Keep the Heart

Life has issues, and the Bible has the answers.
Francie Taylor teaches the relevance of
Scripture to daily life through these brief
Bible application studies.

Why Me and Other Hard Questions

October 18th, 2021

Have you ever had a time when something tragic or otherwise painful happened in a loved one’s life and they looked at you in shock and sadly asked, “Why me?” That’s a hard question, isn’t it? In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned veteran to hardship and loss, it’s still a question that doesn’t have an easy answer. Sometimes we ask questions that cannot be answered fully on this side of Heaven.

It used to be true that if you suffered something catastrophic, you were somewhat rare. People would flock to the side of a person when they received a sobering diagnosis or if someone in their family passed away. But now, with so much going on in our world, more people have been struck by hardships and grief than ever before. Has death accelerated, or is it just more noticeable because we’re keeping track of the numbers? That’s another question that has no easy answer, but this we do know, things have changed, and we have more questions than answers.

This episode addresses three common questions that don’t have easy answers, followed by suggestions in how to rewrite them into prayer requests. The purpose of this exercise is to increase hope and confidence in God. He has not abandoned us, even if this season in life seems incredibly heavy. These suggested revisions of the hard questions are only designed to provide a way to view things from a more helpful angle. 

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Marks of a Prudent Person

October 11th, 2021

When you read a post on social media and it makes an unverified claim, do you automatically assume that it’s true?

Do you make hasty decisions based on your emotions rather than taking the time to pray?

Have you ever had a caution in your soul about whether or not to do something, but you ignored it and ended up getting hurt by your own choice?

What do these questions have in common? All of them are related to a lack of prudence. A lack of prudence can turn life into one mess after another.

Included in the definitions of “prudent” you’ll find this gem of a statement: “Cautious not to act when the end is of doubtful utility.” In other words, a prudent person isn’t going to do something without considering the possible outcome of the actions. Prudence really enriches a person’s life. The wisdom of being a prudent person leads to less worry, a lot less drama, and less clean-up of self-made messes.

This episode walks through four verses about the prudent person. We’ll see some identifying marks that can help us to make some life improvements.

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Overthinking is a Vision Killer

October 4th, 2021

Not long ago, I saw a little wall plaque that said this: “Hold on. I’ve gotta overthink about it.” That’s funny until it’s not.

Overthinking keeps us from doing things that could be beneficial while trapping us in a prison cell of doubt. Whether you’re doubting your abilities or doubting God, overthinking is a real vision killer, and it feeds on fears and what ifs. Is overthinking keeping you stuck? Don’t overthink that question. Just answer it honestly.

The general definition of overthinking is to “think about something too much or for too long.” Why would we do this? There are lots of reasons, but it is a learned behavior. Sometimes it’s fear of failure, and other times it may be a fear of not being accepted, or maybe we’re just afraid to try anything unfamiliar. Is there something you’re supposed to be doing but you’ve talked yourself out of trying? You may be a victim of overthinking, and the person doing this to you is in the mirror.

Whatever you’re putting off—whether it’s sharing the Gospel with someone God has put in your path, starting a new ministry, or launching a small business, overthinking will trap you in a loop of second-third-and-fourth guessing, preventing you from getting anything done. This is a form of self-inflicted torment, and unless we face this foe, we’ll stay stuck by choice. Sometimes it’s more comfortable not to do something than to step out boldly and walk by faith.

How can we stop paralyzing ourselves with overthinking? Let’s consider four suggestions, and then you can get together with God to pray about this whole subject. He has more for you. As usual, this episode is just a starter list.

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Habits to Embrace

September 27th, 2021

Have you ever opened a package of something, intending only to have a few bites and then suddenly the entire package was gone? We may think it’s something that’s just routine, but it’s really the result of a habit.

Sometimes we try to wiggle out of facing our issues by claiming that they aren’t addressed in the Bible, but on closer examination we will find that habits are in the Bible. They show up in lists like the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23, and like the "add to our faith" qualities in 2 Peter 1:5-8.

Good habits help us to grow. Bad habits hinder growth and keep us stuck and spinning our wheels like a car stuck in a Minnesota snowbank. If you’ve never experienced having your car tires stuck in a snowbank, let me tell you from experience that you can rev the engine all you want but you’re not going anywhere.

Why do we settle for being stuck in habits that we hate when we can grow and thrive? Sometimes it’s as simple as this: we’re not examining ourselves to consider our ways. We’re just repeating the same mistakes but expecting a different outcome. God can help us with this. Let’s look at a person in the Bible whose habits helped him, with the goal of allowing the examples to help us as well. His name was Paul, and he had some great habits that anyone can practice.

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Getting Through Culture Shock

September 20th, 2021

"I don't like what's happening in my life right now."

Culture shock sounds like that.

Maybe you’re a newlywed and you’ve moved to a new town with your husband and you don’t even know your way to Target. We know how much we love our Target runs!

Or could it be that you’re a former Pastor’s wife and suddenly, your husband is no longer the pastor? That creates an identity crisis on several levels.

Or maybe you’re a missionary on the field, and you wonder sometimes if people really care enough to pray for you as you go through struggles that you wouldn’t write about in the missionary prayer letter.

Or perhaps you’re like me, a widow who doesn’t know how to NOT be a wife. You’ve been married for longer than you’ve done anything else in life, and now you’re in a “Who am I?” stage of life.

Or maybe your situation is something else, but you’re still feeling like things just don’t fit right.

We don't have to move to a foreign country to experience culture shock. Whether you're feeling cut off from things that were familiar, or you're just going through too many changes, the uncertainty and uneasiness is real. 

What can we do when we’re in a new or trying situation and we're wrestling to adjust? This episode provides four tips designed to inspire you to walk through this season with hope and encouragement.

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ICU--In Christ Unconditionally: Heart Conditions Bible Application Study

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Escaping the Bondage of Self-Indulgence

September 13th, 2021

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of self-indulgence is “excessive or unrestrained gratification of one's own appetites, desires, or whims.” Self-indulgence has lots of indicators. Here are some signs that you may be struggling with self-indulgence:

  • You have an income but no money because of your spending habits.
  • You repeatedly complain about your weight but you keep eating things that are great for packing on the pounds.
  • Arriving late is your trademark for almost everything because of poor time management.
  • You allow yourself to be moody and expect people to deal with it because "that's just how you are."
  • You’re taking poor care of your health but making excuses for it.

Self-indulgence is self-inflicted bondage. You are in prison and holding the keys. Living like this makes life less enjoyable and more stressful. The self-indulgent life seems like it would reward us, but it actually robs and enslaves us. This tendency to do whatever we please was born in the Garden of Eden, and it has been an easy trap every since. What can we do about it?

This episode provides three starter suggestions, and then it would be best for you to go and spend some time with the Lord in prayer for more specific direction. We’re all unique, and while we may have common struggles, God can put His finger on our particular weaknesses and help us to overcome them by His power and might, not by our own. 

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Recovering from Spiritual Dryness

September 6th, 2021

Are you one of many people who didn’t mind when church was limited to live stream for a season? Maybe you would only admit this to close friends or family, but you had company. After decades of going to church in person, suddenly we were sitting in our pajamas with pancakes, bacon, coffee and our Bibles. Okay maybe some of you only had coffee but still, this wasn't how we normally went to church.

Something happened during that time of dramatic change. It advanced the ideal environment for spiritual dryness. Not everyone had this experience, but if you found yourself embracing the live stream over the in-person service so much that you didn’t want to return, there may have been more going on than just side effects of the pandemic. And it’s not just about church, either.

Seasons of spiritual dryness can happen to anyone. The pandemic is not the only thing that was going on in people’s lives when it arrived, and it will never be the only thing we’re facing on any given day. There are many things in life that can leave us feeling physically spent and spiritually drained, but God can help us to recover. We'll consider three indicators that we may be running dry, and then we’ll explore suggestions for recovering from this temporary condition. Spiritual dryness happens, but it doesn’t have to become permanent.

ICU--In Christ Unconditionally: Heart Conditions Bible Application Study

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Lessons from a Person Who Hated Life

August 30th, 2021

One of the wealthiest people who ever lived had houses in the plural, and they were paid for in full. These homes were surrounded by vineyards and gorgeous gardens filled with orchards of fruit trees. An elaborate irrigation system watered the gardens and trees. No running around moving the old-fashioned sprinklers for this property owner!

But it didn’t stop there. Since this person had unlimited wealth, servants were hired to do everything from groundskeeping to cooking, cleaning, and more. Any possessions that someone else had, this person had to have bigger and better. There wasn’t enough to satisfy the bottomless appetite of this wealthy man.

And even with all this abundance, the man named Solomon, who had been known for his great wisdom said these shocking words found in Ecclesiastes 2:17:

"Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit."

Have you ever said that you hated life? Maybe you, like Solomon, were looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places. While there are many lessons we could learn from Solomon's mistakes, we'll consider three take-aways that are relevant to our lives today. 

ICU--In Christ Unconditionally: Old Testament Bible Application Study

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Trusting God with Trust Issues

August 23rd, 2021

When several items were stolen from my checked luggage last December, it really degraded my trust in the airlines. I couldn't prove who took the things from my bag, but this experience made me determine not to pack anything of greater value than a pair of used shoes!

It's understandable when we have trust issues as a side effect of being wronged by someone, especially when it was someone we should have been able to count as reliable. The problem with trust issues is that they tend to spill over into our walk with God, causing us to worry and become filled with anxiety and doubt. Fear and fretfulness are merely signs that our trust in God needs opportunities to grow. 

We may prefer to stay in our comfort zones, but greater growth happens in the discomfort zone, and that's where trust is learned. God is worthy of our trust, no matter what happens in this life. 

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Be the First to Apologize

August 16th, 2021

You’ve done or said something wrong and now your friend is upset with you. It was totally an accident, but the outcome was the same as if you’d had done it on purpose. You felt really bad about it at first, until you started analyzing the situation. Was it really all your fault, or was this person just being thin-skinned?

Come to think of it, hasn’t she or he said a thing or two in the past that didn’t sit right with you, but you let it go? Where is the grace for you that you gave them when they were in the wrong? The more you replay these unhelpful thoughts, the less inclined you'll be to apologize. Developing a bad attitude won’t fix the situation. It will just delay the repairs.

Apologizing when we’ve done or said something offensive requires spiritual maturity and humility. This episode will focus on what we can do to make things right when we’ve been the offender. 

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