NO SHORT CUTS

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I sat down at the computer yesterday to start writing a blog post. As I typed each letter to form the sentences, I felt like it just wasn’t right. I thought it was what the Lord wanted me to write about, but I wasn’t writing with the same passion and excitement that I usually do.

So, I stopped. I saved what I had written and moved the keyboard away from my fingers. I sat there and read it over, and over again. Lately, as people have been asking what I want to do after school, I have been telling them that I feel called to ministry.

Then, as I was pondering what I was going to do with the post, I thought, “You know, I just need to pursue a 9 to 5 job where I know exactly what I’ll be doing every day.”

I’m just going to be honest with you, in that moment, I thought that sounded a lot easier than doing ministry. While a regular job might seem easier, I’m convicted that I even thought that as I look back now.

Jesus has given me everything that He has, including His own life, and I’m over here complaining about how I’m just tired and want to give up and go with something easier. Y’all know that I’m pathetic right? I mean, I don’t have this thing all figured out.

The Lord reminded me of a verse that says, ”The Lord looks down from Heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” (Psalms 14:2)

There have been a couple people in my life lately that have been challenging me to go deeper with the Lord. If you are anything like me, then you know how easy it is to get comfortable with where you are at and just remain there.

A.W. Tozer once said this, “No short cut exists for a deeper spiritual life. The man who would know God must give time to Him.”

If we want to go deeper in our walk with Jesus, we have to give Him our time. I know that I’ve said it a million times, but until we make Him our first priority, we are not going to see Him move in our own life.

Very few people are willing to do that.

That’s why the verse says that the Lord actually “looks” for people who understand and seek Him. Guys, He wants to take us deeper. It is us who get in the way of that happening. We would rather be playing golf than reading our Bibles. We would prefer to be watching our favorite show on TV instead of spending uninterrupted time with Jesus.

 I don’t want to just settle with where I’m at and I hope that you don’t either. Jesus has called us to live for eternity and all we are focused on is the temporary.

There are no short cuts. Let’s stop being lazy. We need to put some real effort into our relationship with Jesus. Living a Christian life is not to make you feel good once a week when you walk into church, it’s about the other six days of the week. He’s not just a weekend thing.

Francis Chan once said this, “Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.”

SO WHAT’S YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you have those feelings of wanting to give up sometimes?

= Right now, do you find yourself wanting to live for eternity or the temporary things here on earth?

= What are you going to do differently?

A THOUSAND TIMES OVER

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I shared a little bit in the last post about how one of our dearest friends is sitting in a Fort Worth, Texas jail cell right now. We went down to see him a couple weeks ago, and I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with y’all.

A little bit of background on our friend before we jump in; we met him when we did mission work down in Texas for three months back in 2017.  My family basically spent every minute with him the whole time we were there. We were together praying and sharing the Gospel all over Fort Worth. He was always the one who made people laugh and made them feel at home wherever we were.

Our friend was super involved in ministry and loved to work with teens. He was also working with a few of the local churches in different ways. He already has a crazy, amazing testimony. I truly believe that this time in jail is another chapter that God will use.

We got to Fort Worth late on a Monday night, so my dad went to visit him for the first time on Tuesday. When my dad came back from the first visit, he said how happy our friend was to see him and to know that we had come all the way from Ohio to support him.

However, my dad also said that no one else had been to visit him in the three weeks since he had been put in jail. Now, let’s just back up for a minute. Remember how I said that he had been super involved in a couple of local churches?

Yeah. No one from the churches or from anywhere else had come to see him.  

Listen, I’m not trying to beat up any specific churches here. That’s not the point. What I’m trying to get us Christians to realize, is that this is the reality of the Church as a whole. We’ve got our Sunday morning routine down, but not much happens outside of that. Especially when ministry gets hard and messy.

If I am being honest, I didn’t really want to go in to see him either. I was scared. I had no idea what I was going to say to him.

There is a quote by Francis Chan that I kept thinking about and it says this, “But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

On Wednesday, my dad and my brother went in to see him and had another good visit with him.

Thursday morning comes. My heart is racing from the time I got up until the time we got to the jail later in the afternoon. I knew I just needed to do it. I didn’t want to have any regrets, and I wanted to show him that I loved him and that I support him.

So, I just went in. I was still pretty nervous. My dad and I got our booth and waited for him to come in.

The Lord kept reminding my of James 1:2-4 which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

All I can say is that nothing in ministry, and nothing in life, will ever prepare you for seeing someone you very dearly love in a jumpsuit behind glass. Nothing.

I’m not going to go into any detail about the visit itself. However, I will say that he was pretty discouraged that day and it wasn’t too great of a visit.

As we walked out and got into the car, I lost it. I just remember thinking about how terrible sin is, and how one little choice got us here. Honestly, I couldn’t believe that I was sitting in our van, outside of a jail, all because of one bad choice he made a little more than a year earlier.

But guess what? I don’t regret going in there one little bit.

I went in the next day, and the next day. Did it get any easier? Nope. Not even a little. I still broke down after every visit with him.

But I would do it a thousand times over.

I’d rather sit with him in a jail cell, scared as I was, a thousand times over again than in church with someone who professes to have it all together but really isn’t living for Jesus. Let alone, think that they should actually go try to reach the lost and hurting outside the church walls.

You know why?

Because I experienced Jesus in that little concrete visiting booth more than I think I ever have in a nice, beautiful, clean, church building.

I’m just being real with y’all.

If the Church would just take the two steps out of their pew, I think we would experience the presence of Jesus in a way that we never have before.

I think we might start to understand what the persecuted Church is dying for.

I believe that we may start to live how Jesus wants us to.

If Jesus came here to do ministry today, I don’t think we would find Him sitting in a pew at a church. I think we would find Him in the places like the jails and the streets where people are broken and hurting.

I’d do it a thousand times over. But the real question is, would you?

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.”   {Isaiah 1:19}

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

= How do you think we could do better as Christians? How can we live like Jesus wants us to?

= Did you relate with this post at all?

THE HOT TOPIC THAT CHRISTIANS ARE BUYING INTO

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you seen all the cute coffee mugs, bags, and sweatshirts lately?

Have you heard the saying that’s been going around?

Did you see the message that’s recently been shared all over social media?

The world has recently been putting this message out to everyone and it is “supposed” to fix all our problems in life…

The saying is this: If you can learn to love yourself, then everything will be ok.

Can I be honest with you? The Church and churched people in general have accepted this and have started sharing this message.

This really hit me last week as my dad and I were visiting one of our dearest friends in a Fort Worth jail cell. He said someone, another Christian as a matter of fact, told him this was the fix to all his issues… learn to love himself.

After some discussion with Dad, our friend was the first to say that loving himself was actually the reason we were visiting him through a glass and concrete wall. This hit us like a ton of bricks!!!  He was so right and needed to understand what loving himself really looked like. A great conversation followed, and we are still praising God for that opportunity!!

I feel the need to shine some light on this topic today. I want to examine this message of self-love through the Word of God.

Let’s start off in Mark 12:30-31 which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

This is a very popular verse. One you have probably heard before.

When you boil that down, this verse is telling us to 1. Love God and 2. Love people.

There is absolutely nothing in that verse that says to love yourself. Jesus gives us our two greatest commandments right there and I think we are trying to ignore them as a Church and society.

So, I am going to be bold and say this… I think that we have twisted and tweaked that verse to say what we want it to say. Because truly, deep down inside, we really don’t want to love God with everything we have, and we definitely do not want to love other people and care more about them.

What we really want to do is love ourselves because we are selfish.

Francis Chan once said this, “Nothing you will ever do in this life will ever matter unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made.”

You see, we are sinful. We really shouldn’t love ourselves because we are nothing without Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. If we could love ourselves and have everything work out and be great, then the Gospel is useless.

Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom and then everything else will be added to us.

David Platt said this, “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.”

Instead of loving ourselves, I think we need to learn how to be loved by God.

Because once we do, we will realize our true worth and our pure identity that is made possible through Jesus. Then, we will want to love God and others with everything we have because we know how much God loves us.

Does this make sense?

It’s impossible to learn to love yourself without loving Jesus first.

We need to love ourselves, in that, we love who God made us to be. Our peace will come through what Jesus did for us.  Each of us; on the cross.

Abandon yourself and let God refine you. Let Him determine who you are and how much you are worth.

The world spreads lies. Jesus speaks truth.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you bought into this message of self-love?

= What are you going to do differently?

= Is there someone you know who needs to hear this?

NO MIDDLE GROUND

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

The Lord gave me a really powerful message last week. My Bible Study group was meeting, and I was waiting on the Lord to give me something to discuss with them later that afternoon. As I was praying, the Lord just made it clear that I was supposed to talk about the persecuted church and how much they love Jesus.

So, I grabbed one of our Jesus Freak books off the shelf and started to look through the stories. I landed on the story of Polycarp being martyred. He was a bishop and the last remaining direct connection to the original 12 disciples; he studied under John.

I read that story aloud during Bible Study that night and I was so emotional. Not because it’s such a terrible thing that he was martyred because he didn’t deny Jesus, but because of his passion and devotion for His Savior. I’m not sure if you have ever read that story or not, but he actually told the guards to leave him untied from the stake as he was burned alive.

Polycarp said this as he was about to die, “Leave me as I am; He who gives me strength to endure the fire will enable me to remain still within the fire.”

The Jesus Freak book describes his death like this, “The flames rose high above his body, but miraculously, he was not burned. Those who watched said, “He was in the midst of the fire, not as burning flesh but as gold and silver refined in a furnace. And we smelled such a sweet aroma as of incense or some other precious spice.”

Guys, right now everybody is so focused on fall and pumpkin spice and all that delightful stuff. Right? Is that stuff bad? Nope. But again, it’s one of those things that we tend to focus on more than Jesus.

 So, here is my question to you…  Do you smell like a fragrant offering for Jesus? Do you reflect Him and His perfect image? That’s what we should be focused on. Not fall and pumpkin spice!

Come on Church! We are more focused on posting our thoughts and opinions on that kind of stuff when we should be proclaiming that Jesus has saved us from our sin!

A.W. Tozer once said this, “Throughout the entire New Testament a sharp line is drawn between the Church and the world. There is no middle ground.”

Listen, Polycarp loved Jesus and gave Him everything he had. He didn’t have one foot in to this whole “Jesus thing” and then one foot out in the world. His focus was solely on Jesus and that’s it.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions – is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.”

To make it basic, if we love the world, we don’t love Jesus. If we love Jesus, we don’t love the world.

Proverbs 1:15-16 says, “…my son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path, because their feet run toward evil and they hurry to shed blood.”

Truth is, many of us are on the road that the world has paved all nice and smooth for us. However, it leads us towards evil.

My challenge for myself and the girls that night was how far are we willing to go?

Would we be willing to stand in an arena and be killed for Jesus?

Francis Chan once said, “We live in a time when Christians need to be told that they are supposed to live like Christ. That’s weird.”

So don’t be weird. More on that another time…

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= How far are you personally willing to go?

= Do you find yourself loving the world or Jesus?

= What are you going to do differently?

GO AGAIN!

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever been hurt by someone? Maybe somebody in church has hurt you. Maybe your best friend lied to you about something. Maybe, someone you have loved and poured so much of your time into doesn’t seem like they care the same way about you.

Yeah. I think we have all been there. I know we are all thinking it so let’s just say it. IT STINKS! IT’S AWFUL!

Nobody wants to go through that.

Have you heard about Hosea? If you have, you’re probably like, “Yep! I know where she is going with this.” Well, just stay with me. He was a man in the Bible who was called by God to live out and preach a very difficult message to the Israelites and basically invite them to come back to God.

You see, God had a marvelous plan for this really bizarre example. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful on multiple occasions. God told Hosea to take her back, over and over again, even though she returned to her sin many times. The Israelite community watched as Hosea did the illogical, unthinkable, merciful act of taking her back.

So, while Hosea was dealing with his wife and all of her sin, the LORD was having him preach a message. God wanted the Israelites to return to Him even though they were living in sin and had turned their backs on Him multiple times. God wanted the Israelites to get just how much He loved them!

God was having Hosea practice what He preached.

Hosea 3:1-3 says, “ Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to the other gods and love raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and five bushels of barley. I said to her, “You are to live with me many days. You must not be promiscuous or belong to any man, and I will act the same way toward you.”

Poor Hosea was getting to experience what God was feeling. Which is why the message he was giving was SO much harder.

Yet God tells Hosea to go again. I can only imagine what Hosea was thinking here. Probably something like this, “What if she cheats and hurts me again? How can I genuinely love her when I know how she feels and what she has been doing?”

Yet God tells Hosea to go again.

So, what does he do? He goes and buys her back. I might be crazy for saying this, but I really don’t think that He would have done that if He didn’t actually love her.

Here is the hard part though. I am like Gomer.

I can’t tell you how many times Jesus has had to call me back to Himself. To buy me back and pull me out of my sin.

As the church, we need to return to our God, to our first love. He fiercely loves us and wants us to return to Him no matter how big or how many are our sins. Once we have done that, then we can be like Hosea and go again to the people who have hurt us. Not because we have to. Not even because it’s the right thing to do.

But because we actually love them.

Oh, how He loves us, church. We are His portion and He is our prize. Drawn by redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. (Taken from the song, “How He Loves”)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= In what ways have you been like Gomer and turned away from Jesus?

= Are there people in your life that you know you need to act like Hosea to?

= What are you going to do different now?

THE LIGHT ALWAYS WINS

(Guest post by: Michelle Hobbs)

I was walking in the main hallway of a nursing home recently, heading to see one of my patients. A gentleman stopped me at the bulletin board and asked me to read to him the riddle posted there. It said, “The more you have of this, the less you can see.” Can you guess the answer?

Darkness. I found that riddle to be profound, and I’ve thought of it several times since then. It reminded me of the following scripture:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.     John 1: 1 – 5 (NKJV)

John 1: 1-5 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. I love verse 5 in particular. I recently became intrigued by all the different translations of this verse and discovered something that you need to hear too. Here are a few translations:

CSB That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

ESV The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

NIV The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

NET And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.

NLT The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

When John says, “the light”, he is referring to Jesus. Jesus calls himself “the light of the world” in John 8:12. Those of us who believe in Jesus and follow Him are also to be light in our world. John 12:36 says, “Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

The darkness is the world of evil, unbelief, sin, misery, death, and judgement.

Now, I used to read this verse and think, yep, the darkness does not understand the light. I get it. Those who are not yet saved don’t understand those who are. They don’t understand the gospel or the scripture on their own.

But… NO, NO, NO! That’s not all! It’s so much more exciting and massive than that!!!

Did you notice, in the various translations above, all the different words used at the end of the verse?

  • did not overcome
  • has not understood
  • has not mastered
  • can never extinguish
  • comprehended it not

You see, there is this battle between light and darkness. The darkness wants to overcome, master, extinguish the light, but the darkness was not able to do those things!

One commentary states, “The darkness did not hem it in, oppress it; it was invincible before it.” The light was invincible before the darkness!  

The darkness did not, will not, cannot overcome the light! The light always wins! Friends, if you are struggling with some dark stuff in your life right now, concentrate on this fact.

Lilias Trotter tells us, “Believe in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

Just think about when you were a little kid or when your electricity has gone out and you were left in a dark room. The complete darkness is scary! You can’t see anything, and the “what ifs” come creeping into your mind. But just a tiny bit of light from a little night light or a candle drives the darkness out of the room. That tiny bit of light takes over and allows us to see more clearly.

So verse 5 is saying, that Jesus, the light of the world, has entered into the darkness of evil, unbelief, sin, misery, death, and judgement; and this darkness did not overcome Him. When you believe in Jesus, you leave the defeated darkness and enter the victorious light. Ephesians 5:8 says, “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light”.

The light always wins! Jesus has triumphed! All who believe in Him, the children of the light, will triumph.

There is a whole lot of darkness in our world today. Someone out there needs to hear this great news and be invited into the light! Go tell and show them about Jesus.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Did this post help you understand anything better?

= In what ways can you be the light to those around you?

= Which Bible verse stuck out to you the most?

DO PEACE AND BUSYNESS MIX?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

This past Sunday, as we were on our way to church, my Dad happened to turn on a podcast discussion. They were talking about peace and what it should look like for Christians if we are truly living in peace. It was very interesting to me because as I look around at the world and culture we live in, I don’t see very much peace.

Everyone is so busy. We are always going somewhere to do something.

While those things are not in themselves bad, we elevate them on our priority list. What happens then, is we start to make those things more important than our time with Jesus, praying, and studying His Word.

My question to you is this; have you filled your life full of stuff to do that are you are constantly tired and feel like you are never at rest or feel at peace?

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Do you have time to just sit and be still before Jesus? Just to be in His presence with no distractions?

As they were talking about peace, I thought of one of my favorite quotes.

It’s by Elisabeth Elliot who once said, “One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business. When all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”

I think that a lot of us read that quote and cringe. We realize that there are some items on our agenda we know God didn’t place there, but instead that we signed up for. Is the item necessarily bad? No, not at all.

However, it may not be what God wants you to be busy with.

I know that there have been times in my own life where God did not let me feel at rest with what I was choosing to do with my time; because that’s simply not what He had planned for me.

Listen guys, He gives us pretty clear hints.

If it’s not where your supposed to be, He will make it hard for you to do.  I think He’s hoping we will get the hint, that maybe our choice is not a part of His will.

No wonder we are always running everywhere, and we don’t have peace. We are trying to do all of those things because WE want to.

Isaiah 26:12 says, “Lord, you will grant us peace; all we have accomplished is really from you.”

Jesus wants us to live in peace. He doesn’t want us to be so busy with other things that we miss out on spending time with Him.

You see, peace actually comes from spending intimate time with our Savior. It comes from living in His presence.

I want to challenge you with this… Are you busy doing the things that the Lord has told you to do in your quiet times with Him? Or are you busy with the things the world says you should spend your life doing?

It’s a very big question that we must ask ourselves so that we don’t spend our whole lives doing stuff that doesn’t really matter.

Corrie Ten Boom once said, “In the center of a hurricane there is absolute peace and quiet. There is no safer place than in the center of the will of God.”

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What is one thing that you may need to give up in order to do what God is calling you to?

= Is this topic of busyness and peace something you struggle with?

= What has Jesus been teaching you lately?