Working Faith

It was September 2016. I was in Phoenix, AZ, desiring friendships that would be centered around Jesus. I asked God to provide them for me, and then I got home from work to play three hours of XBOX before falling asleep. This went on for quite some time. I was discouraged, missing home, and begging God for relationships. There were people who cared about me in the church that grew into stronger relationships, but I didn’t have anyone my age. I would pray and ask and yet I kept the same routine of work and isolation.

It was only when I took a step of putting myself out there that relationships began to form and blossom. One day I went to Raising Cane’s with a guy named Victor and now he’s one of my best friends.

I was recently asked by a friend to be a backup speaker for a youth camp. I love traveling to preach God’s Word and yet I was wrestling with whether or not it was the right thing to do at this time in my life with a four month old at home. I was encouraged to pray and then act. So I did. It didn’t work out this time but I took a step of faith.

I kept hanging onto FCA after six months of knowing it was too much on my plate. My pastor kept encouraging me to step away, trusting God to provide for me and my family. I made the choice to step down, and within weeks I received an opportunity to speak at a youth camp this Summer, and the stipend was a generous gift of God’s grace.

Faith has a component not just of belief, but of action.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul is praising the church in Thessalonica for its qualities that honor God. Listen to what he says about their faith.

We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Thessalonians 1:3

In Paul’s mind, faith results in work. In action.

I think of the book of Ruth. Ruth trusted God to provide for her as she followed Naomi back to Bethlehem. She had faith. But that faith led to her following Naomi’s direction and going to work in the field of Boaz. God provided for her, but she acted to receive that provision.

Trusting God to provide for my family financially doesn’t mean I sit at home and do nothing. It means that I work, showing my faith through steps to obtain the gracious gifts of His provision. Every paycheck I receive is grace. As a matter of fact, every good thing in my life is grace. It’s not something I earned.

On the other extreme, trusting God to provide doesn’t mean chasing the promotion, piling our schedules super high with vocational opportunities at the expense of our spiritual lives. Sometimes the action we need to take isn’t getting a job, it’s denying earthly wealth and the upward trajectory of our American Dream in order to save our souls. Busyness is the greatest enemy of spiritual growth (go read John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. Or better yet, go read the Gospels and watch Jesus’ pace of life).

Trusting God to protect my family from harm doesn’t mean I remove the doors from my home. It means that I lock the doors before bed, utilizing the gifts of common grace that God has given to keep my home safe. On the other hand, faith in the protection of my family can look like one day sending Gracie to the foreign mission field, trusting God to protect her even when she’s far from my sight.

Trusting God to draw those I love back to Jesus doesn’t mean that I say nothing and do nothing. I pray, ask others for prayer, and speak truth when I can. Yet I remember that God, not I, is the agent of change that can draw those far from Him back home.

I obviously do not know where this post finds you. I don’t know what difficulty you’ve encountered. I don’t know where you’re lacking faith or where you’re claiming faith but are inactive.

I would encourage you though to take the next step that aligns with God’s Word.

Show your faith in God.

Faith produces work.

Take a step of faith.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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The Lowest In The Room

It’s mid-evening, and we just went on a walk as a family. I’m sitting in the living room with a good book. Gracie has been asleep for three minutes and I’m eagerly diving into a new book I just received in the mail. The baby monitor is right next to me and I hear her waking up. I can go comfort her, or I can keep reading.

I’m on vacation with my family in Waco. As we’re planning our trip back to Vernon, Jamie mentions that she wants to stop at a furniture store for an extended period of time. I can joyfully participate in this excursion or make it a draining experience of me clearly being annoyed and frustrated.

I’m sitting in staff meeting trying to stay mentally engaged after an early morning trip to Wichita Falls. Ideas are flying around about this or that upcoming ministry opportunity. Assignments are dished out, some that I wouldn’t have gone looking for. I can faithfully do the assignments I’ve been given with a cheerful attitude or just get by with mediocre work.

In all of these recent scenarios, I had a choice. I could choose my comfort, my way of life, my priorities and passions.

Or I could stoop.

I could submit.

I could put Gracie, Jamie, and my coworkers first.

In our modern world, the idea of submitting to any authority is frowned upon by some. It is difficult for most, myself included. Everywhere we look we’re told that we should be in charge, that we should pursue what’s best for ourselves. I mean, the loudest, proudest and meanest are the ones that get the spotlight and the responsibilities.

You want attention? Be the loudest in the room.

You want to be like Jesus? Be the lowest in the room.

You want to model the character of Christ? Submit.

In Ephesians 5, Paul shares with the church in Ephesus the behaviors and character traits of those who are seeking to walk in the light of God’s presence. After detailing the importance of being filled with the Spirit as opposed to earthly things, Paul says the church should be doing the following:

Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. – Ephesians 5:21

Submission. It’s the way we show our love for Jesus. It’s the way that we grow our relationships as the people of God.

In my marriage, I am to willingly submit to the desires of Jamie. In my parenting, I am to willingly submit to the desires of Gracie. This doesn’t mean I don’t lead my family in the way that God has called me to. It just means my family is not about me. In my job, I am to submit to Brooks, Donovan, Mike, Greg, Tisha, Joni, and Sandra. I am to be consistently seeking the good of all those around me.

And when I do so, I am living in the way that Jesus would.

That being said, don’t get me wrong. Submission isn’t easy to me. I still don’t want to listen to others when I think I’m right. I still don’t want to submit to the preferences of others when I’m passionate about my way. But if I’m staunchly, arrogantly refusing to submit to anyone or anything, I’m showing that I am not fully grasping Jesus nor the commands of the New Testament.

A friend recently said to me that the entire New Testament ethic could be summarized in the word submission. And I’m inclined to agree with him. We’re called to submit to Scripture, the Spirit, the government authorities (not just those we voted for), our spouses, our pastors, etc. Submission is central. So why isn’t it practiced in our lives?

Probably because submission doesn’t come naturally. Yet, I can tell you that it’s the way to fullness of life. When I stoop, I feel joyful. When I submit, I feel like I’m living in the way that God designed me to live. When I stoop, I dream of and envision a church, a community, that is full of submission.

What would that look like?

What if we went out of our way to promote someone else’s worship style? What if we went out of our way to give someone else the spotlight? What if we went out of our way to make someone else’s ministry idea happen even if we aren’t naturally on board with it? What if we went out of our way to serve and sit under the authority and leadership of others? What if we went out of our way to stoop, stoop, stoop.

Man, that would be something else.

I think that would be the type of community that God desires us to be.

So, as counter-cultural as it may sound, I want to submit.

I invite you to do the same.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

Not So Courageous

When I was a kid, I avoided anything that had the possibility of inflicting pain. When playing paintball I would hide in the back of the field to avoid getting shot.

I played six-man football growing up and did the same thing. I was not a talented football player so I spent most of my time on the sideline. They would ask for someone to fill a spot to give one of the starters a breather and I would often pretend like my ears didn’t work. When I was on the field, I wouldn’t seek out contact. I remember one game getting chewed out for not attempting to tackle the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. Me and pain didn’t mix. Things that required courage didn’t come easy to me.

That’s fine in football. I may have missed out on the NFL, but oh well.

It’s a lot more serious when you’re an adult with adult responsibilities and adult consequences.

In college, I didn’t have the courage to pursue Jamie romantically while being six months away from moving to Phoenix. So I bounced back and forth between communicating with her a lot and ghosting her (to use a young and hip modern term). Thank God Almighty that He is greater than my commitment issues. Jame and I are married and now raising our daughter!

I still wrestle with courage. My job requires an inner strength that is often lacking in me. I have to have hard conversations, I regularly share a message about Christ that is becoming less and less popular, and I am put in positions where I’m stepping into messy and difficult situations.

As I’ve been praying for courage and thinking about courage, the Lord has reminded me that courage is not up to me. It’s not dependent upon me. Strength is given from the Spirit. It’s not something that I can manufacture by putting on a brave face and charging into the gap.

In his prayer for the church in Colossae, Paul says that he wants them to be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might (Colossians 1:11). Later on in his letter Paul says this: For this (the desire to make all mature in Christ) I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me (Colossians 1:29).

That has leapt off the page for me recently. They are such simple statements but they contain a timeless truth. The church is strengthened and made powerful by God. It is His might, not their own, that is the source of such strength. For me to lead my family and my ministries well, I need the glorious might of God working through me. Every single day. Left on my own, I would cave. I would hide. I would do easy and comfortable things. But through the might of God above, I can do hard things.

As I look back on my life, I can see how that simple truth has been on display over and over again. When I worked for the North American Mission Board, I led a team of OBU students on trips to Portland two Summers in a row. These were ten week trips for me that always began with me sitting in the PDX airport alone, feeling immensely overwhelmed. The second Summer, I remember pulling out my journal and asking God if I could just go home. Being in charge of a team in a city that was so spiritually dark was too much for me I claimed. When I came to terms quickly with the reality that there was no way out, I asked God to give me the strength to move forward and lead my team well. He blessed me with courage and strength.

If you’re lacking strength and courage right now, I want to invite you to stop trying. Stop gritting your teeth and clinching your fists. Rest in the power that is in you as a follower of Jesus. Ask Him for strength and then trust Him to provide it.

As you ask God for strength, I would encourage you to ask your friends to pray for that in your life. Often our prayer requests are all circumstantial.

“Pray the covid test comes back negative. Pray the house gets sold. Pray for my kid to excel or get through a difficult circumstance.”

These aren’t inappropriate prayers (my prayer requests can be like this often), but man they’re shallow compared to these prayers we read in the Bible. Paul prays for the church to have strength in God. I quite often ask friends, youth volunteers, or family to pray that God would give me courage. I would encourage you to invite others to do the same for you. We’re called to carry one another’s burdens, to uplift one another for the sake of the church’s effectiveness and the glory of the God we worship.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

The Heart-Changer

It’s Wednesday night at 8:45 PM. I’m driving home and reflecting on the day. Thirteen hours of work and I’m ready for sleep. Over the course of a week I had studied the Bible, scoured commentaries and books on theology, written a sermon, and delivered it twice. What I got in return was blank stares, students doodling on their note papers, and a seeming lack of passion.

That’s when the spiritual exhaustion is at its peak.

You’re likely not a youth pastor reading this.

So maybe you can grasp one of these other sets of circumstances.

You speak often about Jesus in your home, encouraging your children to follow Him, to seek first the Kingdom. All of your unique attempts at digging into Scripture with them seem to come up short. They are enamored with the things of this world, pursuing the American Dream, and your attempts at discipleship in the home don’t seem to be bearing fruit.

Your dear friend or family member is far from God. They have been for a while. You’ve prayed for them countless times. It’s not that you’ve stopped praying for them, that God would touch their hearts. It’s just that when you’re deeply honest with yourself, you’ve stopped believing that they will ever change.

Your community is full of sin and wickedness. The churches in your community are dwindling and shrinking, and it feels like things are hopeless. Those that walk under the banner of Christ aren’t honoring him with the things they post and the vitriol that is thrown back at the church disorients you and discourages you.

There are times when we feel hopeless.

There are times when we feel like there’s nothing else we can do to impact our family members, our churches, our communities.

And that’s exactly what we should be feeling.

Last Friday, it hit me afresh when I was reading a few chapters out of the book of Exodus as part of my quiet time. The people of God had been enslaved in Egypt for centuries, and now under the leadership of Moses they were being rescued by God. At the time of their departure, they were shown favor by their former captors, and this favor was from the Lord.

The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. – Exodus 12:35-36

There are a ton of examples from Scripture regarding the way that God is the one who moves in the hearts of men. This one was simply the one that stood out to me and impacted me last weekend.

Seriously. Think about what is happening here.

The people of God were enslaved.

And now those, whether they were actively serving as task-masters or were passive observers, who had been enslaving the people of God are lavishing them with silver and gold and clothing.

But did they do this of their own accord? By no means. We read that the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. God was the one who was working in the hearts of the people. The same God who by His sovereignty hardened the heart of the unnamed Pharaoh for His glory (as hard as that is to accept) now softened the hearts of the Egyptians for the sake of His people.

This floored me last Friday.

I would love to be in control of how people respond to the proclamations about Jesus that I make each Wednesday night and Sunday morning and occasionally at other times during the week. I would love to tell you that you have the power to change your prodigal family member’s heart, your child’s heart, or the spiritual health of your community. We love to pretend to be saviors.

But we’re not in control. We don’t have the power. And when we acknowledge that and rest in that we find the answer to seeing change happen.

Praying for the Spirit to move.

It’s only been six days. But I’ve been striving to push into that. I’ve been striving to get on my knees and pray for the Spirit of God to move. And you know what? He is.

He’s at work.

He’s always at work, but when I ask Him to move by the Spirit to soften the hearts of those who hear the Kingdom message, I begin to open my eyes to how He’s been working all along. It’s like buying a car. When I bought my Chevy Malibu, I started seeing them everywhere. It’s not that my purchase of a Chevy Malibu was followed by an outpouring of Malibu purchases in Vernon. It’s that I simply had my eyes opened to see them everywhere.

Here’s how God has been at work in my life recently. I desperately long to invite people into a deep, Christ-honoring, Spirit-led intimacy with the Father and passion for the Kingdom. I desperately want people to set their minds on things above and live for the only thing that matters. And I want to use the home God has so richly blessed me with to do so. I want to have adults and students in and out of it every day, growing into the image of the Son of God. As bad as I want that, it’s not been happening much.

But yesterday I prayed throughout the day that God would use His Word, a sermon on John 1:35-42, to ignite a fire for the Kingdom of God in the hearts of our students. I prayed that God would begin to use our home as a place for people to reorient themselves around the Kingdom.

After all of these prayers for the Spirit to move, in the span of an hour five students asked to come over to our house, three of them asking to be intentionally discipled by me and my wife. We are starting a Bible study open to the public on Sunday night and I pray we have many come.

Your prodigal needs the Spirit of God to work in their heart.

Your children need the Spirit of God to work in their heart.

Your community needs the Spirit of God to work in its streets.

Thankfully, we have a God who softens the hearts of the sinful and gives His people favor.

Let’s ask Him to do so.

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Bored At Church

Every Sunday and Wednesday I look out in the youth room or in the sanctuary and I see a lot of stoic, tired faces. Maybe there’s small talk, but people seem at times to be in the room simply because the doors are open. When I ask one of the students to pray at youth, I’m often met with twenty seconds of silence until some brave soul raises their hand.

A lot of weeks, I don’t understand this stoicism, this exhaustion, this ‘it’s Sunday so we should be here’ mentality. What we are doing at the weekend and midweek services is the experience of encountering God together.

That should be the least boring experience known to man.

We get to commune with the God of all creation, the God who is at work in our world day after day.

*yawn*

How can we be bored at church? How can we look like we’re exhausted and are there out of obligation and duty? How can we have no excitement, no anticipation, no joy (I guess it’s down in our hearts)?

I go to sporting events, game nights, golf courses and movie premieres. At all of these places (and many more) I see followers of Jesus pumped, excited, and joyful. I see them worshipping. I see them cheering, not caring what others think around them. Heck, I see some aspects of worship before a tasty meal at a great restaurant.

So why is it that we’re bored in church?

It’s not an issue of not having the capacity to worship.

Most people would respond to such an outlook with statements about setting, vibes, culture, style, etc. The enemy of our souls has stolen the worship of multitudes of modern Christians by giving us a consumeristic viewpoint to the church.

When I look at Scripture, I see no caveat to deep worship.

God’s worthiness of our praise is not dependent upon earthly things.

The ability to worship is not an issue of style or setting or atmosphere. The ability to worship is an issue of awe.

I’m afraid too many of us have no awe of God, and so we are definitely bored at church. We don’t commune with God in prayer. We don’t look at the character and works of God as described for us in Scripture. We don’t thank God for what He’s done in our lives or in the lives of those around us. We’re distracted by earthly things and so we have no awe when we enter the worship settings in our local churches.

I’m afraid too many of us need a ‘feeling’ in our stomachs to worship.

Again, the enemy of God has done a great job of making worship about feelings. We want to feel something. When we don’t, when the music isn’t Elevation Worship or Hillsong, we fall back into a passive attendance, a bored experience.

How sly and cunning our enemy is. He takes a good thing (feelings of God’s presence) and makes them the end goal. He stifles our worship with an obsession with feeling.

We can fight back.

Here’s just a few things you can do to not be bored in church.

1. Pursue the Greatness of God

Those who get pumped at sporting events know the ins and outs of the teams they cheer for. Those who get pumped at playing video games will research and even watch other people play the same game. We worship what we pursue. Get into the Word of God. Get before God in prayer. Encounter Him in His greatness. When I’m communing with God during the week, I can’t help but give Him my all in worship on the weekend!

2. Pray Before Attending The Service

Our worship problem is often a prayerlessness problem. We don’t ask God to give us worshipping hearts and then we wonder why we’re easily distracted, bored, and turned off to the service. We don’t ask God to give us a new mentality, then we wonder why we’re so consumeristic and selfish when it comes to worship. We don’t ask God to stir our hearts, and then we wonder why we’re cold and dry. Do you pray as a family the night before church, before you leave on Sunday morning, or before you get out of the car in the parking lot? It’s no wonder we struggle to worship when we don’t actively pray for help to do so.

3. Practice a Posture of Worship

Posture can guide our hearts and minds in worship. When we raise our hands, close our eyes, get on our knees, etc., we tune ourselves into the presence of God. The Bible is chock full of examples where the people of God praise God in exuberant fashion. If you’re focused on what others think, you won’t worship. My prayer is that my daughter Gracie sees the same level of worship from me at church on Sunday as she sees at a football game on Friday night.

Let me close with this quote from Max Lucado. I enjoy him for devotional reading and he has a great chapter on this concept in his book Just Like Jesus.

Enter a church sanctuary and look at the faces. A few are giggly, a couple are cranky, but by and large we are content. Content to be there. Content to sit and look straight ahead and leave when the service is over. Content to enjoy an assembly with no surprises or turbulence. Content with a ‘nice’ service. And since a nice service is what we seek, a nice service is usually what we find. A few, however, seek more. A few come with childlike enthusiasm.

I want to be a man who comes to worship like a child.

I want to be a man who isn’t content with a nice, normal, typical, boring experience in the presence of God.

I want more.

And when I want more, God is able and willing to provide more.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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Sexual Brokenness

I am sexually broken.

You are sexually broken.

We are all sexually broken.

In my heart are desires that do not honor God, and since I’m married, my wife. This is true for you. This is true for everyone around you. God made this world good (according to Genesis 1) and we’ve strayed from it, seeking to call the shots for our sexual lives.

I have wrestled with this blog post for a while now. I know that what I believe is not popular. I know that for many it makes me a hateful bigot on the wrong side of history. Yet, for many others it makes me a coward who won’t simply condemn those who are sexually broken just like me.

I believe our culture has taken a good, God-honoring thing and skewed it. In 2 Samuel 1, we read this as David laments the loss of his dear friend Jonathan:

Jonathan lies slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women. – 2 Samuel 1:26

There is a deep companionship to be found between two men or two women. David had it with Jonathan. They were deeply committed to each other, they loved each other deeply.

That honors God and it actually mirrors God’s love for His people.

I have a relationship with a guy named Victor who lives in Phoenix. We call each other often, encouraging one another in our faith. There is a deep companionship there that is distinctly different than my relationship with my wife.

Our culture I believe has twisted the fact that we can have deep friendship with members of the same gender, making it romantic and erotic. That is when I believe that people step outside of God’s design. I believe that an active lifestyle of what our culture calls homosexuality doesn’t honor God, is sin. I am not saying that if you have those desires, you are sinning. I believe it is the erotic or romantic acting on those desires that is sinful.

That being said, how should the modern church respond to the sexual brokenness of the world we live in?

Here’s three things.

Repent

I am sexually broken. It starts here. It starts acknowledging that I have many desires that don’t honor God. We are currently doing discipleship groups in our church and here are two of the questions that we are to ask each other as we meet.

Am I walking in sexual integrity, submitting my mind and body to the Lordship of Jesus? Am I having any lustful attitudes, entertaining any inappropriate thoughts about someone not my spouse, or exposing myself to any explicit materials that would not glorify God?

I have heard from many that are in these groups that they’re refusing to answer those questions because they’re too personal. Now, I get it, that’s not always a fun set of questions to answer.

But we have no right to call those who struggle with certain sexual desires to repent if we are not calling ourselves to repent.

The church loses its voice fast when the sexual brokenness in each and every one of us is not acknowledged. We must repent of our sin. Each one of us. Not because it will magically give us a voice in the culture, but because we are called to do so in Scripture.

Love

They will know that we are disciples of Jesus by our love (John 13:34-35).

Are we loving those that have disordered sexual desires? Or are we up in arms that they are given rights in the world, actively making fun of them, and communicating on Facebook and in real life that they aren’t welcome anywhere near our faith community? God forgive us.

Jesus had a ministry in which he surrounded himself with those that were sexually broken and had disordered sexual desires. This is true for every single one of the people he was around. Most had private sexual brokenness. But a large chunk of the people he dined with had public sexual brokenness. Jesus was so active in their midst that he was condemned by the religious leaders of the day for being a friend of sinners, of being a glutton and drunk.

The Lord of all creation associated Himself with the sexually broken. He loved them and drew them into something better than their sexual desires. Purity. Holiness. Companionship with a faith community and with God. He went to them in love.

Church, those who are outside of a relationship with Christ should be welcomed, loved, encouraged, and shown compassion. This is true for any sin struggle.

It is my prayer for my youth group, for my church as a whole, that literally anyone feels welcome. It grieves me that the thirty-year porn addict or three year cohabitating young man may feel welcome in our church but not the man attracted to other men. We are to be a place of love for all.

Repent. Love. Then, only then:

Speak Truth

As a follower of Jesus, it is my calling to speak truth into the lives of those who claim Christ in my church community. Once I’ve shown that I’m actively repenting of my sexual sin, shown that I love the man or woman I’m in community with, then I am called to speak the truth according to Scripture in regards to marriage and sexuality. This isn’t fun nor is it easy. It is the call of the Christian however.

It is my prayer that the truth is spoken.

But it is my prayer that the truth is spoken in love.

I’ve seen so many professing Christians mock those have different sexual brokenness than they do.

Lord forgive us.

Give us love.

I am a lustful, angry, prideful, selfish, jealous, unkind man. And no one has given me just one chance to grow in my holiness. Why is it that we treat those with homosexual desires any differently? Why do we say change your desires immediately or get out? The reality is, the broken sexual desires will always be there in our lives. Each of us for always. Again, that’s not sin. It’s the acting on it that is. We will all fail and fall, but there is grace. We will all fail and fall but we are to repent and keep moving toward Jesus together.  

Church, may we repent of our sexual sin.

May we love people well, giving people of all backgrounds a family they feel deeply loved in.

May we speak the truth when it comes to what the Bible teaches about marriage and sexuality, but may it be saturated in love.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

The Gospel According To Diapers

I have learned much about the gospel this past week through one habitual act in my life, changing my daughter Gracelyn Rae’s diapers.

I never would have dreamed of typing that sentence, but here we are. Bear with me. Either my sleep-deprivation has done irreversible damage or this might actually make sense.

Saturday night I spent some time studying the book of Colossians, particularly chapter 3 and the “put off” and “put on” passages.

Let’s look together at what characterizes those who live outside of the Spirit of God:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices – Colossians 3:5-9

These are the behaviors I fall into when I don’t actively and intentionally walk with the Spirit in my day to day life. We all can find ourselves in these sins. Sexual brokenness, desires for earthly things, anger and vulgarity, deception and envy. None of us can act like we’re above these behaviors.

We are to put these things off of us. We’ve been cleansed and healed. We have been made right with Christ and raised with Him (vv. 1-4).

I love my daughter so much already. But I’m not gonna lie, she can do some damage in a diaper. I’ve changed some rough ones. I’ve cleaned her up, and then I’ve thrown away the diaper.

Now, imagine with me that I would use some WaterWipes (if you work for the company that produces these, feel free to sponsor me) and then put that soiled, stinky diaper back on my baby girl. You would think (and be right) that I had lost my mind. That’s grotesque.

You know what else is equally grotesque?

My ongoing sin.

For me to be cleansed by the spilled blood of Christ and yet return to a life style of unrepentant anger, slander, vulgarity and lust is grotesque.

We’d never put a poop-filled diaper back on an infant, but we will walk around claiming Jesus while living in such mired and messed up sin as the above list from Colossians.

Church, let it not be so.

We must take sin seriously. We must put it to death. We must put it off.

We need to put on Christ.

Look at this other, glorious and grace-filled list in this section of Colossians.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. – Colossians 3:12-14

We as the people of God are to be distinct, and this is how we show ourselves to be following a different master than this world. We are to have a community characterized by compassion, not condemnation. Kindness, not brashness. Humility, not arrogance. Gentleness, not Americanized ‘leadership’ of ‘get with us or get out’. The people of God are to be loving, forgiving, and patient.

When I survey my life, I realize that I’m still wearing a dirty diaper (oh man, please don’t quote that without context).

I still allow my fleshly desires to rule my life and wreak havoc on it.

So is there hope?

Absolutely.

Here’s where my sleep-deprivation may be on most display.

I’ve been fascinated by the Diaper Genie.

We were blessed with this gift from some patron saint of infancy.

Once the diaper is tossed into this beautiful blue bag, it is neither seen nor smelt.

That Diaper Genie is a lot like Jesus.

Our grotesque sin is covered by something (in this case, Someone).

It is not seen.

When I, Gracelyn’s father, look at this bag, I don’t see any affects of my daughter’s deuces. I see instead a pristine, pure, beautiful blue bag.

When my Heavenly Father looks at me, looks at my life, He doesn’t see my grotesque sin that I still wrestle with. He sees the perfection of His Son.

HOW FREEING IS THAT. We walk around, piddling about with the greatest news ever. Our sin is not held against us. Although our sin can be habitual, like changing a diaper, it is no less covered by the Savior.

Church, rejoice. Rejoice in the fact that God is causing us, by His Spirit, to become the people He made us to be. Rejoice that as we actively put our sin to death, we look more and more like Him. Rejoice that we are in Christ and He sis in us. Rejoice that we are sinful but saved.

Rejoice in what diapers and Diaper Genies teach us about the greatest news the world has ever known.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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Cabin Fever

I have cabin fever in a big way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m obviously extremely grateful for these weeks I’ve had with Gracelyn Rae as she has stolen my heart. The quality time with Jamie and even with my good dog Mo is not something I want to take for granted. But man I still want to get back to a routine.

I enjoy doing, going, living, acting. I don’t enjoy resting. Vacations are hard for me, as my mind runs forward to what’s after we get back. Days off are difficult for me, as I think through the to do list that looms over me when I’m back at work.

I’ve confessed on these blogs before my workaholic nature, and it certainly shows itself in my seeming inability at times to rest.

So, after two weeks of paternity leave followed by poor weather keeping me indoors, I think the Lord is trying to teach me something.

He’s wanting to teach me how to rest in Christ in a way that makes me productive for the Kingdom rather than burnt out all the time.

I think that our modern churches are full of people who like me struggle when it comes to finding rest. We scroll, scroll, scroll, and numb ourselves with tons of entertainment at our fingertips. We rest by spending hours of TikTok or Facebook, binge-watching Netflix, listening to tons of podcasts. And by keeping our minds ‘on’ all the time, we prevent ourselves from truly resting.

Jesus extends to us an invitation to allow our souls to find rest in Him. Jesus extends to us an invitation to turn off from the world and all its noise, to sit in His presence and enjoy the good things of this world for His glory and our good.

Nancy Guthrie puts it this way, when describing this theme in the storyline of Scripture:

Even in Eden, history was headed somewhere. It was headed toward an unending, all-satisfying rest in the presence of God.

From the beginning of human history, we have been invited into rest that is Christ-centered. We must fight back against the ways of this world we live in. We must take intentional action to renew ourselves in Scripture and in the ways of Jesus.

For me this week, it meant turning my phone off at 8 PM for a couple days. This seems so simple and easy yet it was difficult to do. When I did so though, my last hours awake were spent enjoying God, prayerfully meditating on His Word, enjoying the gifts that He has given me. The to do lists could wait. The work responsibilities could wait. In those hours, I had rest.

I don’t know what it may look like for you to learn to rest in Christ. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider ways that you can fight back against the indoctrination of our world, ways that you can set your mind on things above.

Trust me, the cabin fever is still real (in part because we were created for community). I still anticipate getting back out into routines and rhythms.

Yet in this week ahead, with a winter storm bearing down on us, I hope to rest in Christ.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

Put Away The Felt Boards

Murder. Sex. Betrayals. Deception. Intrigue. Death. Destruction. Wrath. Incest. Sexual Brokenness.

Welcome to the book of Genesis.

When I have read Genesis up close and personal, I’ve seen how dark and dreary much of the story of God’s people really is, from page one.

We tend to stay above the mess when we discuss this book. We talk about (and bicker about) the creation narrative, we discuss the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, and Joseph.

There is a place for that. Absolutely. I don’t believe young children need to be immersed in the chaos.

That being said, there is a place for slowing down and sitting in the darkness of these narratives.

Have you ever read through the book of Genesis slowly? Have you ever studied it with the help of a commentary or Bible study guide? Or is your familiarity with Genesis limited to the Sunday school stories you heard growing up?

I want to encourage you and invite you to look closely at this beginning book of the Bible.

The first thing you need to grasp when you read the book of Genesis is that this is not a history textbook. If you read the book of Genesis like a history textbook, you will be confused and asking a thousand questions about the text. The book of Genesis leads to a whole litany of questions that it doesn’t answer.

The book of Genesis is not primarily telling history in regards to facts and figures, dates and locations.

Rather the book of Genesis is inviting you to encounter God.

Genesis is inviting you the modern Christian to find yourself in the story of God’s people and to encounter the God who made everything, who gave grace in the midst of disgusting sin, who called and chose a family to be His own.

Genesis is inviting you the modern Christian to find yourself in the story of God’s people and to encounter the God who made everything, who gave grace in the midst of disgusting sin, who called and chose a family to be His own.

The book of Genesis is not to be read like a modern novel either. Genesis is full of drastically different genres. There are genealogical lists, prayers and petitions, poems, and copious amounts of stories focused on particular people in specific circumstances (see Basic Bible Commentary: Genesis).

We also have to remember that the contents of Genesis were likely passed down from generation to generation orally before they ever came to be written down.

That being said, we see in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) itself acknowledgments that Moses wrote down certain laws, as well as the existence of historical accounts (again, Genesis is not one):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” – Exodus 17:14

That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says: “. . . Zahab in Suphah and the ravines, the Arnon – Numbers 21:14

I would love to read the Book of the Wars of the Lord. That would be such an interesting history book.

We don’t have that though.

What we do have is a theology book, a family history, a story of God and His people.

The book of Genesis is all about God’s relationship with His people. See more on this below:

My blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page and podcast will all have material out of the book of Genesis in the coming months (with more personal lessons and thoughts interspersed).

I encourage you again to put away the felt board Sunday school stories and instead dive deep into the dark narrative that is the book of Genesis, the story of God and His people.

In His Name,

Nate Roach