Don’t Follow Your Heart

I am a selfish, narcissistic jerk.

Seriously though. Life for Nathan Roach is about Nathan Roach.

At least when I’m left to my own devices.

You know what’s cool though? I don’t have to live that way. I have a choice now. I can choose to spend time with God and have my heart and mind reoriented back to a Kingdom mindset.

Did you know that is one of the many implications of the gospel? Not that I will always choose the Kingdom, but that I now have the chance to choose the Kingdom.

Before I put my faith in Jesus as my Savior and gave my allegiance to Him as Lord, I had no choice. Everything I did was for Nathan Roach. Even my ‘religious’ actions. Even my morally good choices. Even my generous or loving or kind decisions. It was all ultimately still about me and my glory.

Here’s the way Ephesians 2:1-3 puts it.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. - Ephesians 2:1-3 

That’s where I was outside of Christ.

I was dead.

Not morally wrong, not a bad person.

Straight up dead.

Because of the sins that I was walking in, because my entire life was given in allegiance to the enemy of our souls (the prince of the power of the air). Because my flesh and mind were my guide.

I was dead and deserved God’s wrath.

This passage then bursts into glorious gospel truths about the wonderful grace of God given to those who follow Jesus as Lord. But that’s for next time.

What I want to get you to think about is the fact that our hearts and minds, even as followers of Jesus, will regularly lead us astray.

My heart breaks when I see so many churches, or so many followers of Jesus proclaiming some sort of “follow your heart” kind of worldview. Your heart is not a good guide. Your flesh and your mind are not aligned with Jesus.

Notice again what that passage said. When I was not a follower of Jesus, I was carrying out the desires of my body and mind. Those things don’t magically become worth following when you get saved. They will perpetually need to be wrestled against, they will perpetually need to be reoriented. It’s why the people of God in the Old Testament were to talk consistently about and meditate on the words of God. Left to our own devices, we are selfish, narcissistic jerks. Like myself.

The good news of the gospel is that we now have a choice to live differently. You and I can choose to follow Jesus instead of our wicked hearts.

But my natural state, even as a Christian, is to live in such a way that glorifies me and leads to my own blessings and success in this world. Every day where I do not begin my day in His word and in His presence, I live for me. I don’t think about others. I don’t think about the Kingdom of God. I think about my family and our needs.

Church, I plead with you to bring your heart and mind, dreams, aspirations, motivations, intentions, and plans under the word of God and into the presence of God. It’s only by this intentional action that we can live for the Kingdom of God rather than ourselves, even as followers of Jesus.

Left to my own devices, my heart leads me into sin.

Every time.

I need to teach my heart and mind how to live for the Kingdom.

I do this through time with God in word and prayer.

I plead with you to do the same.

Don’t follow your heart.

Let God teach it.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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