Are you becoming a better actor instead of a better Christian?
Increasing numbers of believers are not experiencing the joy and life-change offered by Jesus Christ. Instead, they are frustrated and disillusioned. Their marriages are deteriorating. Their relationships with their kids are filled with conflict. They’re acquiring self-destructive behaviors. Some are ready to give up on their faith altogether. And they’re covering up their problems with a happy face.
They are living with troubled hearts. You may be one of them. Yet Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” Is that even possible in today’s world?
In Hope for the Troubled Heart, Dennis Kizziar answers with an emphatic “Yes!” Inspired by a gradual awakening to his own troubled heart, Dennis explains the heart from a biblical perspective, identifies the three common obstacles to a life of freedom, and shows step by step how to rediscover God’s joy and peace. The pathway to the life you were meant to live begins at the core—your heart. Want to live with a heart that has been changed, freed, healed, and renewed? It’s time to get to the heart of the matter!
I was nineteen years old and miserable. I’d spent most of my high school years partying and fighting, and had barely graduated. For the previous year I’d worked in a warehouse in Oakland, California. Finally, after twelve months of packing boxes, I’d earned a vacation, so a friend and I celebrated by driving to Reno for several days of drinking and run-ins with the city police. In more ways than one, it was a wasted week. Now I was at my grandparents’ home in Turlock. It was Saturday afternoon; I had to be back at work in Oakland, ninety miles away, by Monday morning. I didn’t know how I could face another year of box-packing. I was completely depressed, with no hopes or plans for the rest of my life—or even for that night. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head. Judy Barrows lives around here. I wonder if she’d go out with me tonight? I looked up Judy’s number and called. To my surprise, she accepted my short-notice date proposal. A few hours later, I pulled up to Judy’s ranch-style home in my pride and joy, a ’53 green and yellow Chevy Bel Air. Judy, wearing a yellow summer dress, looked great. My hopes of quickly whisking her away in my dream mobile were soon dashed, however. “Dennis, my brother is going to be on television in a few minutes,” Judy said. “Would you mind if we watched a little of the program?” What could I say? I reluctantly consented. After family introductions, I sat down in the Barrows’ living room with Judy and her father, mother, brother, and sister, wondering what I was getting myself into. The program host came on and announced that we were about to see a Billy Graham crusade from Madison Square Garden in New York. I’d heard of Billy Graham, but didn’t know anything about him. And I certainly didn’t know until that moment that Cliff Barrows, the program’s master of ceremonies and song leader, was Judy’s brother! We watched for a few minutes. I had no interest in the message or what Billy Graham was saying about the Bible. As far as I was concerned, church was for hypocrites and old ladies. I could feel my palms start to sweat. This was not what I had in mind for the evening. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned to Judy and whispered, “Maybe it’s time for us to go.” Her father heard me. “Dennis,” he said, “I think it would be a good idea for you to watch the whole program.” The look in his eye and the tone of his voice made it clear that the matter was not up for debate. If I wanted to date this man’s daughter, I was going to have to sit through the entire show. It was one of the longest hours of my life. At last, the program ended. I barely remember where Judy and I went that night—probably to the local drive-in for something to eat. But I’ll never forget what happened when we got back to her house. We parked in Judy’s driveway and started to talk. I shared about how much I disliked my warehouse job, described my awful “vacation,” and admitted that my life had no meaning or direction. Judy looked at me intently. “Dennis, you need what Billy was talking about tonight—a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” I raised my hand. “Oh, no,” I said. “I’ve already heard one sermon too many tonight. I don’t need another one from you. I think I’d better get going.” “Okay,” she answered. “But before you go, I want to pray for you.” Judy didn’t wait for me to answer. She closed her eyes and in a sweet, gentle voice, started praying out loud, inviting Jesus to move into and take hold of my life. I was stunned. No one had ever prayed like this just for me. When she finished, Judy opened her eyes and looked again at me. “Now,” she said, “why don’t you pray and give your life to Christ?” The strangest feeling came over me. My resistance seemed to melt away. The desire to escape was gone. For some reason, I couldn’t say no to Judy’s question. Instead, I looked down and began to speak. “God,” I said in a low voice, “if You’re really there and You’re real…if You can do anything with this crazy life of mine…then do it.” For me, the experience was like being in a dark room and suddenly finding the light switch. I knew this was real. I’d met the Living Christ right there in Judy Barrows’ driveway. I now had hope. I returned to Oakland, bought a Bible, and a few days later felt prompted to quit my job at the warehouse. I loaded my few possessions into the Bel Air and drove to Los Angeles, where I soon convinced the registrar at a Christian school then called Biola College to allow me to enroll. Biola was a new world to me, and I loved it. I soaked up the teaching there like a sponge. I also came to appreciate the attributes of another student named Joan. I dated several girls at Biola, but when my eyes fell on Joan, I was captivated. I had never met anyone with the same measure of grace, beauty, quiet spirit, purity, godliness, and innocence. For some reason, she also seemed to see something in me. By the end of my four years at Biola, we were engaged to be married. I was on my way to a great life, full of love for the Lord and excited about spending the rest of my days with my new wife, serving God, and spreading the message of Christ. The hopeless, drifting, self-destructive young man I’d been before was gone. I’d made a 180-degree turn. Now that I’d committed myself to Christ, I knew that my worries were over. At least, that’s what I thought at the time. What I didn’t know was that down deep, in the hidden chambers of my heart, I was still very troubled. God took me on a very painful journey to my troubled heart. Read on to see how God graciously revealed to me my troubled heart and how He brought healing and hope. I am confident He can do the same for you as you open your heart to Him – no matter how deeply your heart has been wounded.
DENNIS KIZZIAR is founder of World Leadership Ministries and “The Untroubled Heart” seminar. He is a graduate of Biola University and Western Seminary. He has served as a missionary in Brazil and has been a church pastor for thirty-five years. Dennis has also served as Director of the Ministers Department for a large national Christian organization. He has traveled extensively in the United States and to over forty countries, ministering to pastors and missionaries and preaching in a variety of churches and other settings. Dennis and his wife, Joan, have ministered together since their marriage in 1961. They have two grown children and six grandchildren.
JAMES LUND is a writer, collaborator, and editor who has worked with numerous bestselling authors. He is the coauthor of A Dangerous Faith. Jim lives with his wife, Angela, and their three children in central Oregon.