What is the Heart of the Spiritual Life with God?

Jesus takes us beyond outward observation into the very heart of our lives. A special envoy of Pharisees from Jerusalem has come to interrogate Jesus but He confronts them with their confusion about what defiles and the heart of true spirituality with God:

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” (Matthew 15:10b-11)

Jesus wants to take His hearers, and us, deeper than mere outward observance. While there is so much more to Jesus’ ministry, there are three things that Jesus intends to do through His teaching and ministry here:

  1. to bring us to the end of ourselves and our power where we know we need an intervention from God
  2. to transform us from the inside out through the saving intervention of Jesus Christ on the Cross 
  3. to grow us in the abundant life with God through obedience as we walk by faith under the influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit

The Pharisees have missed the point about what defiles human life. To have something defiled, meant that it was not holy and could not be in God’s presence or was displeasing to God. The Pharisees had become so enamored with ritual purity that they thought it was primarily what came into a person that defiled them. Now, it wasn’t just food that could defile someone. One could also be defiled by skin diseases, bodily fluids, or contact with someone who was unclean. But the principle the Pharisees lived by was that the external was what defiled. They are blind guides who will lead the blind astray.

Jesus brings it back to a deeper level. He says it’s what comes out of us that defiles us. Our words, yes, but more deeply, what comes from our hearts; our inner life. Hear those words again:

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. (Matthew 15:18-19)

We must turn to our hearts. Again and again, Jesus drives toward the human heart. In Matthew 12, He says:

The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:34b-35)

Jesus is a spiritual cardiologist of sorts, a spiritual heart doctor, and He is trying to get us back to that place with the living God. So how would Jesus diagnose our hearts? What soul-surgery would He recommend? How might we invite Him to do what’s necessary in the deep places of our lives?

Matters of the Heart

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, after our two week hiatus for our annual MissionFest. This week I worked through Jesus’ teaching on the heart and what truly defiles in Matthew 15:1-20. What continually strikes me about Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of Matthew is the drive toward the heart of humanity. Jesus is not interested merely in the outward obedience or form of holiness, but wants to bring a heart transformation. In a way, Jesus is a spiritual cardiologist.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” (Matthew 15:18)

Conflict Between God’s Commands and Human Tradition (Matthew 15:1-9)

The visit from Jerusalem

“The tradition of the elders”

Corban (qorban)

Jesus the True Teacher (Matthew 15:10-20)

Understanding the purpose of God’s commands

Identifying what really defiles human life

Discerning between false and true guides

Listening and understanding

Making It Real

Seeking to listen and understand

Recalibrating God’s truth in relation to human traditions

Choosing Jesus the True TeacherLetting Jesus the Heart Doctor give attention to our hearts


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 15:10-11 and/or 15:16-17
  • Journal, draw, paint, or ink this story or some aspect of it as a way of reflecting on who Jesus is and how you most need to meet with Him.
  • Take some time to reflect on the nature of your own heart with God. Perhaps you could use the guide developed by Nancy Lee DeMoss Wolgemuth, “A Heart God Revives,” found here
  • Consider digging deeper into this concept by reading A. W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God or Henri Nouwen’s book The Way of the Heart

Eastbrook at Home – October 24, 2021

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

After two weekends dedicated to our annual MissionsFest, this weekend we resume our series, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” as I preach about Jesus confronting the Pharisees and reflecting on what is most important in our lives in Matthew 15:1-20. This is also a child dedication weekend at Eastbrook.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes our previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus.”

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

Dan Ryan: Seeking Transformation through Jesus [MissionsFest, week 2]

This past weekend at Eastbrook we continued our pause on our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, in order to continue our annual MissionsFest. Last week Dr. Ed Stetzer was with us for a message entitled, “The Commissions of Jesus for a Post-COVID Church.” This week my colleague, Pastor Dan Ryan, spoke about where Eastbrook is headed with local and international mission through a message entitled “Seeking Transformation through Jesus.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


  1. Revisiting Dr. Stetzer’s sermon:
    a. We are Sent
    b. To All Kinds of People
    c. With a Message
    d. Empowered by the Holy Spirit
  2. Busyness vs Transformation
    a. Losing sight of the end goal
    b. What is the end goal?
  3. Transformation in Jesus
    a. Luke 4:16-21
  4. Integrated Transformation
    a. Our mission is to Proclaim & Embody
    b. It is a mission focused on the Spiritual and the Physical
    c. Mission lives in the tension of these two
    d. Jesus was fully man and fully God, a whole human and a whole spirit
    e. As Jesus is, so is our mission integrated
  5. Seeking Transformation
    a. What does it take to see transformation?
    b. Example: Milwaukee Rescue Mission
    c. Moving forward in Local Outreach
    i. Seek the Holy Spirit
    ii. Serve Together
    iii. Build Relationships
    iv. Seek Transformation
  6. Afghan Arrivals
    a. Opportunity to support
    b. Building teams around each arrival
    c. Your chance to join us
  7. Focusing on Transformation
    a. Stories from overseas
    b. How to join in – Perspectives & Short-term
    c. Prayer

Digging Deeper:

  1. Read Jesus’ Commissions again, particularly Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:16-20 and spend time unpacking the different parts of each commission.
  2. Read Luke 4:16-21 and also Isaiah 61 and envision a city and a world where this takes hold.
  3. Spend time away with God this week reflecting on the connection between His Commissions and His Transformation, and what part He is calling you to play.
  4. To unpack the theological understanding of this transformation, read Surprised by Hope by NT Wright
  5. Reach out to a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is serving in the city or world and invite them to a shared meal or over coffee to hear how they have witnessed God’s work of transformation.

Ed Stetzer: The Commissions of Jesus for a Post-COVID World [MissionsFest, week 1]

This past weekend at Eastbrook we took a pause on our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, in order to begin our annual MissionsFest. We had the privilege of hearing from Dr. Ed Stetzer for this kick-off weekend of MissionsFest. Ed Stetzer is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books.