Our true heart

Life Model bite #1 – Our true heart

One of the key concepts of the Life Model is living from “the heart Jesus gave you.” Many people find it difficult to understand what this could mean, especially in reference to the heart. I am not surprised that there is some confusion about our hearts. How should we see our hearts?

When I think of the human heart, the first Bible verse that comes to mind is:

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. (Jer 17:9)

I guess, I must have heard this verse often enough, to associate it so quickly, even though I do not remember any concrete situation. The basic message, if you consider this verse as defining for what our heart is like, is that our heart can’t be trusted. Never trust your heart (or feelings), only your intellect. Mistrusting our heart, together with feelings and emotions, is very common but not necessarily biblical. If you have read my blog posts on Why Western Christianity Failed, then you already know where this is coming from (see here and here and here for more details).

But this is misleading because there are plenty of other references concerning the human heart that paint quite a different picture:

  • We are called to love the Lord with all of our heart. (Dt 6:5, Mt 22:37)
  • God said he will write his instructions on our hearts. (Jer 31:33.34 // Hebr 8:10; 10:16)
  • We are told to trust the Lord with all of our heart. (Prov 3:5)
  • We are told to guard our heart because it is a wellspring of life. (Prov 4:23)
  • God made his light shine in our hearts (2 Cor 4:6)
  • Christ even decided to live (dwell) in our hearts (Eph 3:17) – then it can’t be such a bad place. 😉

On the background of these verses I am inclined to believe that a better translation of the above verse would be ‘deformed and desperately sick’ (Jer 17:9) as Jim Wilder suggested. I think that ‘deceitful and desperately wicked’ implies intentional badness and a state that is beyond hope, while ‘deformed and desperately sick’ paints the picture of a heart that is not how it should be but that it can be healed. And this is what God promised in Eze 11:19 where God calls the human heart dead (stone) but promises to give people a new heart that is alive and will know his will. Looking at some translators resources I find this view confirmed. Among other things, the heart is described as the place where God communicates with us and that knows Gods will.

In the context of the Life Model the terms ‘the heart Jesus gave you,” “our true heart” and “the heart of hearts” are used interchangeably and refer to the part of our heart that reflects God’s image. We are made in God’s image. Our true heart reflects this and each of us reflects a different aspect of God’s character.

However, this true heart has been buried among a lot of bad stuff

– our own sin, as well as the sins of others, and the hurts that have been caused by these. They are like several layers of dirt on our true heart. This is why we often don’t even know our true heart and have problems trusting our heart. As a result, we often react from our hurts, instead of from our true hearts.

Another comparison I found helpful: the true heart is like an x-ray or a diapositive, but there are several other layers of x-rays on top of it, so that it is difficult to see what the original one looked like.

Over the last years I learned to recognize indications of my own true heart.

At first I was very surprised, when a friend exclaimed in a conversation that she can see my true heart in this situation. It was especially surprising because it was not something I had done or thought, but something I wish I had done. So, I thought this is not really me; quite to the contrary – how can this be my true heart? Over time I came to understand that it is the longing to have acted a certain way that is an indication of my true heart, of how God made me.

At the Thrive conference last year, we learned another way of discovering our true heart – by looking at our deepest pain. Often the things that cause us the deepest pain are an indication of the true heart that God put in us – because it is contrary to what we were made to be.

This is the heart Jesus gave you – a small reflection of himself and at the same time an indication for who he has called us to be to glorify him. I find it a worthwhile pursuit to find out more about it. This is what the Life Model is about – learning about the heart Jesus gave you, and learning to live from it. It means discovering of who God originally made us to be and how to live up to our calling and glorifying him through it.

Life Model Bites

Life Model Bites

Every time I want to explain to somebody what the Life Model is about, I realize that there are so many aspects to it, that is is nearly impossible to explain all of them at once. In addition, they are so interrelated that it is sometimes hard to understand one, without understanding the other one. It’s only over time that I started to understand and appreciate the different aspects, but probably I am not yet done.

The subtitle of the Life Model book is of course a good starter: “Living from the heart Jesus gave you.” The Life Model is about living out who we were meant to be. What does it take to really be the person God has created us to be? In a way, all the other aspects – mentioned in the book, addressed in the Munchies CD teaching [now called Jesus In Mind] , taught and practiced at Thrive conferences and in Thriving classes – flow out of this. But as I said, there are many different aspects and it is easy to lose the overview.

In one of the recent webinars at Deeper Walk International (already mentioned here), Jim Wilder gave the following

Summary of the main characteristics of the Life Model:

  • Multigenerational community
  • Immanuel lifestyle
  • Relational brain skill training

That’s a great summary.

Nevertheless, there are many subtopics that are essential for understanding even these points. This gave me the idea to try and describe different aspects of the Life Model in ‘bite size.’ I want to do this in a new series – called “Life Model bites.”


There is no guarantee that I already understood everything perfectly that there is to the Life Model. Neither am I officially associated with Shepherd’s House. But I am happy to share what I have learned from them, what I found interesting and helpful.