The Kingdom is for Children

Then children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to me, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After placing his hands on them, he went on from there. – Matthew 19:13-15

Our world is built on power. Powerful men and women run nations, lead businesses, win awards, and make money. A brief glance at the news, politics, sports, church, and really any aspect of our culture at all will show you that the loud and proud lead the world. You get ahead by being good at something and not doing it for free. You get ahead by drawing attention to yourself and making a name for yourself.

These last couple days however God has put a lot on my heart.

It revolves around the passage above.

We are to become like little children. Jesus brings children to Himself, blesses them, and says the Kingdom is for them.

You see, the Kingdom of God is drastically different from the kingdoms of man, the cultures we live in. It’s upside-down. It’s backwards. It’s better.

In a world that says arrogance and self-service are the standard, we are to live with gentleness and kindness. We are to live with humility and self-giving love.

In a world that teaches us all to believe that everyone else orbits around our desires, the Kingdom teaches us to give up all of our life for everyone else.

In a world that teaches to take the spotlight, we are told to find the shadows, to find the opportunities to serve those around us.

This is counter-cultural in every regard. Romans 12:1-2 teaches that we are not to conform to the patterns of this world in its arrogance-promoting and self-serving way. Instead we are to be transformed by renewing our minds in Scripture, following the leadership of the Servant King (see the book of Philippians).

Through reading 2 Peter and praying through the passage above, I have had the following questions on my heart. Maybe they would be good for you to think about as well.

Do I chase, cling to, and cherish status?

OR

Do I chase, cling to, and cherish the Savior?

What is precious to me?

God’s promises, presence, and people?

OR

Earthly power, prestige, and pleasure?

You see, a quick look at our lives will show us the answers to those questions. If I wake up thinking about how to self-promote, self-serve, and get my way, then I’m clearly living askew. But if I wake up and take myself before the Lord in prayer and Word, then I’m living rightly.

In the same way, if I dedicate myself to obtaining likes on social media, supporters at church, friends in the community, and all the other earthly glories, then I’m living askew. But if I am motivated by and treasure above all else the promises of God for me, pursue time with Him at the expense of earthly things, and lavishly love all of His people, then I’m living rightly.

Too many people think that living for Jesus is easy, simple, natural. But that is simply not the case. It takes transformation in the Word. It takes prayer. It takes reorientation. It takes living in such a way that seems utterly foolish to an ego-driven culture.

The Kingdom is for children.

The Kingdom is for those of us who actively and intentionally forsake status and prestige for the sake of Jesus.

The Kingdom is for those who can play the background so that the Risen Savior gets all the spotlight.

I’m still on this journey.

You know when I most encounter this struggle?

Golfing.

(Don’t stop reading. I know this is my 1000th golf illustration)

I am atrocious at golf. Like high-nineties on a good day atrocious.

Today I played in a scramble at the local country club.

Now, generally speaking, golf tournaments for those who are good at golf. The best golfers in town were certainly out there today. In those environments I get real stressed because I hate people watching me play, especially those who are quite good.

If there was ever a sport about status and prestige, it’s certainly golf (in my opinion). So today was a chance to practice just existing. Not trying to impress. Not trying to make a name for myself. Just enjoying my time.

In my time with the Lord today I felt like He was wanting me to just enjoy the gift.

The phrase “I’m just golfing with my Father” ran through my mind again and again. I thought about Psalm 27:4 and how I wanted to just be in God’s presence today.

You see, growing up, my dad and I would golf together. It was our thing. None of my other siblings really enjoyed it, but I cherished that time with him. And it was so much fun. I would hit a horrible shot, and we would just laugh about it. We would give each other a lot of grace, move the ball onto good grass, take mulligans, and just have a great time. I never felt nervous with my dad.

That’s what life in general is supposed to be like as a Christian. It’s not about impressing others. It’s about enjoying life with the Father.

Having that mindset doesn’t guarantee success. Nor does it snap me out of my fear of what others think of me. Not in a moment at least.

Today I shanked a tee shot about 2.5 miles away from the fairway near other people, and I didn’t have the humility to go get it. I’m still growing. Still learning to enjoy life with the Father.

My prayer is that you enjoy life too.

The world is pushing you towards elevating yourself. The way of Christ is the way of going deep into humility.

Let us be different. Let us be transformed. Let us live for others.

Let us enjoy life with the Father.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

Bless The Lord

The following is simply a prayer of response to Psalm 103. This is no difficult feat, it is merely praying through the Psalm, applying it to my personal life, and meditating on the truths contained within it. I hope that you are encouraged to pray through Psalms on your own. I have found this practice to be the most transformative discipline in my life and I wish I did it more. 

Oh Lord, let my mind, heart, words, and actions bless your holy name. May my every thought, action, and intention be pleasing to you. Let me not forget the ways that you have so richly blessed me. Remind me each day that every good thing in my life is a gift from you, not something that I have obtained via my own strength.

You have forgiven my every sin, you have healed every wicked way in me. What a wonderful blessing. What a wonderful truth. There is no sin held against me any longer. You have redeemed my life from the darkness of my evil bent towards sin. Your steadfast love and mercy are the treasured possession of my life.

You have satisfied my soul with good things. Food, friends, family, and faith. You have blessed me with the opportunity to enjoy life to the fullest in You. My strength and energy is renewed when I meditate accordingly upon your gifts to me.

May the oppressed in my community experience your justice. May the unrighteous in my community see your righteousness. Use me as a conduit of your justice, help me to stand up for those in need. Lord, your ways and acts toward your people have been well documented through the ages. May I not forget the ways that you have blessed me in even the past week.

You are gracious and merciful. I deserve death. Yet you stay your anger and pour out your steadfast love upon my soul. You do chide and reprimand me out of your love, but you don’t always do this. Your anger is not everlasting. Your love is. Lord, YOU DO NOT DEAL WITH ME ACCORDING TO MY SIN, OR REPAY ME ACCORDING TO MY INIQUITIES. This promise makes me want to sing songs of praise to you O Lord. I deserve punishment for my sin, and yet your steadfast love covers over them.

Lord, I don’t fear you as I should. Evoke this godly fear in me. Lord, you have cast my sins as far as the east is from the west. This too is wonderful and worthy of praise. You have removed my transgressions from me. They are no longer held against me.

You are a compassionate God. You look on my frame with compassion. You are compassionate towards the things that grieve me, and it is towards this end that you work all things in my life. You are loving. I am dust. My role and call in life is to preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.

My days oh Lord are like grass. I am here one moment and gone the next. Because of my frailty, help me to better enjoy the moments you have given me here on earth with family, friends, food, and fun. It is because life is short that I should live life to the fullest in You.

Your steadfast love is upon me every moment of my life. There is discipline at times for sin, but even this is your love. Your love extends to countless generations of those who fear you. Thank you Lord for the way that you drew me into a saving relationship with you.

I don’t walk out your commands as well as I should. Where there is fleshly desires, replace these with the fruit of the Spirit. Where there is autonomy, replace this with a dependence upon you daily for grace and vitality. Help me to remember daily to live in such a way that honors you.

Lord, the world is broken and battered. There are rulers and leaders who oppress and enslave. Yet your throne is in the heavens. No one can usurp your throne. No one can remove you from your throne. This brings comfort that you are in control of all the nations on earth.

Angels of God, bless Him. All hosts of God, bless Him. In every community on earth, let God be praised.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

In His Name,

Nate Roach

Us vs. Them

My bedroom here in Phoenix is adjacent to a relatively quiet street. Yet every late evening and early morning, cars come flying down it with their engines revving and their music blaring. I’ve tried every single trick imaginable to drown out the noise but alas I’m almost always woken up by it. In these moments of frustration I always have thoughts run through my head of how much better life would be for me if they weren’t around, if these humans that enjoy loud and fast cars in the wee hours of the night just went somewhere else.

This is a small example of how often my mind has an us vs. them mentality. Too often we have feelings of fear towards others or we perceive others to be but a burden on our life or society. Search your own hearts. Are there individuals, people groups, religious groups, families, or other various groups of people that you see in such a light? Maybe it’s a co-worker. Maybe it’s those involved in criminal activity. Maybe it’s people who have differing political views than you do. Maybe it’s the ‘burden’ of financially and physically caring for the elderly or your own children (this is seen on a societal scale but maybe not personally).

phx
This city is full of people that aren’t like me. 

We are sinful. We struggle to see ourselves as Christ sees us. We also struggle to see others as Christ sees them.

 

I overthink. One thing I overthink is God’s calling on my life. In that I mean I overthink what God may be calling me to do. Yes I believe it is Biblical to wrestle with what God may be calling you into in the future. Yes I believe it is Biblical to try and discern what God may be calling you to do as a next step. Yet God’s calling on our lives while we wait for the return of the King of Kings is pretty simple. It is to love God and love our neighbor. Right now. Where you reside. This can happen via a lot of different routes or specific callings that you may have. But all we do should come out of our love for God and our desire to love our neighbors.

We are called to love God and love neighbor. Jesus Himself made this abundantly clear.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

Loving God can be pretty easy sometimes when I meditate and consider all that He has so graciously and mercifully lavished on me in my day-to-day life. Loving my neighbor isn’t nearly as easy. My neighbors aren’t like me. As I write this at my kitchen table I am acutely aware of the religious, financial, ethnic, and lifestyle differences between me and my immediate neighbors. Christ has showered love onto my life, and I in turn should be a conduit of His love to my neighbors.

Every good and perfect thing that I have in my life is from above (James 1:17). God is not served by human hands and He doesn’t need anything from me (Acts 17:24-25). He is enthroned on high, being praised forever by the multitude of saints who have gone before, and the great celestial beings. Yes His mercies should result in a desire to worship, but He doesn’t need me to. He is not any less than Himself in the absence of my praise. Those blessings He invests into me each day should go somewhere, and they go horizontally to those in need around me, to my neighbors.

I’ll let Michael Horton bring us home:

In Christ our perspective on other people is transformed. We no longer see people as barriers to our happiness or as people to be feared. Through the lens of the gospel we see them as our neighbors, as part of a mutual exchange of gift giving, and not as threats to our well being. 

I pray today that God would continue to convict me in the times where I have an us vs. them mentality. I pray that God would give me an us for them mentality. I pray that I would joyfully labor daily for the good of my neighbor, whoever that may be, in light of the mercies of Christ and the way that God sees my neighbor.

As followers of Christ, it’s not about us vs. them.

It’s about us for them.

Go in peace.

–  Nate Roach

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