Jack Pearson Is No Fool

Last night was a doozy. Not because of anything Super Bowl related, but because of This Is Us.

If you watch the show, then you know that this episode was imminent. The episode where we get all the answers and find out just how Jack Pearson dies. After the very first episode of the show, I wanted answers. I wanted to know all the gritty details. Yet as yesterday progressed and this tumultuous episode quickly approached, I realized I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want to know. Yes, this is just a TV show, but hey the best stories are the ones that suck you in and make you feel like you’re part of it all. There’s power in stories.

Anyway, I sat at my friends’ house and watched in shock and awe as the details surrounding his death finally came to light. I hid my face between two pillows as some tears were shed. I sat in silence as the end credits came, amazed at the talent of the show’s writers.

Then my mind immediately started bouncing around, seeing all the gospel glimpses in this show. I’ve written other posts about themes in the show that I think speak into the Christian walk, but this episode by far had the greatest parallels.

If you’re reading this I hope you’ve seen the episode, otherwise I’m about to ruin your day.

Jack Pearson dies as a result of running back into his family’s burning home in efforts to save his daughter’s dog and other various treasured belongings, after rescuing his family and getting them safely outside. He doesn’t die in the house, but he dies later as a result of all the smoke that he had inhaled.

While I was obviously upset and bothered by these turn of events, I didn’t think it was a dramatic or questionable call by the writers. Throughout the series, we’ve seen Jack Pearson be a pretty tremendous father and husband. It was not out of character for him to run back into the house for his family. Out of the overflow of his love for his family, he ran back in. He was no fool. It would have been tremendously foolish if there was no dog inside and he just decided to prove his love by running back in for no reason. There were items and a pet that his family cherished and so he made the call.

When a doctor later questions his decision to run back into the burning building he says, “I love the girl that loves the dog.”

I recap all of this to say, Jesus was no fool either.

Jesus going through a gruesome death on the cross for us would have been foolish if there was any other way for us to receive salvation, to experience everlasting community with God, and to atone for our sins.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. – Galatians 2:21

If righteousness in God’s eyes could be gained by our behavior, than Christ died for no purpose. If we can gain righteousness in any other way than simply God’s great grace, then Christ was a fool for dying on the cross for us.

Jesus was no fool. I make Him a fool through my lifestyle however if I rely on anything other than His grace for my right standing with Him.

It is crazy to me how fast I can get into the mindset that I can bring anything to the table. It is crazy to me how fast I can fall into believing I can earn what He has done through good moral behavior. When I fall into this mindset or worldview, the entire book of Galatians blasts like dynamite through this false belief system.

If righteousness could be gained by behavior, Christ died for no reason.

I think we need to be reminded of this daily. It’s cool how the Lord works because a TV show can bring this reminder to me. Jack Pearson died because of his love, not because he was a fool. Jesus, in a far greater way, died because of his love for us, not because he was a fool.

This is the most well-known verse ever, but it’s important:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

It was the love of God that led Jesus to the cross.

Rest in grace.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

If there’s any topic you want to hear me ramble about, just leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Missing Out

The College Football National Championship. The Greatest Showman. This Is Us or The Crown. The latest blog post, the Dosh app, essential oils, Plexus, or some other social media business scheme. All of these things are talked about by passionate people who commonly use the phrase “don’t miss out”. We can be encouraged by friends to not miss out on the latest movie, TV show, or social media fad. If we weren’t tuned into the big sporting event, our friends tell us we missed out on an incredible game. When this happens, I believe a small part of us, or of me at least, feels that in my bones.

For instance, I don’t really care all that much about the NFL. Yet I woke up this morning to a lot of notifications on social media outlets regarding the Vikings-Saints game last night. Apparently the Vikings won the game in thrilling fashion on a last-second deep touchdown pass involving some fancy footwork and poor defensive decisions. I saw comments by people about it being the best game they’d ever seen (which is almost always an exaggeration), and a part of me felt like I missed out a little. I felt this when I didn’t watch the Alabama-Georgia game either.

I’m not immune to speaking about movies and sporting events in this way to others however. Just yesterday I was raving to a fellow member of my church about the latest This Is Us episode and how intense I was. I’ve raved about The Greatest Showman. I’ve raved about the $10 Dinner Box that Pizza Hut has that’s a regular purchase of mine.

Why however do we feel impassioned to share about these things that are ultimately so trivial and insignificant, yet we struggle to share about the one thing that if people don’t know about, they will truly miss out for all eternity? I’ve been inundated with Plexus conversations and sports conversations, but even amongst Christian friends I’ve struggled to be engaged in many gospel-centered conversations of any depth.

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 89:1

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. – John 3:36

The Psalmist in Psalm 89 can’t help but sing of the steadfast love of God, using his mouth to make known to others the faithfulness of God extended to all generations. This is a wonderful thing. Regardless of your favorite type of Christian music, or general worship style, you can still use any hymn, contemporary worship song, or even rap in a way to proclaim God’s love and faithfulness to others. I have in my past been too quick to shut off during a time of worship at church if the worship music style isn’t too my liking. Then I realized that I was an entitled little turd that had the complete wrong idea about worship music. Singing songs of praise in a congregation is about giving God praise, not about listening to music I like. Singing songs of praise in a congregation is about telling the world about God’s love and faithfulness to us his people. Man, I got that wrong for so long in my life.

This little snippet out of the gospel of John is a reminder of what happens when a man or woman dies without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They won’t see life after death, instead the wrath of God will remain on them for eternity. That’s what is at stake.

If a man or woman misses a sporting event, a movie, or a TV show, nothing happens. If a man or woman misses out on a new app, Plexus, or essential oils, nothing really happens there either. If a man or woman misses out on Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel, they spend their eternity separated from God. That’s huge.

We’ve got to do a better job of opening our eyes and hearts to those who are currently walking through life without Jesus.

My enthusiasm for sports has waned over the years because I’ve begun to see them in their proper place, and I’ve begun to see the millions of people in our country that worship them. It’s saddening to see people lay down their spiritual lives for the sake of athletics, parents trading in the discipleship of their kids in church for the shot at a traveling sports team that promises their kids a chance at the pros.

Sports are not bad. They are evil when they take the god role in our lives however. I’ve seen men in so many contexts, including myself, talking about sports with abandon to everyone they can, but having their lips glued shut when it comes to speaking about their Lord and Savior.

I’m fairly bad at personal evangelism. The best I do on some weeks is to simply post on this blog and share it as a way to tell people about Jesus. I’m praying that God will continue to grow me in evangelism. I’m praying that God will lead me to speak about Jesus more than I do about trivial matters. I’m praying that God will implant in my heart a deep and growing desire to see men and women in my community connect with their Savior and thus not miss out on all that God has for them. This is my continual prayer.

Join me in praying for courage and strength to share, just as Paul had in Thessalonica.

But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel in the midst of much conflict. – 1 Thessalonians 2:2 

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

 

 

Randalling Faith

This Is Us continues to be one of my favorite shows. Randall, one of the main characters, struggles with anxiety, perfectionism, over-thinking, obsessive worry, and moments of freaking out. He is a smart dude, and a genuinely compassionate man. His consistent vice throughout the series however continues to be this life-consuming worry and over-thinking. To the point that in one episode, his wife asks him if he’s ‘randalling’. She turns his name into a verb to mean over-thinking and anxiously stressing out. It’s a humorous moment for sure. I have caught myself randalling in more than one area of my life throughout the years, but one consistent point of over-thinking is often my faith.

In his book, Perfect Sinners, Matt Fuller paints a picture of a young woman who does the same thing:

“Wendy” is obsessed with how well she’s living the Christian life. She assesses her obedience daily. She is always looking to repent of anything that doesn’t please the Lord. She daily confesses all she’s done wrong and seeks to express her love for God by obeying him. This is great! The downside is that she’s anxious and introspective. She seems happier reciting a confession than singing a hymn of praise. 

This is obviously an over the top caricature, but it is relatable. Maybe you’re like this woman. Maybe you are constantly looking at your life, evaluating your faith, evaluating your thoughts and words and actions to make sure they are honoring God. Introspection is your norm.

If this is the case, I feel you.

Since I was an early teen, much of my alone time has been spent thinking about my life, thinking about my faith. Wondering if I was doing enough, pleasing God with my life. In the early teen years, it was questioning if my faith was strong enough to make me right with God (more on that later). In college, it was wondering if I was worthy or deserving of the positions of leadership I had been granted in spiritual circles, despite my ongoing struggles with sin.

For those who struggle with randalling their faith, I totally believe it comes from sincere hearts. Hearts of men and women who have seen countless professing Christians who don’t seem to look at the fruit of their faith in any way and want to instead make sure their life is worthy of the gospel.

Here’s where randalling our faith is ridiculously stupid.

We make our faith in Jesus about US.

We turn our eyes off of Christ, the object of our faith, and instead navel-gaze and introspectively stare at ourselves, questioning the level of our faith. Been there, done that. Too many times to count.

Look at this wonderful passage with me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

What’s ironic is this is one of the passages that would normally precede much of my navel-gazing. In my desire to lay aside weight and sin, I would write, pray, and rack my brain trying to see if there was stuff to confess, change, or get rid of. Stupid Nathan, missing the point of this passage.

Yes, we are to put sin to death in our lives (Colossians 3:5-8), but that is not to consume our minds and vision to the point of missing the grace of Jesus. Just like you can be so focused on grace that you don’t put sin to death in your life, you can be so focused on putting sin to death that you forget grace that covers over your sin.

This passage pleads with us to run with endurance, looking to Jesus, who founded and will perfect our faith. He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, and Colossians 3 will remind us that we too are seated with Him there.

Here are a few quick ways to take our eyes off of ourselves, how to stop randalling our faith:

  1. Community. I’ll be honest, most of my randalling happened when I was alone in my room or not in a deep, intimate community of fellow Christians who I could share my difficulties, worries, and over-thinking tendencies with. For this type of Christ-follower to be caricatured in a book on our identity is proof that you’re not alone in this type of behavior. Don’t isolate yourself with your thoughts, share them in a gospel-centered community in order to be reminding of Jesus and the good news of the gospel.
  2. Sing. Way too many worship services were quasi-wasted by me in high school and college because I couldn’t sing the promises of God while simultaneously worrying if I’d earned the promises of God. In Psalm 51:15, we see David opening up his mouth in praise, not soon after being confronted by Nathan regarding his adultery and murder. SING. Even if you’re not a good singer, give God praise for the grace he has lavished upon you.
  3. Reflect. There is a healthy way to reflect if you’re like Wendy. Reflect on Christ. What he has done, the victory of the cross that frees you to confess and carry on. Don’t focus on sin that via confession is not held against you any longer.

Don’t be a Randall when it comes to your faith. Don’t freak out. Live in freedom. Don’t live in anxiety, live with joy in grace.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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A Man Like Jack

Jamie and I have been watching the tv show This Is Us together for quite some time now (We are behind so please no spoilers). Throughout the entire series, I have been enamored by Jack Pearson. I know he’s just a tv show character, but I see in this character a father and husband worth emulating. He was encouraging, supportive, patient, compassionate, and loving towards his children and his wife (most of the time).

It is not a surprise that our country is in need of fathers, godly fathers. I have seen a growing trend of men seeing their children as burdens, their lives being basically over because they have a wife and kids at home. I’ve seen men neglect their family for video games. I’ve seen men vicariously live through the sports of their children. I’ve seen men neglect, control, berate, and condemn their children and wife who they see as burdens.

Again, Jack is just a tv show character, and there is no Christian witness in his life. But there is a wonderful scene where he shows the passion he has for his children and wife. He gets in a small squabble with his wife and his friend Miguel takes him to a golf course to play a round. Miguel and his friends start telling Jack how he will come to love golf because it’s four hours away from his wife and kids, and he’d be able to escape his wife specifically. jack.jpg

He says this:

“I don’t want to escape her,” Jack says. “I want to freeze time so that I can get a little bit more.”

Boom. The looks on the other men’s faces was classic in that scene.

Here’s the absolutely heartbreaking thing to me. I have been involved in a men’s Bible study in the past where the attitudes of the Christian men in the room were just that. They didn’t explicitly come out and say they just wanted to escape their wives and kids, but there were plenty of ‘ball and chain’ type jokes and there is truly a hint of truth in every joke. It was full of past high school sports stories as they relived their glory days, and ways that we were being called to live as godly men in the public sphere, standing up courageously for Christ. But jokes abounded about wives, and even some kids.

Here’s the reality.

I SHOULD SEEK TO BE A GODLY MAN IN MY PRIVATE FAMILY LIFE FAR MORE THAN I DO IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE. Sorry, I get a little ranty when I talk about this type of thing. I’m sick of seeing men like myself seeking public praise for their godly character while treating their private family and loved ones with ungodly character.

Here’s the thing about men. We have a yearning for praise of other men, we have a yearning for glory. We watch movies like Gladiator, Braveheart, and Black Hawk Down and we want that courageous story. So if we have to stand up for Christ in the public square, we will do it? But lay down our lives for our wives? Nah. Love, encourage, support, and spend time with our children instead of neglecting them for ‘ministry’? Nah.

I hate my tendency to do just that.

Three verses, two passages, one call to be a father and husband who loves their family.

For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25

In the 1 Thessalonians passage, Paul is reminding the church in Thessalonica how he lived among them in the past when he brought the gospel to them. He said he behaved with them like a father to his children. We see here in this passage then that a father is to encourage and comfort his kids, and then ultimately urge them to live lives worthy of God for His glory in the nations. How many men are this? How many Christian men are this? It’s easy to control, condemn, berate. We are called to encourage, comfort, and urge to godly living.

In the Ephesians passage, you can’t be anymore clear. Christ gave Himself up for the church. We are to give ourselves up for our wives.

Men of God, live for Christ. Men of God, encourage, comfort, and urge your children into godly living for God’s glory amongst the nations. Men of God, love your wives and give your life up for her.

Stop the vicarious living through your children, stop seeing your wife as a ball and chain. You were called into something far greater.

Women of God, live for Christ. You are called to far more than being a wife or mom. You are called to be a disciple. Be patient with your husband, but don’t treat him like he’s stupid or incapable of being the husband and father God has called him to be.

I have been criticized at times for speaking up about this since I’m not currently a husband or father. I have tried to write with grace and humility, admitting that I myself am not where I should be in my love and treatment of Jamie.

But I know what Scripture says. And I will not back down from that.

Jack is a character worth emulating in his love and support of his wives and kids. But as Christian men we should be so much more, as we urge our kids and wives to make disciples of Christ.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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