WE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

At last, I have stumbled upon a compelling movie scene and have decided to write about it before my sister, Madie, has! To be frank, I’m sure this movie scene and quote have been written down in her iPhone notes for some time, but after watching the movie only a few evenings ago, I decided I couldn’t refrain from sharing with y’all.

The quote that struck me is from the movie, Murder on the Orient Express. The famous detective, Hercule Poirot, has just solved an interesting case and is looking out at a beautiful evening landscape. A military serviceman comes to escort him to the ferry he plans to take for a mini vacation away from all the “noise” and people who are in need of his services.

The serviceman asks Poirot if he is going to Istanbul and then to London.

Poirot replies by stating that he is tired. He explains that he “wants to look at paintings and have too much time on his hands.”

The serviceman asks him how he knew that the crime he just solved had been committed by the man no one would have expected to be a thief, and by a simple little crack on the wall.

Poirot says, “I have the advantage. I can only see the world as it should be, and when it’s not, the imperfection stands out like a nose in the middle of a face. It makes most of life unbearable. But, it is useful in the detection of crime.”

In this scene, there is a moment of silence, and then the serviceman expresses his amazement at Poirot’s ability to correctly discern time and time again and asks, “But it’s as though you see into their hearts and define their true natures?

His simple response is, “And whatever people say, there is right and there is wrong. There is nothing in-between.”

I would ask that you read the quote above a second time.

One of my spiritual gifts is discernment, and though I am certainly not Poirot, I think his statement about “seeing the world as it should be” is one of the most masterfully curated statements I have ever heard. I do not write this out of pride or selfish ambition, but many times over the last couple of years have I questioned if my fellow Christians, fellow brothers and sisters, notice imperfection and sin when it is staring them right in the face.

Perhaps you have as well?

I deeply mourn the fact that so many Believers function in a “grey area”, where the concept of there being right and wrong and nothing in-between is almost unthinkable.

Hear me out when I say this… There are no exceptions when it comes to sin.

None of us may be a “master detective” such as Hercule Poirot. However, God has given Christians, who have the Holy Spirit within them, the incredible ability to see the world as it should be (some to a lesser or greater degree). To see a world in which everything is just, and right, and true because we function as we were intended to all along.

He has given us the advantage of noticing when something is not quite right and when sin is making every effort to distort the truth.

Many Christians, and most American pastors, choose not to acknowledge this duty that we must stand boldly for what is holy and blameless because it does, in fact, make most of life unbearable. Sometimes it costs you a good night’s sleep because you can’t overlook the blatant sin even if everyone else can. Sometimes you lose friends you thought would choose to please God over man but prove to you otherwise. Sometimes you watch churches die because no one will acknowledge that the leadership is weak and worldly.

But no matter the cost, there are still a few in every generation who will not sit back and let the enemy take all the good we’ve got.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

Verses 12-17: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Dear Christian, keep making your way through the land of the lost. After all, remember, we have the advantage. We can only see the world as it should be, and that’s the world that matters the most.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you standing up for what is holy and blameless in the Lord’s sight?

= What are you going to do differently?

A HERO ALWAYS KNOWS (PART THREE)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

Who does a hero look like to you?

Keep reading no matter your age, gender, status, etc.  But know that my heart as I write this final blog post in our Hero Trilogy, is primarily for all my fellow men, husbands, fathers, and grandfathers out there that might, at some point in time, run across this account of what a true hero looks like.

Why am I singling out my fellow men?  Because, I believe, based on my understanding of Scripture, that we are called to lead our families.  Spiritually first and second, in all the ways of the world.  How often we seem to get those in the wrong order.

Last week, one of our small groups got into a discussion about parenting.  We discussed the intricacies of how to parent our adult children.  Things like what does Dad do when his newly married daughter asks him what the grinding noise on her car is instead of asking her husband? 

As fathers, of course we want to teach and help our kids in any way we can.

But, you see, it is our job to teach that daughter, while she is at home, to listen for those strange car sounds that may indicate a problem.  It is also our job to tell that same, newly married daughter, to ask her husband first when that car sound pops up.

It is our job to train up our children in the way they should go.  How to throw a ball, have good manners, conduct yourself in public, work hard, respect authority, make your bed, and brush your teeth.  How to be a good loser, a humble winner, a safe driver, and to walk in integrity.

In a recent documentary my girls were watching, an elementary teacher said that when reading the great stories, such as Lilly and Michelle mentioned in the previous two posts, most of the kids, when asked, said the hero most reminded them of their dad.

I’m reminded of an old movie line when the captain of a submarine was asked a question and said he didn’t know.  His second in command pulled him aside and rebuked him.  “The captain always knows what to do; whether he does or not.”  It seems like that is often the esteem our children hold us in.  As dads, we are always supposed to know.  We are to be their heroes.

In part two, Michelle said that our world is full of monsters, and we are forever at war with them.  So, if we, as men, are to be heroes in the lives of those around us, why would we allow all the earthly monsters that get between our families and Jesus to win so many battles; without so much as a drawn sword?  I’m not talking about murderous thugs on the street. It’s a given we have to be the hero there.  But realistically, most of us will never face that challenge.

I’m talking about leading your family in meals together, conversation, and maybe even some devotions.  I’m talking about saying we need to cut back on some extracurriculars so we can spend time as a family.  I’m talking about being willing to lead and say we won’t participate in things that aren’t Godly.  How about not letting our daughters out of the house half-dressed to date a boy she barely knows.  Or telling our sons to stop blaming everyone else when something goes wrong.  No more video games, respect your mother, and stand out from the crowd for Jesus. 

Will you be the hero of those situations or just go along to get along?

Or maybe the question we really need to ask ourselves as men is whether we are living a life worthy of being looked at as a hero?  What would your kids say?  Do we even understand that at the core of all this is the fact that we must follow Jesus if we expect them to follow us.  You see, in our own power and strength we are not worthy of them following us.  We need Jesus. We must follow Him because He is worthy.  In that, others may find a reason to follow us.

You see, most of the time heroes aren’t your John Wayne or Jason Bourne.  They are just everyday folks, doing life well alongside Jesus.  Those are the heroes I want to look up to; and maybe even work toward being like myself for my family. 

The true hero will never forget that the most important thing he will ever do is lead his family to Jesus and eternity with Him.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, else matters in the end. 

Now go be their hero…

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= How often to you “go along to get along” instead of leading and being the hero for your family?

= Did this post challenge you on your spiritual condition currently?

= What are you going to do differently?

(This post is the final post in our three-part series on monsters and heroes. Be sure to read part one and two if you haven’t already, and share this series with someone you know needs to read these posts as well!)

ARE YOU THE HERO OF YOUR OWN STORY? (PART TWO)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Last week, Lilly stated that every story has a monster. A monster that must be defeated by a hero. I would like to go a little further with this thought about stories and say that every good story follows the Biblical account of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.

From the ancient text of The Odyssey to the most recent Avengers movie, every compelling story follows this pattern. A perfect, or at least stable, society, or life, is disrupted by a monster, who is then defeated by a hero, restoring order and goodness. Because this is the arc of the Christian story, it is woven into God’s creation, into the very fabric of every human being. Whether an author or screenwriter means to or not, this is the story that is naturally retold over and over again because we are created in the image of God. All of humanity has a divine longing to tell His story.

My question to you, this week, is: Are you the hero of your own story? Have you thought of your life as a story; one that could impact those around you now and the generations that will come after you? Living in light of eternity demands that you think of your life this way.

C. S. Lewis states that he first learned to love God through stories. He recognized the pattern within, even Pagan, stories as man’s spiritual effort to make the world understandable and bearable.

The Bible, itself, begins and ends with incredibly gripping stories. It begins with the creation of our world and the fall of mankind. It ends with the creation of a new world; one that is completely perfect and free of evil monsters. And, of course, there are hundreds of other stories within the Old and New Testaments.

Jesus taught His disciples through stories or parables. Nathan helped David to realize his sin by telling him a story about a rich man and a poor man (2 Samuel 12). The lessons that stick with me from the Bible tend to be stories of people who overcame trials and sin, such as: the woman at the well, a group of friends lowering a crippled man through a roof so he could get to Jesus, blind Bartimaeus who refused to be silent, Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to see Jesus, or the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears.

Stories are vital to the formation of our souls. They are like a good map that helps us to navigate, survive, and even flourish in the wilderness of this world that has lost its way. They help us to make sense of our trials and tribulations.

Is your story a guide to others? Does it show them what to do, or maybe what not to do? Is it an inspiration to help another take courage and stand up against evil?

Our world is full of monsters, and we are forever at war with them. Whether those monsters reveal themselves as real, live, flesh and blood, or as corrupt institutions or government entities, or as sins, trials, illnesses, or other challenges that we must overcome, each human must choose whether to battle evil or allow it to flourish.

I have been privileged to disciple two young ladies recently. Each have made mistakes, sinned against people close to them, and have had to choose to go to battle to find redemption and restoration. I am so proud to say that each have defeated sin through their faith in Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit. One is a little farther along in her story than the other, having been a Christian for a few years. The second is a brand-new Christian (Praise the Lord!) and is trying to figure out how to live for Jesus.

These ladies, as well as you and I, have an opportunity to tell our story. We have the chance to tell others how Jesus has defeated sin and evil in our lives and has helped us to be heroes, whose stories can inspire others to do the same.

Every good hero in the stories we read, or watch, must be trained, taught, and prepared to defeat monsters. They must be proved worthy of the task at hand. It is through hardship, trial, tribulation, and pain that a hero is fully developed.

You see, it is precisely the darkest secret sins, the most challenging trials, and the most powerful enemies that make the best stories. The ones that people around you, your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren can relate to the most. We are all facing monsters!

When you are courageous enough to repent and tell others about how Jesus helped you defeat your monsters, and how the Holy Spirit allows you to live in victory over evil, then, you become the hero of your own story!

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What kind of “monster” do you need to defeat in your story?

= What are you going to do differently?

(This post is part two of a three-part series. Be sure to check back next Thursday for part three regarding how God has called men to be the hero in their children’s stories and point them to Christ!)

EVERY STORY HAS A MONSTER (PART ONE)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Wouldn’t you agree that we all long for something more than what this world has to offer, even if we don’t quite know what it is? We each have this yearning within our hearts for something we have yet to experience and obtain.

Some of us can’t exactly reconcile why we are here. As a Christian myself, though, I firmly believe that our very hearts and souls long for one thing: restoration.

I can prove that we all have this unified desire by pointing out the one resounding theme found in every story book, television show, and movie today… The theme is that every story has a monster.

Think of any fairytale you’ve ever read, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, or The Wizard of Oz. Remember Narnia and Lord of the Rings? Take into account Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen’s Emma or Pride and Prejudice, or Jane Eyre. Each of these stories have a monster figure within their pages.

Humans tell a universal story whether they mean to or not; but why?

It all started in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve, and the monster (or in their case the serpent who was Satan). The monster deceived Eve and led her to believe that if she ate the fruit from the tree God had commanded them not to eat from, that she would become like God, knowing all things.

Eve took the fruit and ate. She then offered some to her spiritually weak husband who also ate, and from the moment she took that first bite of fruit, every kind of chaos and disorder has plagued mankind. We are born into sin, and we find ourselves longing for redemption.

Heidi White has a quote that says, “Monsters are embodiments of The Fall. It’s not the darkness that bothers us, it’s that there is not a hero to meet that darkness.”

Our hearts are desperate for the restoration of our story, of this disconsolate world’s story.

A hero must defeat the monster. Even those who do not believe in our Lord Jesus continue to write and tell stories in which a hero defeats the monster and the darkness and disorder it has caused. Even stories such as Harry Potter and the Marvel series (which are very secular and I do not recommend Christians reading) have a monster(s) and a hero(s).

The Bible itself is full of the monster/hero storyline! Paul reveals this to the men of Athens in Acts 17:23 which says, “Then Paul stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”

You see, they knew there was a god (an unknown god) that they could pray to for deliverance. They just didn’t know who the true God and hero was and still is today.

Ultimately, we tell a universal story because it’s been written into each one of us by our Creator, God.

As Christians, we need to know that the monster in our story exists and is savagely fierce, cruel, and violent. His name is Satan, and he is our enemy. However, we also need to know that the monster can be overcome.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sin and resurrected after being dead in the grave for three days, He rescued us from Satan, the monster of our story that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

Monsters never, ever triumph when a hero is willing to act courageously and sacrificially. For our sake, Jesus was willing to meet the darkness.

“I have found a desire within myself that no experience in this world can satisfy. The most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” (C. S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you find within yourself a desire that this world cannot satisfy?

= Are you tempted to think that the monster of your story will win?

= What are you going to do differently?

(This post is part one of a three-part series. Be sure to check back next Thursday for part two regarding being the hero of your own story!)

CHRISTIANITY AND…

(Republished Post by: Madie Hobbs)

In 2020, I read a book by C.S. Lewis called, “The Screwtape Letters.” This book was one of his most popular works of literature, and I can see why. I enjoyed every minute that I spent reading this book and it really opened my eyes to lots of new spiritual truths! (If you have never read it, I recommend it to everyone)

Ok, so here is a little synopsis of the book for those of you have not read it before…

The book is a book of letters between two demons. Screwtape, is the Uncle of the second demon, Wormwood, who is a “demon in training.” Screwtape is writing letters to Wormwood giving him pointers on how to win the person that he is possessing over to their side. So, it is a constant battle between them and the Lord regarding who is going to win the “Patient” over to their side.

With all that said, I want to get right into a quote from the book that rings with truth.

“My dear Wormwood,

The real trouble with the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. They all have individual interests, of course, but the bond remains mere Christianity. What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’. You know – Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Physical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian coloring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.”  ~C.S. Lewis

So, let us ask ourselves, are we merely Christian? Do we simply put a little Christian coloring on our lives?

This is something, that in the past couple years especially, I have noticed the Church doing. This is what The Few is about. We need to be the Few who do not just have a little bit of Christian coloring on the outside.

Now I want you to ask yourself, what is it that you have added on to Christianity? Is it sports, work, entertainment, relationships, money, etc.? This is something that every single one of us has done, so we should all have an example in our minds. Our world is constantly telling us that we need more and more stuff to make us happy, and most of the time we tend to fall into that narrative. But what I want to know is, do you think that you could only live with Jesus, and have nothing else? Would you still be content with your life?

The truth is most of us would not be.

I really love the way that C.S. Lewis conveys this point in his book. If I am being honest with myself, I believe that I have been guilty of adding other stuff on to Jesus in order to be “happy”. But that is not true happiness. True happiness lies at the feet of Jesus and nowhere else! Church, when are we going to wake up and see the madness that we have fallen into? Because that is what it really is, complete and utter madness!

I really don’t know why we all feel this way. I do not have all the answers. But I do know that this is a lie straight from the devil’s mouth. Jesus tells us in Luke 10 that only one thing is needful. Only one. And indeed, that one thing we need, is to fall at the feet of Jesus and find true joy and contentment.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~John 14:27

Church, we do not need “Christianity And”. Only one thing is needful. So, come and lay down the “Fashion of Christian coloring” at the cross and be made whole, so that we may experience true happiness and joy.

We have got to get past the lie that we have been taught, that we need all these other things, with a little Jesus on top.

We just need Jesus.

Now, I want you to think of the things that you have added on to Jesus like we did earlier, and I want you to think of ways that you can set those things aside, and be content with just Jesus.

Throw off the Christian coloring and be stained with the blood of Jesus.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What is something that has gotten in the way of your relationship with Jesus?

= How are you going to change that?

= What are you going to do differently?

WITHOUT THIS WEEK

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Here we are, caught up in the emotions and convictions that come with a fresh encounter of The Passion Week, and I find myself continually contemplating just how drastically this week changed the course of history.

I read a post by Sarah Clarkson a while ago that quickly became something I clung to and think about often, and I would like to share it with you as we think about what the cross has conquered on our behalf.

So here it is: “We’re always afraid, and we have good reason to be. Whatever joy or love we find, we cradle with one eye cocked to the horizon for looming war, or gathering disease, or anger or hatred, or loss. To be cynical, locked tight in our expectation of disaster, muscled, and chill, is natural.

To be unafraid is… miraculous. It is to unravel all our expectations of the world. It is to be… perhaps, as we were meant to be. It is to be childlike.

I’ve been watching my little ones this week; Lilian twirling with her birthday umbrella and Lucie lifting her arms in absolute expectation that I’ll answer her every peep and Samuel’s adorable presumption on my good humour. These children. They’re unafraid because they’re rooted beyond questioning in their sense of being loved. Perfect love casts out fear. Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid. But Love has come. Truly. To share our pain and remake the world. That’s what the angel was announcing when he appeared to Mary.

‘Be not afraid.’
What else could he say?
What else can I say?


I find it hard to know what to post these days in the face of such vast suffering. But I have wrestled with theodicy for years and the thing I have come to believe as I do my own breath is that God invades our grief and makes it the place of His saving arrival, His radical remaking of the world. He unravels evil. He turns loss backwards. He calls the whole world, even the bombed and weeping world, to be healed.

I have known the remaking light of that love and so, precisely because it is evil that tempts us to fear, I’ll at least say this: Love is here. Even here. Even there. Don’t be afraid.”

-Sarah Clarkson

Did you catch what she said? “Love, comprehensive, unconditional, divine, is the only presence in the world that can make us unafraid.”

Our souls are in desperate need of harmony. Harmony with our Messiah. We are longing to dance with the only One who understands everything about us. The One who doesn’t simply play the note we long to dance to, but is the note itself. The birth, death, and resurrection of Christ is what makes this harmony possible.

This harmony not only takes away our fear, but it replaces that space in our hearts that was once filled with unavoidable fear with unexplainable hope.

Rejoice, dear Christian, because what looks like utter defeat was His most glorious triumph!

Without this Passion Week, Christianity would just be another religion. Without this week, we wouldn’t know what true love feels like and how it transforms every part of our lives when we let Jesus be everything to us.

Without this week, I wouldn’t be writing to you about hope, about beauty, and about the light breaking into our darkness. Yet here we are, because of what our Lord Jesus has done.

“Come to your Temple here with liberation
And overturn these tables of exchange
Restore in me my lost imagination
Begin in me for good, the pure change.
Come as you came, an infant with your mother,
That innocence may cleanse and claim this ground
Come as you came, a boy who sought his father
With questions asked and certain answers found,
Come as you came this day, a man in anger
Unleash the lash that drives a pathway through
Face down for me the fear the shame the danger
Teach me again to whom my love is due.
Break down in me the barricades of death
And tear the veil in two with your last breath.”
– Malcolm Guite, “Sounding the Seasons”

WILDERNESS AND WASTELAND

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever attempted to walk through a wood that hadn’t been pruned, in which a clear pathway didn’t exist? If your answer is yes, I would like to ask you, how did that walk go? From my own previous experiences, I am guessing not very well.

You were probably quite frustrated by how many sticks (no matter how careful you were to avoid them) you stepped on, how many itchy bugs bites kept appearing on your skin, or the number of times you were forced to change direction because of fallen tree branches in front of you. I think you get my point.

However, if you have also taken a walk through a wood that had been pruned and had a clear pathway, you know just how different the experience can be. You probably enjoyed the quiet sound of nature, felt the warm rays of sunlight shining through the trees, and were deep in your thoughts as you walked effortlessly following the path that had been made.

I believe we are all aware that if a piece of land is not cultivated consistently and pruned constantly, it will never cease to return to being a wilderness and wasteland. It will always go back to its former state. There is one thing that I don’t believe we are all aware of, though… Our hearts can do the same if we are not obedient to Christ and allow Him to do His work of cultivating within us.

Our souls are in desperate need of being tended to.

Three of the Gospel writers record a story Jesus told known as the “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8).  In each case, the sower spreads the same seed by casting it over the soil. One would expect the same results, but that’s not how the story goes. What effects the results you ask? The state of the soil.

An uncultivated heart cannot produce the enduring, plentiful, spiritual fruit that is possible and desirable. Our hearts can be so hardened that the Word “bounces off” us with no lasting impact.

The rocky soil Jesus speaks of is not just filled with little pebbles of stone, but the solid, obstinate table of rock buried several inches beneath what appears to be fertile soil. This represents the sin and hidden things in our minds and hearts that we never prune away, and they keep the seed from taking root. The third type of soil seems to accept truth, but never reaches maturity, because it also accepts the world with its riches, worries, and pleasures. God’s Word is “choked out” and is unable to produce fruit.

The good soil, however, is the heart that embraces the Word and holds fast to it, allowing it to take root, grow, and mature, and ultimately produce eternal and abundant fruit for the Kingdom of God. This heart is described as honest, good, and noble.

The Holy Spirit is the only one who can give us a “good heart” that will receive and bear the fruit of salvation. He gives us a heart of flesh instead of stone (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). We are responsible (with the help of the Holy Spirit) to cultivate and keep a “noble and good heart” so that the Word of God continues to bear fruit pleasing to God.

To cultivate means to nourish the soul with the true, the good, and the beautiful. This must be done constantly if we wish our hearts to not be a wilderness and wasteland spiritually. You can be sure that when your heart is not being cultivated by Jesus, it is being filled with disorder and chaos by the enemy.

Ultimately, it’s a heart issue in the listener, not a failure of the sower or the seed that keeps someone (maybe even us) from bearing fruit. Matthew 6:20-21 says, “But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Remember the Pharisees and Scribes Jesus spoke to in Matthew 15:8? He said Isaiah had correctly prophesied about them when He said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Their hearts were not cultivated. Sure, they may have looked spiritual on the outside, but even an uncultivated and unpruned wood can look good at first glance. It’s when you step inside that you realize what a mess it is. They could say all the right things, but it didn’t matter because they weren’t genuine.

We have a sin problem that is turning us into a wilderness and wasteland by the minute. Our souls are in desperate need of being tended to. The ultimate goal we are after by means of the act of cultivation is to know God, glorify God, and enjoy God.

Nourish your soul with the true, the good, and the beautiful instead of giving in to the temporary and fleeting things of this world that will certainly pass away. Lord, let our hearts not be far from you.

“Disorder in the world implies that something is out of place. Usually, at the heart of all disorder you will find man in rebellion against God. It began in the garden of Eden and continues to this day.”  (A. W. Tozer)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you feel like your life is full of disorder?

= Do you desire to focus on the true, the good, and the beautiful?

= What are you going to do differently?

THE PRESENT PRESSURE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

If you know me, you know I have a certain interest in people-watching. I often catch myself analyzing, studying, and observing whatever environment it is that I happen to be in, and who the people are around me.

There is something I have been noticing in people’s countenance… Many are increasingly lacking hope, purpose, determination, and perseverance.

Even to us as Christians, does it not seem as if the world we’re living in is currently being crushed under the enemy’s feet? As if Satan is winning?

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you should be filled with alarm like others, you would no doubt be led into the sins so common to them under trying circumstances.”

Unbelievers tend to run to the wrong means in order to escape life’s difficulties, and Christians can quickly do the same when our minds yield to the present pressure of our age.

The present pressure and anxiousness we’re all feeling is a direct result of the evil that is freely roaming about, but there should be a radical difference in the way we continue to operate when compared to people who have no hope and have not put their trust in Jesus.

So, the question before us today is this… How do we live with intentionality amidst the pressure of the age we’re living in?

This might seem an odd Scripture to start with, but I am reminded of Psalm 23:5-6 which says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

This passage explains the presence of David’s enemies as bystanders at the feast. We probably wouldn’t be very much inclined to invite our enemies to watch us eat, and we might even regard their presence as likely to spoil our appetites. However, the enemy’s unwilling attendance at the feast is the important evidence of a shift in the balance of power now that the King has arrived. David’s foes had mocked him and humiliated him, but his trust was in God. For years he had been crying out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? . . . How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Ps. 13:1–2). How it must have seemed to David, and to the rest of the world, as if the Lord had forgotten him and allowed his enemies to rejoice in their triumph.

Although He didn’t, did He?

This ultimate distinction between faithful servant and unfaithful enemy, those invited to join the feast and those left standing in disgrace to one side, I think raises a question in the heart of every Believer. Why would I be invited to be an honored guest to a feast reserved for faithful servants of the King?

I mean, our obedience is erratic at best. We regularly and deliberately turn our backs on obedience and join our peers in eager worship of their idols. So, why us?

This, my friend, is where the magnificence of unmerited salvation, that is ours, shines forth so clearly. We have a God that we can run to at any time. We have proved His faithfulness before, and He has never once been found lacking.

There’s a song by NEEDTOBREATHE called “I Am Yours”, and I think the lyrics perfectly describe the point I am trying to make.

“Sometimes I’m under starlit sky
But I’m feeling more like dirt
How do I forget so fast
Who you are, and what that’s worth

‘Cause there’s an evidence of you
In every corner of this life
So why do I still try to prove
That I don’t deserve your time

‘Cause I am yours
And you will always be mine
It seems like madness, I’m invited
To the table by your side

‘Cause I am yours
And you will always be mine
I’m a man whose one ambition
Is to dance with my divine
‘Cause I am yours
And you are, you are, you are
You are mine”

What we do is rooted in who we are, and I’m here to tell you that God cares a lot more about who we are deep down inside than whatever it is we may happen to do on any given day for Him.

Christianity isn’t something I do. It’s who I am. Our influence is irreplaceable, so we must be intentional about remembering who we are because of who Christ is.

My concern for American “Christians” today is that I’m not sure they want to be His. I’m not sure we long to be at the King’s table and be with Him. I’m not sure we will MAKE time to be at the table.

However, if your one ambition is to dance with your divine, surely His goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. If you want to live with intentionality amidst the pressure of the age we’re living in, take a seat at the King’s table.

It seems like madness, but He’s waiting.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Write out a list of three or four things you want to be. It could be something from the verses we just read, or it could be something you admire in Jesus, or another Christian in your life. Ask God to continue to complete the good work He has started in you. Ask Him to enable you to BE who He created you to be. 

YOUR MISSION

This dark, gloomy weather here in Ohio made it feel like a good day to share a poem! I love this one in particular because it encourages us to not stand idle when God has given us work to do. Though we may not think it to be grand, nevertheless, it is our mission!

If you cannot on the ocean
    Sail among the swiftest fleet,
  Rocking on the highest billows,
    Laughing at the storms you meet;
  You can stand among the sailors,
    Anchored yet within the bay,
  You can lend a hand to help them
    As they launch their boats away.

  If you are too weak to journey
    Up the mountain, steep and high,
  You can stand within the valley
    While the multitudes go by;
  You can chant in happy measure
    As they slowly pass along–
  Though they may forget the singer,
    They will not forget the song.

      *      *      *      *      *

  If you cannot in the harvest
    Garner up the richest sheaves,
  Many a grain, both ripe and golden,
    Oft the careless reaper leaves;
  Go and glean among the briars
    Growing rank against the wall,
  For it may be that their shadow
    Hides the heaviest grain of all.

  If you cannot in the conflict
    Prove yourself a soldier true;
  If, where fire and smoke are thickest,
    There’s no work for you to do;
  When the battle field is silent,
    You can go with careful tread;
  You can bear away the wounded,
    You can cover up the dead.

  Do not then stand idly waiting
    For some greater work to do;
  Fortune is a lazy goddess,
    She will never come to you;
  Go and toil in any vineyard,
    Do not fear to do and dare.
  If you want a field of labor
    You can find it anywhere.

POEM BY: ELLEN H. GATES

NEVER REALLY WHAT YOU WANT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

How often do you find yourself chasing after the things in life that you think you want? For many young people my age, relationships, trendy tennis shoes, the newest iPhones, thousands of Instagram followers, and status are at the top of the list.

Before starting to write down these thoughts that are on the forefront of my mind, curiosity led me to Google, “What do humans desire most?”. I found there to be a consistent theme in the articles that have been written in regard to this question. Most stating that once we have food, water, and shelter we must feel safety, belonging, and mattering. Those three things being what we desire most.

It may come as a bit of a surprise to you if you’ve been around here for a while, but I agree with these Google search results. We all desire to feel safe, to belong, and to matter to others. Those are not trivial or wrong desires/wants to have. In fact, they are the very things God put within us to move us towards having a relationship with Him.

The terrible trait mankind possesses, however, is that we pursue these wants and desires in sinful and careless ways, thinking only of our own gain and happiness without giving anyone else much thought. James 3:16 says, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

Friends, take one good look at the people in the world right now. As all of us pursue what we think we want, it is completely obvious that we are not happy. We are not content. We don’t have peace, and what we think brings us peace is really just a week-long vacation from the mess of a life we have created and continue to choose every day.

You know what genuinely astonishes me about us today? It’s the fact that we pray and ask God to bless our disorder and dysfunction. We ask God to bless the life that we desperately want a vacation from, yet we come back to it time and time again and don’t change a thing.

A.W. Tozer once said, “Getting what you want is never really what you want. What you truly want is only found in Christ. Until He is your highest desire, you will still feel empty when you get everything else you want. Your heart was fashioned to fit perfectly in the hand of it’s Maker. Trust Him.”

We are the problem. We get in the way of our own hearts. The relationships, trendy tennis shoes, the newest iPhones, thousands of Instagram followers, and status will never be enough for us. There will always be something that, in our minds, is better than what we already have.

Yet we continue to try and find our identity in the temporary and fleeting things of this world, and we wonder what we’re all so afraid of. Is it really so hard to see? We’re afraid of losing the worldly safety, belonging, and mattering that we have put all of our hope, time, and effort into gaining.

My generation specifically is being raised on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication because they haven’t faced the fact that they will always feel empty and will never truly live until they die with Christ and get themselves out of the way.

I am so sick of watching my peers try every other solution first instead of running straight to the Savior. He is the ONLY ONE who can give us safety, who knows our need to belong better than anyone else, and tells us that we mattered to Him before we were ever born.

Getting what you want is never really what you want. We are our own problem, and until we get ourselves out of the way by surrendering all to Christ, we will only create more disorder within our lives.

What we want can only be found in Jesus. Real life change has to start with a longing heart.

“Who do I have in heaven but you? And I desire nothing on earth but you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever.”  (Psalm 73:25-26)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you long to change?

= What are you going to do differently?

A CHRISTIAN WOMAN’S THOUGHTS ABOUT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

On Tuesday of this week (March 8th), the world celebrated and recognized International Women’s Day. I must admit, as a young Christian woman myself, I am skeptical of International Women’s Day. Now, that sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it?

Allow me to explain the reasons for why I am skeptical… What most women celebrate about themselves on this day is precisely the kind of womanhood God has called Christian women to stay away from and not participate in.

Women who are living according to the world think it’s “hot” to be immodest, and on days like International Women’s Day, the world celebrates it. They think it’s fun to be “in charge” of their boyfriends and husbands, and that bashing them when they spend time with their friends is just a mental health trend called “venting” helping them feel their feelings. They are constantly chasing after the “boss babe” title.

1 Timothy 2:9-11 says, “Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.”

In case you’re wondering what the world celebrated about women on Tuesday, this is a quote from an article Fox wrote that reads… “March 8 marks International Women’s Day, a global celebration of women’s achievements, and a continued call to action for equality. This year’s theme, #breakthebias, seeks to call out the biases that make it difficult for women to succeed. “Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field,” the International Women’s Day website reads. “Are you in? Will you actively call out gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping each time you see it?”

The world is NOT celebrating Biblical womanhood. It’s celebrating a sinful, sexualized, and perverted version of womanhood that it believes will truly satisfy us and make us better individuals. But it’s not what God intended for women, and we will never be truly satisfied until we are surrendered to His design.

While we most definitely should celebrate the women who have made a difference and been effective for eternity, we must realize that the world seeks to diminish these women and the good and beautiful roles that women have. Roles such as helping other young ladies to know and understand truth, care for children, love and support their husbands, pursue what is pure and lovely, etc.

As Christian women, we must be confident in who God has made us to be and fight against these lies that we are so misunderstood and discriminated against. We are not victims just because we are women.

I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot who once said, “To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly, and she is giving. You and I have the gift of femininity… the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified. Be women, be only women, be real women in obedience to God.”

Biblical womanhood is beautiful, and I choose to celebrate that today instead! I pray that we choose to be gentle, gracious, godly, and giving women who love Jesus with all that we are.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you believe that God is glorified when men and women each understand their God-given roles?

= Do you view yourself as a victim or a victor?

= What are you going to do differently?

WHY THEM?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “why them” as you read about the lives and stories of individuals that God used powerfully in Scripture? I am not afraid to admit that I have wondered why God uses people such as David, Rahab, Abraham, Rachel, Gideon, and Paul before and to this very day even.

What you may be expecting me to say here is that God used them because they all had their own disastrous messes and sins, and if He used them, then He could surely use us. As almost every pastor I have heard preach on this subject says, “God was not limited by their inconsistencies and used them anyway, because after all, every person is a sinner. He has no perfect men which He has had the opportunity to choose instead.”

Though it is true that God is willing to use us despite our sinful nature, I truly don’t believe that that is the primary reason for why God used them and why He chooses to use us to build His Kingdom today. There is another theme that remains consistent in every story found in Scripture and the stories He is still writing and unfolding before us in this generation.

I think one of the best examples we can glean from (and one that reveals this consistent “theme”) is the story of the women going to visit Jesus’ tomb after He had been crucified.

Matthew 28:1-10 says, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Picture this story in your mind with me, friend. Their Savior, teacher, and friend has just died the most gruesome, painful death, and these women are out of their minds with grief. Imagine they just got of bed, no makeup, hair hasn’t been touched for days look. They don’t know what to do. Because they are emotional wrecks, and they weren’t able to prepare Jesus’ body properly for the grave due to the Passover Sabbath, they are most likely going to the tomb where Jesus’ body was to mourn; hoping that just maybe they can prepare the body as was their custom. Then, there is an earthquake, an angel appears and rolls back the stone covering the entrance to the tomb and tells them that Jesus has been resurrected.

I ask the question, “Why them?” about practically every part of this story.

For one, they are women and, in that time, would have been viewed as lesser than. Yet, Christ makes His glorious resurrection known to them before anyone else, even the eleven disciples. I am confident they are emotional and probably aren’t thinking straight, but surely they could not have forgotten all that Jesus had told them! Perhaps they were wrestling with some doubt and just wanted to be where Jesus was?

Of all people, why them? Why did Jesus choose them?

There is but one, individual answer to this question… Because they were seeking.

A. W. Tozer once said, “The difference between faith as it is found in the New Testament and faith as it is found now is that faith in the New Testament produced something and there was a confirmation of it. Faith now has a beginning and an end. We have faith in faith but nothing happens. They had faith in a risen Christ, something happened, and that is the difference.”

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the same women who watched the crucifixion, are now sitting against the tomb, just as they had sat against the cross; still longing to express their love and devotion to Christ. Still, they were seeking after Him.

Is this not the state of your heart as well, dear Christian? Though you may be overwhelmed by the state of the world, wars and rumors of wars, sin and death, disappointment after disappointment, does your heart not long to seek the One who holds victory in the palms of His mighty hands?

God does not pick random people to build the Kingdom because He doesn’t have any “perfect” ones to use instead. He chooses to use those who are seeking and long for something more.

May it be said of the Church in our generation that even though they could have walked around defeated, still they were seeking after Him.

“To seek God does not narrow one’s life, rather it brings it to the level of highest possible fulfillment.”  (A. W. Tozer)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been feeling weighed down by the world?

= What are you going to do differently?

CLUTTERED ALTARS

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

A few months ago, as I was sitting in a youth event, my mind started to wander away from the lesson a bit and began to slip into a world of deep thought. My eyes began to drift slowly across the sunlit room, taking in the sights of my fellow peers, the color of the familiar walls surrounding me, and the small objects sitting around the room in several different spots.

But even though I was profoundly familiar with this space where I was sitting, the Lord revealed something new to me (as He often does when I take time to look about) that never held much significance before.

I began to think about the many other similar youth events I had attended in the past and began to remember the many different students who had stood to my left and right, who had a deep, outward response to the workings of the Holy Spirit. I thought about how there would typically be several different people who would make their way up to an altar that was almost always present in front of the stage, and how they would soon be surrounded with friends and fellow peers praying over them and helping them work through certain things.

My mind specifically stopped on the image of those crowded altars, and I couldn’t help but wonder why I had never experienced that same Holy Spirit driven worship in this event I was now attending.

As I thought, my eyes drifted toward the altar that ran the length of the stage only a few feet away from me, and I noticed something that has been burnt into my thoughts ever since.

The wooden altar, sitting a few feet above the floor, only a short distance from where we all sat, was covered with ridiculous clutter.

Game boxes, candy bags, sound equipment, cords, a laptop, and several other objects lined the length of the altar, with only a few small spots of the smooth wooden surface still visible. As I stared at it, I was overcome with a desperate, sorrowful feeling. A feeling of longing to see that altar in use again.

I began to realize that there was actually a great deal of significance to this sight that lay before me, and one that the American Church needs to wake up to.

God began to reveal to me that this was one of the most blatant, but almost unconscious actions that slammed the door of opportunity in Jesus’ face.

You see, this action represents an unabashed rejection for a move of the Holy Spirit.

Now, I want you to understand, I do not, in any way, believe that God can be restrained to an altar. However, we as human beings need a physical place where we can go to get right with Him sometimes.

This cluttered altar represents the complacency and weakness in the American Church, because we no longer wish to stand in the presence of God and feel conviction and fear for the stupidity we have allowed into our lives.

We have allowed our lives to become cluttered, much like this altar. Cluttered with skewed priorities, where we place our social status, our previous engagements, and our personal enjoyment above the power of the God who places breath in your lungs, minute by minute.

This altar clearly says to those who enter that building, and to the God who resides in it, that “We haven’t seen a move of God in this youth event no matter how many times we’ve tried. So now we’re just not going to even worry about keeping the altar open for students who may want to radically repent and get right with Jesus. I hope they all make it okay out there in the wide world.”

“For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:23-27 ESV)

By creating cluttered altars, we are portraying to people that we serve an “unknown God”, the same unknown god that the Greeks did.  We have not identified Him any better than they did by not even allowing people to experience what can happen as we kneel before an altar. But, if we are calling people to a radical, Biblical Christianity, our altars would be overcrowded with living, breathing souls versus inanimate objects week after week.

The Lord is not far from each one of us, maybe it’s time to clear our cluttered altars so we can actually meet Him. 

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What have you allowed to clutter your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

SOMETHING MORE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I feel like I’m making my way through the land of the lost, even in the Church most days. Is it just me? It can be discouraging; it can certainly be disappointing. There’s a burden that true Christians bear for the sake of what is good and what is right.

I found this quote by C. S. Lewis this week that got me thinking. It says, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

The American Church acts as if this “Jesus thing” is moderately important (precisely what it cannot be). The “Christianity” most have today is not the real deal. It’s reasonable and comfortable.

But it used to be something more.

Madie and I are often asked by older Christians why young people are leaving the Church and the faith. I realize their concern, as most young people have already “left” the Church mentally and emotionally even though they are sitting in the pew physically. The honest and gut-wrenching truth is that they don’t want what they see other believers have.

Is some of that their own fault for not paying attention and putting some effort in? Of course. But if you don’t see that Jesus has radically changed the people that sit alongside you in the pews each Sunday, why would you change? If they live no differently than you do on any ordinary Wednesday or Thursday, tell me, what’s the point?

It used to be something more.

The American Church threw real, Biblical Christianity out the window when we started manufacturing a weekly gathering of people who wanted to be “religious”, yet keep their lives, incomes, and time for themselves instead of sacrificing everything to follow Jesus. We ask God to bless our lifestyles, our activities, and our futile efforts even though they offend His very nature.

When was the last time you asked Jesus if your life really pleases Him? If all that you are is becoming what He intends for you to be?

Colossians 3:5-10 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”

We either become a more hellish creature or a more heavenly creature as each day passes. Everything is radically transformed when we encounter our Savior and King. In turn, it should be evident to those we encounter as well.

Christianity is not moderately important to me. It’s who I am, and who Jesus has made me through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. It is of infinite importance.

C. S. Lewis also said, “Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

How will history remember you? Are you seeking Him or some cheap imitation that leaves you needing more?

Real Christianity is so much more than us; thank the Lord.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you encountered Jesus for yourself?

= What are you going to do differently?

OUR OLD, DEAD SELF

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Well, I am back at it, wrestling with the teachings of Watchman Nee. At the beginning of the year, I picked back up on my reading of The Normal Christian Life and began slowly working my way through the Scofield Bible Correspondence Course. (A gem of a six-volume course that was published in the 1950s and used by missionaries who were out in the mission field. We ran across a set in a used bookstore last year. I love finding treasures like that!) But I digress.

Anyway, prompted by a New Year’s Resolution, I was devoting some of my morning hours to Bible study and the Lord did one of my favorite things that He sometimes does. He coordinated the subject matter I was reading in The Normal Christian Life with the subject matter of the Scofield lesson I was completing that day. He does those kinds of things to let us know He is with each and every one of us; providing just what we need. But friends, when He does do that, you had better be paying attention. He is definitely trying to tell you something!

So, what was He trying to tell me, that I now want to share with you?

He was answering a question that I have wrestled with for several years. Why do Christians continue to accept sin as a normal part of our lives after we have been saved, forgiven, and transformed by the Lord?

I have to be honest; I cringe a little inside when I hear my brothers and sisters in Christ declare that they are sinners. You have all heard someone say, “We are all sinners saved by grace. We are still human and will always make mistakes. That’s just the way it is.” Just yesterday, I read a post on social media that said, “The one thing I am really good at is sinning… so praise the Lord I’m in Christ and when I do sin, I can go to Jesus and He forgives me.”

While I, regrettably, do still make mistakes and sin, I make considerably less mistakes and sin much less than I did before my salvation, and I pray that with each passing year, I look more and more like Christ, whose image I bear. I refuse to accept that I am stuck in my sin.

I believe that continuing to see ourselves as sinners after we are saved is wrong, and that wrong view of ourselves has a hugely negative impact on our growth as Christians. It keeps us right where the enemy wants us; not living in the fullness of Christ!

I pray that the Lord will grant us a fresh knowledge, a deep understanding, that what is true of the forgiveness of our sins is also true of our deliverance from sin.

In Romans 4:25 we see, “Jesus our Lord…was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Our “justification” is talking about our standing before God. God looks upon the precious blood of Christ and sees that Jesus has paid the price for the sins of us who believe in Jesus as our personal Savior. The blood deals with what we have done. We need the blood for forgiveness. The blood shed by Jesus, as our substitute, secures for us forgiveness, justification, and reconciliation with God.

Most Christians have no trouble believing that fact, but we tend to stop there. We, rather flippantly, continue on in our sin when Jesus tells us to “Be holy, as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We fail to understand the greatness of the Cross of Christ! While we need the blood for forgiveness, we also need the cross for deliverance!

Nee asks, “How could a holy God be satisfied to have unholy, sin-fettered children?” If He has provided a way to be forgiven of sin, surely He has provided a way for His children to be delivered from sin. The cross, precisely our death on the cross, is that provision.

You see, humans are born with a sin nature. Romans 5:19 says, “Through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” Because of the fall of Adam and Eve, all who have come after them have been born sinners. It is our constitution. We are not sinners because of our behavior. Our behavior, or sin, is merely evidence of the fact that we are born sinners.

Thankfully, God knew this about His creation and had a plan to deal with it (even before the beginning of time). That plan can be found in the conclusion of Romans 5:19, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous.”

Christians must understand this and grow in their faith past being only concerned with our behavior, on to accepting the crucifixion of our old, dead self. The blood cannot take away our sin nature. “There is only one way. Since we came in by birth, we must go out by death. Bondage to sin came by birth; deliverance from sin comes by death” (Nee, 1957).

“All we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3). The blood deals with what we have done. The cross deals with what we are. We must have the cross to crucify our old selves. The cross provides our deliverance from what we used to be. “The cross is thus the mighty act of God which translates us from Adam to Christ” (Nee, 1957).

Christian, stop living in your old, dead self with Adam and start living in your new identity in Christ. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Do you see? You are supposed to be a new creation, not a spruced-up version of your old self! This new, divine nature is Christ’s own.

Romans 7 is a record of the conflict between the old self and the new creation. In verses 14-24, we read Paul’s struggle with his sin nature. He says what all of us have felt. He states that he feels like a slave to sin. That he wants to do good but ends up doing wrong. Finally, in verse 24, Paul asks the question we all must ask. “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord…And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Rom. 7:25-8:2). The battle now belongs to the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and will bring it about.

You must believe this and rely on this truth. Stop believing the lie that you are still a slave to sin. The old, dead self, that you should loathe, is on the cross.

“Our crucifixion can never be made effective by will or by effort, but only by accepting what the Lord Jesus did on the cross. Our eyes must be open to see the finished work of Calvary” (Nee, 1957).

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

References

Nee, W. (1957). The Normal Christian Life. CLC Publications.

EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL VERY BRAVE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

The fear in our world is pervasive. It is destroying lives, tearing families apart, and killing American churches off one by one. I cannot blame those who do not know Jesus for making wrong choices and living their lives in fear. After all, we can’t expect those who don’t know Jesus to live as if they do. But as for the American Church, we should look radically different… We unfortunately do not.

We look precisely like them.

We have let the world push their agenda of fear onto us. They are training us to believe that fear is perfectly acceptable, and that we should embrace it because it is “normal”. Obviously feeling fear is normal; but living in a state of fear is not (or at least it shouldn’t be for a Christian).

When you believe the lie that living in a state of fear is “normal”, it gives you the perfect excuse to not do brave things. If the enemy can use the world to get us to react and live our lives in fear, then it’s almost a guarantee that we won’t do anything about the evil they are promoting because we are inward focused.

We will be distracted and preoccupied.

If the world can get us to live selfishly and within their context of fear, then we are going to live like that in a spiritual context because they coexist. Fear, then, becomes our excuse not to do that which calls us to be brave because we think that everything depends on us, and we’re not willing to risk looking like a failure.

Currently, there is a war against the unborn babies and children of our generation, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against the Church, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against freedom, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is a war against Biblical sexuality and marriage, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

There is war against the perfect and authoritative Word of God, but we won’t engage in it because we are afraid.

I love Ezekiel 2:1-8 which says, “He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

I believe God is calling The Few to do the same in 2022. We must speak boldly to a rebellious people, for our authority is not our own, but God’s. He never intended for us to live in fear. Instead, He longs for us to be courageous.

C. S. Lewis has a quote in his book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, that is simply remarkable. Peter, the oldest of four siblings who discover a place called Narnia, quickly comes to realize that he must lead an army against the White Witch who has used force and fear to make all of Narnia cower and comply with her wicked demands. Lewis says, “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.”

As Christians, our fear makes no difference to what we must do. Though many of us can relate with Peter, in that we do not feel very brave, our job is obedience. God’s job is outcome.

The truth is that we know we have to do something. We have no choice but to do it afraid. Without fear, there can be no courage.

Do the fearful know that the brave are among them? They should be afraid.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What is one way you can be spiritually brave this week?

= After reading this post, do you feel humbled or inspired?

= What are you going to do differently?

GOT MY HEART GOING

(Re-published by: Lilly Hobbs)

Some of you may recognize the title of this post, as we published it one year ago now! It is one that certainly encourages me, and so I thought we would re-publish it again today. Happy Thursday!

Each evening, before I go to sleep, I have been reading through some of C .S. Lewis’ books. Why I choose to do this at night I have yet to figure out, as his words are extremely thought-provoking and make my mind wander to very deep places.

On Sunday evening, however, a good friend texted me (on accident actually) as I was reading, and we just started talking about Jesus and the great things we’d been studying recently, because we’re going through the same devotional book. So, I told her about this C. S. Lewis book that I’m reading, and I sent her a picture of the page I was on when she texted.

This is the part of the book that I sent her… “But creatures are not thus separate from their Creator, nor can He misunderstand them. The place for which He designs them in His scheme of things is the place they are made for. When they reach it, their nature is fulfilled and their happiness attained: a broken bone in the universe has been set, the anguish is over.

When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irrelevance can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’?

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of His cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him (with that responsive love proper to creatures) and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces.”

My friend’s response was this, “It’s so good! You got my heart going.” I was struck by her words. Not because I thought she wouldn’t like it, but I was struck by how she said that it “got her heart going”.

Whenever I read something about Christ’s love for me and how He wants to have this intimate relationship with me, I have this natural longing to love Him more deeply. I really don’t even have to think about it; it’s just natural.

But it got me thinking, how many people would read something like what I sent my friend from a book, and not think a second thought about it? Or, allow me to go even farther than that, how many Christians have heard about God’s love so many times and think that the last thing they should do is fall on their faces before Him?

Lewis finishes this section of the book by saying, “If we do not (fall on our faces), that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God – though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain.”

You know, we can get so caught up in trying to understand everything about having a relationship with Christ, and yet keep ourselves from actually having a relationship with Christ! Listen, I don’t care if you’re not an emotional person. If you don’t weep over your sin, over the fact that Jesus was willing to be brutally killed because He wanted to win you, then perhaps nothing is going on inside!

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Guys, are you getting this?! The Gospel should get your heart going! It should change your attitude, your tone of voice, how you drive, how you treat fellow classmates, co-workers etc.

Very few people allow that kind of love in. A love that will change your heart forever. One that doesn’t make sense, one that we’ll never comprehend. Many are scared to take that risk, but what an adventure it is if you are only willing.

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

If Jesus doesn’t get your heart going today, then let me challenge you to make Him your first love. I want to challenge you to let Jesus end that anguish and to set that bone in your life that has been broken for way too long. Take the risk and let Him love you.

He is a God who will never, ever, misunderstand you because He is the only one who knows without a doubt, where you’re really meant to be.

“Other than heaven, the only place where one’s heart is completely safe from the dangers of love is hell.”   (C. S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Is there evidence in your life that you love Jesus because He first loved you?

= Does the thought of love scare you?

= What are you going to do differently?

TWENTY-TWO THINGS CHRISTIANS SHOULD DO IN 2022

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I love reading through a good list or “idea” type post and have found them to be very helpful when trying to be creatively intentional about living a deep, and also meaningful, Christian life. You know, I’m sure that many of us wrote out some of the fitness goals we wanted to accomplish in 2022, or perhaps you thought about a new hobby you would like to try. Or maybe creating a book list full of amazing classical literature (oh wait, maybe that’s just Madie, haha). Those things are great, but what about the things that actually matter? What about Jesus? Is He something you just fit into your schedule when it permits, or does everything else flow from your personal relationship with Him?

We get asked quite often how to practically get serious about living for Jesus, and I pray this list is one you can refer back to time and time again to help you do exactly that. Here are 22 things I believe Christians should do in 2022!

  • Challenge yourself when it comes to reading Scripture. Don’t complicate it, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. It’s too easy to do what’s easy, so we must choose to do hard things in order to continue to grow. I am challenging myself to read the entire Bible this year, and I would invite you to try something new and maybe even a tad bit difficult!
  • Give 22 minutes each day to simply listen to what God may want to speak to you. Maybe this time needs to happen in the morning after you study Scripture, or perhaps it’s on your lunch break, or right before you get ready to go bed. Make it happen. Many of us spend much more than 22 minutes on our phones each day. Instead, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible, and ask Jesus to share His heart with you.
  • Read three Christian books that will help you learn more about the basics of Christianity and why we believe what we believe. My three recommendations would be: “Until Unity” by Francis Chan. “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis. “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee.
  • Ask someone how you can pray for them and then pray WITH them! How many times do we tell someone that we will be praying for them and completely forget to do so? Trust me, I’ve done it too. By praying for someone’s request with them, you let them know that they are loved and that their request or struggle is not trivial. If it matters to them, it matters to God, and it should matter to us as well.
  • Seek out and prioritize time with a small group of Jesus-loving believers (in your local church and also outside of your local church). After starting a teen girl Bible Study myself, I have come to realize how vital this is and how much it can help a Christian get serious about living this Jesus thing out, but also how few actually make time for it. I am convinced that the small group model is what Christ intended for us to make the most of! It’s real Church. Please do not neglect this in 2022.
  • Try to open up your home by sharing a meal with someone you know who may be struggling, live alone, or you feel Jesus wants you to pour into. Hospitality is one of my spiritual gifts, and I so enjoy creating a cozy environment where people can relax, have meaningful conversations about Jesus, and know that I care about them! This is the best way to create community. My mom, sister, and I have decided we want to serve by doing much more of this in 2022, and I couldn’t be more excited.
  • Evaluate how much you are allowing the world to influence you and your lifestyle through the music you listen to/shows you watch. Far too many Christians have compromised in this area. Would you want Jesus to listen to/watch what you regularly do? If you don’t care, then that’s on you. But if you do, and you know that something needs to change, there’s no better time than the present. Aim to please Jesus in all that you do.
  • Be prepared to share your testimony and how Jesus has changed you with those you encounter! Remembering the Lord’s faithfulness to us will help us to not forget how good and gracious He is and will enable us to lead others to knowing and experiencing Him for themselves.
  • Be a witness to others through your behavior and conduct. As Christians, we are called to live above reproach (Titus 1:6-9). This is often one of the most powerful ways to witness to others of what it means to live a godly life. You can say all the right things, but if your actions don’t reflect what you say, then your life won’t make a difference.
  • Edify and uplift others daily. Through text messages, phone calls, cards, etc. make sure that you are putting others before yourself continually.
  • Be obedient to Christ even when you feel pressured to come under the world’s authority instead. Let Him lead you. God calls us to live lives worthy of the Gospel (Philippians 1:27-30), and we must listen to Him before anyone else. Obedience to God means that we say no to ourselves, and yes to carrying the cross. Obedience requires faithfulness.
  • Let Christ have first place in all the choices you make. Our lives should be scheduled around what Christ wants us to do first and foremost. Pursue nothing except what God wants and has for you. Nothing should matter more to you.
  • Fight the enemy on your knees. Pray fervently for the unborn babies who are being murdered, and for the people who lost or have walked away from the Lord. Pray blessing and comfort over those who are heartbroken and fearful.
  • Don’t give up on anyone. God can do anything, in anyone, at any time. No matter how disappointed or hurt you may be, don’t give up. Remain steadfast and patient despite what you feel. God has taught me some of the most crucial lessons when I wanted nothing more than to walk away.
  • Seek Simplicity. The Christian life is not too difficult or complicated for you to live out. Christ gives us strength when we give Him our weakness (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10). You can’t hit as hard as life, but if Christ dwells within you, nothing is impossible.
  • Fear God, not man. Are you concerned with what men think of you more than what God does? Begin to fear God, and you will begin to live your life in light of eternity, and the temporal views of men won’t matter. A.W. Tozer once said, “It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.”
  • Don’t purposefully stay in your comfort zone. Are you worshipping Jesus in the midst of your pain, or do you pursue comfort by escaping it? When trials occur, you must press onward and move through the pain to the God who allowed it to take place. When you pursue comfort to escape the pain, you miss the comfort God provides in the midst of it.
  • Start to disciple someone and go after Jesus together. We weren’t meant to do life alone. Community is one of our greatest resources. We won’t always be motivated, so we must learn to be discipled and stay accountable. Being discipled and discipling is the key to Christian success if done as Scripture illustrates.
  • Stop following people on social media who think too highly of the world and make you question if Jesus is worth everything. Just unfollow them. It isn’t worth it to waste time looking at what they say/post. What could you be doing with that time for the Kingdom instead?
  • Avoid pride and spending time with prideful people at all costs. Proverbs 16:5 says, “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” Pride is the desire to be exalted rather than to glorify God. Your prayers reflect the desires of your heart. If you want to kill pride, ask God to kill it in you. 
  • Live by convictions instead of convenience. We cannot afford to let the world rule our emotions and our reactions. Stand for what’s right and do it. Know what you would die for and then go live for it. My dad has a sign in his office that says that, I’m not sure who the quote is by.
  • Know who you are and what you mean. Do you know what Christ says about you and what He created you to accomplish? C. S. Lewis once said, “The Being behind the universe is intensely interested in right conduct – in fair play, unselfishness, courage, good faith, honesty, and truthfulness.” Christians should desire to pursue those things more than anything else if they care about what the Being behind the universe really values.

Let me know in the comment section which specific thing you are excited to start implementing, and be sure to share this list with a friend!

IF YOU DON’T LOOK UP

(Photo credit: Bundesarchiv). Story: https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/august-landmesser-1936/

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just the other night as I was sitting at our kitchen counter, I heard the familiar Star Wars soundtrack begin to play from our living room, and see the familiar, ‘in a galaxy far, far away,’ line flash across the TV screen. I could immediately guess the boys were watching ‘Rogue One’, considering that that’s my dad’s favorite movie in the series, and I couldn’t resist watching a bit of it with them.

After a little while, we come to a pivotal scene in the movie, where two of the main characters, Cassian, and Jyn, end up in the middle of a warzone where they are trying to contact an old friend of Jyn’s, who may be able to help the Resistance. They are kidnapped and taken to her friend’s secret hideout where she can talk with him and give a bit of an introduction for the Resistance.

Jyn tells her friend that since she has now fulfilled her obligation to introduce the Resistance members to him, she is finished, and wants nothing more to do with the messy business of rebelling against the Empire. Her friend then asks her an important question that has always stuck out to me.

He asks, “You can stand to see the Imperial flag reign across the galaxy?”

She replies, simply, “It’s not a problem if you don’t look up.”

Now, many of you probably just thought, ‘Wow, that’s a pretty good philosophy. Maybe the bad guys won’t mess with me if I just ignore their existence.’

Unfortunately, no matter what you think, that will never be true. Even I wish that could be true, that evil would just go away because we have chosen to not “look up”, but still, this is not the case.

Over the past three years, I think we can all agree that most Christians have been more cowardly than anyone else in the history of Christianity. I don’t say this in spite or anger, but rather I say it with a heavy heart that is filled with sadness and disappointment. Over time, we have made excuses for ourselves, just so we don’t have to face the blatant evil, and sin we have partaken in, staring us in the face. We say that things are too complicated, not relevant, not as big of a deal as other issues, and the list goes on.

One thing I have been asking the Lord over these past few years, is when will people wake up? I have asked over and over again, and every time the answer is the same. They will wake up when those of us who are facing the evil realities around us, start to make radical choices, staring this darkness in the face and walking in God’s authority.

Unfortunately, our world is full of followers, as we have all seen, who like sheep have gone astray and followed false shepherds blindly. But what if we could be the people to really give them something to follow? What if we helped them to follow the radically different Christ-like path?

Throughout history, it has been the people who are willing to live radically who have made a difference, won wars, expanded the gospel, and saved nations. They have been radically different in the face of fear and darkness and have made the decision to break away from the crowd.

“Do not consider that adverse circumstances are a proof that you have missed your road; for they may even be an evidence that you are in the good old way, since the path of believers is seldom without trial.” (Charles Spurgeon)

My dad recently sent me a photo, with a small, true story about a man who lived during WWII, whose wife was killed for being a jew, whose children were taken away from him, and who spent time in concentration camps before being forced to fight against the Allies. The picture he sent was one that has stayed in my mind and has inspired me to keep fighting the evil around us every day.

This very courageous man is photographed standing among many rows of men and women. All the people around him have their arms outstretched, as they salute the fascist Hitler, most with semi-happy expressions on their face. But this man, this man who had everything ripped violently away from him, who knew just what the Nazis were capable of, stands humbly among the people, with his arms folded across his chest, squinting into the sun.

He dared to look up at the flag of the enemy, and he chose to stare right at these violent, ruthless people, and to stand by himself, in direct defiance of darkness.

I challenge you today, dear Christian, wake up. Look the darkness right in the face. Don’t just say, “oh, well it’s too complicated for me to understand,” or “it’s not relevant enough for me to give my attention to it.” You have the power in your bones, placed there by the Ruler of the Universe, to confront evil.

Don’t be afraid to look up.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Where can you stand up against darkness?

WHY YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT 2022 BEING “YOUR YEAR”

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Please, allow me to set your mind at rest about this new year, weary soul. I know that our frightfully busy world is in the business of making us think that everything is about us, about our happiness, about how well we can compete with those around us. We chase the new car, the big house, the money, the perfect body, a relationship. All of it.

We are captives to a lie that sounds as if it promises freedom. It sounds so good.

If we do more, be more, get more at some point or another we believe that all will be set right in our lives. That we will finally be at rest. That we will get to enjoy life.

Why? Why do we think that?

Is it really so hard for us to see that the “self” cannot be both the problem and the solution?

Listen, can I let you in on something that God’s really been pressing on my heart these first few days of 2022? This year should not be “your year”. It should be His year.

This, friend, is what true freedom is. When we come to the end of ourselves and stop thinking about ourselves, that is precisely when true freedom begins.

Romans 8:1-4 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

There is nothing worth doing this year if it is not exactly what Jesus has for you. If you have welcomed 2022 thinking that you must make this new year “your year”, hear me when I say with complete love that you will be a miserable creature if you continue down that path.

C. S. Lewis once said, “Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or happiness to the future.”

Why? You ask? Because you are not in control and will be disappointed time and time again if you do not cling to something much deeper and stronger than the fleeting and hopeful feelings that come with a new year or dreams of the future.

If, however, you want more than anything else for 2022 to be Jesus’ year, and that He may allow you to be a part of it in whatever way you can, then I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Y’all, our fresh started began when we found Him! A new year is simply marked by the page we flip on the calendar every January 1st. It won’t magically change your life and priorities. That’s what Jesus does!

The point: This year should NOT be your year anyway. It should be His and His alone. So, take the pressure off of yourself. Let go of the expectations you have for yourself to do it all, be it all, and get it all. Is that really how you want to spend the rest of your days?

The passion to live for eternity is pumping through our veins because it’s pumping through our Heavenly Father’s veins. That’s what I want to spend this year, and the rest of my days, living for.

If you want to have the best year yet, stop chasing what you want and start chasing what Jesus wants for you. If you’ve been found, why are you living like you’re lost?

What matters, what Heaven longs for and Hell fears, is that further step, out of our depth, out of our very control.

Let this be His year.

“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go—let it die away—go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow—and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”  (C. S. Lewis)

START 2022 OFF RIGHT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Hello friends! Happy New Year! I wanted to type a little something up to thank each and every one of you who read/participated in BLOGMAS here on the Blog in December! We had a few guest writers who graciously took the time to share their hearts as well, and we truly can’t thank them enough for doing so. Our family has been incredibly blessed by the opportunities God has given us to preach the Gospel here, and we are so looking forward to what 2022 will bring!

Our mission remains the same. Madie & I, and our family, want to help people just like you get serious about being serious for Jesus. We don’t believe that anyone can take Jesus and living for Him too seriously. Sadly, so many Christians in the American Church today don’t know what that looks like or what it could look like in their very own lives. If you haven’t been following along recently, BLOGMAS is a great place to start if you desire to make Christ your one and only priority! Thirty-one days of posts are available on our Blog for free. We encourage you to challenge yourself to read one a day, allow Jesus to move in your life, and be obedient to what He has for you!

If you have been a part of BLOGMAS and Jesus used it to impact you in some way, we would love to hear your story! You can email us @ thefew.blog@gmail.com!

Let’s start 2022 off right, together, with Jesus!

EVERY NOW AND THEN (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTY-ONE)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Today is New Year’s Eve. A day of reflection and resolution. Some of you are probably excited at the prospect of a fresh start, a new year. Others are likely apprehensive about what 2022 will hold. The previous couple of years have been trying, to say the least. Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, I want to challenge you to make your personal relationship with Jesus your priority this year.

It is natural for us to gravitate towards making resolutions about our weight, fitness, and physical health. We feel a sense of determination to get organized at home, school, or work in the coming year. But I wonder how many of us even include our spiritual life on our list of goals. Above all else, we must create space in our lives to read and contemplate God’s Word. We must make room to watch for and celebrate the truth, goodness, and beauty He has placed before us.

I heard a poem about the shepherds recently (see Song of the Shepherds poem below) that resonated so deeply with me in regard to where we Christians are in the world today. It starts with the shepherds sitting out in the darkness; darkness that they knew so well because they were out in it night after night. They knew the feel of it and had grown comfortable in it even though they knew there were threats lurking about. Most of the time they sat in silence, but every now and then one of them would pick up a flute and start playing; breaking through the oppressive silence. Pushing back the darkness.

Friends, we have been sitting in the darkness of a fallen world night after night and year after year. We have grown accustomed to it and rarely even give its threats much thought anymore. However, every now and then, one of us has the courage to stand up and provide some beauty, proof that Christ is still in the world, working through His followers. The Light of the World (John 18:12) that breaks through the silence and pushes back the darkness.

Will you be that one this year? It only takes a little courage.

Will you be that one who speaks the truth of the gospel, with love, into your workplace or school? Will you be that one who calls your church back to what the Lord said Christianity ought to look like? Will you be that one who gathers a group of your friends to study and discuss God’s Word? Every little action we take in His name breaks through the silence and pushes back the darkness of this fallen world.

You see, those of us who have walked in darkness and then have seen great light should be changed by that revelation! We should be unable to contain it; desiring nothing more than to make Him known wherever we go!

There is a line in the poem that says the light exorcised the darkness from the world and the world, coming back to itself, began again. Isn’t it just like God to take even our scant and insufficient offerings and use them to set the world aright again? If just one of us will sing His praise, it reminds the world around us of what once was; of what can and will be again.

Oh, but what if more than one of us chose to glorify Him every day in all that we said and did? What would happen to the world around us then?

The shepherds in the poem continued to watch over their flocks night by night and year by year, but something changed after they saw the great light; after God revealed Himself to them. They played and sang of Him every night, not just every now and then as they had before. They clutched their meager cloaks against the cold and played their song. The song that banished dark. The song stayed with them!

I once heard a quote that said something like… Faith is our loyalty to our response to God’s revelation to us.

Brothers and sisters, do you remember a time when the Lord revealed Himself to you? It may be the memory of your salvation and the freedom and joy you felt. Maybe He revealed that He was with you through a loss or time of grief. Has he provided for you in a time of trial? Our response in those times is usually to tell someone about what the Lord has done for us. We want to share His love with others.

You must remain loyal to your response to Him in those moments when you have come closest to Him! Repeat that response on the good days and the bad. When you feel like it and when you don’t. That, my friend, is what pushes back the darkness!

That is what faith, as small as a mustard seed, can do. “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord answered, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”  (Luke 17:5-6)

Will you be that one who has faith, even faith as small as a mustard seed? Faith that is loyal to your response to God’s revelation of Himself and His truth to you. Faith that gives you enough courage to share that revelation with those around you. Faith that inspires other Christians to do the same.

If so, go into 2022 with great joy knowing that I too will be in my little corner of the world singing God’s praises and sharing His truth; pushing back the darkness with His wonderous light.

SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS by Richard Bauckham

We were familiar with the night.
We knew its favourite colours,
its sullen silence
and its small, disturbing sounds,
its unprovoked rages,
its savage dreams.

We slept by turns,
attentive to the flock.
We said little.
Night after night, there was little to say.
But sometimes one of us,
skilled in that way,
would pipe a tune of how things were for us.

They say that once, almost before time,
the stars with shining voices
serenaded
the new born world.
The night could not contain their boundless praise.

We thought that just a poem —
until the night
a song of solar glory,
unutterable, unearthly,
eclipsed the luminaries of the night,
as though the world were exorcised of dark
and, coming to itself, began again.

Later we returned to the flock.
The night was ominously black.
The stars were silent as the sheep.
Nights pass, year on year.
We clutch our meagre cloaks against the cold.
Our aging piper’s fumbling fingers play,
night after night,
an earthly echo of the song that banished dark.
It has stayed with us.

WAR WITHOUT WAR (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTY)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever had a time where you knew what you were supposed to say, but you just didn’t have a clue how to say it? Well, I’m kind of in that awkward place at the moment. I’m really not sure how to best write this post. The Lord has been working on me with a couple of different things over the last several days, so I’m going to write this post in order to preach to myself…

If that’s ok?

I’ve been thinking a lot about spiritual warfare. The real importance of it and how it often goes unnoticed. I guess I hadn’t seriously thought about how God, (quite literally) made you and I for war until recently.

The issue is that most people that call themselves a “Christian” aren’t engaging in any kind of spiritual warfare at all. Even though they were made to fight. Not only do some not fight, but many wreak havoc on their own souls and cause themselves to fight unnecessary battles.

Leonard Ravenhill has an amazing quote that I’d like to take a look at with you today, but I first want to make it clear that this quote isn’t what it seems. I’ll explain later…

He said, “No church group that knows spiritual warfare has wiener roasts or even passion plays. There is a real warfare. I have said before that we are an arrogant, self-styled bunch of believers. We “believe” to the point of inconvenience – and then quit.”

Here’s where I explain. Some may read that quote, faint, and after they wake up think to themselves, “Is that quote really saying that wiener roasts and passion plays are bad, and that my church shouldn’t be doing any of that?!”  

Sure, I might be exaggerating a little bit, but is that not the truth y’all?

Of course he’s not saying that those things are bad. What he’s trying to do is make an incredible and valuable comparison that I think we skim right across.

Ravenhill is trying to make the point that we replace real war with our own “wars”. Sometimes we start fights (intentional or unintentional) on social media so that we can satisfy our God-given desire to fight for something.

Most of the time, the reason we put on events is not because we are fighting for people’s souls and want to see them come to Jesus, but because we want to do more this year than the church down the street could ever dream of doing.

You see, we wage “wars” that won’t ever satisfy us like real war will. All because we don’t want it to be an inconvenience on our part. We want to create the “wars” we fight. We want to plan them so that we’re certain we can win them before we even start.

But that’s not even close to the kind of war that Jesus created us to fight! He created us to fight against darkness and evil.

Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Pay careful attention, then, to how you live — not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

It’s a great thing to have the will to fight, but it’s an even greater thing to have the discernment about what kind of wars to fight.

The greatest war we will ever have the honor to fight is for people’s souls. Not because we’re anything special, but because of Jesus’ power through us. Like I said, I’m preaching to myself here. These are the very things I need to remind myself of daily.

My prayer for us this week is that Jesus would reveal to each one of us the very wars we need to be fighting.

 And, just a quick reminder, not everyone will encourage you to fight the war’s God calls you to fight. Not everyone will approve. But you, my friend, are a mighty warrior. Made with an amazing, passionate desire to go to battle and win a real war.

“For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

DON’T TREAD ON ME

Get on outta here
Get on up and leave
Ain’t no devil
Gonna tread on me
He’s choking on the blood
That ran down the tree
Ain’t no devil
Gonna tread on me

Ain’t no devil
Gonna tread on me

HOW ARE YOUR SPIRITS DRESSED? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-NINE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

I know we have already done a blog post about “A Christmas Carol” and the famous Ebenezer Scrooge (You can read that post here). But the other day, we were watching our favorite movie adaptation starring Patrick Stewart, and as per usual, I reaped some interesting movie-watching wisdom.

While watching the movie, I was paying close attention to the three spirits that visit Scrooge on Christmas Eve which represent his past, present, and future. I realized something that I had never really thought about before.

Let us start from the beginning, shall we?

The first spirit which visits Scrooge is the ghost of Christmas past. Now, I know many of you probably know these basic facts, but I feel that sometimes it’s important to go back to the basics in order to grasp the complexity of many stories.

Something I found significant about this spirit was his complexion and clothing. His face and hair, along with every part of his clothing were completely white, and bright light shone around him, beaming out from his fingertips and his skin so much that he illuminates Scrooge’s dark bedroom. Now, I began to ask myself, ‘what does this Spirit’s appearance represent?’ I came to one, clear conclusion. His apparel represents innocence. Purity. Simplicity.

He represents the things Scrooge has lost and takes him back through his memories to the things that stripped him of his innocence. He shows him the boarding school where Scrooge stayed by himself for many Christmases. To his first apprenticing job, where his love of money was first formed, and back to the scene of Scrooge’s heart wrenching breakup, where his first love releases him from his promise that he would one day marry her because he was a changed man.

The next Spirit comes to Scrooge shortly after and is the ghost of Christmas present. This ghost comes clothed in thick, expensive looking robes, surrounded by food aplenty, with a wreath of holly on his head. This Spirit represents what Scrooge most wants. Wealth. Comfort. Expensive things. This Spirit Scrooge welcomes gladly and follows him without question, impressed by the Spirit’s fine appearance. However, this Spirit shows Scrooge the things he has sacrificed for wealth, and the things he has taken from others just to make himself comfortable. He shows Scrooge the costs at which wealth comes.

I think the most significant part about this ghost, is the fact that he fades away the quickest. He turns grey and old and ugly before the night is over and vanishes without a trace, no longer surrounded by the plentiful food and the thick robes. He demonstrates to Scrooge that his present desires do not last and fade away without offering comfort or making one feel at ease.

The final Spirit, the ghost of Christmases yet to come, is sent to show Scrooge his future. This Spirit comes completely clothed in a black, well-worn cloak. It has no face and no words to be uttered to Scrooge, but merely a menacing finger to be pointed in the direction Scrooge is to travel. He represents the dark eternity Scrooge will suffer if his ways are not soon changed.

Now, you may be wondering, ‘Madie, what does this have to do with me?’ Well dear reader, I’m glad you asked.

You see, I believe that Scrooge’s story is so powerful because it can so closely relate to us and our present lives. I want you to think back over your life. Think about the past, about your innocence. Think about your present, the things you most want. Think about what your future may be, about whether your eternity will be dark as Scrooge’s was once bound to be.

Is your Present Spirit the representation of wealth, or status, or selfishness? Or does it represent the cross, and your willingness to suffer for it, no matter the wealth or status you have? Is your Future Spirit a representation of a dark eternity? Or does it represent the Light and glory of your salvation?

“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son …” (Romans 1:9)

We all have ghosts, dear reader, that lurk in the shadows of our sunny days. That impact our past, present, and future.

But my question to you is, how are your Spirits dressed?

I KNOW A GHOST

There’s still darkness on this plane
There’s still a heavy in these chains
Why I carry them around
I don’t know ’cause I’ve been found
Veil was torn from top down

Now I know a ghost
I know a ghost
I know a ghost
I know a ghost

CHANGED YOUR MIND? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-EIGHT)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

Well, here we are in that week between Christmas and the beginning of a new year. This week has always been a roller coaster of a week for me personally. We go from the pinnacle of the season, Christmas, Jesus, to the day of December 26. It’s all over and I tend to be very sad about that. Then we head to New Years Eve, another celebration high; with remembrance of the previous year and that twinge of exciting expectation for things to come in the new year.

For many years, this in between week was a week of shutdown for our trucking business. Our primary customer was closed for the week between holidays; so while most of my drivers were off for some rest, a couple of us geared up and worked on trucks the whole week. There was this strange shift from the 24 hour a day, constant stress of trucks on the road, to a different, easier stress of getting equipment repaired and year end office work completed. It was a welcome change and we got to enjoy family and the holidays as well. Woo Hoo!

It’s funny how sometimes those changes in life can be so real that you can sense them. They are as distinct as a change in the weather; like going to bed one night and it’s a balmy 40′ then waking up to a frigid 10′ and snow on the ground. You know something changed.

But what about changes in our personal lives? Are they that noticeable?

One of my favorite movies is “The Darkest Hour”. It’s about Winston Churchill and WWII. Toward the end, Churchill is wrestling with how to deal with Hitler. He moves from what seems to be the inevitable position of negotiating a peace with him; to standing strong against the Nazi regime and fighting to the death if need be.

In the final scene, Churchill’s minister for war asks him one question in regard to his position on Hitler. “Changed your mind?” to which Churchill responds, “Those who never change their mind, never change anything.”

So how is it with you? Are you willing to change as you enter the new year? Or will you stay stuck in your current state with no room for change?

You ask; Scott, what are you saying I need to change? Why do you assume I have no room for change?

In answer, I would say that I have no idea what you need to change. But you do; and it probably is that thing you thought of as you read that question.

I would assume you probably, like me, are not a big fan of change because it’s hard. Maybe it’s my cynical side coming out as well. But I can say that after years of dealing with humanity; it’s a pretty safe assumption.

The first change we must have is to follow Jesus. Accept what He did for us on the cross. Follow His instructions in Scripture. Be all in for Him. It should be a noticeable change for sure.

Then God calls us to things as we are following Him. Maybe it’s a call to be a better spouse, parent, or employee. Perhaps the call is to seek Him more through Bible study, discipleship, or participation in more Christian activity. Whatever He is calling us to, for the most part, it will probably require us to make some changes. This is where we falter because change is seldom easy.

So, here’s the thing. Most of us get to the New Years deal and look back at how quickly the year went and have to admit there wasn’t much change. Then we say, I’m going to be serious this year and do that thing God is calling me to. And another year goes by; same story. Over and over again this repeats.

Can I just confess that I’m tired of doing that? Could we really get serious this year, with God’s help, and change that thing that He has been asking of us? It starts with being willing to look different.

You see Churchill had to stand up against even those in his own party that had accepted defeat at the hands of the Nazis. His position was not the easy way or the popular choice. It was hard.

Will you do the hard thing this year? Whatever it is that God has put on your heart and mind as you read this post. My prayer is that you seek God and earnestly ask for His help to change. Then do it.

Perhaps by the end of this year, folks will be noticing a difference and asking you that question.

Changed your mind?

“And the Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.”   (2 Cor 3:18)

WALKING FREE

Now I ain’t nothing perfect
I still stumble every single day
I still get knocked down
But the difference now
Is that’s not where I stay
‘Cause I’ve got a Savior
Who knows everywhere I’ve been
And He’s telling me that I never have to
Go back there again

So now I’m walking, walking
Walking free
No more darkness
Guilt has lost its grip on me
When mercy called my name
Those chains fell at my feet
And now I’m walking, walking
Walking free

1,000 YEARS FROM RIGHT NOW (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-SEVEN)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

It’s so crazy to me how easily we can get caught up on materialistic items as humans. Whether it’s money, cars, or just the little things we buy that we don’t really need; it all fights for our attention constantly.

As we have just experienced Christmas day, I want us all to ask ourselves a simple question. Presents or presence? Which of those two options are more valuable to you?

Psalm 16:11 says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

I think that as Christians, we should want to get to a place where God’s presence is so much better to us than presents or anything else. The reason I want us to ask ourselves this question is because it’s a reality check for our hearts.

You can identify what your priorities are pretty quick.   

A couple years ago, we were having a 24 hour prayer vigil at my church. I invited some of the girls from our Bible Study group to come and hang out with us to pray and talk. We ended up watching the movie “Passion of the Christ” later that night, and afterwards we went into our church sanctuary to pray.

God started to show up in a crazy amazing and powerful way as we sat in a tight circle in the sanctuary together. Each of us just poured out our hearts before the Lord. I don’t think that I had ever before experienced Jesus like I did that night.

Have you ever had a time where you realized something new, and it all starts to sink in and feel real? That’s exactly what happened as we prayed. We all got what believing in Jesus really means.

Listen, we can say that “Jesus is all we need” and that “only He can satisfy” as much as we want, but until you actually experience God’s presence, you won’t get it.

Of course, all of us girls were emotional as we prayed and as we talked about what God was showing us. However, I noticed that one of the girls kept getting up to go to the restroom, and then she would come back. I could tell that she had been crying each time she would come back, but we all were crying so I didn’t think much of it.

She got up to leave again, and then she texted me and asked if I could meet her in the restroom. As I walked in, I remember looking at her and asking what was wrong Almost immediately she began to weep.

The presence of God was so thick in the atmosphere of that restroom, and we both just started to weep over what Jesus had done for us. I can’t put into words how intimate of a moment that was, not only with the Lord, but also with her.  

I’ve never felt something more real in my life. Oh what I’d do to live that night over again.

With all of that said, here is what I want you to remember… If you really get serious about living for Jesus, and you give Him your soul’s attention, He will show up.

In this time, let’s not focus on the presents we may have received or the busyness of this season. Let’s ask Jesus to show up. Let’s ask to experience Him and His presence.

We should long to be a part of something that can only be explained by the power of God.

Let’s live for what’s going to matter 1,000 years from right now. Jesus is so good, and He is all you’ll ever want after you encounter Him.

“But for me it is good to be near my God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

NOEL

Love incarnate, love divine
Star and angels gave the sign
Bow to babe on bended knee
The Savior of humanity
Unto us a Child is born
He shall reign forevermore

CHRISTMAS CAROL POEM (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-SIX)

Happy Sunday! Our family has decided to continue BLOGMAS this week because we have enjoyed sharing with y’all, and didn’t want it to end quite yet! Let’s continue to challenge ourselves to live wholeheartedly for Christ, no matter what day it is! Enjoy this poem for today. 🙂

The kings they came from out the south,
All dressed in ermine fine;
They bore Him gold and chrysoprase,
And gifts of precious wine.


The shepherds came from out the north,
Their coats were brown and old;
They brought Him little new-born lambs–
They had not any gold.


The wise men came from out the east,
And they were wrapped in white;
The star that led them all the way
Did glorify the night.


The angels came from heaven high,
And they were clad with wings;
And lo, they brought a joyful song
The host of heaven sings.


The kings they knocked upon the door,
The wise men entered in,
The shepherds followed after them
To hear the song begin.


The angels sang through all the night
Until the rising sun,
But little Jesus fell asleep
Before the song was done.

CHRISTMAS CAROL POEM BY SARA TEASDALE

THE KING HAS COME (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-FIVE)

The Lost Christmas Poem by J. R. R. Tolkien

Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.
The wind in the trees was like to the sea,
And over the mountains’ teeth
It whistled bitter-cold and free,
As a sword leapt from its sheath.

The lord of snows upreared his head;
His mantle long and pale
Upon the bitter blast was spread
And hung o’er hill and dale.
The world was blind, the boughs were bent,
All ways and paths were wild:
Then the veil of cloud apart was rent,
And here was born a Child.

The ancient dome of heaven sheer
Was pricked with distant light;
A star came shining white and clear
Alone above the night.
In the dale of dark in that hour of birth
One voice on a sudden sang:
Then all the bells in Heaven and Earth
Together at midnight rang.

Mary sang in this world below:
They heard her song arise
O’er mist and over mountain snow
To the walls of Paradise,
And the tongue of many bells was stirred
in Heaven’s towers to ring
When the voice of mortal maid was heard,
That was mother of Heaven’s King.

Glad is the world and fair this night
With stars about its head,
And the hall is filled with laughter and light,
And fires are burning red.
The bells of Paradise now ring
With bells of Christendom,
And Gloria, Gloria we will sing
That God on earth is come.

The King has come! We celebrate this Christmas Day for that reason. No longer is our world grey and grim. No, it is now bursting with hope and joy because the Light has come into our darkness in the most powerful way. What an adventure this has been! Have a very Merry Christmas, y’all! We thank God for each and every one of you!

You can listen to us read the poem above on our Podcast (uploaded just today) by clicking here! We briefly explain what Tolkien is alluding to, and how it can change our perception of Christmas. Enjoy!

O COME, O COME, EMMANUAEL

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

FOR LACK OF WONDER (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-FOUR)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

There used to be a sort of magic in the air around this time of year. I remember being little and marveling at how the Church would sing the Christmas hymn “Silent Night” with an attitude of wonder and awe.

The eyes of those attending Christmas Eve services were filled with such hope as they held their Christmas Eve candles high in the air. Pride for our Savior used to be evident as we welcomed Christmas Day with a time of reverence together, in unity.

But, the wonder has gone away for so many. Only a few eyes still twinkle with a glimmer of hope. There are, but a couple of arms still holding their lights high for others to see.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “We are perishing for lack of wonder, not for lack of wonders.”

Perhaps Christians have allowed the consumer culture to consume the whole point of Christmas? Sure, giving gifts and decorating the tree is fun, but how much more could we marvel at the Messiah if we didn’t allow those distractions to get in the way?

I have a question for us to think about today… What does Jesus marvel at us for? You know, there are only two times recorded in the New Testament where Jesus is said to have marveled.

Mark 6:7 records that Jesus marvels at the unbelief in Nazareth, and in Luke 7:9 He marvels at the Centurion and His great faith. I wonder if today Jesus is marveling at our unbelief or our great faith?

Listen, I have a passion to see the Church become like the shepherds who, as soon as they laid their eyes upon the Messiah, hurried to go and tell everyone they could about Him and what they had experienced. I long for Believers to be like the wise men who brought gifts to their newborn Savior because they recognized that He alone was worthy.

I long for us to want the wonder again.

The wonder that has left our homes. The admiration for Christ that has left our Churches.

I would be bold enough to say that most of us stress about presents and parties and punch each Christmas more than we think about the manger, our sin, and the cross in a whole year.

Is tonight the night revival breaks out because we actually seek the One true King?

Perhaps tonight, on Christmas Eve of 2021, the Church will choose to marvel at the only thing that has ever mattered. May we want the wonder.

“And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.””    (Luke 5:26)

O HOLY NIGHT

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

CHRISTMAS IS WHAT WE DEFINE IT AS (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just yesterday, I was listening to someone who was talking about some of the things she had done with her family before Christmas Day. She was speaking about an exhibit they had seen which illustrated ‘Christmas through the ages’. It showed Christmas during the Victorian era, the early 1900’s, and present-day Christmas. Then the exhibit began to illustrate what the makers of the exhibit think Christmas will look like in the future.

(Cue the scary music)

The exhibit interpreted Christmas of the future as being entirely virtual, free of contact, and entirely secularized. They didn’t even include real decorations or gift boxes, but rather showed a world in which everything was plastic, and pre-packaged, and all care for thoughtful, touching gifts had ceased to exist. Many of us have been expecting this, as we have looked around at the pre-meditated plans of many in our society who have a strong desire to completely change the world as we know it. This story filled my heart and soul with a heavy sorrow that made me fear for Christmas in the future.

The woman then made the point that Christmas is about incarnation, Jesus coming in the flesh, congregating, fellowshipping, with His Creation. I thought about this for a while and came to consider the deep, profoundness and importance of physical fellowship that we experience with family and friends during this time.

I think over the course of 2020 and 2021, we have all realized that if people can take away our ability to socialize with others, they can control our lives, and I think many of us regret letting people have so much power over us in that way.

For a moment, I felt it was too late; too late to turn back on the path we’ve already chosen. Too late to take back control over our own lives and our own health. Too late to make the world a better place for my children, and to make Christmas the special time I remember from when I was a girl.

Since then, however, I have been filled with hope anew. You see, in that moment, I focused on the darkness, and the power I thought it had over the way we may celebrate Christmas in the future. Now, I focus on the small things, as I wrote about in one of my other, recent posts. I began to focus on the things I can do to keep darkness at bay, the intimate gatherings we have during this season. The good food we are blessed to enjoy. The presents we have the privilege of giving, and I was reminded all over again that Christmas is about the little things. It is about the words we sing in carols, the things we write in a Christmas card, or the time we spend together as a family, in the flesh, just as Jesus came and did.

I will say that this futuristic exhibit is still scary because it is so close to being real. But I will also say that Christmas is what we choose to define it as. Will we choose to define it as a time of fear, as we cower in our houses, afraid of death? Will we choose to define Christmas as a holiday about ourselves as we spend unbelievable amounts of money so we can outdo the neighbors next door? Or will we choose to celebrate Christmas together, and define it as a time of reflection, used to think about the glory of our Savior and His coming?

I challenge you to act on the small things this year. Please, don’t take them for granted. Those are the things that make Christmas magical.

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”  (J. R. R. Tolkien)

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

CAN’T YOU JUST SEE IT? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-TWO)

(Post by: Barbara Reffey)

Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. I would like to have you stroll through my house with me.

Look, I have several manager scenes, (creches)… seven to be exact. Some are big; some are tiny. Some have many figures; some only 3. However, they all have one thing in common. A baby. Granted, some of the babies are glass, some are wood, some are ceramic. Can’t you just see it?

But let’s stop and sit for a minute. Just let the Holy Spirit refresh our minds. Who is the Baby… Really?

Jesus Christ. The very Son of God.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “His NAME will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

“A Son who has been given.”

Luke 1:23 says, “Emmanuel, God with Us.”

Luke 1:11 says, “His NAME is Jesus for HE WILL save His people from their sins.”

Luke 2:11 says, “A Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

That Baby in our managers, in our homes, reminds us that HE grew to an adult who died a wretched death on a cross for my sin and yours. 

That is who HE really is… Our Savior.

So how does that challenge you and me this Advent season?

Join me as I press on in 4 areas:

Worship – Not platitudes, but real heartfelt praise, welling from deep within us as we humbly fall on our faces, trembling with a true connection with the Holy Spirit. 

The WORD – Slow Down. Go daily to the Word of God, The Bible. Let’s pull out what I like to call our “cling to verses”.  The precious promises He has given us.

Willingness – to daily surrender to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. “Not my will but Yours (Lord) be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

Witness – This Advent season, be aware of every person that comes across your path. God has put them there. God has put you there. Let’s share what this amazing baby in our managers has done, and is doing in our lives.

All for the glory of God. Amen and Amen.

AWAY IN A MANGER

Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
Laid down His sweet head

The stars in the bright sky
Looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay

AND FOR WHAT? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-ONE)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

I have a favorite Christmas book, A Bethlehem Christmas, by Chuck Swindoll, that always gets pulled out after Thanksgiving. Like everything else in my life, I usually have to go looking for it. It’s kind of small; I call it my little blue Christmas book. So usually on the last Sunday of November I’m hollering, “Honey. Have you seen my little blue Christmas book?” because I’m really in a panic when I can’t find it. It’s definitely my go-to for getting prepared for Jesus coming.

Swindoll takes some liberty in getting us into the minds of Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and the angel Gabriel. He shares the events of Christmas in the first person, or as though we were hearing directly from each of these people; from their perspective. So he’s writing with his perception of what they might have been thinking. 

My favorite chapter is that of Gabriel’s perspective. I want to discuss a little bit of that with y’all tonight. In one particular section, after God has explained all the wondrous details of His long-developed plan to save humanity, Gabriel is just sitting back in complete amazement of the price and sacrifice that is required to save us all from our sin.

He says: “At this I wept. The immense love of God was more than I could fathom. The selfless grace of God was beyond my comprehension. And for what? Creatures who neither desired Him nor sought Him, who not only failed to believe but who refused to believe. This will always remain a mystery to me” (Swindoll, p. 171).

Wow!! That section just hits me like a ton of bricks. Every time I read it, I just feel like I need to stop right there and hit my knees. I hear the forerunner, John the Baptist, preaching directly at me: “REPENT! REPENT! REPENT!”

I know what you’re thinking; but Scott that doesn’t apply to me. Gabriel was referring to the Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah. They are the ones who don’t get this Christmas thing, don’t desire or seek Him, refused to believe.

Oh, but who was the first that faltered and didn’t believe this plan. A priest maybe? Zechariah; called upright in the sight of God. Gabriel had seen his doubt firsthand upon his announcement of the forerunner John the Baptist.

The question is, how different are we than the folks Gabriel was describing from those early days? What is Gabriel saying about our level of belief today? Do you think he would be looking down at us and saying, “Now this generation of the Church really gets it. Man, look how they are living.”

I think not, and I am preaching as much to myself as to you here. How many times do I miss it in my daily walk? Why can’t I seem to stay focused on what Jesus wants in my life and not on my own selfish ambitions? Where were my priorities today? Was He really first in all that I was doing? Did I take time for the people God put in front of me, or did I just pass right on by trying to get all my stuff done?

Now, I know this is none of y’all. Especially this last week as we prepare for Christmas on Saturday. There’s no way any of y’all are putting the last-minute gifts ahead of Jesus as you take the closest parking spot to the store. I’m sure you’re not sitting around with your family discussing how much you dislike a couple of those folks coming to one of your gatherings; rather than trying to think about them like Jesus does. Probably none of you have decided all the other “stuff” is more important that doing your Advent study, taking time to watch an old spiritual Christmas movie you’ve seen 50 times with your family, or reading the Christmas story out of Luke to your family.

Here’s the thing. Let’s not get to December 26th and once again, like so many years before, say to ourselves, “I’ll do better next year. I won’t leave Jesus out of Christmas like I’ve done so many times before. I really will seek Him, desire Him, and believe.”

God put this perfect plan together for our salvation. Christmas is all about that. Let’s not live our lives for us. Look different. We must live for Him.

Keep Christmas, Jesus, in your heart all the days of the year. I don’t want Gabriel to look down at my life and think, “Really? God did all this for him and all humanity. And for what?”   

O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

HARMONIZING WITH HEAVEN (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

The first few weeks of Advent seem to hold a heaviness for those who still observe and keep it. It is a time of repentance, and of remembrance. I am so very grateful for the time we have spent preparing our hearts for Christ’s coming and taking this journey together, however, we are not yet through.

As we enter this Christmas week, we now have the opportunity to celebrate.

Not that we couldn’t celebrate before, but it was almost as if we were sitting on a grassy hill, waiting for the sun to make its way above the wooded area before us. Now, as a few moments have passed, we can start to see the sun rising above the tops of the trees and feel the warmth on our skin.

We continue to wait until it rises, though, because we are confident that it will. We dare not leave for fear that we will miss watching it dawn.

My friend, I hope you find yourself in the same predicament today. Christmas Day is quickly approaching, and I would very much dislike for you to rush through these next days and miss joining the celebration of Heaven with your heart and home.

Our souls are in desperate need of harmony. Harmony with our Messiah. We are longing to dance with the only One who understands everything about us. The One who doesn’t simply play the note we long to dance to, but is the note itself. I feel as if many believers are looking for “better places” or “better seasons” than where they currently are, to be joined with Heaven. But when we look only for better places and ignore the presence of God breaking into our darkness, we end up in worse ones.

Each one of us must determine if we have room in our lives for Jesus. I’m sorry to say this to you, but we are each proving whether we do or don’t this very day. While He seeks to invade our hearts and souls completely, we only allow Him to have a “stable” portion of it. For example, we’ll try to give Him a Sunday morning every month or post a cute manger graphic about tiny baby Jesus around Christmas time to make Him happy, but other than those occasional times, our passion for Him is pretty much non-existent.

What do you think would happen if we made room in our lives for Jesus all year long, no matter the cost? Do you think we’d live with a bit more intentionality? Do you suppose we would chase after the cross and our Savior with more of an urgency, because we understand just how much we need Him?

On a Thursday evening a couple weeks ago, Madie & I were having Bible Study with some girls our age who have committed themselves to meeting weekly. As we were studying, I started to weep as I explained to them the burning desire I have to see them live for Jesus who came to save us from our sin and who is coming again to redeem this broken world.

I saw a quote the other day that said, “Crying doesn’t just mean sadness and despair, it can also mean longing.”

If you are reading this post, I want you to know that I feel the same way as I write today. I long for you to encounter Jesus Christ for yourself. I long for you to be in harmony with the Savior this Advent season.

All we must do is repent for losing sight of Him, make room so that He can invade our lives in the ways He alone sees fit, and then celebrate His goodness in every ordinary, radical way we can.

Allow the expectation of Christmas day and the coming of Christ cause you to rejoice, celebrate, and maybe even cry a bit as your soul longs to be in perfect harmony with its Savior. He is coming!

CHRISTMAS IS COMING

I don’t want you to miss it, I know I have before
Like the innkeeper who missed the wonder right outside his door
So open up your heart as Christmas passes through
Just in time to wake the child asleep inside of you

Christmas is coming, the bells are ringing
Hope comes alive as music fills the air
I hear the drumming, it won’t be long now
Christmas is coming, will you be there?
Christmas is coming, will you be there?

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER POEM (BLOGMAS DAY NINETEEN)

Enjoy this delightful poem on this cold, winter Sunday! We look forward to continuing on with this journey of Advent with you this final week!

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

“IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER” BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

DEALING WITH DARKNESS (BLOGMAS DAY EIGHTEEN)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

During the Christmas season, it’s easy to get caught up in the light heartedness of it all, isn’t it? Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a very happy season, considering that this is the holiday where we celebrate our salvation and our Lord coming to earth to redeem His people.

However, I believe we sometimes get so caught up in the nativity plays, and the pictures of the cute, little baby Jesus lying in a manger, that we often forget the grotesque and gruesome task that Jesus was actually sent here to accomplish.

Jesus’ life wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. It was hard, and he had to go through some very painful and scary things while He was here rescuing His creation from sin.

We often forget that what Jesus really came to earth to do, was to deal with Darkness.

From the time when he was that innocent child in a manger, this was his goal. This was his mission. This is the reason He suffered and died. To deal with Darkness.

Many times, in the Church, we throw around the apparently light-hearted terms, ‘follow Jesus’ example,’ and ‘what would Jesus do?’

But wouldn’t following Jesus’ example entail dealing with the spiritual Darkness that is presently enveloping the world? Would that not entail devoting ourselves entirely to the Light, and willingly going to war against hell and everything that comes from it?

Because make no mistake, if we said we were willing to do this, we would be following His example to the fullest extent.

I heard a quote this week that inspired me to write this blog post, and I believe if we could grasp the true meaning of this simple thought, we could become Christians to be reckoned with.

“If you simply “escape” the darkness, that means you haven’t dealt with it.” (Sarah Clarkson)

How often I have found myself, and seen others, escaping from the darkness that we so vehemently declare to loath, and that we so eagerly claim to defeat!

You see, fellow warrior, we were made to do so much more than escape darkness. We were made to stand in the midst of it and shine the light Jesus sought to bring so brightly, that Darkness is extinguished in all its schemes.

We were made to wrestle with the Darkness. We were made to defeat it.

In the twenty-first century, however, I have come to the sad realization that many people tend to reason, to bargain, with the Darkness and say ‘do what you like in the world, but I’m a good person. Just leave me out of it.’

Guys, we must come to a point in our Christian walk where we realize that there aren’t other magical people who are going to do our job for us. We, you and me, have been placed on this earth to deal with Darkness, and I wholeheartedly believe that. Like Jesus, we can be victorious over the darkness, if only we would take following His example seriously.

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

Be confident, oh Christian, that Jesus came to win a war. Not to make peace treaties!

SILENT NIGHT

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

WHICH SPIRIT HAVE YOU? (BLOGMAS DAY SEVENTEEN)

(Post by: Scott & Lincoln Hobbs)

I was in a Bible study this week and the question was put to the group asking how we get ourselves ready for Christmas. You know, the whole Advent thing? This preparation for the birth of Jesus. Not the actual birth you realize; but the symbolic day, December 25th, that we set aside each year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, Messiah, Savior, Emmanuel, King of Kings. Could this be preparation for the Christmas Spirit? 

Let’s come back to that.

The comments were actually heart breaking. A couple of the folks were just done with Christmas all together. The only preparation they were interested in was to prepare for December 26th; and it couldn’t get here fast enough. Why, you ask, were they wanting Christmas to be over? Well, it was because they said they had lost the Christmas Spirit. The world had driven it out of them.

You see when Christmas becomes what the world makes it, even things that are good can drain us.  Family gatherings where everyone is sitting around scrolling on their phones and seemingly only showing up out of obligation or ritual. Or the joy of refereeing family members that are still carrying wounds from years before that they have inflicted on one another. Gift exchanges that have completely exhausted us physically, from shopping, not to mention exhausting our bank accounts. Often for gifts that folks just throw in a closet and sell at a garage sale in a few years.

I’m back. Didn’t even miss me did you? I just got off a phone call with my great aunt. She turned 90 a couple months ago. I told her I was writing about the Christmas spirit; what did she think? Her comment was that Christmas had changed so much since she was a kid. Her memories were of not having much money, only a few gifts, and cooking ahead because they only had the one wood stove. She fondly remembered the 3 foot tall, artificial Christmas tree, with very few needles left on its branches, that they used every year. Neighbors really cared. Her mom would always send $1 to a boys home somewhere in Indiana. She told of how kind folks were to each other, and that it was more genuine than it seems to be today. 

So back to our Bible study discussion; the question was posed about how we could keep the Christmas Spirit. We also pondered the difference between the Christmas Spirit and the Spirit of the Lord. Here’s your recap.

The Christmas Spirit seems to be this spirit of joy and happiness that surrounds this holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus. While the Spirit of the Lord is with us all the yearlong when we know Jesus as our savior. So, is there a difference? I think not. 

If we know Jesus in our hearts; like really know Him, then our lives should look different the whole year.  Not just the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And guess what? Mean cousin Eddie or unappreciative little Sally should not be able to steal your Christmas Spirit or the Spirit of the Lord; whatever you decide to call it.

“Christmas is a time to experience the spirit of Jesus coming into the world.  In the other 364 days we should be experiencing the joy of Jesus coming into our hearts. We need to celebrate the spirit that God gives us, not just on Christmas, but all the time.  Honestly, I have missed what Christmas is all about. I mostly just think of the presents and the food. That is good stuff, but it is totally not what Christmas is about.  I found this verse for all of us to think about. This should be for everyday, not just Christmas day.”  (Lincoln Hobbs)

“I will put my spirit in you and cause you to walk in my ways.”  (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

It was said of old Scrooge that after that, he kept Christmas in his heart all the days of the year. What will people say about us? Which spirit have you?

I STILL BELIEVE IN CHRISTMAS

The choir’s singing carols
Bells are ringing, streets are bright
It’s Christmas all around me
So why is Christmas hard to find?
December snow is falling down like I am to my knees
I could use some hope right now
‘Cause right now hope is hard to see
Help me still believe

For God so loved this broken world
He sent His only Son
To a carpenter and a teenage girl
To show us all His love
He left His home in Heaven
To make Heaven my home
My Emmanuel is with me
And I’ll never be alone
Down here, my heart can’t find much to believe in
But I still believe in Christmas

PAY ATTENTION TO THE PREPOSITIONS (BLOGMAS DAY SIXTEEN)

(Post by: Gerald Steele)

As a linguist I know that prepositions matter. As a matter of fact, they are sometimes even more complicated to master than verb tenses. 

I have been intrigued, in recent years, at Christmastime to read the words of Matthew 1:18-21, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way: After His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, had in mind to divorce her privately. But while he thought on these things, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for He who is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The narrative is not complicated to understand, and it concludes with the angel’s affirmation, “She (Mary) will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people FROM (emphasis mine) their sins.”

The preposition “from” is key to our understanding of the biblical doctrines of “sin and salvation.” Unfortunately, sin and Christians have become strange bedfellows in the 21st century. Christians divorce at the same rate as non-Christians. Christians drink like non-Christians. Christians fornicate like their non-Christian counterparts. Christians engage in pornography. Christians think that occasional cussing is okay and cute. I could add to this list into infinity. 

Let me be clear, this substandard approach to genuine Christian living was never God’s intention for His people. God calls His people to holy living as evidenced in Matthew 1:21. Jesus did not arrive on planet earth with the mission of saving His people IN their sins but FROM them. 

God’s grace is not a license to sin. As a matter of fact, according to Paul it’s a deterrent. 

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘NO’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14)

This is the Christmas message. Jesus came to free us from the tyranny of sin. He came to save us FROM our sins and not IN them. Pay attention to the prepositions in this hymn!

O HOLY NIGHT

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!”

CHRIST, THE LOGOS (BLOGMAS DAY FIFTEEN)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

For the past several years, the world has told us that we cannot know absolute truth. It tells us that we can all have our own truth. You do you, and I will do me. We were created from a big bang or evolved from goo to you. I say that is absurd!

This way of thinking has caused chaos and division versus the harmony that so many are seeking through this faulty thinking. Once again, the enemy has distorted the truth and has led us astray.

You see, Christ is the logos of our world. Logos means the reason or plan. The divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it meaning.

Are you looking for order, reason, or meaning? I know I am, especially in this Advent season and looking forward to a new year.

While we may not be able to change the whole world, we can change our reaction to it. We can impact those within our small sphere of influence for the better. We can know the world as Christ intended by learning to look for Him in everything.

My homeschool hero, Andrew Kern, says, “You become what you behold.”

Isn’t that a beautiful truth? I challenge you to think about what you truly behold. What do you intentionally give your attention to, gaze upon, actively pay attention to? Too many of us have been captivated by absent minded scrolling, streaming short video clips, and reading twaddle. We are constantly striving to keep up with our neighbors in posting pictures of what looks like a happy life, when, in reality, we are miserable.

Christ commands us to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Friends, all the things that you are constantly chasing after in this world, peace, joy, love, etc… can only be found in Christ. They will only be truly and everlastingly achieved by living in the way He tells us to. By living as if Christ is the logos of the world, your personal logos.

How do you do this? By training your eye and your heart, to see Christ in everything. Your soul does something with everything that goes into it. We process those memes, videos, and pictures and they change us for the better or the worse. That is why it is so important for us to purposefully seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

Imagine how your life would change if you made an effort to seek out things that nourish your soul and glorify Christ as the logos! How would your child’s life change if you gave them great works of literature, art, and music to consider versus Facebook, YouTube, and Tik-tok.

This Christmas season, I have been thinking about the Magi. Who were these mysterious men from the East, mentioned only briefly in the second chapter of Matthew? They were not Jews, yet they were familiar with Jewish scriptures. They were men who studied widely and sought truth, goodness, and beauty. They were Pagan, but the logos of the universe revealed to them a critical piece of prophecy no one else seemed to possess. The Magi studied the stars for years, watching for something that was coming, something that was going to change the world.

When the long-awaited star appeared in the sky, they were willing to travel, possibly 1,000 miles or more to worship Jesus, the Messiah. You see, these wisemen sought the true, the good, and the beautiful. When the logos of the universe finally presented Himself to them, they were ready to accept Him as the true logos of the universe and bow down before Him.

Are you willing to accept Jesus as the true logos of the world?

Will you accept Him as your personal logos and start living in a way that glorifies Him as such? This Christmas is a great time to seek out the true, the good, and the beautiful in His Word and discover His peace, joy, and love!

WE THREE KINGS

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star
We three kings, we three kings

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

Oh, star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
We three kings, we three kings

GIVE YOUR YES (BLOGMAS DAY FOURTEEN)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I am prone to think that one’s lifestyle amidst the Christmas season speaks great volumes as to their priorities and what they value the most year-round.


Maybe you are weary of reading the same challenge on this Blog, but it will continue to remain the same. There is no better time than right now to get serious about living a life completely sold out to Jesus. I don’t mean start living for Jesus today and then stop the day after Christmas on December 26th.
No, what I am proposing is that we start now and never, ever stop.


After doing ministry for the extremely short amount of time that I have, there is one thing that commonly seems to be the reason for why people claim they just can’t follow Jesus. The reason is this… They don’t have time.


They don’t have time to study their Bible. They don’t have time to spend in quiet prayer and communion with the Lord, or to disciple someone else. It’s why they can’t commit themselves to spending Sunday mornings at church with other believers or a Bible Study small group during the week.
I’m here to tell you that we’ve gotten it all wrong. As a Church, and as individuals. We’ve gotten it so wrong.

The question is not do we have time for Jesus, it’s will we MAKE time for Jesus?


If Jesus isn’t our life, then we will spend it in hot pursuit of the world. The world doesn’t “take breaks” so that you can spend time with Jesus, your family, in your Bible, etc. Its primary goal is to keep you as far away as possible from each one of those important things.


Will we choose to engage with the story that is unfolding right before our eyes? Do we long to rise up and open our eyes to His coming this Christmas season and in this New Year that is before us? Just as Gideon, Mary, Joseph, Noah, Peter, Simeon, Micaiah, and many other heroes of the faith all had to choose whether or not to engage with the story before them, so do we.


We will either build the Kingdom or make a life, but have no doubt, we cannot do both.


Deuteronomy 10:20 says, “Fear the LORD your God and serve Him. Hold fast to Him and take your oaths in His name.”


I have always loved the “holding fast” part of that verse. Holding fast to the Lord means loving Him, following Him, diligently obeying His Word, devoting ourselves only to Him, and serving Him. Holding fast requires us to not compromise in our relationships, behaviors, or anything that might pull us away from our covenant with God.


Being so content with our small and humble place in His story, with our only desire being that we never forsake the roles we must play in it as the pages turn. When Gabriel came to Mary and told her that she would bear the Son of God in her womb, she never asked “why”. She only asked “how”.


She longed to engage in God’s miraculous story.


Proverbs 4:4 says, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live.” Even in the New Testament, holding fast is an appeal, complemented by a conditional promise of life. Paul said, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)


My longing for Christians living in this generation is that they would simply give their yes. That they would say yes to engaging in the story before them, not forsaking their role in it. Will you be bold enough to hold fast to Jesus though everyone else’s grasp is firmly placed on the temporary and fleeting things of this world?


Start by making time for the One who always has time for you. Give your yes.

FROM EAST TO WEST, FROM SHORE TO SHORE

From east to west, from shore to shore,
Let every heart awake and sing
The holy Child Whom Mary bore,
The Christ, the everlasting King.

Behold, the world’s Creator wears
The form and fashion of a slave;
Our very flesh our Maker shares,
His fallen creature, man, to save.

For this how wondrously He wrought!
A maiden, in her lowly place,
Became, in ways beyond all thought,
The chosen vessel of His grace.

She bowed her to the angel’s word
Declaring what the Father willed,
And suddenly the promised Lord
That pure and hallowed temple filled.

ADVENT INSECURITY (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTEEN)

(Post by: Pete Yost)

I was having lunch with a group of friends this past week, and one of them said something that caught my attention. Made me think. Made me reach inside of myself.

At first, I thought, where has he been all of his life? How did he miss it?

My friend Calvin asked, “What is Advent? I’ve never heard of such a thing. We are lighting an Advent candle this coming Sunday at church, and I don’t know anyone who knows what this means.”

“We’ve celebrated Advent forever, since I was a little girl”, came the reply from one of the women in the group. “But I don’t understand it either.”

The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”. During this season of preparation, Christians would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting to prepare for this celebration; originally, the celebration of waiting on the Christ child to arrive.

Calvin is a Christian. He loves Jesus. However, he was bewildered because the people in his new church only celebrated Advent because it was something they do each year.

It is a ritual.

On the other hand, there is Hunter, a young single mom with two kids, who recently told me she wants to reconnect her life with Jesus. She has made some terrible decisions in her life which has resulted in great emotional pain and suffering.

During the past week she has decided to intentionally seek God and praise Him. She is excited and joyful while sensing the Presence of Christ anew. She found this song and sent it to me…

START OVER

Chorus:

Everybody’s got a blank page

A story they’re writing today

A wall that they’re climbing

You can carry the past on your shoulders

Or you can start over.

Regrets, no matter what you goin’ through

Jesus, He gave it all to save you

He carried the cross on His shoulders

So you can start over

Advent is a time of Anticipation, not Anxiety. Advent is not a Ritual, but a Relationship. Advent is not a Ceremony, but a Celebration. Advent is not Looking Backwards, it is Looking Forward.

Calvin was confused because his church friends really did not understand the meaning of Advent. They could not explain the meaning of Advent to him. However, Hunter knows fully what Advent means because she is celebrating a new life, a new start with Jesus.

The question for each of us, is, are we able to confidently explain what Jesus did to save us from our sin, or are we insecure and unsure of the meaning behind Advent/Christmas?

CHRISTMAS BELLS (BLOGMAS DAY TWELVE)

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

CHRISTMAS BELLS BY HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Happy Sunday, everyone! We will be back again tomorrow with a new BLOGMAS post. Be sure to scroll through the recent posts from this past week in case you missed any!

THE EVERYDAY DEEDS (BLOGMAS DAY ELEVEN)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Christmas has the power to change people, don’t you think?

Over the years, we have all seen the change that takes place in people around this holiday season, and I think that there can be power in that change. People begin to talk to one another as they do their last-minute Christmas shopping. We all sing the songs that have become so familiar. We all tend to greet one another with a joy-filled, “Merry Christmas.”

I especially remember these small changes in people from when I was a child, looking at Christmas as this crazy time when suddenly, all our differences and disputes were put aside. It was something that I always loved experiencing and seeing, and something that now, I miss very sorely.

You see that small window of time, that month and a half leading up to Christmas, was something that has impacted me in such a powerful way, and I wish I saw that more now. I think that now, in 2021, we have become so self-obsessed, and so consumed with what we want and need, that no one even thinks about the power they could have, just by telling a little girl “Merry Christmas”.

Once again, I believe that J. R. R. Tolkien sums up the power of these little things in this perfect quote by Gandalf, when talking about why he chose Bilbo Baggins to accompany himself and thirteen dwarves on a perilous quest.

He says, “Some believe that it is only great power that can hold Evil in check. But that is not what I have found. It is rather the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keeps the Darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and he gives me courage.”

Now, I believe we can all agree that the darkness in this world is barely, at best, being kept at bay. Yet we are all at a loss as to how that has happened so rapidly. If what Gandalf has said is true, which I believe it is entirely, the answer is staring us straight in the face.

It is the small, everyday deeds of ordinary folks. Something which we have not taken as seriously as we ought.

You see, the reason I always felt so much happier and more content around Christmas time, is because of the small things, that kept the darkness at bay for the month of December. The small things that changed a little girl’s view of the world, even for a short time.

I want to encourage you today, it is the small things you do, the smile you freely give to a stranger, the holiday greeting you utter, that keep the darkness at bay.

Why do I enjoy the changed mood, the songs we all sing, and the spirit of Christmas that changes people?

Perhaps it is because I am afraid; and they give me courage.

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay

From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together

If the fates allow

So hang a shining star upon the highest bough

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

TRUE WORSHIPPERS (BLOGMAS DAY TEN)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

One of our dear friends, who is a pastor in Texas, always says, “We have a God-shaped hole in our hearts.” I thought of that saying today as I braved the crowds and long lines of the super-store in our town. There were so many folks filling up their carts and dodging each other in the aisles. There were two guys in the hair and make-up section trying to decide what to buy for (what sounded like) the many female family members in their lives. There was an older woman telling an acquaintance she ran into that she was so glad her grandkids were older, and she did not have to buy toys this year. Then, there were all of us lined up, in frustration, to check out at the two open registers. Ugh!

Some people I saw today were obviously happy to be buying gifts for loved ones, but most seemed to drudge through the task. I grieve over the realization that most of us have lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. We are trying to fill that “God-shaped hole in our hearts” with gifts and gadgets. Material things that bring joy, only for a moment.

We have allowed our hearts to be captivated by the bright lights, shiny bobbles, and finely wrapped gifts of this world. Yet, what our hearts truly long for is the eternally satisfying glory of God. Jesus’ presence and rule in our lives.

We were created to worship. The need to worship is a big part of what it means to be human. That is the way God made us. He wanted us to want to worship Him and have a relationship with Him. The enemy has distorted that desire, however. Now, we humans worship our careers, sports, bank accounts, and hobbies.

St. Augustine said in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Friends, there is nothing wrong with gift giving. My family enjoys finding something special for one another each year. I just pray that we spend more time on cultivating our relationship with Christ this Christmas than we do on buying and wrapping material gifts. Let us be swept up in the true wonder of the season; the Lord came to dwell among us! May we feed our own souls with the right kind of worship and share the good news of Jesus birth, death, resurrection, and second coming with those around us.

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”  (John 4:23)

Will the Father find you a true worshipper when He returns?

ALL THE WORLD AWAITS

All the world awaits

The promise of His birth

Open up the gates

Heaven come to earth

A host of angels sing

Our Savior here to dwell

The King of every king

Our Emmanuel

ALWAYS WINTER (BLOGMAS DAY NINE)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Before this season of Advent began, I started thinking about the significance of winter and what exactly it has the possibility of producing. If you’re anything like me, it is much harder to see the beauty in freezing temperatures, snow, and darkness than it is to see beauty in the warmth from the summer sun, fresh flowers blooming, and the chance for new adventures to unfold. Perhaps you’re the opposite, in which case, I applaud you.

The Lord, however, has been revealing to me this winter just how much my soul longs for and rejoices in the light. Not just physical light, but ultimately the light of our promised Messiah who will come to us again, which I believe the physical light directly points the believer to.

The only reason we know to rejoice in the light, though, is because we have once or twice had to embrace the dark. The darkness that plagues our world, our homes, sometimes our very own souls which seems to make itself extremely apparent amid the winter season.

Madie & I discussed this topic a little more thoroughly, and in a bit of a different way, in our latest podcast episode! Click here if you would like to join the conversation!

I recently read a quote by Charles Spurgeon who once said, “Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it is upon you just now, it will be very painful to you: But there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it.”

What a beautiful, yet challenging quote to read and consider.

It can be quite difficult to remember that the same God who made the summer is indeed the very same God who made the winter, and that there is a unique purpose for each.

Psalm 74:17 says, “It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”

In a book titled, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that was written by C. S. Lewis, there is a specific quote that I have been pondering that I’d like to share with you today. In the book, Lucy, the youngest of four siblings’ stumbles upon a place called Narnia where The White Witch has cast a magic spell so that it is always winter there.

As Lucy explains to her older brother, Edmund, what she had encountered while in Narnia, she says something that intrigues me. She says, “It’s always winter, but never gets to Christmas.” 

I wonder how many of us can deeply relate with this after the past couple of years. I wonder if you feel as if you have been living in the dead of winter, never getting to Christmas.

If you do, could I lift your spirits today?

There is comfort in the trials that winter brings, because the Lord who has created them never lets them weather us without also allowing us to experience the hope and joy of Christmas. Jesus has always promised His presence to us. But in order to understand the beauty of Christmas, we must understand just how bleak winter can be. What if we rejoiced in the struggles of life and this season because of what the Lord can produce in us through them?

As Christians, we can find peace knowing that winter will not last forever, and that darkness never triumphs over the light. Christmas is coming because Christ has come.

JOY TO THE WORLD

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove the wonders of His love

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let Earth receive her King
And Heaven and nature sing

Please be sure to read the last few days of our BLOGMAS posts if you haven’t already! We have had some wonderful guest posts and we don’t want you to miss what they each shared! You can also follow and sign up to be on our email list so that you don’t miss tomorrow’s new post. See y’all then! 🙂

JESUS, PEARL HARBOR, AND BLOGMAS (BLOGMAS DAY EIGHT)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

I sit here tonight, on the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, pondering how to connect this day with Jesus, the Advent season, and Blogmas. I know it sounds crazy; but stay with me and let’s see how it goes.  

As I have listened to stories today from some of my favorite historians, and pondered the commitment of the greatest generation of Americans on the heels of Pearl Harbor, I am left wondering if we presently have any real understanding of that type of sacrifice.

We sat in the living room tonight as a family and read our Advent devotional by A. W. Tozer. That was followed with listening to the speech FDR gave the day after Pearl Harbor. Then came excerpts from one of the speeches Patton gave to the troops as they headed into battle with the evil Nazis. I thought about how politically incorrect everything we were hearing from Tozer, to FDR, to Patton, would be today.

Our current cancel culture would say what a terrible father I was for teaching my family that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, that He remained fully God while willingly laying aside his deity to come as a baby in a manger and function fully as a man. Christmas preparation.

And then to discuss 16 and 17 year old American boys falsifying their birth certificates so they could sign away anything they had, and possibly were ever going to have, for the cause of freedom and the destruction of the enemy. Do we have that type of love for the country and freedom God has given us today? I wonder…

But could it be that was what was happening in the preparation (Advent) leading to Jesus birth? A young virgin named Mary, somewhere around the same age as those young American boys, said yes to what would have seemed a truly unbelievable assignment from God. While a young man named Joseph, betrothed to this same Mary, accepted a path that any one of us would have said was complete insanity. Christmas preparation.

As we ready ourselves for the celebration of Jesus birth we should be asking; what did Jesus do? He gave up this great seat at the right hand of God to come down and be born a man to die for our sins. To give up His life for ours. And all we have to do is repent of our sins and accept that He paid the price for us.

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.”

So, as I reflect today and honor those men who, 80 years ago, made the greatest sacrifice for this great nation; a nation founded on the sacrifice of Jesus. A nation that has spread Christ and freedom around the world like no other nation in history. I’m reminded of my own preparation for Christmas.

I have to ask; am I willing to sacrifice as those young men did 80 years ago? Oh, not to falsify my birth certificate and sign up to head across an ocean to war. But to say I’m preparing for the birth of Jesus. I’m all in for wherever that may take me. I want to give everything I have and am ever going to have to Him.

Sign me up.

I want Christmas to mean that for all I do to celebrate His wonderful birth, it will prepare me to live the way He taught me to in His life. In that, I have to recognize His birth, this Christmas thing, has to point me to His death and sacrifice for me and you. What a glorious thing this Christmas deal is when we get that.

So thank you Jesus for the cross, our American military for fighting evil on our behalf, and for the freedom we still have to do Blogmas. There; I brought it all together and you doubted that I could. If I’m honest; so did I.  

Merry Christmas!

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Light of the world
Crown in a manger
Born for the cross
To suffer, to save
High King of heaven
Death is the poorer
We are the richer
By the price that He paid

Sing hallelujah
Sing hallelujah
Sing hallelujah
For the things He has done
Come and adore Him
Bow down before Him
Sing hallelujah
To the light of the world

WHAT IF? (BLOGMAS DAY SEVEN)

(Post by: Trent Claybaker)

Shortly after our Thanksgiving dinner, my family and I made plans for a shopping trip to wrap up the loose ends for those who we still wanted to get presents for. If I’m honest, I was pretty excited about the trip.

To the best of my recollection, this was the first year that we were nearly finished with all the purchasing well before Christmas Day. (Not sure how your home’s work, but typically mine is hustling at the very last minute for something forgotten, or someone just wants to get just one more thing). We planned to start down South and work our way back to the house. There were only two planned stops, with the understanding that there was the small potential for a possible third.

We hit our first destination relatively quick but unfortunately, it didn’t take long for my excitement to dissipate. Several of the more popular stores at the outlet mall were extremely busy, so much so, that customers had to wait in line outside since the occupancy level had to be maintained.

If you’re thinking to yourself, oh no… you’d be right! What if the lady in line with the three children had a better understanding of Ephesians 4:29, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it would benefit those who listen”, and chose to use better language when speaking to the teenage boy at the door just trying to do his job?

We wrapped things up there and headed North to our second stop. The shopping there was easy. Not because it wasn’t busy, but simply because we each knew what we were in search of, and our lists were getting smaller. We decided to split up and meet back up at the front of the store where the registers were.

I got there first, and a short time later the girls arrived. The lines were long, and everyone had full carts. I’m a people watcher, and I noticed a husband and wife a few spots ahead. The line was moving but it wasn’t as quick as this couple would have liked. I could almost tell what was coming. What if this couple had been in the Word and had a solid grasp of Proverbs 14:29, “Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick tempered displays folly”, rather than let the cashier know how they would run the checkout process.

By this time, I was ready to just be done, and by the silence in the car I could tell that was the sentiment of the rest of my family as well. While I was driving, I was asked if I thought that, on either occasion, those people knew Jesus? We hadn’t talked about either situation at the time, but apparently, I was not the only one to notice what was happening. My reply was vague, at best, because even if I thought that they did know Jesus, they certainly didn’t act as if they did.

It’s somewhat cliché but, what if we really understood the “reason for the season”? What if we chose to live life as we are called to? What if the people on that day knew how to love as Jesus loves? What if we took looking different seriously?

I’m boldly asking… What’s your “What if” for His Kingdom?

BEHOLD THE SAVIOR

Here is the promise we had waited for
He will not leave us in the dark
He will bear our weight
He will wear our shame
Come lift Him high
Behold the Savior
Jesus Christ law of love and light
Come lift Him high
Behold the Savior!
Behold the Savior!

ODE TO EBENEZER SCROOGE (BLOGMAS DAY SIX)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Y’all, I love and adore A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love the book, and I love the movie adaptation starring Patrick Stewart. Every time I read the story or watch the movie, I glean a new spiritual lesson.

If you are not familiar with A Christmas Carol, let me give you a quick synopsis. Ebenezer Scrooge, the main character, is a “tight-fisted” businessman who thought Christmas day, and every day for that matter, was a “Humbug”, and he just wanted to be left alone. He had no use for his fellow man, other than to collect from them the interest he gained from the money he loaned them. He had a kind-hearted nephew and a humble clerk that attempted to soften Scrooge, but to no avail. Then, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by his dead business partner, Marley, who is fettered with the chains he forged himself through sins committed during his life.

Marley warns Scrooge, “man of the worldly mind”, that he had gotten his life wrong, and tells Scrooge that he is even worse. Marley explains to Scrooge that if a man’s spirit does not go forth in life caring for his fellow man, he will be condemned to do so after death. However, there is “incessant torture” in that, because in death, it is too late to live as you should have.

Marley then offers Scrooge some hope. Scrooge will be visited by three Spirits who can help him “shun the path” that Marley is forced to tread. Through the visits of the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, Scrooge is able to see the hurts and decisions that hardened his heart and made him the callous man he is. He was able to see how a faithful man keeps Christmas and cares for those around him. Finally, Scrooge is able to see his dark future and is given a chance to turn from it.

Scrooge’s heart is changed!

He cries out, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.” Scrooge immediately sets out to mend the relationships he has with his nephew and with his clerk. He gives generously to charity. He is friendly and kind to his neighbors. “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good city knew.”

Friends, Christmas is the perfect time of year for us to reflect on our own lives. The Holy Spirit invites us to do so, just as the Spirits invited Scrooge to do. Have we allowed past hurts and decisions to harden our hearts and set us on a path that God did not intend?

Are we celebrating Christmas this year in a way that honors Christ’s first coming and anticipates His second coming versus merely indulging in a worldly version of Christmas? Do we have a secure future with Jesus?

Scripture tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and that the wage for that sin is death, but God offers us the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).

You see, God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us, even while we were yet sinners (Romans 5: 8). If you have faith in God’s love and accept His free gift of salvation, you can have eternal life with Him (Ephesians 2:8). If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Do not shut out the lessons that can be learned from Ebenezer Scrooge. He did not just become a good friend, master, and man because he was scared by the Spirits. He did not change his ways, only for a little while, because he was afraid to be fettered by chains as Marley was.

Scrooge examined his life, his heart, against God’s standard and found himself lacking. He knew that he could not change on his own but called on the Spirit to strive within him. You and I have a wonderful opportunity to ask the Holy Spirit to live within us this Christmas day and every day, friend!

Will you join me and Ebenezer Scrooge in doing so?

LET THE EARTH NOW PRAISE THE LORD

Let The Earth Now Praise The Lord.
Who Hath Truly Kept His Word
And The Sinners Help And Friend
Now At Last To Us Doth Send.

Welcome, O My Saviour, Now!
Hail! My Portion, Lord, Art Thou.
Here, Too, In My Heart, I Pray,
Oh, Prepare Thyself A Way!

King Of Glory, Enter In;
Cleanse It From The Filth Of Sin,
As Thou Hast So Often Done;
It Belongs To Thee Alone.

CHOOSE SOMETHING LIKE A STAR POEM

BLOGMAS DAY FIVE

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud—
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says, ‘I burn.’
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

“Choose Something Like a Star” by Robert Frost from Collected Poems, Prose & Plays

We pray this encourages your heart to be willing to see the mystery of Christ and His coming. Happy Sunday & Merry Christmas!

WHO ARE WE TO HIM? (BLOGMAS DAY FOUR)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

The title of this post is a question I have been challenging myself with almost all of this week. If you’ve been around the church much, then I’m sure you know that we like to say “where are you at with Jesus” often. I have nothing against this question, I would simply like to ask it in a different way…

Who are you to Him?

I understand that we have so much fighting for our attention and time right now. Whether it be family, friends, parties, gifts, work, school, or even church. We all have stuff. We think that after this week is over, we will finally have time to spend with Jesus and get serious about living like Him. Life doesn’t usually work that way though, and if we continue living as the world does, it will only get busier and busier.

I’m going to be bold and write that maybe many of us are uncertain about who we genuinely are to Jesus, because we live for the noise, the busyness. Our arms never can stop flailing about. We can never sit still to seek Him. We despise quiet and if it begins to surround us, we fill it with other distractions.

We have allowed ourselves to become addicted to busyness. Most especially the busyness of the Christmas season. I want you to know, friend, that God is not a God of chaos and just maybe, He is inviting you to breathe in His peace and to let some things go.

I think the enemy has been successful in that, he has made this time so hectic that we don’t even realize that we’re missing the entire point and purpose of it. The coming of the Messiah, our King. The One who has redeemed our lives and shown us mercy and grace. If we’ve bought into the world’s point for Christmas, which is materialism, it’s almost impossible to take a minute to stop and fall in love with Jesus again.

Lamentations 3:25-28 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.”

No one knows who you are to God, except you. Does He know you as a friend, as an acquaintance, as a good and faithful servant? Or do you find yourself to be a stranger to Him?

I love this translation of Psalm 46:10. It says, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Friend, I have great news for you today. You have always meant so incredibly much to Jesus. Take heart, knowing that He is God and that He is the most important thing. Cease your striving. Though you may be in the world, you are not of the world. Don’t you ever forget that.

So, the question truly becomes, does Jesus mean much to you? Does He mean much to us?

GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN

God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

FROM CHILDISH TO CHILDLIKE (BLOGMAS DAY THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

This summer, I took a class that went behind and beyond The Lord of the Rings, and we discussed some of the very real spiritual values that Tolkien presents through his imaginary stories, and how they apply to our everyday lives.

One of the things we talked about was how each Hobbit involved in the stories took a personal journey from their childish ways and went on this quest to become childlike.

Now, I know some of you may not see a difference between the two, I mean, kids are kids, right? But there is actually a big difference between being childish and childlike, and it is deeply intertwined with our relationship with Jesus.

You see, being childish means that you are petty, concerned with small things, unable to grasp the big picture when it comes to life, and you literally act like a child.

Being childlike, however, means that you think like a child. You see endless possibilities and worlds and beings, and you believe that everything is achievable, and that’s just the way life is. Now, I’m sure you have heard of the term “child-like faith” thrown around in church, and kind of referred to as this belief that we all want to have, but soon grow out of as we mature in life and see things in a more realistic sense.

Before I took that class, and heard this topic being discussed, a “child-like faith” didn’t mean much to me. It was just the term we used in the church that referred to a child’s inexperience, and lack of realistic knowledge, and we then accredited that as the reason children can believe in the Lord so easily.

But today, I want you to see the power in becoming childlike. I believe that a childlike faith actually consists of this thought that we are merely a small part in the big scheme of life, but we take pride in Jesus wanting to use us. We still see those endless possibilities, but they are now cultivated by God, and used to help us step off the shore and dive into an ocean of incredibility.

“And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become child-like, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.”” (Matthew 18:3)

During Christmas time, I think we can all agree that there is this feeling that fills the air, and makes us excited and giddy, like we physically cannot wait for Christmas day. However, I think this is a good example of what it means to go from childish to childlike. When we are childish, we get excited about the snow, or sitting on Santa’s lap, or the presents under the Christmas tree.

But if we have made that transition to a childlike attitude, we are filled with joy, not just excitement, and while we may still anticipate those things I just listed, we know that the actual reason for Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and we use that time to remember everything he has done for us, and ultimately prepare ourselves for his second coming.

You see, we all must walk on the road of childishness, where we are selfish and simple, and travel to the glorious destination of being childlike, where we are transformed into a creature who sees possibility and does not doubt the supernatural power and goodness of God.

Only then, can we enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only then, can we look at our Lord through a childlike wonder and awe, that is profoundly connected to our salvation.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
The end of fear for all who hear
The silent Word is speaking
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh
Come peasant king to love him;
The king of kings salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone him
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him praise
The babe, the son of Mary

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What To Do When Life Feels Boring – S2:EP54

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-25cer-1232295

Do you feel at times that your everyday life just isn’t all that exciting and that maybe, just maybe, you aren’t getting anywhere fast spiritually? Good, because we are right there with you! Sometimes guilt can even creep in because you feel like you aren’t doing all that God wants you to be doing, which may be the case. However, if you are genuinely seeking after Christ, He will never let you miss the opportunities He has for you. This heart-to-heart conversation is full of lots of practical tips, and we hope you are encouraged by it!

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 & Proverbs 13:4

Blog Posts Mentioned:

EVERY STORY HAS A MONSTER (PART ONE)

ARE YOU THE HERO OF YOUR OWN STORY? (PART TWO)

A HERO ALWAYS KNOWS (PART THREE)

LINKS…

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