The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

September 20, 2011

The Heart Tells the Tale


The heart is so revealing. Take for instance Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. The narrator of the short story (the ‘sane’ murderer) had an acute sense of hearing. With his murderous deed accomplished and after hiding the body parts under the floor of his kitchen, the heartbeat of the dead victim began to reach his sensitive ears. Thump. Thu-thump. Thump. Thu-thump. Quietly in the beginning but slowly increasing in volume as time went on. No one but the protagonist could actually hear the incessant rhythmic embodied call of that dead heart. In fact, in the end the heartbeat became so thunderously loud and so unnerving that he ultimately admitted to the crime! He simply couldn’t ignore the heart. Can you even imagine? You are the only person able to hear a dead mans heart. Louder and louder with each passing minute! Erie! Maddening! I wonder if this wasn’t an illusion to the protagonist’s personal demons.

Truthfully, every day, every second, and throughout our decision-making process, our heart beats with a purpose and is committed to perfect revelation. The heart is a loud reminder of who we really are inside. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” “As in water face reveals face, so a man’s heart reveals the man” (Proverbs 27:19). Sometimes we say and live one way but our heart will without pity uncover the deception. Know what I mean?

One example that comes to my mind is the Pharisees. If you asked them, they were the most noblest of all men. Yet, to the contraire, Jesus had a field day with these folks. If there were a group of people that aggravated our Lord to no end, it was these guys. He had some, well, choice words for the ‘noble’ Pharisees in Matthew 23. Jesus used hard hitting words such as hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, snakes, brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs to describe the Pharisees. Woe! Why was our Lord so ticked? Glad you asked. He responded strongly because he could sense what no human could- corrupt hearts. In a way you had dead hearts pretending to be alive with wisdom and sincerity. Jesus confronts their condition with brutal honesty, “For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23: 27-28). Their inward corruption was intolerable because “…what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19). Jesus had enough. He couldn’t ignore their offending hearts. Do you think He will ignore ours?

At various times I have a heart condition that flares up called PVC (pre-mature ventricular contraction). Most people have this condition but never have any symptoms. They just go through life unscathed, uncaring, and unknowing. I happen to be part of the “ones-who-know”, that is to say, those who are physically affected. Simply put, every moment of this irregularity is felt. PVC can occur at any time and can last a few seconds or several hours. Here’s the thing- the longer the cycle the more I can literally feel and even hear my heart beat out-of-rhythm. The whole episode is unnerving and deeply unsettling. I certainly cannot ignore it no matter how hard I try. What is fascinating is this- operating within me is another heart, a heart that is even more critical and life sustaining. This is my spiritual heart; the essence of my soul. Yet, I find myself more worried and more in tune with my physical heart than I am sometimes with my spiritual heart! What about you? We cannot be glib here!

God is doing everything possible to get our attention! “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. Another translation says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Our spiritual hearts guide and direct all that we do. Every word that comes out of our mouth starts in the heart. All of my actions and choices are driven by and through the spiritual heart! There are no excuses. You cannot play the blame game here. The way we act, behave, live, work, and make decisions originates within our own individual hearts! What have you allowed into your heart? Who has your heart? I wonder when Jesus looks deep into our hearts what words would He use to describe us. Hypocrite? Faithful? Rebellious heart? Broken contrite heart? The heart (your heart) tells the tale.

Bruce Kessler, elder South Canadian Valley church of Christ

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September 8, 2011

Beware the “No-Zone”

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbkessler @ 10:31 am

Would you like to travel down the highway with assurance? Working in DOT Compliance I noticed several years back the U.S. Department of Transportation kicked off a safety awareness campaign called “No-Zone”. You might have remembered this campaign as you passed tractor-trailers that said something like “Don’t Hang out in the No-Zone” or “I Make Wide Turns”. The campaign was quite simple; to educate and inform drivers of passenger vehicles ways in which they could avoid potentially dangerous and sometimes disastrous situations with commercial vehicles. Statistics show that in over 60% of fatal accidents between a truck and car the cause was determined to be the driver of the car. Why the high percentage of fatalities? There are blind spots all around a tractor-trailer where the car disappears from the truck driver’s line of vision. These areas are called No-Zones. Specifically there are four of these No-Zones around the tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle. Here is a diagram to illustrate where they are:

You need to know where these No-Zones are and understand what you can do to avoid serious life-threatening accidents.

Certainly we all need to constantly evaluate our behavior, knowledge, and driving skills on the highway as every second is precious. Lives are at stake. But in every real sense this is true in our spiritual journey. Every second counts and lives are at stake. Your life and the lives you impact are held in the balance with the decisions you make. God expects us to recognize and establish a daily awareness plan. Call it the “Beware the No-Zone” campaign. As is the case when we get behind the wheel of a car there is an awareness and safety protocol that we are to follow while traveling down “The Highway of Holiness” Isaiah 35:8. You see, all around the vehicle called life there are No-Zones which are dangerous, unsafe, and life-threatening. The scriptures reveal that “we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices” 2 Cor.2:11 and we are to “stand against the wiles (deception & tricks) of the Devil” Eph.6:11. In life Satan is lurking in these No-Zones to “kill, steal, and destroy” John 10:10. Notice the diagram:

You and I are responsible and accountable to recognize and avoid these dangerous No-Zones.

There are many precious souls who have been marred, bruised, disfigured, injured, and, sadly, there were some fatalities by hanging out and traveling in these unsafe zones. In truth, all of us have entered into one of these No-Zones at some point in our lives and have suffered the consequences. But, the fact is we are forgiven and can be forgiven; therefore, we have the means and the power to keep from ever entering into or hanging out in the No-Zone again. Through-out the New Testament there are key important words/phrases that teaches us how to stay focused and alert. Words or phrases such as circumspect, sober, vigilance, diligence, ‘make no provision for the flesh’, ‘don’t give place to the Devil’, ‘flee from him’, ‘watch and pray’ are all critical to the success of this campaign. Listen to a man who had entered into one of these No-Zones and learned a valuable life-lesson. 2 Peter 1:5-11 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

We can indeed avoid these deadly No-Zones, safely and securely journey through life, and keep our souls from terrible loss or injury. This is not to say that accidents won’t happen. You cannot control the actions of other people nor can you control nature. We live in a fallen world after-all. Yet, by the power of Christ, God’s word and His Spirit, we can control how we deal with life, how we deal with Satan, how we deal with the effects of sin as well as our active obedience and living out His will. Implementing a daily awareness and safety campaign such as “Beware the No-Zone” would go a long way in helping you and I experience the Abundant Life Jesus promises and travel down the ‘Highway of Holiness’ with assurance.

Bruce Kessler, elder South Canadian Valley church of Christ

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