If you want your car to run right, you’ve got to put the right stuff in it.
Once we were invited to eat with some church members in Paris. Before we arrived I decided I needed to put some fuel in the van. We were replacing a friend for a short time as pastor, living in his house, driving his cars. One of his vehicles used diesel, the other regular gasoline. I really thought I had paid attention and put in diesel. I only added about 20 euros because in Paris it’s more expensive than in the suburbs where we lived. About a minute after we left the pump, the motor started to cough. ‘What is this?” I thought. ‘Cough, cough, wheeeze!” I pumped and cajoled and prayed. The motor would almost die, then catch up and run. Diesel engines don’t perform well on regular gasoline. I hoped I could coax it to our lunch engagement and the friend would help me get things straightened out. Getting there posed a major problem, though, because the motor was running like an emphysema patient with a fuming cigarette in each corner of his mouth. I coaxed and prayed and sweated as we puttered forward towards the goal. Suddenly we approached a community auditorium and there were hundreds or thousands (or why not millions) of cars trying to turn, pass, leave, park, etc. Fearseized my heart. ‘If the car conks out here, there’s going to be a lot of mad people,” I thought. A harried police lady waved at me. ‘C’mon! Move it! Move it! Move it!” (Actually she said, ‘Allez, allez, allez!” ) ‘I’m trying, I’m trying. I’m pedaling as fast as I can,” I thought to myself. I patted the accelerator, prayed, patted, prayed, sweated””you get the picture. I felt like a muleskinner in an old western trying to force a bunch of hard-headed mules to advance. Except, instead of cussing and lashing with my whip, I was praying like crazy. We finally made it through and arrived at my friends house, ate a beautiful meal, then he went with me as we nursed the sick van to the gas station. Fortunately I hadn’t put that much gasoline in it, so when we filled the rest of the tank with diesel and ran it a minute, it worked just fine. Hey, no problem. What was I all worked up about? It’s just that motors run better if you put the right stuff in them.
The Right Stuff
You and I are like that. Did you know it? Our hearts lies in the dead center of who we are.
“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.” (Proverbs 4:23, The Message)
We need to watch like a presidential bodyguard to make sure that nothing gets in there to live that doesn’t belong (maybe we should work even harder at it than a presidential bodyguard). How do you know what’s in your heart? Listen to your mouth because what’s in your heart escapes through your lips. ‘For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Luke 6:45, NIV) ‘What if my mouth constantly speaks criticism or self-pity, or vulgarity, or jealousy, or arrogance or doubt or …?” I’d say you need an attitude adjustment. A little heart surgery is in order. Let God’s Spirit change you. ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2, NIV). How do you renew your mind? By the power of His Spirit in you and your determination to change your life to please Him. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:17, 18, NIV)
So, what kind of attitudes will possess us if we have a right heart attitude? Our heart will bubble up and express itself in thankfulness instead of always griping about what we don’t have and what we feel like the world owes us. Our greediness and selfishness will be replaced by generosity and serving others. Encouraging words and faith statements will replace nasty criticism in our mouth. Humility will trump that know-it-all attitude that’s sure that others know nothing, and that he’s the last word on everything. Your attitude, the attitude of your heart, makes all the difference in your life. Who determines your attitude? God? Nope. You, do! The Lord Jesus provided all we needed for a good attitude. He saved us from our sins and changed our heart. But if we constantly let attitudes from that old life creep back in, we’ll act just like we did before we knew the Lord. The heart determines our words AND our actions. Hey, buddy. What’s that you’re putting in your gas tank? Better make sure it’s the right stuff. ________________________
Hmmmm…..”I’m not sure who told me this, but it was a long time ago, when you help other people reach their dreams most of your dreams come true,” football coach Bobby Petrino.