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Christians are engaged in the ultimate battle-the battle for the heart. The overwhelming influences of the media, materialism, and selfish ambition threaten to decay even the most tender of hearts. While the world screams to the contrary, every Christian must fight to maintain a clear conscience and discover what it really means to have the heart of God. On the heels of his New York Times bestseller Mind ...
Christians are engaged in the ultimate battle-the battle for the heart. The overwhelming influences of the media, materialism, and selfish ambition threaten to decay even the most tender of hearts. While the world screams to the contrary, every Christian must fight to maintain a clear conscience and discover what it really means to have the heart of God. On the heels of his New York Times bestseller Mind Siege, Tim LaHaye, with Ed Hindson, equip readers with armor to guard their hearts and draw nearer to God.
Some chapter titles include:
A Short Story
Tears were part of the meeting.
It had been that way since the beginning. But always they belonged to other people. The faceless tide of troubled folk who washed up on the shores of Micah Phillips's crisis intervention meeting every Wednesday, any season of the year. Battered women, guilty men, depressed souls, lonely octogenarians.
All struggling for answers and a reason to live.
Micah swallowed hard and forced the day's events into the recesses of her mind. Then she mentally put on her-counselor hat and took her spot amid the five people who had come to her that day searching for answers.
"I'm Micah Phillips." Her gaze made its way around the small circle, locking eyes with each person. "Welcome to Heart Crisis Intervention."
She explained that after the two-hour meeting an evaluation would be made. Typically participants would be placed into an appropriate weekly outpatient group. Other times a recommendation would be made for hospitalization.
"We'll start with revelation. Each of you can talk about what brought you here ... share your story. We'll have a question-answer session after that, and end with group closure."
The faces in the circle hung on every word, and Micah felt her confidence grow. She knew the basic details of their stories. It was part of the job, familiarizing herself with a group before actually meeting them. She prided herself on being their beacon of light, theirsource of hope. It was her place to sit above them and hand out advice.
But today the truth was something entirely different, and she hoped with every breath that the ocean of tears welling in her heart would not break free.
At least until she got home.
Because today, regardless of the stories she was about to hear, she had done something she never planned on doing.
She had become one of them.
"All right ..." She sat a bit straighter. "Who would like to go first?"
Mark Adams was neither nervous nor fearful of the opportunity to tell his story. After more than a year of keeping silent about his darkest secrets, he was practically bursting to share them with the group. In some ways the things he was about to say were no different than a tragic closing argument or a dissertation on behalf of a doomed client.
A client with blood on his hands.
The difference was that these were not someone else's sordid details designed to sway a jury.
They were his own.
"Hi." He looked around the room and saw trembling hands on three of his peers. He was an attorney, trained to notice such things. He inhaled deeply. "I heard about Micah's program on the radio and decided to come. No one forced me." He rubbed his hands together. "I'm having panic attacks and ..." His voice broke and his cheeks grew hot. He had promised himself not to get emotional. Certainly he was professional enough to keep his feelings at bay for one brief discussion.
He cleared his throat and continued. "My wife moved out six weeks ago, and, well ... I feel like a murderer." He glanced at his shoes, unable to make eye contact through his tears. "It's a long story."
Micah shifted her position. "We have time. Why don't you start at the beginning?"
Mark nodded and allowed himself to drift back to that sunny autumn day more than a year ago. The day his young partner Leslie Landers first brought her personal feelings into his office.
Until that time, everything about Mark Adams's life had been measured and planned. He'd earned the right grades and attended the right schools. He passed the bar exam on the first try and avoided the type of serious relationship that might derail his career.
"I'll marry when I'm thirty-six," he liked to say. "Kids will come a few years later."
After a decade of climbing the corporate legal ladder, he met Susan on a Caribbean cruise and fell in love. They married three weeks after Mark's thirty-sixth birthday and had three children by the time they celebrated their sixth anniversary.
Just like Mark had planned.
"I always believed I'd be faithful to Susan." He sucked in a slow breath through clenched teeth. "But that was before I got to know Leslie. She was young and beautiful with a convincing manner and a mind like a steel trap. We were friendly with each other, of course, but I kept my distance. There was enough attraction between us for me to know better."
The story spilled from his heart, and in no time he forgot about the strangers seated around him. All that remained was the sad, sorry tale of Mark Adams's life, every dark and devastating detail.
It started in the fall after Leslie's live-in boyfriend moved out. They'd planned to marry within the year, and after the breakup she seemed always on the verge of tears. One morning Mark was in the break room stirring vanilla syrup into his coffee when Leslie walked in, took a seat, and quietly began to cry.
"I remember something warning me to be polite, to ask her if she was okay, then leave it alone." Mark shrugged. "But that wasn't what came out."
Instead he sat across from her and gently took her hands in his. "I know things have been hard at home." He spoke quietly. "My office door is open. If you need a friend, you've got one."
He remembered her reaction. She looked intently at him, the hint of a smile playing on her lips. "I might take you up on that."
Though the sadness remained, there was something deep and dangerous about the depth of gratitude in her eyes. When Mark walked away, his heart was beating strangely, pounding and skittering about, searching for a way back to normalcy. She won't come, he told himself. I was just being polite.
But at five o'clock that evening she proved him wrong. Most of the staff was gone when she knocked at the door and let herself in. "Have a minute?"
Even now he remembered the way his breath caught in his throat as he looked up from a legal docket and saw her there. She was achingly lovely, and in a matter of seconds he mentally postponed the dinner date he had with Susan, his wife. "Sure." He pointed to a chair on the other side of his desk. "Have a seat."
He closed the docket and cocked his head, trying everything in his power to dispel his building attraction to her. "What's up?"
She folded her hands in her lap and told him about her broken relationship. "He thought I was too busy for him." Tears welled in her eyes. "I never thought my schedule would come between us, never in a million years."
"I understand." Mark felt a connection growing between them, a garden of common ground. "A lawyer's schedule can be brutal on relationships."
Leslie wiped a tear from her cheek. "How do you do it? You and your wife seem so happy."
Mark considered his marriage and knew it wasn't true. He and Susan had troubles like anyone else—especially when it came to his schedule. He chuckled softly and admitted something he hadn't shared with anyone. "We're good at pretending."
They spent the next hour discussing the pitfalls of legal work and the inability to find anyone who might understand. Mark shared things about Susan that he'd only mildly considered in the past. But hearing them verbalized gave them a layer of truth and made his marriage—which had only hours earlier seemed fairly good—feel like little more than a sham.
He and Leslie talked about the cases they were working on, and in the process Mark found himself laughing at the same times she laughed, sharing similar values and insights and understandings. It was 6:30 and dark outside when Mark finally looked at his watch and grimaced. Susan had been looking forward to dinner on the town. Now he'd have to call and make up an excuse, tell her he'd gotten caught up in a last-minute case. "I have to get home."
Leslie was quiet a moment. "I know." A shadow of loneliness fell across her face.
Mark had the sudden unexplainable urge to ask her out, share the evening with her, and find a way to make her smile again. Susan would understand. After all, business meetings were part of the job.
He pictured his wife sitting home waiting for him, and he silently chastised himself. No, dinner with Leslie would not be a good idea. Not tonight. Instead he smiled and lowered his voice. "This was nice." He reached across his desk and as he'd done in the break room earlier, he squeezed her hand. "It's been a long time since I've talked like that with anyone." He hesitated and felt his guard slipping. "Especially someone ... as beautiful as you."
Leslie blushed, and something in the way she lingered in his office making smalltalk for another half-hour told him she was equally attracted. That night on the way home, Mark pondered the office conversation. It was a good thing, really. Mark was forty-six and Leslie, twenty-five. There couldn't possibly be anything romantic between them. They were coworkers, after all. Things were bound to be smoother, more efficient, if he and Leslie were connected at a deeper level.
Mark paused and felt the memory of those days fade.
He worked the muscles in his jaw and met the eyes of those in the circle. "When I got home, Susan had been crying. I knew we had dinner plans, but I'd completely forgotten why. It was her birthday. It took weeks before things felt normal between us."
He drifted back once more and remembered out loud how the meeting with Leslie led to others. Three months later they were sharing lunches and meeting in his office at least once a week.
"I could feel the attraction between us growing." Mark narrowed his eyes, wishing for a way to go back and do things differently. "I had no idea how serious things would get."
Their evening talks grew longer and more personal, and Mark felt himself falling in love with her. But he convinced himself the feeling wasn't mutual. She might have found him attractive, but he was old enough to be her father.
The changes happened gradually. Mark noticed differences in the way Leslie treated him in front of others. They'd be in a group meeting and his eyes would meet hers. Whereas in the past she might have smiled politely or nodded her head, now she would blush, her gaze falling to her hands.
Often when he was at the copier, she would brush up against him and whisper, "I need to talk to you ... wait for me tonight, okay?"
Even the slightest feel of her skin against his ignited a fire that built with each passing day.
One evening he was working late when she walked into his office unannounced, closed the door, and locked it. Before he could find his voice, she came around his desk and pulled him to his feet. Her voice was nervous, vulnerable. "Hold me, Mark. Just hold me. I need a hug."
Think of Susan, he told himself. But before the thoughts were fully formed, his arms came around Leslie's waist and he pulled her close, his body fitting snugly against hers. He could feel her chest shaking and he realized she was crying. He leaned back enough to see her face. "What is it? What's wrong?"
She blinked back the tears and searched his face. "I'm ... I'm in love with you, Mark. There's no other way to say it."
Mark remembered even now the way his world tilted wildly with her words. The moment she admitted her feelings he felt twenty-five again, young and able to conquer the world. With every beat of his heart he wanted only to caress her cheeks, kiss her lips, and find a way to love her like he was dying to do. But even in the heat of the moment he pictured his wife's face and shook his head.
He wasn't one of those men who easily had affairs. Never did he intend to cheat on Susan or do anything that would threaten their marriage. It simply wasn't in him to live a life of lies, spitting in the face of integrity and faithfulness. He framed the younger woman's face with his fingertips and spoke words that were almost impossible to say. "You're not in love with me, Leslie. You're lonely and you need a friend. That's easy to confuse."
Leslie's tears subsided and she apologized. But before she left that day, she kissed him on the cheek and said something that stuck with Mark every hour of every day for the next two months. "I'm not confused. If you weren't married, I'd take you home and show you the difference between love and friendship so you wouldn't have to wonder."
The images of those days disappeared.
Mark leaned back in his chair and locked eyes with Micah Phillips. "I thought I was being good, you know ... resisting her that day. But when I got home, Susan came unglued."
Of all nights, Susan chose that one to unload months of concerns that had been building between them. She admitted that she'd called the firm several times around midday, and each time he'd been at lunch with Leslie.
"When you're late, she's late. I've seen her car in the parking lot beside yours." Susan planted her hands on her hips and scowled at Mark, and he couldn't help but think how much she looked like her mother. The contrast between her appearance and Leslie's far lovelier one was striking.
"We work together."
"Don't lie to me." Susan rolled her eyes. "What's happening, Mark? I don't want to be the last to know!"
Again Mark thought of everything at stake: his marriage, his reputation, his desire to be faithful. He swallowed back the truth and smoothed a lock of hair off Susan's forehead. "Nothing's happening." He hoped the truth didn't show in his eyes. "Leslie and I work together, nothing more."
But two months later he and Leslie were walking out of a restaurant one afternoon when Leslie began poking Mark in the ribs, teasing him about his tie not matching his shirt. They were both laughing, basking in the exhilaration of being together.
They passed an alleyway, and suddenly the tension between them was more than Mark could take. He gently took hold of her wrist and pulled her into the dark, narrow roadway. In one smooth motion he braced himself against the back of a brick building and drew her close. Before either of them could say anything, his lips found hers and they kissed in a way that Mark had only dreamed possible.
Breathless, their eyes full of questions, they studied each other, and with a hunger Mark had never known, they kissed again and again. Later that week, when their clandestine kisses were no longer enough to satisfy them, they skipped lunch and went to her apartment.
After that there was no turning back.
Week after week Leslie would wait until she was locked in his embrace and then raise the question that weighed on both their minds. "What about Susan?"
It was a question Mark was not yet ready to deal with. He would put a finger to Leslie's lips and whisper the only thing he knew to say. "I love you ... give me time. One day we'll be together forever."
Again the memories cleared.
Mark twisted in his seat and felt concern in the eyes of the others in the group. "I still loved Susan very much. We had three children to raise and a lifetime of marriage ahead. But that didn't change how I felt about Leslie." He paused and raked his fingers through his hair. "I didn't know what to do; I cared about both of them."
Excerpted from Seduction of the Heart by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson. Copyright © 2001 by Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted June 28, 2004
This book saved my life - and my soul. I've recommended and have purchased for several acquaintances who agree. It's so easy to begin the descent to hell - not even realizing where you're going - all the while deceiving yourself by comparing yourself to others who have descended even further than yourself. But there is Good News - you can climb back up. Today is a new day. Read this book. Change your life. And reap the joy of eternal life. Do it today.
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