“The Heart of the Issue”
August 13, 2017
The heart is one of the most complex and vital organs in the human body. So, goes our heart, so goes our health. But it’s not only crucial to our physical survival. The health of our spiritual heart is vital for our eternity. But too often, we don’t understand the true condition of our heart. In this message, Pastor Ed Young unpacks a powerful section of Scripture and challenges us all to let God, the ultimate physician, examine our hearts. Because when do, we experience the path to true spiritual health.
Well thank you so much, it’s great to be back. It’s great to be back home from open heart surgery. It really, really is, thank you. Please be seated.
Yeah I was shocked when someone looked at me and said, “you’re a heart patient.” I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be talking to the wrong person. A heart patient? I’ve eaten clean and worked out and run some marathons and stuff and you’re calling me heart patient?”
Then I thought, “Yeah, that’s true I am a heart patient.”
In fact, about 11 or 12 weeks ago, I had open heart surgery, five hours long. I’m a heart patient.
So, if the truth were really known, all of us are heart patients, we really are. So, I want to us to say that together. I think it’ll be a real good time of confession. Whether you’re here, in the balcony, in our family worship center, or one of our many different environments, you might be in North Port, Miami; you could be in South Lake, Fort Worth, Dallas, Allaso. On the count of three, let’s say, “I’m a heart patient.”
You might think yourself, “No I’m not.” But we’re going to find out that you are. One, two, three, “I’m a heart patient. I’m a heart patient.”
You might be thinking, “Well why all of the heart stuff? Why Mega Heart? Why this heart (on stage)?” Is this heart cool or what? That heart’s amazing, amazing. Why the heart?
ILLUS: Well I had open heart surgery, as I mentioned. And open heart surgery is nothing just to gloss over. It’s the real thing. I was born with a valve issue, specifically mitral valve prolapse. And the doctors told me, because I have a heart murmur, you know it’s doubtful that I’ll ever have to have surgery. But they encouraged me to see a cardiologist regularly to have tests. And several months ago I went to my cardiologist, did the typical test. I was expecting “hey you’re great, you’re awesome, etc.”
I’m standing in our kitchen next to Lisa. The phone rings, I look down, and I see it’s my cardiologist and I thought, whoa. I said, “Lisa, this can’t be good news.” They called and said, “Your valve is messed up, you need to line up a surgeon, you need heart surgery, very, very soon. Your valve isn’t functioning properly. You have severe regurgitation, which means backwash of blood in a heart.”
And my heart was not pumping all the blood out, because the blood was seeping into my lungs and other areas. I was not doing well.
What was weird about it was, I was pretty much asymptomatic. I worked out regularly at a trendy gym with a trainer. You know, really watched the diet and everything and I’m thinking what? Open heart surgery?
And they explained to me that they would probably have to crack the chest open and do all of this and they were talking about how complex the surgery is. And I found out that mitral valve prolapse heart surgery is more complex than you know, a typical heart surgery, a typical bypass surgery. It’s very, very intricate.
So I’m thinking to myself, “Who in the world can I talk to?” So I’m thinking, “Okay, my cardiologist says that I have to have surgery and they start talking about different tests.” So I call a friend of mine in Houston, who’s another cardiologist and I said, “Manny, I want to send you my tests. What do you think?”
So he looked at my tests and he said, “Dude, you need heart surgery fast. You got severe regurgitation. I mean your heart could have irreversible damage and if you don’t get it taken care of, you could die.” Then he said, “You know, there are only two people in the world I would let touch my heart, specifically the mitral valve.” This is what Manny told me. He said, “One guy is in Europe;” he said, “The other guy works in my group. He’s the renowned surgeon, Dr. Gerald Lawrie from Australia.”
And I Googled him and sure enough he is one of the top two or three in the world. Sometimes we throw that out, best in the world. That restaurant’s the best in the world. He’s the best in the world. She’s the best in the world. This guy literally, is the top two or three in the world.
So Manny, my friend who’s a cardiologist, got me in to see him. Lisa and I drove down to Houston, we’re meeting with him, and we’re listening to him explain about mitral valve prolapse surgery.
So then I do more and more tests. I do the heart catheterization test, the stress test, the cardiac MRI and on and on and on. And sure enough, after every test, whoa, I didn’t know it, I didn’t feel it, but everyone said, all the technicians and especially the master surgeon Dr. Lawrie, “You need open heart surgery.”
Wow! And then he started explaining to me about open heart surgery. They stop the heart. Little scary. And the hours and hours it takes. How intricate the valves are and I’m like whoa. So I made the decision, because I’m smart but not that smart, to submit myself to his expertise. After all he is an incredible heart surgeon.
So I said, “Okay Dr. Lawrie, I mean you’re the man, I’m not.” And several weeks later, drove down to Houston again. And next week we have a short film of this, because we documented this. I think you’ll find it humorous and also sobering.
So Lisa and I stayed in a hotel that’s actually connected to the hospital. So we got up, literally walked to the pre-op. They got me ready for surgery, put me on the gurney, wheeled me in to the operating room. And they asked me, they said, “Do you want us to lift you onto the operating table or do you want to just walk over there and get on the table yourself?”
I said, “Man, I’m going to get on the table myself.”
So I got up and I’m just looking around the operating room. You know, it’s kind of embarrassing because you don’t have very much on and you’re looking around and whoa, so those are the machines and everything so. I just remember putting myself on the operating table for this intricate surgery. But I felt confident because after all, Dr. Gerald Lawrie, I mean he’s the man. He’s operated on, I found out, emperors and kings and queens and celebrities. He just operated on Barbara Bush. So I’m thinking “Man, I’m in good hands.”
So the surgery starts and you know, it was a raving success. And he told me that, and this scares Lisa, but he told me that I’ll have more energy than ever before. He also told me that the only really symptoms he saw in me before surgery was cardiac asthma. I’d never heard of that. If you look back, if you go online and look back at some of my messages over the last year, you can tell my voice was really hoarse. That’s cardiac asthma. All the blood was seeping into the lungs and everything else and I was not doing well. Although again, I was asymptomatic.
So I challenge you, if you don’t feel well, if you’re hoarse for some unknown reason, if you are short of breath, or have a little pain or whatever, I don’t want you to be paranoid, but go to the doctor.
I have a friend of mine who’s scared of the doctor. This guy’s a big ol’ guy. Middle aged, he’s a frat daddy. You know what I mean. You know the frat guys. I was not in a fraternity, I’m not hitting on people in fraternities, but he says “Bro” all the time. Bro, he’s a bro.
I go “Man, why don’t you like to go to the doctor?”
He goes “Well bro, I don’t know. They can only give you bad news, bro.”
Now granted, this guy’s a lawyer, don’t hold that against him, but I said, “They can’t always give you bad news. They have to give you bad news many times, so you could hear the good news.”
But he is literally afraid of the doctor. Don’t be afraid of the doctor. Submit yourself to the doctor if you have some sort of physical issue.
I’m a big, you know, “what if” guy. I like to use my imagination. I thought about this, what if we could install sonograms in all the seats. And I’m talking about physically. And what if people like this incredible surgeon, Dr. Lawrie could just walk through and go, “Oh he’s got mitral valve prolapse.” You wouldn’t know it, but he would go, “You’ve got it. You have hardening of the arteries. You have some arrhythmia. You have this, you have that.” Wouldn’t that be freaky to be able to do that. Scary!
Beause again, I didn’t even know I had an issue. I mean I was just going through life. Didn’t really have any symptoms.
T.S. What if God did that? What if God installed a spiritual sonogram, because we’re all heart patients whether we realize it or not. And what if he could see, “Oh that person has hardening of the spiritual arteries. Oh, that girl there, her heart used to beat fast for the things of God, now it doesn’t really beat fast for things of God any more. And oh, that person their heart is not even functioning properly the flow is blocked, there’s a valve issue.” What if God could do that? Well God can and he does, whether we know it or not.
God is omniscient, he sees everything. There’s no such thing as something on the down low, there’s no such thing as a closed office door, a bedroom door; God sees it all. In our humanity, here’s what’s so humorous about us, about you and me. Let me say it this way…
Don’t you love all of the seats we have at Fellowship? We have literally thousands and thousands and thousands of seats here and at all of our different campuses. But at this campus here, specifically our broadcast campus, the seats were designed with you in mind. They’re kind of wider than most seats. Did you realize that? You’ve got good egress and ingress. I love it. There are three people sitting in your seat. “Say what? Has the anesthesia not worn off yet?!” And it does take like three months for the anesthesia to wear off. But anyway. Okay, three people in your seat. The first person is the person that you think you are. The second person is the person that others think you are. The third person is the person is the person that God knows you are.
God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. What do we say? Oh, you know, this is the big mantra these days, “Go with your heart. You’re heart’s not in it. That hurt my heart. I’m just going to follow my heart. My heart told me this. My heart told me that.”
And I understand that, we understand that. Here’s what I would say though. We don’t really know our hearts. We don’t. You know, we know a little bit about our hearts. We know our strengths and weaknesses, but we don’t really know our hearts. We’re a heart patient.
What is the heart, anyway? I’m not talking about, right now, the vital organ organ that pumps gallons of blood throughout your body and mine. I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about the seat of our self, our intellect, our morals, or spirituality, that spiritual mysterious part of your life and mine, our heart. We only have a heart, because God has a heart. We have a heart, you have a heart.
We need, I submit to you, heart surgery. And I submit to you that you need to submit, that I need to submit to heart surgery.
So today, in this opening session, I want you to pray the heart patient’s prayer. Did you know there’s a heart patient’s prayer in the Bible? It is, Psalm 139:23-24. It’s the heart patient’s prayer. Let’s read it together. On the count of three, are you ready? At all of our campuses let’s scream it out. One, two, three. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me to the way everlasting.”
That is the heart patient’s prayer. I’m going to challenge you, over the course of this series, to put yourself on the operating table, God’s operating table. Get off the gurney, walk up to the operating table, put yourself there, lay yourself bare before God, because we’re all going to find out stuff about our lives that we never knew were there. What’s driving that anger in your life? You know you deal with it. What’s driving it? You’re insecure. When you walk into a room, you’re always worried about what do people think about me? How do I look? What is motivating that? You got lust, why?
God is going to pinpoint sin in your life. We don’t like to talk about sin anymore, we say issues, we say problems. But let’s talk about what God says sin. Sin means to miss the mark. Let’s talk about wickedness, let’s talk about depravity, because surgeons deal with issues. They deal with the real stuff, so does God. Now in this series we’re going to discover three things.
Number one, the surgeon is the Savior, the scalpel is the scripture, and the heart is the hope, the health, the home of Jesus.
My heart is made for Jesus. My heart should be Christ’s home and for some here, Jesus is in your heart. People say, “I invited Jesus into my heart.” We know that’s the seat of self. It’s who we really are, it’s the essence of our morals and ethics. We’ve invited Jesus into our heart. There’s literally been a heart transplant. Others here have not. And that’s cool if you haven’t. You need to know what’s out there when you have this surgery.
But let’s just talk about heart surgery. Let’s talk about real heart surgery, because when Dr. Lawrie looked at me and told me what to expect, what if I’d said, “I’m not going to do it. Who are you? I know my heart, I feel fine Dr. Lawrie.” I would have been a card carrying idiot, had I said that.
How often in my own life have I said, “God I know what’s best for me, I’m going to follow my heart on this deal. No, no, no God. Yeah, I’m just going to do what…” I’m a card carrying idiot.
Well let’s don’t be dumb about it, let’s be smart. And I’m telling you something, the enemy does not want us to have this kind of surgery. So let’s talk about this surgery. Four, two word prayers.
Number one, here’s the first of the two word prayer. Search me, search me. Now David wrote this. David was called a man after God’s own heart. We’re not sure he was either fleeing his son, Absalom, who was trying to take over the throne, or he was running away from psycho Saul. The Bible says though, in Psalm 139:23, “Search me and know my heart.”
Let me say it again, only God knows our heart. We think we know ourselves. We do to a certain degree, but we don’t really know. When we pray this prayer regularly and I’m going to share with you some devotionals that a team of us are writing. I’m going to send them to you everyday for the next 21 days as we begin to pray this search me prayer, God will pinpoint stuff we never dreamed possible.
For example, search me literally means to crack open, to dig deep, to cut. That’s what it means. And David, man this guy was bold. This guy was courageous, took out a lion and a bear. Took out the big, behemoth Goliath, but this had got to be one of his most courageous acts, this prayer, search me.
Are you man enough, are you woman enough to pray that? I promise you, great, great things will happen. Painful things, but great things. Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV), “ The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
You know how sinister sin is? Sin has the ability to hide itself from us. Sin has the ability to camouflage our depravity, our disease and our debauchery. Only God can say “Ed look at that. Hey, check that out. Wow, that’s coming to the surface.” And then we go, whoa. Then we confess it, which means we tell the truth about it before God.
We have to know God’s not going to be surprised. God’s not going to go, “Oh I had no idea! Ha, ha, oh really, you have a blockage issue? Wow, flow is not happening. Arrhythmia huh, mitral valve, I didn’t know that.”
No, no, no, God knows. Yet we have to say “God, you know, search me. Search me and know my heart.” But Jeremiah says, “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Only God can.
The biologists try so hard to talk about our heart problems. They can’t do it. Anthropologists pitiful. Psychologists, we love ’em but they cannot wrap their little brains around the depravity of man. Geologists can’t do it either.
The issue in our world today is a heart issue. The problem with the heart is the heart of the problem. Look around our world today. Mankind, left to his own devices, will do some dark stuff. We have great potential for good, when Jesus comes in. But just take a look.
“Well the answer’s education.” Nazi Germany. “The answer is behavioral modification.” Look our public school systems, and look at so many of the glassy-eyed gurus who throw out advice. “The issue is love.” I mean what, love? Where does it come from? We don’t have a clue.
We have a sin problem that can only be dealt with by the master surgeon. The surgeon is our savior, the scalpel is his word. The Bible says it cuts like a knife and the heart is my hope.
“Search me, dig deep. God I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
See, that’s the issue, we’re hypocrites many times toward people, but we’re also hypocrites toward ourselves. And that’s something that God will deal with.
Okay, test me, that’s another one, test me. Oh I’ve had a lot of tests, I can tell you that. A bunch of them. And they all came out, “Oh, you got a problem with the valve, a problem with the valve, a problem with the valve, a problem with the valve, a problem with the valve. God wants to test you and me. We have stress tests in life.
How does God work? He tests us. How does God build character? He tests us. Maybe you have a problem with being impatient. He’s going to put you in situations that build your patience. And they’re not going to be easy. Maybe you have a problem with volatility. He’s going to put you in a situation to build self-control. Maybe you have an issue with being insecure. When someone does something well, that’s a fear. It could be a mom, it could a real estate tycoon, it could be a pastor, a teacher. Instead of saying, “Wow that’s awesome,” what do we do? We rip them up to make ourselves feel better. It’s a test, a test, a test.
This is not easy. “God perform a stress test on me.” Psalm 139:23b, “Test me and know my anxious thoughts.”
Again this is talking about rebellious behavior. And then the third, two-word prayer, see me. See me, only God can really see what’s in our lives. Psalm 139:24a (NKJV),“And see if there is any wicked way in me.”
This phrase “wicked way,” is literally forced labor. What do we say in our world today? “Oh, I’m just going to go with my heart. I’m going to follow my heart, I’m going to be free.”
So as we follow our heart in freedom, the thing we follow, and we think it gives us freedom, literally incarcerates us and we begin to work for it and it’s forced labor. Some of us are in forced labor right now, because of lust and pornography. You’re working for it. Some of us are in forced labor because of greed. Some of us are in forced labor because of rebellion. We’ve rebelled against authority figures. We say, “Oh well I don’t respect that person.” Well you don’t have to. You might never have to respect the person, but you respect the position, God says. Forced labor. God says, life is too short. Life is too short to be a slave to sin.
“Search me, oh God, and know my heart. “Test me and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there is any wicked way in me.” I love this last two word prayer. Lead me, lead me. It says in Psalm 139:24b, “…and lead me in the way everlasting.”
If we just follow our heart, our heart will lead us to hell. Yet God wants to transform our hearts, give us new hearts, because there’s a broad way and a narrow way, a high way and a low way. Are you going God’s way?
As you think about, beginning school, maybe you’re a junior high, high school student, or college student. Which way are you going to go? Maybe you’re starting a new adventure at work. Maybe you just, maybe you realized, “Hey I’ve been doing this, I been doing that, and I’ve been following my heart in this dating relationship as opposed to allowing God to say, ‘Here’s what I want for you.’ God you lead me down your road, not mine.” God’s road is always better. God’s way is always better than your way or my way. He’s the master surgeon.
Dr. Lawrie didn’t perform this surgery for himself. I’m sure the guy isn’t worried about anything financially. You think he’s, “Oh I’ve got to perform this surgery to make more money.” He’s not worried about that.
(And here’s an aside. I think doctors should make tons of money. That’s my opinion. I think teachers should too, and policeman and fireman, that’s a whole other subject, but I just wanted to say that.)
So Dr. Lawrie is not worried like about that. He wants to help, and he wanted to help, and he has helped me. Jesus wants to help you and help me. He wants your heart and my heart.
Again the surgeon is our savior. Mark 2:17, “ Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’
The scalpel is the scripture. Check this out. Hebrews 4:12-14 (MSG), “ His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.
When you run away from God, you’ll run right into Him. The heart is my hope. Ezekiel 36:26 (MSG), “ I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you.”
You don’t want to miss next week, because we’re going to do the short film about heart surgery, probably like you’ve never heard before. And then I’m going to talk about part two of Open Heart. In my conversations, though, with Dr. Gerald Lawrie, I was sitting there and you know, we’re talking and I was asking him, you know, about all the different people he’d performed surgery on, and he was mentioning all sorts of people, from teachers to coaches, even nurses and doctors that work with him or other people who couldn’t afford any of his help and it was amazing. He has also operated on emperors and kings and queens, and Barbara Bush and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I said, “Man that is truly amazing.” He didn’t volunteer that, I had to ask him that and he told me. And so I began to ask him, I said, “Dr. Lawrie, tell me about, just break down for someone like me, what happens when you go through an open surgery, like this mitral valve surgery.”
He said, “Well for openers, most people that do mitral valve, don’t do it properly. It’s critical, if you have this issue, to find the right person to do it and there’s not a lot of people in the world that really know how to do it.” And he’s invented a lot of the protocol and a lot of the different techniques that people use in surgery, which I thought was interesting.
Then he began to tell me about, you know, they open the chest, and they open rib cage, and then they stop the heart. He was telling me all about and the stuff they put in.
And then he told me something, that freaked me out. He said, “Because your heart has been stopped, and because air gets in it, we took your heart and massaged it.” He goes, “I touched your heart and massaged it for five minutes to get the air out. And then we tested it and then closed you up and you’re on your way. Had I not massaged it,” he said, you probably would have stroked out.”
He touched my heart! This master surgeon. There’s only one surgeon that can touch your heart and mine. His name is Jesus. The master surgeon with the scalpel. Jesus is our only hope, our help.
Have you given him your life? Have you said, “Jesus have your way with me?” Maybe you’ve never, ever prayed that prayer to give your heart him. You can do it right now. Maybe you prayed the before and you need to get serious about this heart patient’s prayer. Let God touch your heart, heart patient, because that’s what an open heart is all about. Would you pray with me?
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]
The heart is one of the most complex and vital organs in the human body. So goes our heart, so goes our health. But it’s not only crucial to our physical survival. The health of our spiritual heart is vital for our eternity. But too often, we don’t understand the true condition of our heart.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young unpacks a powerful section of Scripture and challenges us all to let God, the ultimate physician, examine our hearts. Because when do, we experience the path to true spiritual health.