' son Richard Snyder instituted the practice. "He told me, 'It's just something I want to do.'"
Alaska Airlines passes along an inspirational notecard with an Old Testament passage with your breakfast.
Fly aboard Alaskan Air and you're likely to get some bible passages along with your in-flight breakfast.
Each breakfast tray comes with an inspirational notecard printed with a passage from the Old Testament, a company tradition dating back several decades.
Salon columnist Patrick Smith took issue with the notecard, and received this message in response from the Seattle-based company:
"The quotes have application across many Judeo-Christian beliefs and are shared as a gesture of thanks which reflect the beliefs of this country's founding as in the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Pledge of Allegiance and every U.S. coin and dollar you handle. Alaska Airlines is an international carrier with very diverse customers, and we have no intentions of offending anyone or their beliefs. An overwhelming majority of our customers have indicated they appreciate the gesture, and those who don't are not forced to read it."
Interstate Batteries includes references to the glory of God alongside its products in its online mission statement.
Interstate Batteries speaks to its own religious identity in its mission statement.
According to the company's website, the mission is "to glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries, related electrical power-source products, and distribution services."
Former Company President Norm Miller was recognized last year by Dallas Baptist University for "his strong Christian leadership at Interstate Batteries as well as in the community."
The Trijicon sight pictured here has a coded reference to Bible verse John 1:7
Weapons-sight maker Trijicon made waves in 2010 when anABC Nightline investigation found that the company had inscribed coded biblical references on high-powered rifle sights used by the U.S. military.
Military officials told ABC they were unaware of the inscriptions, which violated U.S. military rules banning the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Michigan-based company at the time acknowledged the codes and told ABC that the practice started under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.
Hobby Lobby sued the government on religious grounds over being required to provide emergency contraception.
Hobby Lobby, a national chain of roughly 500 arts-and-craft stores in 41 states makes the company's religious beliefs quite clear.
The company's first mission statement is "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles," according to its website, and ends with, "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future."
Since 1997, the company has run full-page religious ads in every newspaper in which they advertise for holidays including Easter and Christmas.
The company unsuccessfully sued the government over a government mandate requiring that they cover emergency contraception for employees due to the founder's religious beliefs.
ServiceMaster's core commitment is to "honor God in all we do."
ServiceMaster may not be a household name, but several of its brands — which include Merry Maids, Terminix and American Home Shield — are.
Former Minor League Baseball player Marion E. Wade founded the company in 1929 and worked to incorporate his "strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did,"according to the Service Master website.
This translated into the company's "foundational commitment" to "Honor God in all we do."
Mary Kay founder Mary Kay Ash attributed her success to her company's commitment to God.
In a 1997 interview Mary Kay Ash, founder of the cosmetics behemoth of the same name,attributed her company's success to the choice to "take God as our partner."
She expounded on these views in her biography, "Mary Kay: You Can Have it All," where she stated, "God has blessed us because our motivation is right. He knows I want women to be the beautiful creatures he created.''
The religious bent has caused controversy from some of the company's salespeople, who have said it promotes a cult-like environment.
Texas based grocery chain H.E.B's Vice Chairman runs a Christian retreat center.
H.E.B., a grocery-store chain with hundreds of stores in Texas and Mexico, grew from a single-family owned store opened by Florence Butt in Kerrville, Texas in 1905.
Company Vice Chairman Howard E. Butt Jr. is also a self-described "spiritual reformer," who joined with Rev. Billy Graham in the 1950s to create "spiritual programs for business professionals." He left his full time role at the company to become a preacher at Graham's advice, and now oversees the administration of "Laity Lodge," a Christian retreat center in Texas.
H.E.B. stores used to be closed on Sundays and prohibit the sale of alcohol until 1976, when a new president changed the rules.
Curves founder Gary Heavin is an outspoken Christian and supporter of conservative and religious causes.
Curves gyms are nationally known for creating a men-free environment where women of all shapes and sizes can work out.
It's lesser known that the company's founder Gary Heavin, is a born-again Christian who has garnered criticism for conservative political views and donating to anti-abortion causes, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle profile.
Heavin acknowledged there has been some business "fallout" from his views, which prompted some members to cancel memberships.
The founder Tom's of Maine is a Harvard Divinity school graduate who emphasizes his faith in his business.
Tom's of Maine, a natural products retailer best known for its toothpaste, is not that outwardly religious. But its founder Tom Chappell is an active Episcopalian, who graduated from Harvard Divinity School.
Chappell discusses his path from divinity school to business CEO in his book, " The Soul of a Business: Managing for Profit and the Common Good." While at the school, a professor recommended that he treat his business like a ministry, so that's what he did.
It has worked its way into Tom's mission statement, which says it exists, in part, "To help create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."
Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz says his Jewish faith motivated him to sever ties with a Chinese factory.
Timblerland CEO Jeff Swartz is well-known for his commitment to promoting corporate social responsibility.
For example, Swartz moved to sever the company's ties with a Chinese factory where human rights violations were allegedly occurring despite the fact that it took a hit to the shoe making company's bottom line. Swartz attributed his motivation to his own personal Jewish faith in a 2008 Fast Company profile.
"I can't show you the scripture that relates to the rights of a worker, but I can show you text that insists upon treating others with dignity," he said. "It says in the Hebrew Bible one time that you should love your neighbor as yourself, but it says dozens of times that you shall treat the stranger with dignity."
Meetings at fast food chain Carl's Jr's start with the Pledge Of Allegiance and a prayer.Carl Karcher, who founded the company, was a committed Catholic who funded Catholic charities, and started a tradition of saying the Pledge of Allegiance and having a prayer before meetings that persists to this day, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
The company's current CEO, Andy Puzder, was a close friend of the deceased Karcher, and shares the same religious convictions according to The Orange County Register.
Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) owns The Los Angeles Galaxy and a variety of other companies. Its founder Phil Anschutz is a prominent Christian activist.
Phil Anschutz owns a massive array of businesses, ranging from sports teams like the LA Galaxy, to the oil companies that originally made his family's fortune, and the Coachella music festival.
Anschutz is a large conservative donor whose political and religious leanings make it through to his businesses. He's the owner of conservative publications The Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard, and has funded family friendly and Christian leaning films like The Chronicles Of Narnia.
He's supported controversial legislation, like Colorado's Amendment 2, which reduced gay rights protections and was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court.
.At times the Truth can hurt our feelings. It can challenge everything we have come to believe. It can alter your life in some powerful ways. The question is, "Is it worth it?"
Once you have seen that something in your life has not aligned with the truth of something, you either have to change or continue to live a lie and live in the bondage of that lie and pay the consequences of it.
If I were to believe that the speed limit on a certain highway is 75 miles per hour but the Truth is that it is only 60 miles per hour and I continue to drive at that speed, at some point there are going to be consequences, especially if I am ignoring the Truth of the posted signs, right?
You see, Truth brings Freedom, especially when it is the Truth of God's Word to us. When scripture penetrates our way of thinking and the beliefs that we have structured our lives around, we have to either choose to allow the Truth to change who we are and what we have become or remain a servant to the lie.
Scripture has a powerful way to influence our lives, if we choose to live by it's standards and principles.
As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:30–36)
If the opposite is bondage and slavery, no one wants that. You may be enslaved to some habits that are very pleasurable, and in that sense love your slavery. But when you step back from the pleasures and consider happiness without that slavery, you would like to be done with bondage. You would like to be happy in freedom, not a slave to pleasant addictions. We all want to be free.
And in John 8:36, Jesus says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” That is what we are after. “Free indeed.” Really free. Freedom in its deepest and fullest meaning. Jesus offers us that this morning. This is Easter. The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He is alive. He is not mere memory. A mere historical figure like Caesar or Shakespeare or John Kennedy. He is back from the dead with a new glorious body. He is alive and reigning as the King of the universe, and he is making this offer of real freedom to all of us today.
To be fully free, we must have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make us happy forever. No regrets. And only Jesus, the Son of God who died and rose for us, can make that possible. If the Son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed. To be happy forever, our sins must be forgiven and God’s wrath removed and Christ must become our supreme Treasure. Only Jesus can do that. In fact, he has already done it. He died for our sins. He absorbed God’s wrath. And he rose from the dead and is today therefore supremely precious. And he offers us that now as a free gift.
Let me draw a picture of this freedom to see if I can make it as clear as possible.
A Picture of FreedomLet’s take skydiving, for example. What you want is to experience the fullest possible exhilaration of freedom in skydiving. Let’s suppose then that you are on your way to the airport to go up for your first real jump, but your car hits a pothole on Hiawatha Avenue, you have a blowout, and run into a telephone pole. You are no longer free to jump, whether you have the ability or not, because the opportunity passes while you wait for the tow truck. You lack the freedom of opportunity.
Or suppose you do make it to the airport, but it turns out that you skipped all the classes and don’t know the first thing about skydiving. You lack the most basic abilities — like how to operate the parachute. The opportunity is there, but you don’t have the freedom of ability. They’re not going to let you jump.
But suppose that you make it to the airport, you went to all the classes, and have all the abilities needed. You take off in the little plane, but as soon they open the door and you look down, all your desire vanishes and in its place comes a paralyzing fear. The opportunity is there, the ability is there, but you don’t have the freedom of desire.
But there is one last requirement for full freedom. Suppose you get to the airport with no obstacle (you have the freedom of opportunity); you have all the know-how necessary (you have the freedom of ability); you look out the door at the tiny clusters of silos and barns and farmhouses a few miles down, and just can’t wait to jump (you have the freedom of desire). So you jump.
“In order to be fully free — free indeed — the Son of God must set you free.”
And as you free fall, enjoying every second of it, unknown to you, your parachute is defective and is not going to open no matter what you do. Are you free — fully free, free indeed?
No. What you are doing so happily and so freely is going to kill you. Even though you don’t know it yet, you are in bondage to destruction. It feels like freedom. But very soon the whole thing — all the exhilaration — will prove to be an illusion. In thirty seconds you’ll be dead.
Dying and Rising to Make You Free IndeedWe have no man made parachute. We have a Savior. Because he died for us, there is no condemnation. The inexorable, deadly, gravitational pull of our sins is broken. He has caught us in mid-fall and has become our supreme Treasure. Our destiny and our desires are new. He is their source, and he is their content. He gave us the new desire, and he is the new desire. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Is it not then utterly foolish for a Christian to envy the so-called freedom of those who pitch themselves out the skyscraper window of sin and exult for a season in the exhilaration of free-fall greed, or free-fall drugs or free-fall fame, or free-fall sex, or free-fall power, or free-fall luxury oblivious of Jesus. All this freedom is like a vapor, but those who trust in Jesus, and treasure him above all, will mount up with wings like eagles, and be glad — a thousand years from now. They will be free indeed.
Jesus is not just giving you information in this message. He is giving you an invitation. Trust him. Treasure him. He died and he rose again to make you free indeed.
OUR CHRISTIAN FOUNDING