Calibration – Recalibration


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels


When the Lord created humankind, he calibrated our hearts to be lovers above all else and to have that love aligned toward Him and his designs and desires for the Kingdom here on earth. But in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve yielded the ground of their hearts to Lucifer when he nudged the desires of their hearts for the forbidden fruit, the hearts of humankind got out of sync. The original calibration went amiss.


This loving what was from God should have been straightforward and easier, but from that day forward what we longed for and desired was always influenced by the choices made back then in Eden. The allure of many things could distract us from the best things, and they did. Our sin nature pulled at the threads of our subconscious.


The wants, longings and desires of our hearts are what impact everything we do and tend to determine the course we are on. It is the battleground that either helps or hinders the renewal of our minds. And since our loves can be pulled in so many directions from an array of influences (some recognized and others not), gaining more understanding about the ground we are to guard and protect is crucial.


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

God knew that we needed a heart fix, a major heart adjustment to regain the clear recognition that He is love and we are made to be lovers of all things godly and good. When Jesus volunteered to come to earth in the flesh, one of the key purposes was to show us what love is, who He is and always was. He wanted to clarify what we wanted, sought, and yearned for as the crux of the matter. John showed us that in his Gospel when we saw Jesus ask the key question, “What are you seeking?


When sin had entered in back in Eden, the sacrifices humankind knew from the Old Testament had been an effort to find our way back to God, but the relationship was still damaged because the blood of bulls, lambs, goats, and doves did not change the heart. But there was one thing that could and that was what Jesus intended to do when He chose to lay down his life on the cross and then allow the Holy Spirit to come to speak to us in our hearts so our hearts could begin to be recalibrated to what God planned at the outset.


Calibration means to set or adjust something so it works as it was designed to work. If something is amiss from the original settings, then recalibration is needed.


The truth is that our hearts need to be recalibrated. The Lord’s love sacrifice at Calvary opened the door for us if we have invited Him into our hearts, but life is still tricky and our adversary stays busy with his old tricks trying to lure us to love other things and distract us from the path our hearts are to take.


“While being human means we can’t not love something ultimate – some version of the kingdom – it doesn’t mean we necessarily love the right things, or the true King. God has created us for himself and our hearts are designed to find their end in him, yet many spend their days restlessly craving rival gods, frenetically pursuing rival kingdoms. The subconscious longings of our hearts are aimed and directed elsewhere; our orientation is askew; our erotic compass malfunctions, giving us false bearings.”

James K.A. Smith


Those subconscious things have often been there for a long time and they have taken ground because we practiced them as habits, we sought to satisfy longings. What we didn’t recognize at the time was that those things we were doing were also doing something to us and it wasn’t going to be easy to stop doing them. In truth they were affecting what we worshipped as they became idols we yielded to again and again.



Even as believers at the outset those old subconscious yearnings were not totally tamed, and they would haunt us and track us hoping we would yield. When we tried to think our way through the challenge, we could sometimes see what happened but that didn’t totally quell the heart’s old tastes.


Worship as a path to recalibration is a key tool because we don’t think our way toward worshipping God.


James K.A. Smith clarifies why worship is essential to the task:


“A more holistic response is to intentionally recalibrate the unconscious, to worship well, to immerse ourselves in liturgies that are indexed to the kingdom of God precisely so that even our unconscious desires and longings – the affective, under-the-hood ways we intend the world – are indexed to God and what God wants for his world.

The practices of Christian worship train our love – they are practice for the coming kingdom, habituating us as citizens of the kingdom of God.”

From You Are What You Love


I think Paul understood a great deal about what was needed to recalibrate our hearts. Listen to what he said to the church at Colossae:


“15 Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ live in you richly, flooding you with all wisdom. Apply the Scriptures as you teach and instruct one another with the Psalms, and with festive praises, and with prophetic songs given to you spontaneously by the Spirit, so sing to God with all your hearts!”

Colossians 3:15-16 (TPT)


Smith echoes that when he writes:


“The orientation of the heart happens from the bottom up, through the formation of our habits of desire. Learning to love (God) takes practice.”









Virtue is a word we rarely hear used these days and that is indeed unfortunate since there appears to be a great deal of evidence that having more virtue would be good medicine for what ails society at present.


Virtue is derived from the Latin word “virtus” (the personification of which was the deity Virtus), and had the connotations of “manliness,” “honour”, worthiness of deferential respect, and civic duty as both a citizen and a soldier. The word was popular in the early 1800’s and then began to decline in use up to the present time. Perhaps that decline was propelled by more focus on self-actualization and individualism and a disappointment in its absence in the lives of those who were to model it as well as losing track of our heart’s condition.


We wanted so many things and we wanted them to diminish the longings in our hearts that had been ravaged by disease, war, economic collapses, and the breakdown of the family unit. We wanted anesthesia for our hearts, and we found many ways to accomplish that whether through work, play, or chasing after some perceived sense of what “the good life” should be. And we paid little attention to how such an anesthetized heart would lose track of God (much like Israel) and began to search for our desires by means of “less wild lovers” as John Eldredge would say.



Some of these paths resulted in greater loss than we could have imagined and discovery that these other loves had chained us to addictions over which we had less and less control.


In The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge they describe what happens through the power of addiction of any kind:


“Whatever the object of addiction is, it attaches itself to our intense desire for eternal and intimate communion with God and each other in the midst of Paradise – the desire that Jesus himself placed in us before the beginning of the world. Nothing less than this kind of unfallen communion will ever satisfy our desire or allow it to drink freely without it imprisoning it and us. Once we allow our heart to drink water from these less-than-eternal wells with the goal of finding the life we were made for, it overpowers our will and becomes as Jonathan Edwards said, “like a viper, hissing and spitting at God” and us if we try to restrain it.”


Our heart is the battleground.


When we have anesthetized our hearts, we are desperately in need of the only One who can and did offer an escape – Jesus on the cross. And we need a steady supply of virtue that causes us to look upward and out to others rather than to that nagging wanting that has driven us to the dead-end path we can find ourselves on.



If we are (as James K.A. Smith says) what we love, then what we love and practicing seeking after determines a great deal of how the battle for our hearts will go.


Smith makes a great case for what virtues are and what they accomplish in the battle for our heart:


“Virtues, quite simply, are good moral habits. (Bad moral habits, as you might guess, are called “vices.”) Good moral habits are like internal dispositions to the good – they are character traits that become woven into the who you are so that you are the kind of person who is inclined to be compassionate, forgiving, and so forth. Virtues thus are different from moral laws or rules, which are external stipulations of the good.”


Maybe we have missed this crucial understanding as we have passed more and more laws as the answer to helping us all to be better as individuals, citizens, states, and nations. They are all external and we have a plethora of them already that have not accomplished the internal character and virtue we desperately need.


Our pastor recently preached a sermon that reflected that noting that the problems swirling around us today (in whatever part of the world we live or find ourselves) cannot be resolved by any means unless we each and all address the condition of our hearts. And that is something we have left unattended for far too long so that we are sometimes caught up in calling evil good and good evil.


So, if we need more virtue, how does one acquire it in this postmodern era we live in?



Smith’s book that I have referenced says it comes from two key things: imitation and practice. Could it be that as believers we are imitating more of what the world around us is saying and doing than the virtues we ascribe to?


Smith describes the two things we must do as follows:


“First, we learn our virtues through imitation. More specifically, we learn to be virtuous by imitating exemplars of justice, compassion, kindness, and love.

Secondly, acquiring virtue takes practice. Such moral, kingdom-reflecting dispositions are inscribed into your character through rhythms and routines and rituals, enacted over and over again, that implant in you a disposition to an end (telos) that become a character trait – a sort of learned, second- nature default orientation that you tend toward “without thinking about it.” It’s important to recognize that such dispositions are not “natural.” We’re not talking about hardwiring or natural instincts. Virtues are learned and acquired, through imitation and practice. It’s like we have moral muscles that are trained in the same way our biological muscles are trained when we practice a golf swing or piano scales.”

James K.A. Smith in You Are What You Love


It may be that we need more time in the spiritual gym to develop those moral muscles to accomplish what we need. To do that we will need to set aside other “less wild lovers” that we tend toward and be more aware of what we are feeding in ourselves by what we watch or read and who we imitate.


I think Peter understood that when he penned this verse:


“But you are God’s chosen treasure—priests who are kings, a spiritual “nation” set apart as God’s devoted ones. He called you out of darkness to experience his marvelous light, and now he claims you as his very own. He did this so that you would broadcast his glorious wonders throughout the world.”

1 Peter 2:9 (TPT)









Looking for Clues



If we are practicing our faith in order to grow spiritually and relationally with Him, we tend to look for clues about how best to do that. And frankly, there are dozens of books and workshops on this. Some of us try them and pick up a few good hints, but often those hints don’t stick very well. Of course, we plan to use them, but they get stuck on one of those “to do” lists and too often stay there rather than taking us deeper.


As we read in our Bibles, we see often that we are admonished to take charge of our thoughts and renew our minds as keys to a disciplined life of discipleship. Paul writes about this in many places:


We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10;5 (NIV)


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2 (NIV)


These are good and helpful in guiding our decisions and training our thoughts, but even with practice they can get derailed because what is driving the engine inside of us is what we want at any given point in time and that is a heart issue first.


I was challenged to look at this when I read the following words by James K.A. Smith in You Are What You Love:


“What if, instead of starting from the assumption that human beings are thinking things, we started from the conviction that human beings are first and foremost lovers? What if you are defined not by what you know but by what you desire? What if the center and seat of the human person is found not in the heady regions of the intellect but in the gut-level regions of the heart?”


You would think we would just clearly “get” that wouldn’t you? No one ever asks us to invite Jesus into our heads, but always into our hearts. Somehow after that we start doing the thinking things and lose track of the reality that the battle is always going to be about our hearts.



We can all think of examples that make that clear. One easy one is our commitment to lose those extra pounds and watch our intake of sugar and fats. We know what we need to do. We have committed to one program after another and made progress here and there, but too often we slip back. Why?  Because we want that ice cream sundae on these hot summer days and that want will very often win over what our head tells us to sacrifice.


That doesn’t mean we don’t use our “thinkers” to try to rein in our “wanters” that are not healthy for us, but if we think the thinking things are going to have an easy time of it we miss that the clue to success is having our hearts bent to a different want or desire.


What did Augustine say was key to our identity?


“You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”


Smith’s book suggests this regarding what Augustine writes:


“The longing that Augustine describes is less like curiosity and more like hunger – less like an intellectual puzzle to be solved and more like a craving for sustenance.”


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Photo by Rob Blair

I think the psalmist nails the idea in Psalm 42: 1-2 (NIV):


“As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?”


If we are honest with ourselves as we assess things, we can see how our wants and desires are what propels us forward. That is what it is crucial for the Lord to recalibrate our hearts so they long for Him and what He desires because He is the only one who can satisfy whether we realize that all the time or not.


“The center of gravity of the human person is located not in the intellect but in the heart. Why? Because the heart is the existential chamber of our love, and it is our loves that orient us toward some ultimate end or telos (goal). It’s not just that I “know” some end or “believe” in some telos. More than that, I long for some end. I want something and want it ultimately. It is my desires that define me. In short, you are what you love.”

James K.A. Smith in You Are What You Love


John Eldredge often writes about how God made us for intimacy and adventure. I love that concept because it brings us into the relational being of the Lord with us. If we miss that by being a “thinking thing” our attempt to take every thought captive will falter.


“Our heart will not totally forsake the intimacy and adventure we were made for and so we compromise. We both become, and take to ourselves, lovers that are less dangerous in their passion for life and the possible pain that comes with it – in short, lovers that are less wild.”

John Eldredge


And don’t mistake that the adversary, our enemy, knows the action to seduce is in the heart center as well. His lures are many and filled with all manner of sensual passionate yearnings that can take us down a path we did not intend.


So if you are looking for clues along the journey, be sure you keep inventory on your heart – its longings, desires, wants – that will give you a big boost in taking thoughts captive and renewing your heart. Otherwise, it can be a good exercise with little fruit at the end of it.
















What Kind of Salt Are You?




When I was growing up on a farm in Ohio I only knew about three kinds of salt: table salt, pickling salt, and road salt. Table salt was and is the most common type of salt that comes from salt deposits underground. Once mined it is highly refined and ground with all the impurities and trace minerals removed in the process. Then it gets treated with an AdobeStock_51940115-1024x683anti-caking agent to keep it from clumping and many times iodine is added to the salt to prevent iodine deficiency.


Late summer when the pickles had been picked, my mother would go through the process of brining the pickles in large crocks that sat in our basement. Pickling salt doesn’t contain any added anti-caking agents, nor many trace minerals.


In the midst of the snowy winters common for us, large “salt trucks” would add road salt to the roadways to help the snow melt. This salt reduced the slippery conditions so the cars could travel more easily. This type of salt is often called “rock salt” because its grains are much coarser than table salt. (We had a salt mine not many miles from where I grew up. You know its name: Morton.)AdobeStock_102006299-1024x683


Beyond these three types of salt there is Kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, Celtic sea salt, Fleur De Sel (“flower of salt”), Kala Namak (“black salt”), flake salt, black Hawaiian salt, red Hawaiian salt, and smoked salt. Each type of salt has properties that attract various uses in different regions of the world.


In recent years the Himalayan pink salt has grown in popularity. (I use this often now.) Its appeal stems from being the purest form of salt in the world. It’s harvested by hand Pink-Himalayan-Salt-736from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. This salt is rich in minerals and contains 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body. Due to its mineral content, it can have a bolder flavor than many other salts.


Beyond all that salt is spoken of often through the Old and New Testament of the Bible. It had multiple uses. It was used to season food, mixed with the fodder for cattle, used to season offerings offered to the Lord, and newborn children were rubbed with salt as a disinfectant in Ezekiel 16:4. In Numbers 18:19 and 2 Chronicles 13:5 the Bible speaks of a “covenant of salt” and signified a covenant of perpetual obligation.


In Matthew 5 in the message known as the “Sermon on the Mount” in verse 13 Jesus uses the word salt in a powerful metaphor as He speaks to His disciples and followers:


 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Mt. 5:13 (ESV)


In the tangible world, sodium chloride (salt) is very stable, but it is readily water-soluble. AdobeStock_119724186-1024x611 (2)If it is exposed to condensation or rainwater the sodium chloride could be dissolved and removed and the salt could lose its saltiness.


But I don’t think this is what Jesus is referring to. Salt is not only a seasoning that enhances flavors. As a seasoning it balances sweetness and can help suppress other flavors such as bitterness. Salt also is used as a preservative to prevent spoilage.


As believers to be called “salt” speaks to one of our responsibilities and calling. We are to represent Him and be a seasoning in the place He has called us to be. In other words, we are to bring something to the environment…the flavor of Christ. We also represent Him and preserve His Word and move on His commission to us as His modern day disciples even now.


AdobeStock_70922369-1024x683His words in Matthew 5:13 make clear we could lose our savor or saltiness. When He describes what happens if we lose it, it is not a pretty or positive picture.


What might cause us to lose our savor or saltiness?


That can be a question to ponder.


I think we can lose it when our life in Him is not spiritually renewed and continually AdobeStock_109131210-1024x683refreshed. It can also happen when we drift away from remembering that we are His representatives wherever we go, whatever we do. We should look like Him, sound like Him. Our attitudes and character should be like His.


I wonder if we also lose our savor when we look more like the world around us, when we are no longer a seasoning and no longer preserving what He left to our charge.


As the world around us decays on many levels, I wonder if too many of us have lost our savor, our saltiness. We can point at so many people and things as the problem, but have we forgotten who we are to be and our responsibility?


What kind of salt are we?




What Are You Practicing?

Two grandsons hard at work practicing on the beach – on vacation


Practicing?  Really?  Must I practice?


The word “practice” evokes memories in all of our minds – sitting at a piano or another musical instrument going over scales or pieces of music we have been assigned that are not at all what we had in mind when we started with an instrument. Other memories include practicing spelling words, mathematical facts, vocabulary, locations of continents, countries, oceans, and more on a map.


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But it doesn’t stop there. Our favorite sports that we seek to achieve great triumphs in start with the grunt work of practice, sometimes doing things that make no sense to us for the sport we are seeking to play. Some of the professions we train for are called “a practice.”


The word practice results in such a visceral response in us because of what it requires of us. We may want to play an instrument beautifully like we listen to on our favorite Spotify or Pandora channel or earn that scholarship for academic excellence, but practice demands we work at something repeatedly so we can improve toward the goal we have or the goal we have set for us. And frankly, that sounds like WORK…and it is.



Practice requires we focus, hone in on something repeatedly, when much of the time our bent is to relax in whatever way suits us doing something we do easily or that is fun. Try not to label that in a negative way, but to see it as just what it is for most of us.


Why must we practice?


You and I can come up with a list of reasons, but it all boils down to what practice does to us beyond what we are actually doing. Practice trains and teaches us to develop some skill or attribute that we want or need to acquire. In the process, it develops a habit and habits shape who we are, who we become.


But wait – Paul talks about practice in his epistles as well. Here is one example:


“Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious.”

I Corinthians 9:24 (TPT)



No, he doesn’t use the word practice, but if you have ever run a race of any kind you know you need a great deal of practice to be able to finish the race let alone win it. I got to see that when our daughter was training (practicing) running to increase her endurance for a 5K and then moved up to a half marathon and a 10 miler. A few verses later in that same chapter, Paul makes it clearer still:


“…but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.”

I Corinthians 9:27 (TPT)


Paul uses the word train in this verse and training always involves practice. I know that from a number of areas in my life from piano to sax to academics. I also know it from never being an athlete and realizing as I was getting older that I very much needed to strengthen my body to be able to improve flexibility, posture and more. I couldn’t accomplish that by walking every day, I needed a trainer to guide the path to the goal and hold me accountable. It was a decision I did not make lightly to hire one. It was going to cost me some dollars and also cost me commitment and a regimen of practice if I didn’t want to have my body crumble just through the natural aging process.



Practice results in developing a habit so that over time we not only reach the goal, but we find it less hard to do.


Paul uses the metaphors about running a race often in his writing because he knows that training and practice in the spiritual realm does something that we need if we are to look like Christ. It develops virtue, a necessary character trait of disciples of Christ.


“…acquiring virtue takes practice. Such moral, kingdom-reflecting dispositions are inscribed into your character through rhythms and routines and rituals, enacted over and over again, that implant in you a disposition to an end (telos) that becomes a character trait – a sort of learned, second-nature default orientation that you tend toward “without thinking about it.” We’re not talking about biological hardwiring or natural instincts.

Virtues are learned and acquired, through imitation and practice. It’s like we have the moral muscles that are trained the same way our biological muscles are trained when we practice a golf swing or piano scales.”

James K.A. Smith


And the key is to remember this practice is not about trying to just acquire more knowledge, Jesus is always after one thing above all – our hearts. He wants our desires, longings, and yearnings to be ever toward Him because they will be what directs our behavior. It’s not about the law we memorize, but about our hearts that are transformed.


One of my favorite passages in scripture is Hebrews 12:1-3 that points me to my focus and The Message version makes it exceedingly plain:


“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)


What do you need to start practicing participating in the recalibration of your heart and development of virtue?