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Episode Transcript

Ben Willey: Welcome back everybody. Thanks for joining us. We’re doing the fellowship podcast, looking at the seven DNA statements that were written almost 10 years ago. And we are revisiting these statements over these weeks, looking at this eight week series at these statements, and we find ourselves at number two.

Simply with the word heart. We believe that all change begins at the heart. Pastor mark. We’re going to go right to you because we have heard you preach and say this statement in many variety of ways over these last decades. What do you mean by the statement? What convinced you that lasting change operates this way?

Take it away.

Mark Willey: Yeah, I think the question really. The statement is related to maybe turn it on its head and say, “where do we believe life changed is not take place?” And I think so much of religion in people’s mind. And I would say also a lot of practice to Christianity is that it’s, it takes place in behavior.

It takes place externally. And certainly, how we live matters, but I think where it starts is at the heart and it is where all of life change begins because the heart is not just the seat of feelings. It sort of is in our culture, but biblically the heart referred to the feelings, thinking the decision-making basically the whole inner person.

And basically when we say that all life change, begins with the heart. We mean that it takes place internally and then flows out from there. And I think that’s Jesus’ principle about the fruit coming from the root being our heart. An example I think, would be in my own life. As a young man, I struggled with anger pretty significantly.

And I did all the count to 10 before you lose your temper. Don’t hang around with angry people, all the principles. But it wasn’t until I really addressed anger at the heart level that I really saw dramatic change by the grace of God and I, and going into the heart level, I think means you ask questions, you, you ask questions like: what am I believing when I get angry? What did I feel I deserved when I got angry? And I think when you go internal and you, and a lot of heart change takes place just by willing to go inside with questions, I think then you have the capacity to have the remedy of Christ change what you’re really living for and what, and therefore, then what you’re living out of. So I think all teaching biblically should be aiming to take us inside and think what’s really driving me. What am I really wanting? What is really motivating me and what are my ambitions? And that will affect our behavior.

Ben Willey: Thank you. Mike is we look at scripture and take our cues from Jesus, how he ministers to the heart. Where do you see in scripture that Jesus ministered in this heart-centered way?

Mike Candy: I think one of the things to just remember, even at the beginning is this is not some special way that Jesus came up in the new Testament and decided he was going to take on the heart.

It certainly was very present in old Testament as well. The confrontation of Adam and Eve, they had replaced God at the center of their heart with their own thoughts and intentions and desires. The flood came due to evil thoughts of man’s heart. God saw that in Genesis six. So when you get to the new Testament with Jesus, teaching the sermon on the Mount, many of the 10 commandments come up and brings this heart focus in, “you’ve heard that it was said, but I tell you” kind of back and forth that he does.

And why does he do it? I think it’s because people had, at that point, tried to keep the rules and focused only on this behavior, this outward focus, Mark, I think you said this behavior modification, which we all do, we think it’s attractive, it’s praise and it can even look good on the outside, but will not stick, as you said, until the heart motivation is confronted. Love this prayer in Psalm 86 this idea of kind of dividing your heart with its intentions. I’m living one way, but I’m also turning my head and doing something different. Psalm 86:11. “Teach me your way of Lord that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.” That it’s not divided in going these different directions. So Jesus confronts this talk that has really good , life that is really terrible, which the Pharisees were guilty of in lots of ways. But he’s also think about the God becoming a rabbi, living on earth as a human.

There’s rabbinical ways of teaching, but Jesus in a profound way, used questions and statements and the holy spirit to draw out people’s heart motivations. When they were thinking about actions, he just cut right to the heart and asked things that the woman at the well that she knew were in there, but only God could see them.

Same way with healing. Wasn’t simply just physical, but people, sins were also healed at the heart level. So.

Ben Willey: That’s beautiful. As we’re, as we live this out practically, and this, we’re reading the book of Acts and teach teaching through the book of Acts right now. And as you’ll notice in the book of Acts, it’s it’s earthy, it’s connected to real life and you’ve got leaders making decisions for the church.

And how are we going to do this? And what happens next and who feeds these people? How practically does this play out in daily ministry? How does this DNA principle live its way into influencing our day-to-day the way we approach doing ministry in south Jersey?

Mark Willey: It really affects for me, how we look for leaders.

I really believe that in leadership, what drives your heart is, is foundationally important. If I’m even as a Christian, even as a Christian leader, even as a Christian pastor, if we’re really at the base of my heart, what’s driving me is I need to succeed. I need to see it grow. I need to have these benchmarks.

I’m dangerous. I’m dangerous to myself. I’m dangerous to the ministry of Jesus. And so one of the most important qualities that I look for, in terms of leaders or in terms of even pastors, is, is the person able to be content in what God gives them? And that means how do they handle failure? That’s one of the reasons I love raising up from within as a concept, because it enables you to watch, how do people handle when things don’t go how they felt it needed to go for them to feel good about themselves

Mike Candy: Successful way.

Mark Willey: Right. Does it get it? Can you, can you be free at your heart level to say no? I I’m, I’m not on the line here because I’m not ultimately responsible for the success. I’m ultra responsible to faithfully walk with Jesus.

And so I think. Even from a leadership standpoint, it’s really important.

Ben Willey: It reminds me one of the things that I love so much about fellowship is not just loving the pastoral staff and their connection with each other. I just love so much of knowing these brothers and how much their heart is for the Lord through that process.

But also seeing that we’ve got three retired pastors that are from here that are attending our church as well. And just seeing the legacy of content godly men, and that, that legacy, that heart-centered legacy is one that also lasts time. How about you Mike?

Mike Candy: A practical one. I mean, in a, in a way that you would naturally think for worship team it’s music.

And so you want people that have skill to be able to play. That’s certainly important and brings glory to God playing skillfully. But the whole idea that we are not searching simply for skilled people because a skilled person in one way that has a divided heart or a heart that is corrupt in their ideas and thoughts can do damage even with their good skill.

And so I think one of the things that we emphasize is right at the beginning just asking some really heart focused questions before we mine them for their skills. Cause that will play out over time. The skills fade to the back of the heart comes to the front and that can really divide a team in some ways.

So keeping your focus there.

Ben Willey: Yeah. One example I thought of is just speed. You know, the way, the way we churn out disciples is not meant to be factory style or come from just this one moment that we built to, to have this many people come to this decision. But that discipleship happens, and the heart change happens brick by brick.

And yes, God can change us in an instant, but the normative way where Jesus discipled his own disciples and the way that we want to be is through process. And so we don’t believe in a magic program or a magic formula. We are desiring to have godly people with hearts that are centered on Christ over time influencing and being around people.

And so that we all slowly move little bit more and more towards our Colossians 1 maturity in Christ.

Well, that’s it for today. Thank you so much for jumping in. Again. This is DNA statement number two, focused on the heart. We believe that all life change begins at the heart. See you next time.