Stonrbriar Mall has not fallen on hard times. I know many malls in America, some even here in Dallas, have become virtual ghost towns, but not Stonebriar. Now, I personally avoid malls as a general rule, [this year I actually went a few times with the fam around the Christmas holidays, on average I probably go once a year] however, when any of my family goes to a mall, about 95% of the time it is Stonebriar. They have most of the stores we like, it is clean, well lit, well patrolled by security officers, its facility is modern and well maintained, it has wifi, they actually have their own app for the mall, in most respects, it is a great place to shop.
Today in Plano Texas a 17 year old High School Student was arrested for planning an 'ISIS style terrorist attack' on our mall. Turns out he's supposedly been lurking around the mall, planning this since at least last December. Walking around us, watching us, scheming...hidden in plain sight. I may have seen this kid, sitting in the food court, or standing by a kiosk, and I never knew. He looked like most of the other 10,000 teenagers I saw at that mall. I never noticed because I couldn't see his heart.
I wonder what it was like for him, realizing that he could walk through that mall, planning evil, watching the security officers and scheming their death, and no-one was the wiser. No one could tell what nefarious plans were being hatched in his heart, no one knew. He could stand right beside you, dreaming of the day he would 'douse you with gas and burn' you while video taping it, and you'd probably smile at him and say "hi" as you walked on by.
Let me tell you another story, true just as this one. There was a young man I knew in college. He was not a perfect young man by a long shot, but he was seeking the Lord Jesus. This young man was trying to be more consistent in his personal spiritual disciplines, praying, studying his Bible, and it was changing him. Then one day he realized that no-one could see the secret life he was living in the privacy of his own heart.
Heading to breakfast in the dorm cafeteria he took a
noticed him. No one at all. Now on that particular morning, that was great, because he really wanted to talk to God, but for some reason, that day it really stood out to him. No matter when, no matter where, God is always with me. I can talk to Him anywhere. I can sit in a college cafeteria and I don't have to 'bow my head and close my eyes' to talk to God, I can eat my bacon and look around the room, and the crazy part is, although I look alone, I'm not alone. God is here with me, and no-one even notices.
Do you see the parallel? We all have this 'hidden man of the heart', that inward life we live, only in the presence of God. One young man used that secret life to plan and scheme unimaginable evil, the other to plan and scheme a close relationship and more time with God.
So what do you do in that secret place in your heart? Do you joyfully share your hidden life with your father? Do you ever meditate on the words of God? Do you puzzle over a cryptic saying of Jesus, seeking understanding? Do you sing a song of praise in your heart? Or do you scheme and plot, reveling in some thought of wickedness? I know, I know, you wouldn't ever do something like an ISIS style murder spree, but do you dream
Its' up to you. No one controls your mind but you, you choose for yourself. Oh, God knows, yes. He watches, He listens, He knows.
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." - 1 Samuel 16:7
He is watching your heart, He can even discern between your thoughts and your intentions. You can't fool him. ISIS can't fool him. I can't fool him. Why? Because He can see your heart. He sees who that secret you really is, and what you really want, what you dream and scheme about.
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person." - Matthew 15:19-20
So is this guy in Plano [assuming the charges against him are true] a wicked young man? I'm sure he would tell you he's not. He would tell you his barbaric plans were deserved by the people who would suffer. He would tell you with
The other young man? He got married to a wonderful woman who loves him, had a house full of children who love and respect him, they have many Christian friends who love them, they have peace and harmony in their home, he has preached the gospel to thousands of people on three continents. So is he some kind of beacon of virtue? He would tell you he's not. He would tell you of the times his selfishness has broken his wife's heart, and of his harshness that crushed his children's spirit. He would tell you in his shame that a relative died without Christ, and how he had never really tried very much to
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." - Proverbs 4:23
Take care of your heart. Guard it. Keep it. You may be able to walk among us, filled with hate, lust, pride, greed, and we never know it. But you can also walk among us filled with love, humility, graciousness and goodness. It's your choice.