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?

A ROAD WITH NO END

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I am not one to sit down and watch many movies or television shows, but a couple months ago, a certain individual recommended a show to me that I had previously been unaware of. After I watched the first episode, I was hooked, because it is based upon something I have always loved learning about.

I regret to inform you that I must refrain from mentioning the name of this, now beloved show, as I hope to name my sons after them one day. Yes, you read that right. Call me crazy or whatever you wish, I love it that much now, ha!

I can say, however, that this show involves the true story of one of the greatest fights in history, and the few Americans who were willing to sacrifice all. It’s a story that should inspire every American. In the show, these few friends display how they are more than willing to fight for what they believe in.

I was struck by one thing in particular though. The show keeps stressing the point that each individual had to continue sacrificing very personal things that they loved and held dear in order to move forward and advance for the sake of their cause.

It wasn’t just this one and done kind of thing.

This really got me thinking. How many of us believe that once we’ve decided to follow Jesus, we’ve sacrificed enough? That our decision is simply enough? We think that once we give Him our attention once, that’s good enough. What I’ve found, is that it is extremely difficult to measure sacrifice; it often seems to me that it is a road with no end.

Once we give God our attention, He wishes for it to remain devoted. Then He demands our time, effort, and love.

I’ve personally found that it is easy to share the gospel, be consistent in my prayer life, and love those who have hurt me deeply, if I but first have the courage to face the battles within my own soul. You see, our cause is easy to fight for, our loved ones are easy to defend, our Churches are easy to protect. Those are the easy battles we will face in life.

But to fight within oneself feelings of uncertainty, the willingness to sacrifice everything, and abandonment of self; indeed, this is the most demanding and perplexed fight you will ever face.

1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.”

The entire purpose of Jesus’ life was to show us how to serve and sacrifice for the greatest cause and the greatest Kingdom. We have and never will have any reason to think that we have arrived at the point in our lives of ultimate sacrifice.

As I stated earlier, we cannot measure it.

So often sacrifice hurts so badly that we think we have done enough. We think, in a way, that we are entitled and deserve to be rewarded. This is one of the first battles that must be won within oneself.

Church, we must achieve selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice. This, at its core, is what Jesus lived to show us.

“Every true Christian is both a laborer and a soldier, working with one hand, and fighting with the other. Good work is likely to go on with success, when those who labor in it, make a business of it. And Satan fears to assault the watchful Christian; or, if attacked, the Lord fights for him. Thus, must we wait to the close of life, never putting off our armor till our work and warfare are ended; then we shall be welcomed to the rest and joy of our Lord.”  (Matthew Henry)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Is it hard for you to sacrifice your time, effort, and love for God’s Kingdom?

= Are you working with one hand and fighting with the other?

= What are you going to do differently?

BUT IF NOT

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

In the summer of 1940, there was a total of 350,000 soldiers trapped on the island of Dunkirk. German forces were closing in around them with the means to completely destroy the island and everyone on it. Invasion was imminent. The speed of the Nazi army was unbelievable, and within days, most of the Allied Forces would be completely wiped out. British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops had been forced back to Dunkirk by the advancing German army. Almost every escape route to the English Channel had been cut off; a horrible disaster had appeared unavoidable. At the time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called it “a miracle of deliverance”.

On May 12th, 1940, Hitler gave the order to invade France. By May 14th, 1940, German tanks had crossed the Meuse and had opened a gap in the Allied front. They reached the English Channel six days later.

The British, French, and Belgium governments had overwhelmingly underestimated the strength of the German forces. Because of this, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as well as French, Canadian, and Belgian troops found themselves fighting against horrifying odds. Before long, the Allied forces had retreated to the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk where they were trapped, a sitting target for the Germans.

In Britain, as the British people waited restlessly, a three-word message was transmitted from the doomed armies at Dunkirk: “But if Not.”

Suddenly, the nation of Great Britain was thrust into action. Eight hundred boats of all different sizes and descriptions were called into a response. Every battleship, fishing boat, gunboat, yacht, motorboat, and even small rowboats, sailed across the English Channel to rescue those troops from Dunkirk and return them safely to Britain. “Operation Dynamo”, as it was called, was a success. The Miracle of Dunkirk has gone down in history as being the biggest civilian boat rescue mission to ever take place and will never be forgotten.

Many of you may be wondering, “why did that simple three-word message, ‘But if Not’, spur so many people into action?” Well, dear reader, that message was a reference to a passage of scripture in Daniel that reads,

“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But if not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The story of Dunkirk has always inspired me, but I just recently discovered the power of this message that was sent. This message was so incredible because the army at Dunkirk was saying simply that they REFUSED to let the tyrant that was Adolf Hitler, force them into submission and worship of the diabolical group that was the Nazi’s. They pleaded for the British government to help rescue them, ‘But if Not’, they would fight, and they would go on fighting, until the destruction of every last soldier.

The reason I am writing this blog post, is to call the Church into action. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, our enemy is closing in around us. And he is closing in fast. Just like the soldiers on Dunkirk, we need a divine rescue.

One thing I want you to notice about this army though, is the fact that they had already been fighting, and they meant to go on fighting, even if there was to be no divine rescue. This is the part the American church is missing. We like to act as if we have been fighting for a long time. We like to act as if we have suffered for the cause in which we believe. But today I want to ask you, do you believe in the cause for which you fight so much, that you would be willing to say, “But if Not”?

Would you be willing to give up all that you love, cherish, and desire in order to fight for our cause? If many of us were honest with ourselves, the answer would be “No”.

Many of us like to think that we have taken a stand for freedom and for the Gospel, but I think we need to start being real with ourselves. So many people told me last year that they would not go back to in-person learning if there were mask mandates in their schools, but every one of my friends went back to school and wore a mask every single day for the entire school year. So many pastors said they would never shut down their churches just because the government told them too, but almost every single one of them did. Many people told me that if a restaurant told them they were not allowed to have a table because they weren’t wearing masks, they would go somewhere else, but ended up only going to a different restaurant if they were with my family since we would not wear them.

I want you all to know that I do not hate the government, or America, or my fellow Christians, but I believe that every one of the things I just listed, have become weak. Many of us like to read the story of Dunkirk and talk about how inspiring it is and act like if we were in their position, we would stand and fight. But one thing we must also remember, is that the Allied Forces did not win WWII just because they were evacuated from Dunkirk. They still had to go on fighting the Nazi’s in order not to be enslaved.

“We must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.” (Winston Churchill on the evacuation of Dunkirk)

Church, we cannot look at our present circumstances and act like we have been victorious. We still have fighting to do. Just because our country is not presently a communist country, does not mean that we may not be one in the next few years if we simply continue to evacuate when things get heated. Just because the American church is not under serious persecution, does not mean that we never will be. We must be Christians like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego. We must be willing to say to anyone who opposes the Gospel of Christ, “But if not, we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Our job is to be the Light of Christ and fight the darkness that is creeping all around us. We must never surrender.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Will you give your all for Jesus?

= What are some things you can do to advance the Gospel?

= What are you going to do differently?