Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

Ezekiel 36:26

David Berkowitz

In the course of documentary filmmaking, I've been able to take part in some fascinating interviews. Benjamin Netanyahu, Tim LaHaye, Franklin Graham and Chuck Smith are just a few that come to mind. But one that is seared into my memory didn't even involve a camera. Through our radio ministry a man named David Berkowitz got in touch and requested a visit while Skip and I were in upstate New York conducting an outreach. We needed to go to him, because he was serving a lifetime prison sentence. David Berkowitz was known as the Son of Sam during a New York summer when he killed six people and shot three more. A book and movie made him even more famous after his arrest. He told us demons talked to him through a neighbor's dog and he responded by terrorizing his borough for a full year.

I did not know what to expect in meeting a serial killer, I knew he had claimed a conversion to Jesus, but I took a wait and see attitude, and I saw.

It was immediately clear that this man was not pulling a con job.

He was gentle, humble and genuine about his faith. An hour long conversation in the prison left me fully aware I had been with a changed man. While this body had pulled the trigger that ended lives, the spirit was that of a transformed person. No doubt he had a new heart.

Ezekiel 36:26

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

It was 1967 I think, when Dr. Christian Barnard conducted the first successful heart transplant. The South African native rocked the medical world and I remember him on the cover of Life magazine. Truth be told, God has been doing much more impressive transplants for a very long time because Dr. Barnard's patients eventually passed away. David Berkowitz and all those who receive a new spirit heart will live forever.

The Best Compliment Ever

We all love compliments but most are vain ego parties.

But King David received the best compliment ever:

He was called a man after God's heart. That one sticks, here's why:

David was:

A man of the Word: Oh, How I love your law!

A man of prayer: I will call upon Him my whole life

A man of praise: Seven Times a day will I praise You

A man who hated evil: I hate every false way

Heaven is always recruiting men and women who will match their full will to God's. When that rare individual is found, look out!

Until Jesus - David was a preview, we should be a review of this dynamic life.

Okay, so I have been a little more interested in studying the heart since June 6 of this year. In rapid order I found that the Bible is blunt and clear that the heart of man is in deep trouble:

Here is profile of the more than eight hundred times the heart is mentioned. Suffice to say, man's unredeemed heart gets a wicked review.

All the thoughts of man's heart are continually wicked


Heart is desperately wicked… who can know it


Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts.


Danger of darkened hearts


Heart is waxed gross (thick and heavy)


False Hearts-Mouth draws near to God but heart is far from Him


The Double-minded heart


Polluted & Bitter Hearts


No wonder then that Genesis also says, God's heart was grieved that He made man. Happily, He chose to resolve the issue by offering a full change of heart, a transplant.

Heart disease has killed millions, but EVERYBODY has this genetic defect from the fall- literally broken hearts.

The markers are everywhere, Jesus said:

Out of the abundance of the heart- your lips speak. You don't have to look long to know that mankind is far from God.

How magnificent then that a poisoned heart like mine or Berkowitz's can be demonstrably and permanently changed.

How can you change your heart? Self-Surgery is never successful and amateur surgeons are not recommended. So much of what we do to feel better or change our behavior treats the fruit and not the root of the issue. Relieving symptoms will not bring the healing we need.

Confess with your lips and believe in your heart that Jesus died and God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.

Cue Andrae Crouch: 'Jesus is the answer for the world today.'

Only God's Spirit using the scalpel of His Word can cut between soul and spirit and get to the heart of the matter.