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30 Sep '12

Paying attention to the hidden inner terrain of our lives

Posted by T.J. Addington in inner life, The heart
It is the inner terrain of our lives that determines who we are and who we become. Hidden, it is known to us alone although it's residual spills out in ways good or bad, depending on what is there. We often seek to ignore it, sometimes depress it but wise individuals develop a deeply sensitive barometer to their inner terrain - knowing its importance from a spiritual and personal perspective.

Let me suggest that there are seven rooms in our inner terrain that need to be understood and which we need to pay close attention to. These seven rooms are the source of much of who we are. When neglected they hurt us. When attention is paid to them and the Holy Spirit is allowed to inhabit them, they change us and help us. Seven rooms for seven drivers of our lives, hidden deep in the recesses of our hearts.

Conscience
Our creator endowed sense of what is right and wrong. It is a delicate gift because when we ignore it we harden its impact and to the extent that we set it aside it becomes increasingly less reliable which is why sinful tendencies can become normal in our lives when we neglect it. 

Motivations
We can be motivated by Godly motivations or the motivations of our lower nature. Knowing the difference makes all the difference! Even those in full time ministry can be fooled that their motivations are spiritual when in fact they are base: success, fame, personal gratification, power or some other drive of our lower nature.

Thoughts
Hidden from others, we choose whether we take all "thoughts captive" in the words of Paul or whether we entertain baser instincts. Thoughts of envy, pride, anger, lust, impurity or those thoughts that lift self and suppress Jesus can be hidden from others until they spill over in our words, attitudes or actions. 

Desires
What we desire is what truly defines our lives. Others may not know but we know. And Jesus knows. Paul described his desires this way: "I want to know Christ - yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11)" but also acknowledged that he too fought the fight between desires of the higher and lower nature on a daily basis (Romans 7). Every day we define our lives by the desires we entertain and pursue.

Convictions
Our convictions are a direct result of the terrain of our inner lives. Those with strong and righteous convictions have cultivated their inner compass to align with God's Word and truth. Those who lack conviction do so because they have not. What we hold convictions on is a direct indicator of the place we derive those convictions.

Passions
Passions drive us toward good or toward evil. They are that inner force that compel us in ways that we don't always understand but they are the result of what constitutes the inner terrain of our lives. Those who have a passion for justice, or God, or righteousness have  this because of what they have cultivated. Those whose passions reflect those of the world have them because they have allowed the priorities of the world to crowd out those things that God counts important. 

Temptations
They are common to all of us. We either nurture them or starve them. There is no in-between. While temptation may not diminish until we see Jesus, our ability to deal with them can be strengthened depending on how we treat the inner terrain of our hearts and lives. The Holy Spirit is the difference maker along with whatever disciplines we nurture to keep Jesus central. 

The inner terrain of our lives matters - a lot. Jesus says that what comes out of a man comes from the inside. Nurture the inside and we directly impact our attitudes and behaviors. To the extent that we neglect our inner lives, we pay the price both internally and externally.