A LIVING HOUSE

(Re-Published Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

It’s a pretty easy life if you live the way the world wants you to, isn’t it? If you hustle every day, if you chase after that next job promotion, if you hang with the “cool kids” at school and do all the “cool” things they do, then the world seems to praise us and put us on this kind of pedestal. This thought process has infiltrated the American Church. We desperately want, and sometimes even expect the Christian lifestyle to be just as easy as a worldly one, and the result has been many converts but few disciples in the world today.

There is clearly a lie that has been passed around. People are being told that this “Jesus thing” might be a little difficult in the beginning, but that it will get easier. Christians don’t like to tell others that it’s going to be painful if they live like Jesus, but it’s absolutely unavoidable. Most of the time, they don’t want to or can’t share that it’s going to be painful because they aren’t living a life that costs them anything for Jesus’ sake themselves.

Which reminds me of a quote by Leonard Ravenhill who once said, “An experience of God that costs nothing does nothing.”

If we are leading people to believe that following Jesus is easy or convenient, then we are setting them up to fail in their walk with Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

For example, we like to talk about praying for a breakthrough like it’s a 1-2-3 process, but forget to mention that Jesus may have something to teach us in the waiting.

We like to tell people that they will see victory when they stop living in their sinful lifestyle, but avoid taking the time to equip them for the temptation they will likely face when they try to give it up.

We like to chat about denying ourselves and taking up our crosses daily, but choose to stay quiet when talking to a new believer about that command because we think it will certainly scare them.

The American Church has become complacent and comfortable and instead of preaching the Word of God, we have started preaching fluff that makes people feel good about where they are with Jesus. We enable people to live an easy worldly lifestyle while claiming to live a godly one.

Any way you slice it, it’s not legit.

Sports teams are fuller than ever, but try inviting people to get serious about Jesus, and you’ll have an empty room. I have learned, however, that Jesus can fill any empty room you invite Him in to, and He will bring the few who desire more of Him as well. We just have to be faithful, and if we want to be faithful, we cannot hide the painful and difficult parts of living completely sold out for Jesus.

In reality, we are like an empty, dark, windows broken, glass everywhere kind of room when we choose not to make room for Jesus. He won’t start the restoration process if we don’t allow Him to. Wouldn’t it be something, though, if He didn’t care much about just how broken you are? Wouldn’t it be something if He didn’t care much about the questions that keep you up at night? Wouldn’t it be something if He didn’t care much that you have really screwed it up before and that you feel like a window that has shattered in a million pieces?

Wouldn’t it be something if what Jesus really wanted was you?

I want to invite you to give your all to Him, but please know that it will be the most challenging thing you will ever choose to do. However, it’s also the most rewarding thing. Love Jesus, and let it happen. He will take care of the restoration process, and just remember that when it hurts, He’s doing a new thing in you that won’t just make an impact in your life, but other’s lives as well.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

So, my question is this… Do you want to become a living house for Jesus today?

“I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  (Isaiah 46:4)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are your initial thoughts after reading this post?

= Are you willing to be changed?

= What are you going to do differently?

AIR BRAKES AND DEEP THOUGHTS

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

You know, one of my favorite sounds in the entire world is the sound of air brakes clicking as they warm up. This was a sound I heard every day for a long time when my dad was running his trucking company and we had drivers starting semis and rolling out our driveway day in and day out.

Many people say the sounds which remind them of their childhood are things like the song of an ice cream truck, the theme song of their favorite cartoons, or a common saying their parents used when they were little. For me, the sounds of childhood are air brakes warming up, and the great Rush Limbaugh’s voice on the radio at twelve o’clock in the afternoon.

My siblings and I would all take turns going trucking with our dad, and many of my fondest memories in life took place in the seat of a semi. I remember waking up early, sometimes before the sun had risen, and hurrying to grab my books and our cooler before we left to pick up our load and head for our distant destination.

My dad and I would listen to sermons on the radio in the mornings and add in a couple of Alabama songs in the afternoons (until Rush came on, of course). Sometimes, I’d just sit and look out my window, gazing at the cars passing or the fields rolling steadily by. When I would be quiet for a long time, Dad would always look over and ask me, “What are you thinking about?” At times, I would tell him I wasn’t thinking about anything, or I’d say I was wondering what the fam was doing back home, or I’d say I was wondering what Mark Levin would talk about when his radio show would come on at six.

Whenever he would ask me that question, it seemed like everything was at peace in the world. It was just me and Dad rolling on. Nothing else mattered.

Now, you may be saying, “Gee Madie, thanks for making me crave my childhood, but where in the world is this going?” Well, dear reader, thank you for asking.

When Dad used to present that question to me, my answers would always be so simple. So innocent and childlike. But now, I fear the world has tainted my train of thought a bit more than it had back then, and my answers would be a little darker, or more negative.

I can often find myself thinking about things like, ‘why do people have to be so difficult sometimes?’ or ‘what will our country really look like in five years’ time?”

My answer to that question no longer reflects a childlike thought pattern. Now, I know this comes with getting older, having more real-world experience, and seeing people for who they really are.

But I’d like you to imagine for a moment that the Lord is asking you this question.

What are you thinking about?

Are you thinking about Him? His Kingdom? His children who you are supposed to be in unity with?

If any of you answered honestly, you probably relate with me a lot more than both of us truly want to admit.

In truth, we’re thinking about our difficult co-worker, our crazy schedules, school starting back up soon, an annoying situation we can’t ignore for much longer, etc. etc.

Something the Lord has been convicting me of a lot lately is what I’m consuming my mind with. What I’m watching, reading, listening to, thinking about. Most of us want to ignore the way Jesus is really supposed to affect all these aspects of our lives, and we want to believe He’s only supposed to help us with the “big” things.

Why does it matter what I’m thinking about?

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV)

It has been my prayer the Lord would renew the spirit of my mind, and help me in thinking of good, true, and beautiful things. I hope you will join me in this prayer as you go about your week and intentionally take time to meditate on the things of Heaven.

Through the mind, the body is either defeated or victorious.

So, I ask again, what are you thinking about?

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you willing to meditate upon the things of Heaven this week?

= What are you going to do differently?

DISTORTION

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Every good thing can be distorted. When we think back throughout the history of our world, we see a constant repetition of this; of good things being distorted.

Quite honestly, you need not look any further than our very own country to see this issue taking place. America was built on very good things, but if you listen to anything that some news platforms, or some politicians are saying, you are being taught that our Founding Fathers were racist, selfish men, who could not see beyond their own time, and who were not blessed by God. A good thing like justice has also been extremely distorted in recent days. Christianity, the best thing that the Lord has given us, has been so extremely distorted that it hardly resembles the early Church at all!

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” (1 Corinthians 11:3-4)

I believe this verse is extremely relevant to Christians today. If someone were to get up in front of a church congregation on a Sunday in our time and deliver a message that was completely contrary to what Jesus said, most of us would accept this message readily enough because we never even use our own Bible’s to do some actual, good, fact checking on preachers and teachers to make sure that what they are saying aligns with what Jesus taught.

Every good thing can be distorted, even Christianity.

My mom was watching a conference about education while we were talking about what I should write for this post, and the people who were presenting brought up the fact that a very good thing such as education has been distorted so much that it is unrecognizable in comparison to what education used to be. Education was something that was used to build character and virtue, but is now merely used so that you can be educated just enough to get a decent job. Education used to be something that was used to produce a flourishing society and is now merely a means to an end.

My advice to you would be this: look back through history and find the very roots of things like Christianity, America’s founding, justice, education, etc. and then begin to change your lifestyle so that it fits into the mold of true, biblical Christianity.

If people don’t start getting back to the basics of things like these, our world will be in even more depravity than it is now. Getting back to the basics looks like actually reading AND studying your Bible on your own time and not just on Sunday’s, actually researching what your children are being taught in school, actually reading and studying our Founding documents, etc.

When we aren’t researching, studying, and paying attention to the things going on in our world, we make it SO much easier for evil people to distort good things. If we don’t start fighting for the good in this world now, it may be too late to bring it back to its full goodness because we have let people believe that the good things are bad, and the bad things are good, for so long that no one is even interested in trying to restore it.

Pay attention, Church. The good in this world is quickly slipping away, and if we don’t fight for it, then who will? Now is the time to take action, because every good thing is being distorted.

“Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion.” (Thomas Paine)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are some things in society you think have been distorted?

= What do you think the definition of “good” is?

= What are you going to do differently?

DOES FREE REALLY MEAN FREE?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Some may say that this blog post is a bit late, but I will never turn down an opportunity to talk about spiritual freedom and our exceptional Country, America. After just celebrating Fourth of July, I have some fresh inspiration.

We all know that there are those who claim one worldview and the benefits of that worldview, while living out another. It takes hard work, time, and effort to honestly evaluate those things, most especially if you do not live in a state of freedom. It’s not an easy or small thing to admit that you are a slave to something.

However, you are currently living as free as you’d like.

One of the most important things Christians need to think logically about is the topic of freedom, in both the spiritual and physical realms.

The idea of absolute freedom can be difficult for our minds to grasp in this sinful world, but freedom is certainly within our reach.

Have you ever thought about the fact that God Himself has given us the freedom to choose freedom?

C. S. Lewis once said, “The freedom of a creature must mean freedom to choose: and choice implies the existence of things to choose between. A creature with no environment would have no choices to make.”

We are most certainly in a counterclaimed environment here on this earth. Do we, as Christians, genuinely understand that everything God is for, Satan is completely against? Satan is real. Just under the surface of our everyday interactions, hiding in the shadows, clouded in the confusion, Satan tries to put an end to what God is doing in us and through us. That is his only goal.

The Lord holds freedom in great esteem. He is indeed for it. In fact, 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

His Spirit is what gives freedom to the captive, and Satan despises that.

Choosing to live according to God’s Moral Law is the most freeing thing I have personally ever experienced. God loves His creation dearly, and He desires the very best for them. The only way we can experience God’s best is by choosing to live the way He has instructed us to in His Word.

C.S. Lewis also once said, “Obedience is the road to freedom.”

Galatians 5:1 tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Sin is always trying to make its way into our lives, and even more so after we have decided to follow Jesus.

We must come to the realization that God’s ways bring freedom, not when we simply believe that they do, but when we implement them and live by them daily, knowing that it is for our own good and ultimately God’s glory.

Spiritually speaking, I believe each one of us can live as free as we’d like. I believe we are currently living as free as we’d like.

When you aren’t spiritually free, it’s a difficult thing to value and appreciate physical freedom. A good Christian American fully understands the sweet gift of freedom that Jesus gives us, and therefore knows how precious it is to be physically free as well and is willing to fight for it.

Spiritual freedom is precisely what creates a love within us for what is morally righteous because of what the Lord holds dear, and that begins to heal the broken world in which we currently reside.

What an amazing thing it is that when the Lord says “free”, He means true and absolute freedom.

We are free, really free. Praise the Lord.

“Spiritual freedom is the root of political liberty… as the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both.”  (Thomas Paine)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= How dear is freedom to you?

= Are you currently burdened by a yoke of slavery?

= What are you going to do differently?

WHAT WE’VE BEEN USED TO

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

If you’ve ever heard me talk in depth about some of the books I really take delight in reading, the Anne of Green Gables series will have no doubt been in the list.

At the beginning of this year, I was determined to be extremely organized when it came to my choices in literature and read only three books a month. This was brought about from an overwhelming previous year where I had nearly twenty books going all at the same time. However, though we are only just coming to July, that three-book-a-month schedule has been figuratively tossed right out the window.

I’ve had a keen desire to re-read the Anne of Green Gables series and began Anne of the Island again a few weeks ago. This is one of my favorites in the series because it’s the book where Anne embarks on the new adventures of college, falling in love, and learning to live on her own outside of the small community of Avonlea.

However, when she comes back home from college to visit everyone in Avonlea, she discovers one of the girls she had gone to grade-school with, Ruby Gillis, is actively, yet slowly, dying.

Ruby Gillis constantly belittled Anne in their childhood and was an overall sour person. However, Anne, of course, feels Ruby’s ailment very deeply herself, and mourns over the fact that one of the people who was present in many of her childhood memories would be the first to pass away. Ruby requests Anne’s presence often, knowing she isn’t like the other flippant and immature girls their age, and she can have a real and deep conversation with her.

Until this point, none of Ruby’s family had seemed to accept the fact that she was dying, and Ruby herself seemed to have no idea. But one night, as she and Anne are sitting together out in her garden, she finally admits that she is terrified of her inevitable fate and confides some feelings which she has never voiced before. Now, I want you to really absorb this exchange with me. Anne says,

“Why should you be afraid of dying, Ruby?” Anne asked quietly.

“Because – because – oh, I’m not afraid but that I’ll go to heaven, Anne. I’m a church member. But – it’ll all be so different. I think – and think – and I get so frightened – and – and homesick. Heaven must be very beautiful, of course, the Bible says so – but, Anne, it won’t be what I’ve been used to.”

Through Anne’s mind floated an intrusive recollection of a funny story she’d heard Phillipa Gordon tell – the story of some old man who had said very much the same thing about the world to come. It had sounded funny then – she remembered how she and Priscilla had laughed over it. But it did not seem in the least humorous now, coming from Ruby’s pale, trembling lips. It was sad, tragic – and true!

Heaven could not be what Ruby had been used to. There had been nothing to her gay, frivolous life, her shallow ideals and aspirations, to fit her for that great change, or make the life to come seem anything but alien and unreal and undesirable. Anne wondered helplessly what she could say that would help her. Could she say anything?

“I think, Ruby,” she began hesitatingly… “I think, perhaps, we have very mistaken ideas about heaven – what it is and what it holds for us. I don’t think it can be so very different from life here as most people seem to think. I believe we’ll just go on living, a good deal as we live here – and be ourselves just the same – only it will be easier to be good and to – follow the Highest. All the hinderances and perplexities will be taken away, and we shall see clearly. Don’t be afraid, Ruby.”

This particular passage had never really stuck out to me in the past, but as you know from my last blog post, death has been particularly prevalent in my mind, making this scene jump out of the pages at me.

How true is it that many of us should be able to relate with Ruby, in that Heaven seems to us such an alien place? A place that takes us away from our earthly home we have grown so attached to, and the people we have come to love in it.

I do believe Anne’s thoughts ring with truth though, as she says that there had been nothing in Ruby’s flighty, frivolous life to prepare her for the world to come. Yet how sad is it that this disconcerting thought is held by many churchgoers today, who have not been taught to live in light of Eternity?

This is the entire concept Lilly and I have been talking about for over four years now. Literally bringing small bits of heaven to our lives here on earth through living the way Jesus specifically intended us to live.

As Ruby said, heaven will not be what we’re used to.

It will be a place where we go to be restored to complete perfection and wholeness, and where most of the things we care about and with which we consume our earthly lives will no longer hold even a microscopic drop of importance.

Let that sink in for a minute.

What we’re used to is working our nine-to-fives, wasting three hours of our lives screaming at a TV and sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for our lives to come crashing down if our favorite sports team doesn’t win their game. What we’re used to is going to school and only half-heartedly paying attention to what we’re taught, hoping to slip through by the skin of our teeth with a high enough GPA to graduate. Simply to go on and lead the same boring lives others have led for hundreds of years before us. What we’re used to is going through the drive-thru, throwing a tantrum, and cussing out the person serving us because they messed up our order.

That really glorifies Jesus, doesn’t it? I’m sure that’ll be included in our packaged experience of heaven.

What we’re used to is wasting every single day of our lives going through the same monotonous motions we’ve gone through for the last ten years, and not batting an eyelash when an actual opportunity to glorify Jesus comes our way.

“When you cry out, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry them all off, a breath will take them away. But he who takes refuge in Me shall possess the land and shall inherit My holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13 ESV)

There has been only one time in my life where someone has managed to make Heaven sound boring, and I believe that was because he was entirely too focused on the things that gave him pleasure, and happiness, and so-called joy here on earth. 

He said, “You know, many of us imagine heaven as a place where we’ll run around on the streets of gold, do whatever we want, and be immortal. But really, all we get to do while we’re there is sit in front of God and worship Him, singing the same phrase over and over and over again.”

His tone was filled with such flippancy, and even a hint of dread, I could barely keep my mouth from falling open.

You see, when we get so caught up in the things of earth, that does sound boring. It makes you think, “If that’s all I get to do in heaven then Sia Nora, Hasta La vista, and peace out.”

But when we finally get our heads wrapped around the fact that when we live in light of Eternity, we realize that without this incredible, perfect God we serve, we could not sustain ourselves. He is our very life-source, the very breath in our lungs, and thump of our pulse.

What else would we want to do but worship?!? Worship is not all we can do; it is the very most we are capable of.

This week, I challenge you to not be like Ruby Gillis. Don’t chase after trivial, unimportant, and wind carried tasks and attitudes until you are faced with death. Live in a way that reflects Jesus in everything you do, and in a way that brings a little slice of heaven down here to earth.

Put your life in God’s hands, be an active participant in what He wants you to do in your home, family, school, workplace, and then sit back and enjoy the show. I promise you; it’ll be a good one.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been chasing trivial, unimportant tasks this week?

= What are you going to do differently?

TO THE DISCOURAGED CHRISTIAN…

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

C. S. Lewis has a quote that says, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

Me neither, Mr. Lewis. Me neither.

Christianity has been the most costly experience I have ever given my “yes” to, and though I have occasional thoughts that it may not be worth the sacrifice, the pain, and giving up everything I am for Jesus and His Kingdom. Deep down, I know I have never been more sure about anything than the fact that He is the only thing I want to live my every second for.

No one and nothing else come close when compared to Him. I hope you have the same desire in your heart and life.

Here’s the thing though. People tend to think that if that’s the case, and I’m so sure eternity is worth everything, then it must mean I never feel discouraged, and that Christians are just on this constant “Christian kick”. In fact, many American Churches make it seem as if discouragement is a form of sin, and that there’s no reason we should be disappointed or discouraged.

They probably just haven’t read the book of Psalms yet.

I will say, I do think discouragement becomes a sin only if you let it beat you and break you and stop you from maturing in the faith (James 1:2-4). But, what about the few who don’t?

Have you ever heard someone say, “It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, it only matters what you are doing”? In some respects, I agree with that statement. You should, as Scripture tells us, die to yourself, carry your cross, and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24-26). You are the only one that can make those choices for yourself. True Christians are most certainly harder on themselves than they are on others. However, Jesus cared deeply for those around Him, for His disciples, for the crowds, for the children.

He cared so much that He died for them. He died for us.

The reason you may be discouraged often is not because you take this “Jesus thing” way too seriously, as some would put it, or because you think you have all the “right” answers to every spiritual question but no one will listen. It’s because you care. You care about people’s souls, and the reality that death results in spending eternity in one of two places: Heaven or Hell.

Please, I beg you, friend, don’t apologize for being discouraged because you care like Jesus. Because who people are and what they do DOES matter in the spiritual realm!

It’s ok to mourn the fact that you have friends around you that are so lost. It’s ok to get on your knees and plead with God to reveal Himself to the Church and usher in a revival that brings us back to where we left Him. It’s ok to not understand why that one addict can’t just give it up. It’s ok to feel sick when you start thinking about how it’s ruining their life and their family.

Discouragement is a beautiful part of the Christian life because it’s the natural result of caring, of loving, of wanting people to experience who Jesus is and what He can do in the life of someone who surrenders all the control they thought they had but never really did.

What would make us run into the arms of Jesus constantly and consistently if not for the feeling of discouragement that we can’t address on our own?

Psalm 61:2 says, “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

It is true that the Christian life is not a constant high, and what matters more than anything else is where we run when we have feelings we can’t deal with on our own. You see, discouragement is a beautiful part of the Christian life only because God uses it to bring us closer to Himself. He helps soften our hearts to feel what He feels, and it is in that moment, when we feel what He feels, that we can best care, love, and serve.

So, discouraged Christian, you care. Don’t apologize for it.

“Courage, dear heart.”  – C. S. Lewis

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you believe God can use discouragement to bring us closer to Himself?

= What are you going to do differently?

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!)

COUNTERCLAIMED

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Do we, as Christians, genuinely understand that everything God is for, Satan is completely against? Anything God builds, Satan will attempt to tear down. If God makes a radical change in your life, Satan will try to remind you how terrible your past is in order to discourage you. Is your focus solely on Jesus? Satan will try so very hard to distract you with other things. The list goes on.

C.S. Lewis once said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God, and counterclaimed by Satan.”

Everything that God has claimed, is counterclaimed by Satan. This truth has become incredibly evident to me over the last two years, especially in the midst of all the chaos and craziness. Satan is in the business of distorting the good and beautiful things God created and intended to be used to bring Him glory. Which, by the way, you should read the blog post Madie wrote titled, Distortion a few months ago for more on that topic.

Satan is real. Just under the surface of our everyday interactions, hiding in the shadows, clouded in the confusion, Satan tries to put an end to what God is doing in us and through us. That is his only goal.

This is why it is so easy to mistake fun and entertainment for true joy in our world today.

This is the reason for why so many people believe that money and climbing the corporate ladder is what will actually bring meaning and purpose to their lives.

Ever wonder why so many people have been and continue to be tricked into thinking that rest is unnecessary and that they should do “all the things”? Well, I have too.

The amazing thing is that if we are following Jesus wholeheartedly and are serious about it, we know that that is, and has always been, the enemy’s goal. God does not send us into the spiritual war zone blindfolded, unable to see our enemy’s schemes and lies. God has placed His own Spirit inside of us to lead us and help us discern what is good.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, “But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

We have absolutely nothing to fear, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t called to be discerning and conscious of where the enemy may be trying to attack and fight back with the truth so that more souls can be won for the Kingdom.

I know this may seem like a silly question, but do you actually know what God commands of you? Are you in constant communication with Him and His Spirit within you on a daily basis?

Christians should have gut reactions for moral clarity. We have to get serious about becoming mature and putting an end to evil things that are counterclaimed by Satan because of the truth and convictions we stand upon.

A U.S. Navy Admiral named William McRaven once said, “If you hope to complete the swim, you must learn to deal with the sharks around you.”

There are sharks in the water that we are swimming in, and we must learn how to deal with them. However, knowing that they’re in the water is the first step of dealing with them. As Christians, we must discern what is good and pleasing to the Lord and be on guard at all times.

I truly believe that there is a spiritual battle going on in the Heavenly realm right now. Your choices, your time, your effort, Satan thinks he’s over it all. But we know who wins, don’t we?

Our enemy may have counterclaimed what rightfully belongs to our King, but I know that, and I am going to complete the swim no matter what it takes. How will you deal with your sharks?

Do you know where they lurk?

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you discerning of where the enemy is trying to bring confusion and chaos into your life?

= What are you going to do differently?