Elsa’s School Of Emotions

I’m afraid that followers of Jesus are being discipled in the Elsa school of emotions rather than the David school.

When I first saw Frozen way back at Thanksgiving of 2013, the song “Let it Go” got stuck in my head. It makes perfect sense why it was an overnight sensation that was parodied and referenced and cashed in on a billion times. The music is catchy and the lyrics describe a generation.

So many followers of Jesus grew up in conceal, don’t feel environments. Maybe they were told to go to their rooms so they could get it together and not scare away the house guests. Maybe they were told that men don’t cry. Maybe they were told that following Jesus means counting it all joy when you face trials and the application of that truth meant being happy all the time and not acknowledging other pains. I don’t know exactly what it looked like for you. But maybe you can relate to the above statements.

So many followers of Jesus attend conceal, don’t feel churches. With K-Love bumping too and from church, the meet and greet time is full of plastered smiles and trite proclamations of how good one’s week was. We get a quick little Bible lesson that is nothing more than the American Dream in a choir robe. You depressed? Well, you’re welcome here but we’re gonna wonder what’s wrong with you and tell you to just go to a counselor. You doubting God? Well, you’re welcome here but we’re gonna wonder why you don’t believe Scripture and then tell you to just go to a counselor. You angry at God? Well, you’re welcome here but we’re gonna wonder if you’re actually a Christian and then tell you to just go to a counselor.

Don’t worry. Be Happy.

Hakuna Matata.

Here’s the reality though.

That’s an incomplete view of emotions and an incomplete application of Scripture.

Life is hard. But God is good.

You ever read the Psalms?

All over the place, David shares the pains and difficulties he is going through.

One in particular always stands out to me.

Psalm 6.

I want you to picture David in your Sunday School class (or life group or connect group or grow group or discipleship group or whatever cool way your church says “Sunday School”).

You guys are making small talk and sharing about your week and you ask David how he’s been doing. What was he up to this weekend?

I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
– Psalm 6:6-7

Uhhhhh. *Slowly moves chair away from David and tries to have a conversation with someone else*

He would probably be welcome in your class still, but you’d think he was emotionally unstable at best and off his rocker at worst.

But y’all, that is what life is like! Sometimes life is really hard. If your life is all sunshine and butterflies every moment, I would argue you’ve got the American Dream in a choir robe and your life is more about Him blessing you than you serving and telling others about Him.

Elsa is not being Biblical with her emotions at all when she says conceal, don’t feel.

Yet, Elsa is not being Biblical when she reaches the lyrical conclusion of her transformation.

Saying Let it Go to all the stress one is feeling and emotions that come with living in a broken world is not the move.

Unfortunately again, I think a lot of modern followers of Jesus are being discipled by Elsa.

Men don’t cry.

Being strong is about not letting any of these *toxic* people around me bother me.

I believe God has a plan, so I will live with joy and not let things get me down.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, that’s not the way of Christ.

Emotions can absolutely dominate you and cause issues. But shoving them down or escaping them with golf or alcohol or Netflix or your hobby of choice likely causes more.

I am the champ of shoving down emotions and then volcanoing on people I care about at the slightest provocation.

So what do we do with our emotions?

Let’s go back to Psalm 6.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
Psalm 6:8-9

Prayer. David was honest about his emotions and then took them to God in prayer. Prayer doesn’t always change one’s circumstances. But it always changes one’s perspective.

My journals need to be burned when I die. They are raw and real and are full of my emotions about a billion different issues. But as I write, God fills my mind with Scripture and I feel my perspective and outlook changing.

It’s interesting to me that wearing my emotions on my sleeve certainly impacts my relationships. Some think I’m weak. Some think I’m dramatic. Some think I need to trust God more. Some think I’m annoying.

There’s some truth to all of the above.

But at the end of the day, I’d much rather live in a way that the man after God’s own heart modeled.

I want to feel my emotions.

I want to make them known.

I don’t want to shove them down.

I don’t want to be dominated by them.

I want to take them to Jesus.

And as I do, I want to teach others to do the same.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

Just Google It

There is little mystery anymore. There is little wonder. We have answers for just about anything and everything. If we are perplexed by something, we pick up our smartphone and google the answer. I do this all the time. Maybe it’s wanting to know why I recognize an actor in a movie. Maybe it’s wanting to know the last time the Cowboys made the Super Bowl so that I can rub that in my friends faces. Maybe it’s checking when Black Panther showtimes are next weekend so I can see it as soon as possible. Sometimes it’s natural phenomena that I can’t explain. Regardless of what it is, the answer can almost always be found in just a handful of seconds via the seemingly limitless knowledge of the inter-webs.

This searching for knowledge and answers via social media, the ESPN app, or Covenant Eyes can steal the time of solitude and silence from our lives as well.

There was a time when it wasn’t this way however. I remember one specific night in my backyard. I was in Junior High and I was out by the pool with siblings and friends. We looked up in the sky and saw twelve incredibly blight lights. The sun was setting slowly, but these lights were not flickering and they were moving. Slowly more and more began to appear and at one point we counted twelve up in the dimly lit sky. Then they appeared to move rapidly away and disappeared. My mind went two different directions. The first was that aliens were coming. I laughed this off and then thought maybe Jesus was coming back, that each light signified one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

I didn’t have a phone, and so we just sat and watched the sky and laughed and conjectured and made up conspiracy stories. It was a moment of awe and wonder.

The other vivid memory that makes me miss my enchantment was Disney World. I’ve had the chance to go a few times in my life. When I went in fifth grade, I was enchanted. Disney World was bright and magical and I was in awe. From Splash Mountain to Space Mountain, I joyfully enjoyed all the attractions. I wasn’t worried about a thing. Pizza Planet was the greatest pizza I had ever tasted in my life.

Then I went back with my fam my Senior year of college. It wasn’t as magical. I had an app on my phone that showed you the amount of time you had to wait at each of the rides and I thus looked at it incessantly. Instead of enjoying the experience of patiently waiting for my turn on a ride with my bros, I was looking ahead at what we needed to do next. Then I realized in horror that Pizza Planet pizza was in fact Digiorno microwave pizzas, no different than what I stuffed my face with a couple times a week in college. The enchantment was shattered.

In a culture of answers and logic and apps, there is little enchantment and wonder and awe. In my opinion it is destroying our children in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Last night I had a considerable amount of fun playing hide-and-seek with my friends’ children. The laughter and smiles and wonder of the kids was refreshing. Sometimes it is good to just put the phones up and for the love of all things good simply enjoy life for a bit.

This disenchantment becomes dangerous when we bring it into our spiritual life (if you want a good book on this, read Recapturing The Wonder by Mike Cosper). We make faith something that we can google, something that we can understand in fullness. We boil theology and doctrine down to bite-size chunks and remove all wonder out of our faith. We make the Bible something to be dissected. As I write this, I see on my shelves a couple hundred commentaries and Bible studies that break down the text. While I’ve always had a fascination for these, it has removed the wonder from my personal time with the Lord at times. As of late, I’ve sought to use them for sermon prep alone and allow my time with Jesus to be just me and God’s Word.

I am praying today that God does something in my life and world that is unexplainable, an act of His power that has no answer. I want to be enchanted again. I desire to be in awe and wonder of the Lord I proclaim and worship. It is through this sense of wonder that I believe my relationship with Him will thrive. This is due to the fact that He is greater and so totally other. He is not comparable. He is not dissectible. He can do things that have no earthly explanation.

The call of this blog is two-fold. Try and put the phone up from time to time to be awed by the world you live in; maybe resist the tingling desire to google the answers to all of your questions. Secondly, enter into your time with the Lord in awe and wonder, remembering that the Scriptures say this about Him:

Oh the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. – Romans 11:33-36

In His Name,

Nate Roach

We Are One

The strangest thing happened to me just the other day. In the middle of a hard day I was just chilling in my room listening to old school Disney movie soundtracks. Random I know, but it’s pretty fun to do. It was while listening to the music from the underrated but fantastic Lion King 2 that I got hit with some gospel truths.

Since the start of the new year God has been making it incredibly clear that I can’t live the Christian life outside of a strong prayer life and strong community in which to find courage and strength. These two truths have come at me from countless different directions. I’ve been reminded of them through my time in the Word, through the encouragement of a friend, through the quiet thoughts before sleep each night. And surprisingly enough, I found the encouragement and reminder to pursuelion-kin Biblical community through a song out of Lion King 2.

Before you exit out of the blog, just bear with me. This all might make sense in the end.

Here’s the gist of the scenario. Two lions in play here. Simba & Kiara. Kiara is struggling to find her purpose for her life. She doesn’t know where she fits in with the rest of the pride. Her father Simba comes along and sings to her this short song about the community that is the pride they’re in, and I truly believe that it speaks volumes about how the church functions. Here’s the full song:

As you go through life you'll see
There is so much that we
Don't understand

And the only thing we know
Is things don't always go
The way we planned

But you'll see every day
That we'll never turn away
When it seems all your dreams come undone

We will stand by your side
Filled with hope and filled with pride
We are more than we are
We are one

Kiara: If there's so much I must be
Can I still just be me
The way I am?

Kiara: Can I trust in my own heart
Or am I just one part
Of some big plan?

Even those who are gone
Are with us as we go on
Your journey has only begun

Tears of pain, tears of joy
One thing nothing can destroy
Is our pride, deep inside
We are one

We are one, you and I
We are like the earth and sky
One family under the sun

All the wisdom to lead
All the courage that you need
You will find when you see
We are one

There’s so much here that has implications on the church body although that’s obviously not the intended purpose of this song.

Simba encourages Kiara that although things might not go as she would like or she had planned, she would have a community that would never turn away from her in those hardships and failures. The encouragement that he gave to her was that they would all stand by her side in hope and pride, they as a pride are more than just individuals, they are ‘one’.

Being in Phoenix has showed me so quickly and so explicitly that I can’t keep going in the Christian walk apart from community. Evil is real, times get hard, and without the support of a church body we can easily get picked off by the enemy. I’ve been tremendously blessed by the generosity and kindness of my church body here in Phoenix. Without them it would have been far too hard to walk through death in my family and assimilating to a new place.

That’s one of the coolest blessings of following Christ. When we enter into salvation through faith, we become a part of something so much bigger than any one of us.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, – Ephesians 2:19

so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. – Romans 12:5

That verse from Ephesians is in a passage describing what Christ did for us on the cross, all the benefits of salvation. We were saved by grace. We were affirmed as His workmanship. We have been brought near to God through the blood of Christ. We are no longer far off, instead we have been reconciled to God and are at peace with Him. We have access to the Father. Yet we also have been given the blessed hope of living in community with all believers across the globe. We are no longer strangers and aliens, we are fellow citizens in the household of God. We are, according to Paul, one body in Christ.

We are one.

The second verse of the song is even cooler in my opinion. As a younger follower of Christ, in a sense my journey has only begun, but I do not journey alone. I’m being equipped and encouraged by those who have gone before, Christ-followers from previous generations.

Simba tells Kiara that in the midst of tears of joy and tears of pain, nothing will destroy the fact that the pride is one. The pride is one big family under the sun. Simba promises Kiara that all the wisdom and courage she needs is found inside the pride, inside the community that she was born into.

Members of my generation (including myself at times) have bought the lie that we don’t need the organized church to pursue Christ. Oh that we would come to realize what a blessing the organized church is. As followers of Christ we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We will find all the wisdom and courage that we need to stand for Christ in the context of the church community.

I still struggle with how to do this well. But Satan loves nothing more than isolating Christians and figuring out how to tear them down outside of community. Don’t let him.

Acknowledge the church community as the blessing that it is. Embrace it. Find courage, wisdom, support, purpose, hope, joy, and so much more in the bride of Christ.

We weren’t made to be alone.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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The Church & Calling in Moana

I love stories in the form of TV shows, movies, and books. I love seeking out gospel truths or themes that are in play even in stories that have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel.

When watching Moana this past Saturday I could’t help but wrestle with some of those truths. Moana is about a girl who feels drawn to the ocean at a young age, yet she is slowly led away from her dream to explore such a vast sea and instead is encouraged to pursue a quiet life in the coconut-sustained village (albeit with the responsibilities of being the next chief). Would it have been a rewarding life? Surely. Would it have been a comfortable life? Definitely. Yet it wasn’t what she felt called to, rather it was what she was culturally assimilated into.

During one of the incredibly catchy songs towards the beginning of the movie, Moana’s grandma says the following to her:

You may hear a voice inside
And if the voice starts to whisper
To follow the farthest star
Moana, that voice inside is
Who you are

Now I would obviously argue that our identity is not found in the voice inside us per-say, yet we know the Holy Spirit guides us and leads us sometimes via the quiet whispers to our souls. Consider the words of Jesus about the Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” – John 16:33

The Holy Spirit truly does speak to us and disclose to us that which we are to do. The call of the Holy Spirit is strong, for it led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4). Romans 8:14 says that those who allow themselves to be led by the Spirit are sons of God. Galatians 5 tells us to walk by the Spirit.

Yet in light of all this I can’t help but wonder how many of us (including me) silent that voice inside because it is culturally crazy. Sometimes as was the case in the movie it’s family pressure that prevents us from setting sail so to speak via the leading of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it’s the feeling that we have all we could ask for where we are (I do affirm that God will not call all of us to take geographically large leaps of faith, but He will call all of us to step out in faith in some manner). moana

One of the most powerful moments in the movie was when Moana was ‘called’ or ‘chosen’ by the weird sentient ocean deity thing. This happened when she was a toddler but was not acknowledged by her father as having happened and so she faced opposition each time she tried to ‘step out in faith’. After the death of her grandma, she went all in. Led by the weird and faceless sentient ocean deity she embarked on a grand journey where she restored light and life to the kingdom that had been tainted and destroyed by the darkness of death.

There is a darkness and death that plagues our world today as well. Yet unlike the movie this is due to humanity’s rebelling against the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The True God of the cosmos is calling some of us to abandon the comfort of what we know to fight against the darkness in the middle of the unknown.

As I was watching the movie I couldn’t help but see the church at work in the village of Motunui. How often do we find ourselves supporting those who are feeling called by God or encouraging them to stay with the status quo? How often do we feel a call to step out in step with the Spirit but we’re afraid to run too far ahead of the church as a whole?

Another powerful scene in the movie is when Moana as a teenager realizes that her people have been voyagers all along, and that only recently they had adopted this routine of life that kept them “safe and well provided”. Man how impactful and timely that could be for the present church. How many of our churches leave their members safe and well provided for, while abandoning the mission of God to reach the nations that are yet to be reached with the gospel of grace? How many of our churches have forgotten the original call of God and have settled for the safe and comfortable? In the movie, the darkness and death infiltrated the village in the end. Irregardless of the safe and comfortable lifestyle they curated for themselves, the curse of death still raged around them and ultimately in them. The curse of sin in the real world is at work all around the earth, may our churches not become bubbles where this is dis-acknowledged. Rather may our churches be places where we encourage the Moanas of our congregations to abandon comfort and safety to follow their call.

May there be more Moana-like men and women in our churches. Men and women who hear the still small voice of the Spirit and are willing to leave all they know for the sake of the gospel. May there be more churches that embrace the call of God on themselves as a whole.

The beauty of the gospel is that our God is not some weird ambiguous faceless sentient wave. Our God came in human flesh and left His Spirit in our hearts as the result of our faith in Him. His Spirit calls us into the ocean of abandonment for the sake of the gospel. Let’s step out in faith.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

I appreciate any and all feedback you can send my way and you can follow my blog via the menu.