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When the Heart Dies—the Whole Body Dies With It

Back in the mid 70’s and early 80’s I leased several old broiler houses and raised chickens for a living. In the 70’s, the houses had the old hanging feeders that had to be filled by hand every morning, water jugs that had to be hand washed and refilled twice daily with a water hose, and the temperature was regulated by hand lowering or raising the curtains, depending on how the chickens were doing. I hope modern day producers appreciate the modernizations that science and technology have brought about since those days.


I remember so many times just when the birds were fat and ready to sell, looking down the house on a hot day checking everything out, and I would see first one and then another chicken jump straight up in the air and land on its back with legs stretched out as far as they could go. Most all the time, these were the fattest and largest roosters in the house. When I approached the downed birds, I noticed that they were unconscious and their combs were turning from a bright red to a dull blue or purple color. I assumed that they must have had a heart attack.


I never saw a single chicken show any signs of life once they hit the ground, so one day, I decided that I would see if I could revive a deceased chicken. As soon as I saw the chicken jump up, I would go straight to him as quickly as I could and would firmly and rapidly begin slapping his chest. Probably 75% of the time, if I got to him quickly, I could revive him enough that he could sit up, but his color never came back and I never had one survive for any length of time. They usually had another heart attack within a few minutes. Once their heart went bad, they were sure to die.

I recently received a phone call at 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon that my only brother who had just completed a heart catheterization was scheduled for emergency open heart surgery the next morning in KY. Needless to say, within two hours Lisa and I had done all we could to tie up loose ends and pack our things so we could hit the road. We drove all night to get there just in time to see him and our sister-in-law before he went into surgery. When the heart is in trouble, no matter how healthy the rest of the body parts are, the entire body is in critical condition—it is indeed a life or death situation.

Watching my brother Steve, who is so much more than just a brother to me, go through the preparation, the surgery, the critical times in the recovery room and the struggles in the days that followed, reminded me of how precious, fragile and temporary our physical lives and relationships really are. It also reminded me that even though he is as strong as an ox physically, sharp and intelligent mentally, completely emotionally stable, and absolutely at peace and secure spiritually, it only took a failing heart to destroy and kill the rest of his otherwise healthy body. As a true Christian, his life spiritually was eternally secure, but his physical body was in critical condition and at risk of death and in need of what only a skilled surgeon could do. His physical heart needed to be repaired and then revived for him to continue to experience and enjoy life here on this earth.

You know that is exactly what the Bible teaches and shows us about our hearts and lives spiritually! We are all born with a very serious and life threatening spiritual heart defect. We all suffer from the condition of a sinful, diseased, deceitful and dying heart that is full of evil of every kind to some degree. We are born with the tendencies and the natures to lie, steal, cheat, lust, to be selfish, and otherwise rebel against the Holy God who created us in His own image. Having done all of these things myself, having raised my own children and grandchildren, and having the experience of ministering for many years among people of all ages in many different countries of various ethnic, religious, cultural, economic, moral, ethical and historical backgrounds, I can tell you with complete confidence that mankind does not have to be taught any of these tendencies and conditions—we are all born with them. We are all born with a diseased heart and are in need of a heart surgery—without which we each will suffer spiritual death.

The Bible says that we are all sinners in Romans 2:23. It says that our hearts are full of evil and from it comes all our sin: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man unclean.” (MT 15:19-20a). The Bible goes on to say in Romans 2:28-29 that mere religion, genealogy nor adhering to a set of rules can fix our heart problem: “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code.”

The Lord and the Word of God makes it clear that we do indeed have a critical heart condition. That condition separates us from God and from one another. Because of that condition (sin), we will surely die. That death will be eternal unless we allow the skilled hand of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to cut away what is diseased and create in us a new heart.

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus were to heal our broken and diseased hearts. Place yourself in His hands—you can trust Him with your heart. He will give you life eternal.

By the way, Steve is doing just fine!

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