It’s February: How is your heart?

given on February 3, 2013:

 

It’s February:  How’s your heart?

 

We have opened up a new month, the shortest in the year, yet it is so packed with special days and honorees and themes that it is easily overwhelms the daily routines we establish in our lives.

Consider this February list:

  • American Heart Healthy Month
  • Black History Month
  • Ground Hog’s Day was the 2nd
  • Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is the 12th
  • George Washington’s is the 22nd
  • Now President’s Day combines those so we have a holiday weekend—the 16th-18th this year.

Oh my!  I decided to do a little deeper exploration and turned to the web.  The list is much, much larger than I expected.  Why I think the list is longer than the days of the month:

  • February 1—National Freedom Day
  • February 2—Ground Hog’s Day. Pancake Day, National Woodchuck Day, and Candlemas—which I did not know and learned it is a Christian holiday recognizing the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the Temple
  • February 3—Halfway Point of Winter (interesting how it is the day after Groundhog Day where we learn whether it is 6 weeks of winter or a month and a half until spring)
  • February 5—Apache Wars Began (1917 in Arizona)
  • February 5—Dwight L. Moody’s birthday
  • February 6—Ronald Reagan’s Birthday
  • February 7—Charles Dickens’  and Laura Ingalls Wilders birthdays
  • February 8—Boy Scouts of America founded in 1910
  • February 9—Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley’s birthday and the day National Weather Service was established in 1870
  • Jell-O Week begins (second full week of the moth)
  • February 10—Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck in Malta, AD 60—not often recognized, but remember this is Paul, first known as Saul
  • February 11—Thomas Edison’s birthday and now National Inventors Day, plus it is also “Make a New Friend Day”
  • February 12—not only Lincoln’s birthday but Kindness Awareness Day
  • February 13—the first magazine, The American Magazine, was published in 1741
  • February 14—St. Valentine’s Day
  • February 15—now Susan B. Anthony Day but is also Galileo’s birthday clear back in 1564
  • February 15—National Engineers Week which included the side note that this is typically assigned as the week that includes George Washington traditional birthday, but sometimes has to be adjusted
  • February 17—analog TV switched to digital format in 2009 by Federal law.
  • February 18—Planet Pluto discovered in 1930
  • February 19–Japanese Internment Anniversary (1942)
  • February 20—Ansel Adam’s birthday (1902)
  • February 21—International Mother Language Day plus was the day that a stream train traveled 10 miles in 1804
  • February 23—Banana Bread Day as well as the beginning of the Alamo siege
  • February 24—Wilhelm Grimm’s birthday (1786), Steve Jobs’ birthday (1955) and my friend Cathy’s
  • February 25—Renoir’s birthday in 1841
  • February 26—Grand Canyon National Park Anniversary
  • February 27—No Brainer Day
  • February 28—John Tenniel’s Birthday (1820), First US Chartered Passenger Railroad Service in 1827, and the DNA Double Helix was discovered in 1953
  • February 29—Leap Year that is not part of the 2013 calendar.

[Accessed on February 2 at http://www.knowledgehouse.info/month_02.html%5D

 

This list came from an educator’s site in Arizona, so it adds in a few which not other state might add such as the Apache War, still the fullness of the calendar and its events can keep classrooms busy and focused on the worst of winter days.

February may be the shortest month, but it is a transitional month for many of us.  The themes attached to the month typically are connected to human relationships, to the heart of mankind.  Therefore the question is “How is your heart?”

As Christian’s the commandment to love one another is a year round, life long rule of thumb.  Unfortunately, the world has not completely embarrassed that premise and the lack of honest love for one another keeps leading people into painful, hurtful, damaging situations.  Certainly all the violence on the streets and political violence is not driven with the emphasis on random acts of kindness.  Instead, the random acts of violence occur and hearts are damaged.

Where in any of the Ten Commandments is there any mention of acts of revenge, violence, jealousy, or cruelty of any kind.

Exodus 20 1-2 God spoke all these words:

I am God, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of a life of slavery.

No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

12 Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

13 No murder.

14 No adultery.

15 No stealing.

16 No lies about your neighbor.

17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.

The Ten Commandments are such simple rules for all of God’s children to follow one would think the heart-throbbing month of February would be a full month of celebration.  But, so many people—historical and present—break these rules causing heart ache rather than heart-felt loving experiences.

As individuals who are committed to living a God-centered life loving one another, February can be a celebration of loving one another.  The Ten Commandments worked for years, but then they also did not work, as the Israelites seemed to clutter up the basic rules with more and more complex rules.  The constant demands and changes lead so many to make heartless decisions.

This brings us to God’s decision to try one more time.  He took the Ten Commandments and made it one, all-inclusive commandment that has the potential for transforming the world.  One super simple rule to live by—love one another.  And for 33 years, God worked through the form of Jesus Christ to make sure that this one law could be used successfully with all people regardless of race, gender, circumstances, nationality, or even personal experience.  Everybody is everybody’s neighbor and that one commandment should be enough.

Where does this bring us today?  Back to February.  One additional entry on the calendar is Lent.  Advent and Lent are the two most celebrated seasons in the Christian year, and Lent begins this month.  What better time to ask. “How is your heart?”

During the week, review the Ten Commandments.  Look closely at your personal history and analyze how well you have managed to keep the Ten Commandments.  How healthy is your heart?  Have you honestly kept no other gods before God?

Now be careful, that is more difficult than you might think because in today’s secular world it is easy to put some interest or object or goal ahead of God.  Isn’t greed one of the very deadliest sins—deadly in that it kills the relationship we have with God.  Greed puts money and possessions into our hearts as a god.  It runs lives into very unhealthy heart conditions.

Continue with your own heart exam.  Look over the other nine commandments and ask yourself:  Have I lived a life that God and others can tell that I follow the commandment?  Maybe there is a time in your life when you did envy a neighbor for one reason or another.  Maybe there has been a part of your life when parents were not honored.  Maybe there was a time when your words damaged another’s reputation that caused a relationship to die.

This is not a simple task.  There is not other way to determine whether your heart is healthy or not.  There is no other way to prepare for a month filled with love in all types of situations, in all types of manners, in all types of circumstances unless you begin with your own heart health.

This week you have time to carry out the analysis while preparing for the Random Acts of Kindness week, which begins February 10.  There is much work to be done if we are to make sure we have healthy hearts not only during February but also for the rest of our lives.  Just consider what a transformation a change of heart can bring to your life and to those around you.   And if a transformation is possible in your corner of the world, multiply that and consider how far healthy hearts really can reach.

God spent 33 years on earth to make sure we got the message.  Shouldn’t we spend one month focusing on our hearts so we can continue loving one another and transforming our world into one that is truly heart healthy.  It takes work, it takes prayer, and it takes a team effort to do all that we can in all the ways that we can for all that we can.

Dear Loving Father,

We face a world filled with such unhealthy hearts

     that we become unhealthy, too.

Guide us as we carefully, honestly examine our hearts

     to find the blockage that keeps our hearts working well.

Reveal to us the truths in our lives that block

     us from loving one another.

Help us to learn better methods, healthier diets

     of scripture, and better means of prayer.

Demonstrate the techniques to keep hearts healthy

      so we, too, can model those behaviors for others.

Thank you for Your infinite love and patience

      as we make changes to love one another more fully.

May we work to improve our hearts with your commandment,

     so others may be transformed by healthy hearts.  –Amen

 

 

 

 

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