WHAT HEAVEN DESIRES AND HELL FEARS

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I have felt a bit stuck in my writing lately. Do you know what I do in times such as those? I begin a book by C. S. Lewis.

What else would be more appropriate?

Just a few days ago, I finished his book titled, “The Weight of Glory” (if you have read it, please let me know in the comment section). This was my first time reading it, and it is most certainly a book I will reach for again.

One of my most favorite quotes by Lewis is found on the last page of “The Weight of Glory”, and I would like nothing more than to turn our attention to it today.

He says, “What matters, what Heaven desires and Hell fears, is precisely that further step, out of our depth, out of our own control” (Lewis, 1980).

Please forgive me if you think I am asking to simple a question, friend, but do you believe this statement to be true?

Lewis goes on to say, “I do not think any efforts of my own will can end once and for all this craving for limited liabilities, this fatal reservation. Only God can. I have good faith and hope He will. Of course, I don’t mean that I can therefore, as they say, “sit back.” What God does for us, He does in us. The process of doing it will appear to me (and not falsely) to be the daily or hourly repeated exercises of my own will in renouncing this attitude, especially each morning, for it grows all over me like a new shell each night” (Lewis, 1980).

I believe this is what scares humanity most about Christianity. The fact that it requires us to surrender, to renounce our own attitude of reservation, not just daily, but at times hourly.

What exactly are we surrendering when we surrender? It is nothing other than our own control.

This, he says, is what Heaven desires and Hell fears.

Oswald Chambers once said, “If I do not put to death the things in me which are not of God, they will put to death the things that are of God.”

Deciding to take that further step each hour can sometimes feel as if we were stepping off the edge of a cliff, but is this not what we were made for?

God has nothing to offer us except Himself, and that He does. Will we not have Him? Do we not long, with every fiber of our being, to just take hold of Him?

The shell Lewis talks about is what I am going to call the “shell of self”. Oh, what a terrible, miserable thing it is. He alludes to the fact that it grows over us anew each night. Our first thought in the morning when we arise should be how great and wondrous our precious Savior is, and the second should be how we can get out of the “shell of self”.

Often, our desire for control overrides our desire to surrender, which results in us getting stuck in a cycle of self-sourcing. This is not true Christianity.

True Christianity is not just the act of a mere decision.  For just a decision does not ultimately transform our lifestyle. It is the cross of Christ, the repentance of sins, and the daily, sometimes hourly surrender of our own control to the Lordship of Christ, that changes us.

This is true Christianity, and this is precisely what Heaven desires and Hell fears.

“We may never, this side of death, drive the invader out of our territory, but we must be in the Resistance, not in the Vichy government. And this, so far as I can yet see, must be begun again every day. Our morning prayer should be that in the Imitation: Da hodie perfecte incipere – grant me to make an unflawed beginning today, for I have done nothing yet” (Lewis, 1980).

References

Lewis, C. S. (1980). The Weight of Glory. Harper One.

TO ONE STATE OR THE OTHER

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Perhaps the most critical part of evaluating a worldview is considering the competence of its answer on death.

According to the atheist, life comes from cosmic slime; from non-life through evolution (Lindsley, 2003). This world is it; there is nothing after.

Sadly, this is what many believe today. Hence why people are searching for purpose, truth, and meaning. Their worldview offers them nothing except for the ability to state that they believe “something”, which they ultimately allow to define them.

They try to find purpose in being an atheist, just as we truly find purpose (and so much more) in being a Christian. They are not evil; they have simply chosen poorly.

However, if life does come from cosmic slime, this would mean that our origin is out of death, and since there is no life after death, our destiny is death. This destiny warrants the question – what then is the point of life?

Life would be a mere chance, and dare I say interruption, in the midst of cosmic death.

For the Believer, however, God is Creator. We are given the gift of life from Him, and our destiny in Christ is eternal life. Death is merely a very temporary interruption in the midst of cosmic life.

This makes all the difference, though.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what was before…you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature…to be one kind of creature is heaven; that is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to one state or the other.”

With every day that passes, we are becoming what we will be. So, I ask you, what will you be in the end? What will it take for you to come to the realization that the central part of you, that is becoming either a heavenly creature or a hellish creature, is all you will be left with in eternity?

The answer to the question, “Does life exist after death?”, lies solely in our belief in the credibility of Christ and His resurrection from the dead.

If Christ is not raised, then as the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, our faith is futile. We are still in our sins, and we might as well eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

If Christ be not resurrected, nothing in this world, not even our souls, hold an ounce of significance.

According to Lindsley (2003), we must conclude that: 1. Christ was either lying when He told us about eternal life and should be utterly rejected for telling us such an untruth. 2. He was a lunatic who truly believed what He said and was deluded about his own deity and about eternal life and should have been confined to an asylum next to a person who believed themselves to be a poached egg. Or, 3. He is telling us the truth, is our risen Lord, and must be taken at His word.

We must determine for ourselves whether His claims were true or false. I believe that He is Lord and my Creator. Therefore, I know with certainty that I will be raised and have eternal life with Him.

Which state will the central part of you choose to progress towards today?

References

Lindsley, A. (2003). C. S. Lewis on Life and Immortality. C. S. Lewis Institute.

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?

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?

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?

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?

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)

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! 🙂

DANCING IN THE DISAPPOINTMENT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

For most of us, the past two years have been hard. Like really, really hard. From Covid ruining plans and hopes, losing people we love, going through transitions that come with school and/or work, overwhelming stress, church issues, friendship struggles and more, it’s hard to stay motivated let alone encouraged. The more I listen to people share what’s been on their hearts and the stories they have to tell, the more I’m reminded that suffering, pain, and disappointment are all inevitable.

It is certainly easy when undergoing disappointment after disappointment to begin to grow angry with God and to think that He doesn’t truly care, because if He did, He would just take it all away, make life less complicated, and solve all of our problems, right?

Well, would you be surprised if I told you that part of finding our calling could be through our suffering and disappointments?

Jeremiah 17:7-8 says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  

I truly do believe that Christians should have a completely different view of disappointment and suffering than unbelievers do. Y’all, we have a hope. We worship and live for a God that is not surprised, shocked, or startled by what occurs in our day to day lives.

He is always speaking and working, but we’re not always listening and paying attention.

I remember how I longed and prayed for a young woman to pour into me spiritually a few years ago, and as I looked around me and where I was in that season of life, I often felt like no one was really trying to become more like Jesus in a radical way. I wanted to do life with someone who wasn’t afraid to share the Gospel, who desired to meditate on God’s Word and allowed it to change their heart. I wanted to imitate someone who was following Jesus with everything they had and wasn’t afraid to be real.

However, again and again I was disappointed. My hope to have this amazing discipleship friendship with someone seemed to be a lost cause and something I was just wasting time on.

Then God started The Few. God started this out of my disappointment of the lack of discipleship and oneness in the American Church. When He told us to start a teen girl Bible Study group in 2017, I thought God was mistaken. I didn’t pray for Him to use me to disciple and pour into other girl’s lives, I asked Him to use someone else to pour into me.

I truly believe that out of my disappointment, God revealed some of my greatest convictions and passions that He had placed within me for such a time as this, and as Madie & I were obedient, He started something that wasn’t a part of our 10-year plan, but man am I glad He did it the way He did.

In case you need to hear it today, God gives freely, abundantly, and consistently and He will never fail you. Sometimes, though, He has a much better plan for you than the one you are mocking up.

C.S. Lewis says, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Suffering isn’t easy. Pain isn’t comfortable. Disappointment isn’t ideal. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t be beautiful. On this side of eternity, we have the chance to choose to worship through it all. In Heaven, tears will be wiped away, and our natural response will be to bow down and worship Him.

What a privilege it is to be able to worship and choose Jesus when all we feel is disappointment.

Jesus, do whatever you have to do to get my attention. If the process of suffering and disappointment is what will do it, then I will choose to dance in the midst of it. I’ll dance in the midst of the storm because my trust and confidence is in you alone.

“It’s always hard to find the courage to start dancing, but I am determined to take my chances.” (Chances by NEEDTOBREATHE)

So, keep on dancing.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What has disappointment produced in your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

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?

GIVE ME YOUR HAND

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

God had a lot to do and more than enough to teach me last month. August was one of the hardest months I think I have faced in my own relationship with Jesus.

From discipleship relationships, to Mom’s work m a n d a t e situation, to finding out that our friend Rocky is in jail again, it’s been nothing but a mess.

Raise your hand if you have ever gone through a season of life where you woke up every morning expecting things to just get worse than they were yesterday. Do you watch the world reach a new level of crazy that you couldn’t have even dreamed of yesterday, but none the less it is our reality today?

Yeah? Ok, you can put your hand down now…

If I’m being real with y’all, I have felt like Jacob in Genesis 32 a lot more than I’d like to admit recently. I have spent my fair share of time wrestling with God, and I have a feeling I’m not done yet. While our culture and the American Church embraces wealth, power, and strength, we’re often left feeling stuck. We abhor the idea of being weak, a failure, or experiencing doubt. Sure, we may “know” that a measure of vulnerability comes with life, however, we usually view it as a sign of failure in our spiritual walk. Sooner or later, the reality of life is made very evident to us, which is where I believe Jacob was at.

With his father-in-law behind him and Esau before him, Jacob was too scared and too tired to hold on for much longer.

But only then did his real struggle begin. Jacob wrestled throughout the night with “an angel” until daybreak, and finally gave in when it struck him with a blow to his hip, that left him with a limp for the rest of his life. Jacob realized that he had encountered God. In Genesis 32:30 Jacob says, “I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared”.

The reason I want to share this with you today is because there is a very crucial piece that we tend to completely miss when “wrestling” with God. In Genesis 32:29 we see that God blesses Jacob.

I have watched too many Christians suffer through life because they are unwilling to wrestle with God and become solely dependent upon Him for their strength and courage to face the next battle. But this is precisely what we ought to do because His plan is the only thing worth moving forward with.

As I personally wrestled through the month of August, God challenged me to give Him my hand. Not to take His hand, but to give Him mine. You see, God wants to hold on to us, so that if we happen to let go of Him, we won’t fall.

Don’t you see, dear Christian? This changes the whole dynamic! No longer are we dependent upon the strength we think we may have, but instead on the very Being that sustains us and has the power and ability to keep us alive for the next 15 minutes.

God wants to bless us, but sometimes that means that we must “give in” to what He has for us and what He ultimately wants to be to us. Jesus so desperately wants to be your everything right now, but you have to first give Him your hand.

In the end, Jacob confronted his failures and weaknesses, and all the things that were hurting him, and faced God. What we can practically take-away from this example is that God is willing to wrestle, because if we’re wrestling, we’re longing for more of Him. As Christians, despite our trials and heartache here on earth, we can take heart remembering that God’s blessing inevitably follows the struggle, which can sometimes be messy.

But there is ministry in the mess.

May we willingly give Him our hand and say, “Lead me, Lord.”

“Will you come with me to the mountains? It will hurt at first, until your feet are hardened. Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?”  (C.S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you seeking more of Him?

= In what ways have you felt like Jacob before?

= What are you going to do differently?

WHEN THE MIND IS A BATTLEFIELD

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

How do you react to bad news? Are you sometimes caught off guard by the things you hear at school, work, or on the news? As humans, we have this tendency to obsess over the things that we don’t like or the bad news we hear/receive because we are so desperate to be in control of the situation.

Unbelievers tend to run to the wrong means in order to escape their difficulties. Christians can do the same when our minds yield to the present pressure placed on us by the world.

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.”

This has really been on my heart the last couple of weeks. Do we, as Christians, not have a hope that remains even in the thick of the fight? Do we not have the ability, through our King, to stand firm when the world shifts? Have we not built upon the rock that the gates of hell cannot prevail against?

Whether we want to recognize it or not, you and I were made for 2021, and God didn’t put us here to be stressed out or overcome by the world. He has a much bigger purpose for our time and for this generation.

I believe that wholeheartedly today.

I’m sure it could be said that most of our minds resemble battlefields right now. Maybe you feel as if evil is surrounding you on every side, or perhaps you continue to analyze every detail of the news, or maybe you have lost all the strength you thought you had buried deep down inside.

Maybe you feel like the biggest mess right now.

In order for us to win the mind game, we must live in the Lord’s presence. You cannot live as part of the world without taking on a worldly mindset as well. Christians are called to renew our minds by focusing on the will of God. The Lord has not called us to live stressful and chaotic lives. We bring that upon ourselves through our own choices and actions. We choose to bear burdens that we don’t have to, and that God has told us we shouldn’t.

I can confidently write that every time I have been in the Jesus’ presence, I have never felt overwhelmed with fear and anxiety because His perfect love casts out all of my fear (1 John 4:18). However, when I get distracted and focused on me and all of my personal problems, I feel nothing but stressed and overcome with insecurity and fear.

Whenever we are met with the present pressure of our age, we must rest under the shelter of His mighty wings knowing that when we are with Him, we are protected.

C.S. Lewis wrote a passage in his series titled, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that I have found to be a message from Heaven itself. It says, “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Friends, we have a strong and fierce King! He is good. So incredibly good. Do you believe that today?

Your mind may be a battlefield right now, but you have hope because of the God who has not and will not waver. Hold on to Him; stay steady. Our redemption is near.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption.”  (Psalm 130:5-7)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Does your mind yield to the present pressure?

= Are you often left feeling overwhelmed?

= What are you going to do differently?

HOW TO NOT BECOME NUMB WHILE THE CHURCH IS

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Today is a great day. 100-150 precious lives will be saved today alone because of the new legislation that was just passed in Texas (look it up if you haven’t heard the news)! I would like to rejoice in that right now! That’s what happens when the Church gets involved in politics and does what God has commanded us to do. I truly believe that He will show us favor when we fight for righteousness.

In a world crammed with darkness, one that openly celebrates murder and despises purity, God is still working just as He did in the days of old and just as He will in the future. Now is not the time to lose sight of that.

I’m reminded of Zechariah 4:6 which says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty.”

I understand, our comfortable, casual Christianity that we buy into now encourages us to retreat when things get even a little heated, but we must stay in it!

It’s never been more convenient to become numb. The American Church is numb. Numb to the things God is speaking to our hearts, numb to the opportunities He places before us, numb to causes we should be fighting for.

You need not look any further than abortion to see that what I am telling you is true. We often retreat from these issues because we are numb to the things of God! We purposely choose to ignore the fact that innocent lives are being murdered because of the selfishness and lies that the enemy has infiltrated our culture with.

C.S. Lewis once said, “They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”

We cannot afford to let the world rule our emotions and our reactions. Refuse to let the world dominate your mind, ask God to do that instead. We must feel what God feels. As soon as we wake up in the morning and start our day, we should know what’s on God’s heart because of the intimate relationship we have with Him which comes through a radical obedience and love for Him.

He will put what’s on His heart on yours, but you better be ready to follow through if He wants to use you to do something about it, which is what we see all throughout Scripture. That’s what keeps you from becoming numb and ineffective.

If you feel what God feels, I promise that you will live most of your life outside of your “comfort zone”. It will be undeniable. Your choices will be different, and you will want to be on mission all the time, therefore, spending time with friends will look different, your prayer times will be powerful, the Word will come alive and move your heart, etc.

There is nothing that will satisfy your heart more than getting serious for Jesus.

Most people, however, have never experienced that before. They don’t know what it’s like to distinguish between good and evil, and to be guided by the Spirit. Most Christians probably shy away from sharing pro-life posts on social media nowadays because they are more concerned with the opinions of man than the commands of God.

Yes, the American Church is numb, but you don’t have to be. Feeling numb is merely a symptom of not living the way that we were made to. If you love Jesus and live for Him, numbness won’t be an issue of concern. There will certainly be highs and there will certainly be lows, but if you feel what God feels, you won’t miss a beat.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”    (Galatians 5:24-25)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been feeling numb lately?

= Do you feel what God feels?

= What are you going to do differently?

A LIVING HOUSE

(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?

IS JESUS YOUR WHY?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I often find myself sitting before this computer and its’ keys wondering what God wants me to say next, and to be honest, I feel like I say the same thing over and over again.

However, God has been reassuring me that those are the things people really and desperately need to hear, not necessarily want to hear. You know, all those cute Christian Pinterest quotes aren’t always true (I know, shocker).

The world has enough influencers, I don’t want to be another one.

The world promotes perfection, but I long to be broken before my Jesus.

The world settles for fake religious events. I want to see genuine revival wreck the American Church’s status quo.

The world wants us to believe that we are building something great here, but I aspire to build and battle for the sake of eternity.

Do you?

I want you to know today that it’s ok to live for Jesus unabashedly! Pray when it’s awkward, worship when it’s silent, and preach the Gospel stronger and straighter every time you have the chance.

Do you really want revival? To see people repent and seek Christ? Then get out there and answer some questions. The lost ask the same questions all day every day, and we have the answer!

Speak the mighty name of Jesus over the impossible circumstances. Stop praying things that are logical to you while we have a God who exists for the sole purpose of operating in the realm of the unseen and unknown.

Warning: The majority will not understand your passion. You probably won’t have thousands of followers, and you will certainly be a special target for the hostility of men and devils.

Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Your influence is irreplaceable when you have the authority of Christ and a passion for Him more than anything else you have ever encountered. Let Jesus Himself be your “why”.

Oh, would you just give Him your absolute all today, friend? He will stand with you in the fire, He will pull you out of the water, and He will carry you on His shoulders.

We need to infiltrate our culture with the truth of Christ more than ever. I believe that’s precisely what we were made to do! How it must break His heart to see us search for all He wants to be to us in all the wrong things.

You do understand that that’s why anxiety medicine was made? You do know that’s why suicides continue to occur? We search for happiness and meaning in things like a bottle, and in sex, and in that new car.

In fact, most “Christians” are still searching because they aren’t willing to give everything up for what Jesus has for their lives.

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”

Have you fallen in love with Him? You can right here, right now. If Jesus is your why in life, there’s no limit to what He can do through you.

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”   – C.S. Lewis

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you desperate for something real?

= Is there anything keeping you from being dependent on Jesus?

= What are you going to do differently?

FOR ONE ANOTHER

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

On June 7th, 2018 God started something in a little youth café with just a couple teen girls that would very soon after that be known to others as The Few. This past weekend, Madie and I celebrated three years of The Few with a couple of our Bible Study girls (we missed celebrating with all of them because of distance and other activities).

I think we can all confidently say that its only gotten better with time.

We started the weekend with an amazing outreach at an event called “Healthy Kids Day” that a YMCA about an hour away from us was putting on, where we got to pray with many families (especially kids), as well as give them opportunities to interact with us! So, if you’re checking out the blog for the first time, hi! Thanks for connecting with us! 🙂

One year ago, on our two-year anniversary, I wrote the blog post titled, “I Call This To Mind” https://thefew.blog/2020/06/11/i-call-this-to-mind/. I was struggling at that time with ministry, and just life in general. It was a discouraging time, as we were trying to lead well in the midst of the world’s craziness, and walk alongside one of our Bible Study girls who was in the middle of one of the most trying and heartbreaking times of her life.

Over the past three years, The Few has had its fair share of highs and lows, yet God has been greater than them all. He has held us together when Madie and I thought we’d fall apart, and made the victories more than worth the late-night conversations, recordings, and everything else in between.

We’ve seen some people walk away, and we’ve had some come and surrender their everything to Christ and decide to get serious about Him. Not everything has been perfect, and as I told the girls in our study last week, we’re called to be beautifully sacrificial, not perfectly artificial (not sure where I got that).

However, the only quote I think suitable for this memorable milestone post is a quote by C.S. Lewis about friendship…

He once said, “In friendship… we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.”  

There is so much that I love about The Few and what God has done with/through it, but there is one thing I never want to lose: The friendships. The ones where you can text at any time and tell them to pray, the ones that make it a priority to spend two hours every single week worshipping, praying, and studying. The ones that don’t try to compete and can work as a team no matter what’s happening around them, and the ones that want to love Jesus more than anything else with you.

That’s something I don’t want to lose. I thank God for those friends very often.

One of our favorite verses within Bible Study has been Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

I believe with all of my heart that God has chosen us for one another, and those are the friends that don’t let you settle for who you are, but instead push you to be who you were created to be. We are living our adventure, and I couldn’t be more in love with it! Thank you, Jesus.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  (Psalm 133:1)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you have a friend(s)/community that doesn’t let you settle for who you are right now?

THE SILVERSMITH

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

How’s your day been? How’s your week been? Whether it seems like it has been the best or the worst, it’s extremely likely that you’ve had some kind of “crisis” happen that you’ve had to deal with, maybe even just today.

What’s your first reaction to a “crisis”? Maybe it was that a loved one got sick, or you totally forgot to turn that one year-end assignment in on time, or perhaps it’s just friend/family drama.

You see, I’ve been taught that you cannot fix a spiritual problem with a physical solution. So very often we look at things in life and our first reaction is to do what the people around us (who usually do not know Jesus) say to do, or what the world tells us to try.

But some good life advice I have personally received: Always try Jesus’ way FIRST before resorting to any other option.

1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

More often than not, our first reaction to a crisis is to run to the world for a solution or “quick fix”, because we are already functioning in a worldly mindset on a daily basis. However, this is a bigger issue than we think it is. Our choices are evidence of whom we ultimately trust.

This means that we make Christianity look absolutely weak and trivial when we trust in anyone or anything but Christ.

Titus 2:11-15 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,waiting for our 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 lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

We are called to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. I don’t think we are living up to that expectation when we turn to the world and let it be our source of security and hope instead of Jesus.

Lilias Trotter once said, “Holiness, not safety, is the end of our calling.”

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about crisis, hardships, and trials it’s that if I’m doing what I’m called to do through it, He will certainly do His part and make me more like Himself.

For example, it reminds me of when a silversmith heats up silver. He has to heat it up over and over again. As the heat draws out the imperfections and impurities and they would surface, he would scoop it off the top and start again.

Do you know when he would stop refining the silver? He would stop when He could see his own reflection in it. Only then was it perfect.

This is exactly what Jesus does in our lives. He begins to sanctify us, and mold us into His likeness, which is indeed, the most beautiful thing.

The verse above said that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession”. Just take a minute to think about that.

He wants you to be His, and His alone! He is a jealous God because of how much He loves and cares for us.

A.W. Tozer once said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”

I’m not sure about you, but I want my first reaction in the midst of crisis to be to trust that He is just taking some time to draw out some impurities. He wants to make us more like Himself, but the question you and I must decide the answer to is, are we going to let Him?

“It is safe to tell the pure in heart that they shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”  (C.S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What tends to be your first reaction in the midst of crisis?

= Do you desire to be holy?

= What are you going to do differently?

A TIME OF TRIAL

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

This generation is failing to recognize truth, and every human being alive is suffering the consequences. There is indeed a double standard being taught by the world. It’s in almost every news headline that we see on any given day. If I understand correctly, “good” is now bad and “bad” is now good.

Yet, this has been the enemy’s plot throughout history, has it not? Whenever evil becomes evident, Christians are shocked, but I’m not sure why exactly.

Andrew Kern once said, “I believe that God has been preparing His people for a time of trial, but He has been doing it the way He does things and not the way we would.”

In other words, God is purging us of all the vain supports that offer themselves.

1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”

If Christians would just realize that everything happening to us right now is to make us more Christlike, we would indeed have the passion that our persecuted brothers and sisters do. The problem is, the American Church has little desire to be Christlike because we would rather continue on in our worldliness.

Oh, that we would repent of our love for the world! We’re so worried about ourselves and not about what pleases Him.

I think one of the biggest questions American pastors specifically should be asking themselves right now, is if the people that sit in “their” churches each Sunday would be able to withstand a fiery trial and a time of testing.

Would you?

Are we preaching Jesus crucified or are we preaching the comfortable and convenient version of Jesus that we made up because we don’t want Him on His terms? A.W. Tozer once said, “Many people say, “Try Jesus;” You don’t try Jesus. He’s not there to be experimented with. Christ is not on trial. You are.”

This post is not to make you doubt your relationship with Jesus, but rather encourage you to test the strength of it. In Psalm 57 David said, “My heart is confident, God, my heart is confident.” I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to say that to Him as well.

Friends, the time of trial is now. However, even in times of trial, I want my heart to be confident in Jesus and what He did for me on the cross. May He help us to remain steadfast under trial.

If you give up your life, you will gain it. There is no other way.

“God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.”  (C.S. Lewis)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Is your heart confident in God?

= What are you going to do differently?

THE WAY OUT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I feel like I’m in a stage of mourning something right now. Anyone else? We’ve been talking a lot about what’s going on in our Country, and y’all know that we are certainly mourning that. However, I am experiencing a sense of sadness over the state of Christianity that I never have before.

You know, I think that many of us are thinking that we’ve got the future to get serious about Jesus. Madie hit on that topic so well in the blog post she wrote for all of us last week. But if that’s your mindset, I would just challenge you to walk through a cemetery sometime.

Just read the dates on the tomb stones. It’s not just elderly people who die.

It’s insane, when you walk through a cemetery. It’s just shocking. It’s like, what? They were only 18. 24? 31? Oh, ok 94 I expected that, but 50? Seven?

1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”

This is a weird verse, because usually we think of prayer as a means to an end, right? I’m going to pray so that I can gain this. Ok, that’s Biblical. But here, scripture tells us that prayer is the end. Meaning, I want your prayers to be strong, because the end could come at any time for any of us, and the one thing you really want to have together when that happens is your prayer life.

Self-control is key. Peter is telling us to not give into all the things that could mess up our prayer lives. It is so crucial that we protect what goes into our minds, whether that be YouTube videos, news apps, sports etc… So that when we pray, we aren’t going a million miles an hour.

That’s what I see so many of us doing right now though! See, the quality of our prayer time is often determined by what we do before we even utter the first word.

Don’t you want to be one of those people that when you see Christ you’re just like, ahh! I was just talking with you a few minutes ago! There you are!

I mean, that’s what we want, right?

Listen, the problem is that many Christians can walk through the cemetery, realize that Christianity is dying, and not be bothered by it. While some of us are mourning that it’s dying and that no one even sees that it is.

If you’re one of The Few, I know that you’re probably feeling helpless and frustrated by the fact that no one wants to do anything about it. I get it, but read this quote…

“Christianity has died many times and risen again; for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” (C.S. Lewis)

Come on, somebody! This isn’t the first time Christianity has been in the cemetery and six feet under. Our God is not bothered by the grave. The impossible has never stopped Him. He knows the way out.

Now, this isn’t a post for those who aren’t bothered by the fact that Christianity is dying. This is a post for those who are mourning that it is.

I clarify, because for some, this sounds like I’m saying that we can just sit back and do nothing, when in reality, I’m saying the complete opposite.

I’m reminding The Few that God isn’t done with us. There is still much to be done. There are still souls to be won, and while that be the case, God will continue to lead us out of the grave.

I’m reminded of Mark 1:1-5 which tells us about how the demonized man lived. It says, “They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gerasenes. And when Jesushad stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.”

All the enemy has to do in order to win us is keep us among the tombs. We don’t even have to be bound. We just have to be willing to stay there.

The point: There’s a way out.

Church, Jesus is calling us out of our graves. Though the way out may appear to us unworkable, our Savior is a waymaker.

He knows the way out because He has been here before.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

GOT MY HEART GOING

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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 sounds 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.”

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. Originally Published in 1940.

My friend’s response was this, “It’s so good! You got my heart going.” I was struck by her words. Not for the reason that 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?

WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD IS RUNNING

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I feel as if a world war is waging about me and everyone is in a panic. Our “leader” is yet to be chosen, while we live on the edge in fear and cover our faces in order to show that we “love” one another. Meanwhile, stores are being burnt down and innocent people are beaten with boards because of a saying they may have on their shirt, or perhaps it was because they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whether I am sick or not, if I test positive for the v i r u s and I have a baby, the hospital can take my baby away from me without my permission. If I do not comply to wearing a  m a s k  while giving birth, then I may be left to give birth alone with no medical help.

I live in a state where I am mandated to be in my house by 10:00pm and if I do not comply, I risk being fined or even arrested. To me, these things are not funny, but nonetheless American Christians choose to make a joke of it on social media.

If I do not comply and allow something to be injected into my arm, then I might not be able to go to the store and get food or go to church to worship.

Please tell me I do not have to go on!

People constantly ask me why I do not have my drivers license yet, and when I tell them that I will not comply and wear gloves and a  m A s K for 12 hours they look at me as if I am crazy. My mom was even given grief from another Christian in a church building about why I wouldn’t just comply.

C.S. Lewis once said, “When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.”

I do not think that there could be a more perfect quote for this post. The Few (aka the people who should not be running towards the end of the cliff) should not comply to these things. I know that that is a very bold statement, but I firmly believe it.

I’ve always felt like my family has been “the black sheep” wherever we are. It is rare for us to think or do as the majority does. Is it because we’re anything special? Absolutely not.

It’s because the majority is usually persuaded to do whatever the world may tell them. I choose to be different because I have the ability, through my Savior, to do so. Jesus has overcome the world, and because of Him I can do the same. John 16:33.

The verse I keep coming back to and the one I wish the American Church would take heed to is James 4:17, which I mentioned in a previous post. It says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

For me, I know that it is NOT right to comply to the tyrannical kind of leadership we are seeing within government today. It is evil to force someone to do something against their will or take their baby away because you think you have that authority.

When those in leadership start to trample on our God-given rights it is evil; and for me to obey is sin because I’m going against the freedom God has given me. I cannot write this post and neglect to share one of my favorite pieces of poetry. This poem is exactly what believers need to be made of today.

“IF” by Rudyard Kipling (1895)

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

When all the world is running, we must be the ones who walk steadily. When those around us are heading towards the end of the cliff in fear, we must be willing to climb the mountain that is towering in front of our eyes. We must also be willing to do it alone and appear to have lost our minds if those running happen to look back at us.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you willing to be the one who goes against the crowd for the right thing?

= Do you have the will to “hold on”?

= What are you going to do differently?

CHRISTIANITY AND…

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Earlier this year, 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?