The Weeds Of Life

A few weeks ago, my dad had shoulder surgery. Since then, what he has been able to do has been pretty limited. That means all of his yard work projects have been put on hold.

You’re probably thinking “sweet, I wish I had an excuse not to do yard work,” right?

Well, he is probably thinking the same thing.

Me, on the other hand, not so much. You see, dad not being able to do yard work means his tasks and projects get delegated. To me. Not so fun now, huh?

If you know me, you probably know that yard work is absolutely not my thing and pulling weeds is one of my least favorite activities. But, pulling weeds is my delegated task. The first time my dad asked me to pull the weeds, I did it. I thought it would be a one time thing.

Funny thing about weeds: they never go away.

The next time, he asked me to pull weeds in the back corner of our property, behind the barn. After I begrudgingly put it off for almost two weeks, I finally went out to pull the weeds. And if I’m being honest, my heart was a little bitter at this point. Why did I need to pull weeds BEHIND the barn, where no one could see?

But, I started to realize that this sounds a lot like our walk with the Lord.

Holiness has been on my mind a lot recently.

We should all be pursuing holiness, but, in reality, most of us are not.

Most of us just want to look holy without actually doing the work of pursuing holiness.

I didn’t want to pull the weeds behind the barn, in the shadows, lurking in the back corners, because I thought they didn’t matter. But what about the weeds of life? Our deep-rooted sin that we don’t want to uncover? Those sinful habits we have that we are hoping no one will notice because we try to hide them in the dark corners of ourselves? Do those matter?

They should.

We cannot pursue only partial holiness.

As Christians, the Lord is our firm foundation, providing us good soil in which we can grow beautiful, healthy, and holy relationships, ministries, practices, habits, etc.

Imagine how many more godly relationships we could plant if our soil wasn’t filled with weeds. Imagine how we could serve His kingdom more fully if we would actively work to pull the weeds. I am just as guilty as the next person, putting off repentance and confession of my sins even more than I put off my task of pulling weeds.

If you know anything about weeds, you know that despite the hours you put into pulling them, trying to make your yard or garden look and be healthy, the weeds always come back. Pulling them is not a one time task. Pursuing holiness is not a one time effort. It is not a one time confession. It is not a one time act of repentance.

It is a continuous work, a continuous pursuit, a continuous fight against our deep rooted sin. It’s easy to convince ourselves that the sins no one sees don’t matter, that the weeds in the back corner don’t matter, that the things we do behind closed doors don’t matter. But holiness cannot exist only partially.

Holiness doesn’t stand in front of the barn so that it won’t see the weeds hiding in the back. Holiness does not wait outside the door so that we can hide our sinfulness on the other side. It is all or nothing. We must diligently pursue it, carefully examining our lives and what the Lord is teaching us, actively working to confess and repent of the weeds of our lives.

When I went out to pull the weeds, I didn’t understand why I had to pull the ones hiding in the back, but now I know that weeds corrupt good soil and that holiness cannot live where the weeds of our lives are rooted. 

– Mackenzie Knox

The Overflow Of The Heart

Last week I was able to listen to a seasoned pastor speak about various topics that were all related to his experience of being in full-time, paid ministry. He stepped down from his lead pastoral role, giving that position to his son, and then submitted himself to his own son’s authority by taking the associate pastor role at that very same church.

This man bled humility.

When he spoke, it reminded me of this verse in Luke:

A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. – Luke 6:45 (CSB)

When this man spoke, he wasn’t speaking about ministry or following Jesus or the various things of life from a surface level understanding of these things. Rather, he just humbly shared his experience. It wasn’t something I’ve personally seen very often from a man of his age.

Instead of allowing bitterness or hardness or pride to take over in his 60s, he submitted his life to God once more by submitting himself to his own son. Decades of experience could lead a man to end up with an overblown view of oneself. Instead, he demonstrated the “good stored up in his heart.”

Then he shared something that I need to take to heart. And I bet you need to take to heart, too.

He said the first thing you need to do in order to do well in life and in ministry is to maintain consistent, daily devotional times.

That’s what filled this man’s heart: time spent with Jesus in the Word and in prayer. After decades of spending time with Jesus, you could easily tell what his heart was filled with–Jesus. He spoke out of the “overflow of his heart.”

I feel like the only time I can speak words of life and encouragement are when I spend time with Jesus. Maybe my heart stores much more evil than I thought. Maybe I need a lot more good to fill my heart than I’d expect from my own self-examination.

I speak a lot of evil. I want to speak a lot of good.

I need more good stored up in my heart.

I need more time with Jesus.

Pray for me.

– Matt Welborn

 

Do You Know?

I know that vegetables are good for me.

I know that I need prolonged hours of sleep in order to stay healthy.

I know that there are certain things that I do that annoy Jamie.

I know that I should wear ankle braces when I play basketball.

I know that God is good, great, and worthy of praise.

Knowing these things doesn’t lead to change. Not always at least. We can know what is right for our relationships, our health, our hearts, our walk with God, and yet we don’t always and consistently act upon those things. When we obtain knowledge about some aspect of our life, we may or may not implement the necessary steps to live out that knowledge.

I find this especially true for me in Scripture. I can know what Scripture says, whether it be commands or promises or stories or encouragements, and yet still hesitate or be less than great at implementing Scripture into my life. I have been told by mentors in the past that they don’t care how much about Scripture I know if that knowledge doesn’t play itself out in my day to day life.

That’s why we’re called to belief.

You see, belief leads to action. If you truly believe something, you’re going to act on it. I can know what’s right and do nothing. But if I truly, wholly, completely believe something to be true, I’m going to live it out. I’m going to take that belief and run with it. It’s like me sitting in this chair as I type. I can know this chair will hold my wait and not sit down in it. Sitting down in this chair however is believing that it will in fact hold my weight.

The Apostle’s Creed starts with the phrase “I believe” before going into a long and luxurious lists of statements about the Christian worldview. I was listening to a Matt Chandler sermon about this fact and he unpacked the difference between knowledge and belief. He drew my attention to things in my life that I know that I don’t believe. He drew my attention to things in my spiritual life that I know but don’t believe. He also drew my attention to the following passage:

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. – Romans 10:9-10

You see, to be saved, it takes more than just knowledge. I can know that Jesus is Savior and that He should be my Lord. But if I don’t truly, wholly, and genuinely believe that, then I don’t have saving faith. Rather I just know what the demons know, that Jesus is God.

I don’t like when people use this truth to elicit fear, anxiety, and discouragement. I do like when I’m reminded however that it’s not enough to know something in my head and not believe in my heart leading to actions in my hands. I’ve written in length in previous blogs about how we are not to constantly be caught up in looking at the level of our faith. Rather we are to look constantly and consistently at the object of our faith, Jesus. It’s insidious of Satan in how he draws us into looking at and focusing on ourselves even in the midst of trying to grow closer to Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

However, do stop and consider whether you live in your day to day life believing in the promises and commands of God, or if you just know the promises and commands of God.

To grow spiritually, we need to believe.

Do you?

In His Name,

Nathan Roach