Heart Check: At the Heart of Our 2022 Retreat
S’mores, ziplining, hiking, and friends — all of these and more are highlights of the Judah high school retreat. But amidst all these memories was something infinitely more valuable. Blake Porter, Judah’s executive director of institutional advancement and a Judah alum from the class of 2007, addressed the school with a very important message: examine your heart.
Mr. Porter reminded us that, because of sin, our hearts are naturally corrupt. And because of our sinful hearts, we are easily led astray by the lies told by the world, as these lies promise what our hearts want.
To show the severity of our heart disease, Mr. Porter turned to God’s word. Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jesus, in Mark 7:20–23, taught us that “what comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mr. Porter was blunt in assessing our heart disease based on these scriptures and others. He told us, “Because of sin, your heart is filled with evil, and it leads to foolishness.”
The worldly idiom “follow your heart” shows how the world wants us to put our trust in the very thing that scripture warns us against. Just think about all of the culture’s self-centered teachings: “do what you want to do,” “you only live once,” “love who you want to love,” “it’s your body,” “build your own kingdom,” “the Bible is just another book on the shelf,” “you’ve got this,” “you do you, man,” “your truth is your truth.”
Through these many examples, Mr. Porter demonstrated how the world keeps us distracted, numbs us to sin, manipulates our view of the human condition, and steers us away from God. The result is us paying more and more attention to things like streaming shows and social media and less and less attention to God and what He says about how we can truly live and love.
Mr. Porter didn’t stop there either. After warning us about our sinful hearts and the world’s deception in encouraging us to follow them, Mr. Porter reminded us who the supreme enemy is: the devil. Satan wants us to follow the desires of our hearts because, as Mr. Porter again reminded us, we are in a spiritual war. In this war, our enemy works to deceive and destroy us.
Looking at this predicament, we are seemingly without hope. So what should we do about it? Mr. Porter addressed this as well. The answer, regardless of what the world tells us, is not found in ourselves. It is found in God, and God alone. We will have hope if we turn away from the world and back to God. We will have hope if we turn away from “following our hearts” and trust in what Jesus has already done for us and how He, and only He, can lead us onward.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus made clear that only those who are ready to hear the gospel message have a real hope. So Mr. Porter left us with an exhortation: examine yourself, and have hearts ready to hear the gospel. Be ready to surrender your heart to Jesus every day, and let Him guide you. The world tells us that we can save ourselves, that we can lead ourselves. But God tells us we cannot. We need a savior to heal our heart disease. We need Jesus.
— Caleb Yant, class of '23