The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. In 2015, 633,842 American lives ended as a result of heart disease, almost a quarter of total deaths that year.1 Dr. Steven Houser, president of the American Heart Association, believes “the future of cardiovascular research is to stop the disease before it starts.”2 Perhaps this goal explains the increasingly common labeling of various foods as “heart healthy.” Salmon, almonds, blueberries, coffee, dark chocolate—all of these are now applauded as heart-healthy foods and recommended to include as part of your diet.
But is it too late to fix our massive problems with heart health as a country?
I’m eating healthier than I ever have, and let me tell you, it takes some discipline; I seem to like the taste of unhealthy foods! Some of this healthy stuff just doesn’t do the trick for me. It seems nowadays like every meal in our house contains two ingredients: kale and cauliflower. What’s the pizza crust made of, honey? Cauliflower. What are these pancakes made of? Cauliflower. What’s in this sauce? Cauliflower. I finally decided to stop asking—I may enjoy the food more if I just don’t know!
A Heart Problem
As serious as these heart-health issues are in our society, you and I come into the world with a heart problem that cannot be prevented. Ever since the first human beings, Adam and Eve, sinned, we have all come into this world with hard hearts. Instead of loving God and loving our neighbors, we love ourselves most of all. Instead of worshiping God and honoring him as Lord, we try to kick him off the throne and take it for ourselves. And because of this heart problem, we come into this world as God’s enemies. It’s not his fault—we’re the ones who sin. And we make ourselves his enemies because of our sin.
What does this have to do with being a difference maker? You see, before you and I can be difference makers, a difference must be made in us. We need our unhealthy hearts to be replaced with healthy hearts.
The Old Testament book of Isaiah was written by the prophet Isaiah between the years 740 and 700 BC. Isaiah’s ministry lasted through four kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The book has one major theme: trust God. In the Old Testament, Isaiah is a difference maker in the highest degree.
Isaiah was writing to people with hard hearts. They had a heart problem. They trusted in anything and everything before they trusted in God. They trusted in their own kings and their military. Then when that failed, they tried to make alliances with other nations so they could trust in those kings and militaries. They trusted in their external religion to keep God off their backs. But all the while, Isaiah is speaking to their hearts, trying to help them understand that their greatest need is to trust God.
Gregg Matte, Difference Makers: How to Live a Life of Impact and Purpose (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2019).
Want to fill your church with Difference Makers? It will take more than reading one article. I’d recommend you have every group in your church study this excellent book.
We have just completed a Bible study to guide your group into meditating on and applying these truths. The Difference Makers is our Bible Study based on Greg Matte’s book Difference Makers. It consists of 8 lessons with ready-to-use questions suitable for groups. It can be purchased on Amazon and is also available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service.