DEFEAT BY KAHLIL GIBRAN

Defeat, my Defeat, my solitude and my aloofness;

You are dearer to me than a thousand triumphs,

And sweeter to my heart than all world-glory.

Defeat, my Defeat, my self-knowledge and my defiance,

Through you I know that I am yet young and swift of foot

And not to be trapped by withering laurels.

And in you I have found aloneness

And the joy of being shunned and scorned.

Defeat, my Defeat, my shining sword and shield,

In your eyes I have read

That to be enthroned is to be enslaved,

And to be understood is to be leveled down,

And to be grasped is but to reach one’s fullness

And like a ripe fruit to fall and be consumed.

Defeat, my Defeat, my bold companion,

You shall hear my songs and my cries and my silences,

And none but you shall speak to me of the beating of wings,

And urging of seas,

And of mountains that burn in the night,

And you alone shall climb my steep and rocky soul.

Defeat, my Defeat, my deathless courage,

You and I shall laugh together with the storm,

And together we shall dig graves for all that die in us,

And we shall stand in the sun with a will,

And we shall be dangerous.

MEET HIM AT THE HELM

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you run into the arms of Jesus this week? I don’t know what’s been weighing on your heart, what burdens you might be carrying, or if you’re just tired of rolling with the punches of life, but the one thing I do know is this… Jesus isn’t far from you.

I read this quote by one of my favorite old, seasoned preachers the other day. You certainly know of him if you’ve been around here even just for a few weeks. Spurgeon once said, “My heart, run to Him afresh tonight, whatever your present grief may be. Jesus feels for you; Jesus consoles you; Jesus will help you.” 

How comforting are these truths today, my friend? Jesus feels for you. Jesus consoles you. Jesus WILL help you.

My prayer list this week has been a bit daunting, a bit overwhelming. I continue to pray these big, bold prayers for those who are facing insurmountable odds and unforeseen circumstances, and I struggle to even find the words to intercede for them.

I was brought back to the book of James. James begins his letter to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad with an unanticipated focus. Following his greeting, James states that they will surely endure challenges as Believers. He explains that these challenges will result in greater maturity if they are willing to “consider it all joy” (1:2).

This leads into James 1:5-8 in which he challenges them to ask the Lord for wisdom. When he states, “If any of you lack wisdom,” he is not proposing that most of them have it together in such a way that they have no need of wisdom while a couple of them do not. I believe he is pointing out the fact that we all lack wisdom when we face difficult trials. The problem comes when we don’t immediately recognize our desperate need for God’s wisdom. So, the “wisdom” James is talking about refers to the wisdom each of us need to endure trials with God’s joy. Only then will we be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:4). 

To come to God, in the midst of tragedy and trial, we must humble ourselves and admit that we alone do not know what we need to know in order to live joyfully in the face of hardship.

I think we could all agree that it is certainly much easier to steer a boat in calm seas, and it’s a completely different matter to steer it in seventy mile-per-hour winds with forty-foot waves. In fact, any ordinary chap can steer the boat on a clear, sunny day, can’t he? However, it takes a true helmsman when conditions are less than perfect.

The good news is that Jesus is a true helmsman. He doesn’t ask us to figure life out on our own or to “fix” all the daily problems we encounter without His help. No, not at all.

I once heard Stephen Manley say, “Christianity is not just all of Jesus and none of me, or all of me and none of Him. It’s all of Him and all of me. We merge!”

Sure, Jesus wants us to surrender the helm to Him knowing He will do a much better job than we ever could, but He still wants us along for the adventure.

The seas may be rough, they may be tiring. However, Jesus WILL help you.

Even if all you can say is “Jesus”, that name in and of itself is more than enough. There’s no need to utter another word.

Run to Him afresh. Meet Him at the helm.

I’m standing at your door
My heart is calling yours
Come fall into My arms
You’re weary from it all
Been running for too long
I’m here to bring you home

I’m reaching out, I’ll chase you down
I dare you to believe how much I love you now
Don’t be afraid, I am your strength
We’ll be walking on the water, dancing on the waves

(Dancing On The Waves – We The Kingdom)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Why is it crucial to look to God for wisdom, rather than trusting our own feelings?

= What are you going to do differently?

THAT LITTLE PRAYING PASTOR

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

I sit here, on a rainy September night, not even knowing quite what to write, but somehow knowing I’m supposed to write something.  

Literally just a few minutes ago, I finished a book my dad has been ecstatic about me reading since I was about ten. The title is, “This Present Darkness”, by Frank Peretti, which you will know is one of his favorite books if you’ve ever spoken to him. The book explores the intricate world of spiritual warfare through the style of a thriller novel and provides some unique insights into the spiritual realm.  

It is centered around the small town of Ashton, which you come to find out is slowly being eaten up with demonic presences and is methodically being taken over by the powers of evil. You follow the exciting life of Marshall Hogan, the editor of the local paper, and his loyal sidekick and reporter, Bernice Krueger, as they make it their personal mission to find out how a certain corporation is slowly taking over every business, as well as the college, in Ashton. Another character you travel through the story with is Hank Busche, a young pastor who has just recently been supernaturally placed in a small church in Ashton that didn’t really want him in the first place. He is constantly in prayer for the town and has keenly felt the need it has for Jesus.  

Through the multiple points of view, you get to see the way demons are preparing to take over the town, and how they are using certain people to accomplish their plans. You also get to meet the various angels watching over Marshall, Bernice, and Hank, as well as the rest of the town and the other characters who are willing to risk everything to expose evil.  

I won’t give too many spoilers, because I am officially in my dad’s camp now; you NEED to read it! However, as I am sure all of you assume, the powers of heaven and praying saints prevail in the end, saving the town of Ashton from the vicious clutches of demonic possession.  

In the final chapters of the book, you get to see a captain of the Heavenly ranks go up against a prince of darkness in an epic battle you’ve been waiting for since the very beginning of the story. It’s full of twists and turns, bated breath and suspense, and unbelievable relief at the end of it. Throughout the book, you come to realize that the angels fighting against evil primarily gain their strength from the prayers of saints and are constantly impressing upon the hearts of Christians the dire need they have for the strength they can provide.  

As the angel and demon come against each other in their grand battle, the angel is wounded, hurting, and tired. He begins to call out to the Lord to impress the need for prayer more sharply on the hearts of the Christians who are gathered together. With the Spirit’s prompting, the Remnant begins to pray more fervently, boldly binding the demonic power in Ashton, and giving victorious strength to the angel.  

Once he defeats his enemy, he flies back to his celebrating army, and his good friends, and looks down at the town. Everywhere, physical, and spiritual evil has been vanquished, and Ashton is saved. Tal, the angel, becomes emotional as he gazes at the rejoicing Remnant, and is filled with a deep love for them.  

The scene is described like this, “The General touched Tal on the shoulder. Tal looked and saw that big, golden trumpet in the General’s hand.  

“Well, captain,” said the silver-haired angel, “how about doing the honors? Sound the victory!”  

Tal took the trumpet in his hand and found he could not see through a sudden flow of tears. He looked down at all those praying saints and that little praying pastor.  

“They… they will never know what they have done,” he said.”  

I’m still not even sure why, but the simple description of Hank, “that little praying pastor”, brought me instantly to tears.  

I think it evoked so much emotion inside me because that is exactly how I would like to be described in a book. As that little praying woman, who, without even knowing it, was extremely influential in giving strength to angels, and defeating an army of demons.  

That’s what made this book most powerful, I believe. Though the Remnant was awakened with powerful dreams and burdened by the Spirit to come together and pray, to support their little praying pastor, and to care for troubled souls, only the reader knows of the truly incredible effect they had on the Spiritual realm.  

Too often, we in the Church believe our impact on the battles of Heaven are minimal.  

I think we have been neglecting one of our most pressing obligations.  

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV). 

While I cannot prove our prayers actually give direct strength to angels, and take it from demons, I have often asked myself this question: why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t Christ make it so we can play an active role in Spiritual warfare?  

After reading this book, and contemplating the gravity of Spiritual warfare, I know I’ve certainly been praying for the angels a little more fervently, and for God’s will to radically defeat our unseen adversaries!  

I would challenge you to do the same. Though we may never know the impact our prayerful battles will have in the Spiritual realm, I would say if we can make a dent in whether Good or Evil is victorious, we should put some effort into strengthening the Good.  

“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” (Luke 10:19 ESV).  

You are powerful through the blood of Christ, dear Christian. But remember, that blood was not shed for you to sit back and do nothing. It was shed for you to overcome the principalities of this present darkness.  

“We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day – But remember, at the time, they didn’t know they were heroes.”   ~ A. W. Tozer 

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= How would you describe your prayer life?

= Do you believe Christians have a role to play in spiritual warfare?

A SCANDAL

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Have you ever been part of a scandal? A scandal where people mocked you, thought that they were superior when compared to you, and were entertained by the gossip that makes its rounds whenever scandals take place?

Big or small, the world feeds off of stories that involve people’s personal lives. Why else do you think people buy the magazines at the grocery checkouts that tell of all the latest gossip?

You’re probably wondering why I would bring this topic up in a blog post. So, allow me to share about a scandal Christians should, yes should, be a part of and a quote that I came across recently that gave me this crazy analogy…

“If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed. In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.”  (George Whitefield)

Now, here comes the part where I beat us all up a little bit. I hope it will be worth your time to read to the end.

Let me start by asking two simple questions… 1. Are you opposed daily? 2. Did you know that an antonym for the word “scandal” is “honor”? To be honored in this world should drive a follower of Jesus mad. If we are standing in the company of worldly worshippers while they praise us for our achievements, then we do not have the right to call ourselves Christians. For, to be honored by the world is indeed the biggest disgrace a Christian can be paid.

Far be it from me that I should receive a crown of worldly honor, when my King was given a crown of thorns.

Matthew 5:10-12 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.””

To be a scandal for the world should be a blessing for believers, but only if it is for righteousness’ sake. You know, the American Church has done a terrific job at turning people into selfish creatures that live to consume. Most Christians think that we are persecuted if we take our Bible to our favorite coffee shop to read, buy a $7 coffee, and then get weird looks because we brought our Bible.

The thing is, if we were a scandal for Jesus, then we wouldn’t be focused on who’s looking at us. We would be focused on what we’re reading in the Word and then living it out!

There’s a huge difference.

I’ve been especially noticing as of late that even the most religious “Church-goers” are not in their Bibles during the week, let alone the average “Church-goers”. Therefore, they are not opposed by the world, but instead happily welcomed into it. Sure, they could probably tell you what they learned on Sunday from the pastor, but the Church isn’t a scandal, so it really makes very little difference.

The enemy doesn’t need to threaten them because they aren’t being transformed by Scripture personally!

1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

If you are a child of God, live like it. Be a scandal the world just can’t get over because you know who you are in Jesus, and what you’re meant to do for Jesus.

“There is not a thing on the face of the earth that I abhor so much as idleness or idle people.”  (George Whitefield)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you a true Christian?

= What are you going to do differently?

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.

EVIL CAN ONLY DESTROY ITSELF

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

For my birthday earlier this year, I was given a book all about how literature, acting, and writing impacted the life of Winston Churchill, and it has swiftly become one of my favorite books. It tells stories of Churchill’s childhood, and how playing with his own puppet theatre helped him in memorizing entire Shakesperean plays, and how the modern books he read when he was older made him more personable to the average British citizen.  

Many of us know Churchill (or I at least hope you do) as the man who saved the United Kingdom in the height of WWII, and who never deviated from the clear path of fighting to the death, and victory at whatever costs over the tyrant, Adolf Hitler. What many of us do not know, however, is how much the fine arts and a classical education impacted the way Churchill approached politics and problem solving. 

Something Winston was very passionate about was melodramatic plays, and he frequently attended London theatres with his friends to sometimes see the same productions repeatedly. Now, melodrama is always focused on suffering heroes facing insurmountable odds but ultimately beating the terrible villains they face. The plots typically vary from play to play, but the ending always stays the same.  

Here is one specific quote from the book I have found particularly encouraging, and one I want to share with all of you.  

It says, “The shootings, strangling, hangings, poisonings, drowning, stabbings, suicides, explosions, conflagrations, avalanches, earthquakes, eruptions, shipwrecks, trainwrecks, apparitions, tortured heroines, persecuted heroes, and fearsome villains are only a lengthy prelude to inevitable happiness and the apotheosis of virtue. Audiences could enjoy crime and villainy and horror in the full knowledge that the bright sword of justice would always fall in the right place, and that bags of gold would always be awarded to the right people. Evil can only destroy itself, no matter how hard it tries.”  

From the moment I read this quote a few months ago, it filled me with an overwhelming sense of relief.  

Throughout our lives, we all tell ourselves everything is going to work out for good. Or whatever will be will be. Or in the end Jesus always wins. However, I often find myself forgetting that while, yes, Jesus does win ultimately, this doesn’t mean we will be spared from facing the ugly things sin has brought into our world.  

Because we believe Jesus will work everything out for our good, we often forget that to get better at something, you must first challenge yourself to change from what you have been in the past.  

Now, do not misunderstand me, or think I’m being overly morbid. I wholeheartedly believe the Lord has a plan, and ultimately, He will win the spiritual battles raging in all our lives. However, before He wins those battles, some fighting needs to take place first.  

If we look once again at the life of Winston Churchill, or even just the time he spent in office as Prime Minister during the war, we see that he had to go through some very difficult things before he was actually able to defeat Hitler.  

His entire political party was working against him and pressuring him to sue for peace with the Nazis. The British military was much smaller than the German army. He didn’t even have enough boats to transport all his troops stuck on Dunkirk to somewhere safe. He had to work through some very real issues before he could scarcely even allow himself to begin hoping the British could gain victory and retain their freedom.  

It was the furthest thing from smooth sailing you could possibly imagine.  

One of the reasons melodramatic plays became so important later in Churchill’s life, is because by watching, memorizing, even acting out some of these plays, he learned to look at trials and tribulations in a bit of a different light.  

Instead of looking at the failure the tortured heroines and persecuted heroes had to suffer through as setbacks, he was taught to look at them as inevitable events which would ultimately bring about that radical, joyful victory of those same weary heroes. He learned to draw one line between Good and Evil, and not allow room for any sort of grey area. Greatest of all these, however, he learned the light always wins, even if it takes a little longer than we want it to.  

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5 ESV)  

I know this may be a simple reminder for you this week, but never forget, you must experience some difficulties to fully appreciate the peace found in the Lord. He’s always got our six, no matter how loud the battle rages. Trust him with your present trials today and allow Him to grow you through the hard times you may be facing.

Remember, the light always wins. It must. Because after all, no matter how hard it tries, evil can only destroy itself. 

“When things go wrong as they sometimes will,  

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,  

When the funds are low and the debts are high, 

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,  

When care is pressing you down a bit,  

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.  

Life is strange with its twists and turns 

As every one of us sometimes learns 

And many a failure comes about  

When he might have won had he stuck it out;  

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –  

You may succeed with another blow.  

Success is failure turned inside out –  

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,  

And you never can tell just how close you are,  

It may be near when it seems so far; 

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –  

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. 

For all the sad words of tongue or pen 

The saddest are these: “It might have been!””  

~ John Greenleaf Whittier  

           Don’t Quit 

BUT IT IS NOT THIS DAY

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I’m not sure how this blog post will find you, dear reader, but I hope you are well. Allow me to share with you my current setting… I am sitting here at my laptop (a place I don’t get away from very often at the moment), around 8:00pm on a Wednesday evening. I’m looking out a small window, the sun setting in the West, of which I have an excellent view. A farmer just went by, I suppose he’s checking on how his crop is coming along before dark.

It’s quiet. It’s still. How I wish it could be always like this.

But life isn’t always like that, is it?

These days in which we live are dark and evil. It seems we have entered a deeper state of complacency in the American Church. We are living in a post Roe America, and though I would like to, I cannot explain my immense thankfulness to the degree I’d like. All I can say is praise the Lord for strong Supreme Court Justice’s who are willing to stand up for the truth!

I’m afraid we have a problem, however. There was much rejoicing on June 24th, 2022, when Roe V. Wade was overturned, but it sounds as though the applause has been hushed.

Of course, the political climate has not ceased to raise a ruckus, I’m simply sharing my observations about the Church.

We haven’t just been hushed about the overturn of Roe V. Wade, we have also been hushed about human trafficking, traditional marriage, Godly femininity, the expectations God has for Christian parents, social justice and woke ideologies that are infiltrating churches and schools, the rise of depression and anxiety especially amongst younger generations, etc.

You see, I’m afraid the true Christian life is not one you can live by keeping your head stuck in the sand.

Earlier today, I was reminded of a quote by Aragorn in The Lord of The Rings, when they are preparing to fight evil and defend the goodness they can. Aragorn inspires the fearful, but strong men standing alongside him in a desolate wasteland, where they have nowhere to retreat to, looking up at the tall, sturdy gates leading to Mordor. Behind which a vast army of horrible, terrifying creatures lie in wait. He says, “A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. This day we fight!”

As much as I would like to pat Christians on the back and tell them it’s perfectly fine to retreat when the days are dark and evil, I can’t. We may be living in a post Roe America, and praise the Lord for it, but it is in large part due to the five Justice’s that didn’t go stick their heads in the sand and ignore this crucial, heartbreaking, unlawful issue.

Now it is up to us to continue the fight, to advance the Kingdom, to be beacons of light in our little corners of the world.

Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

You may not feel like you’ve been given much. Maybe you feel as if you have absolutely nothing to work with in your corner. I know the feeling, and that’s exactly what the enemy wants you to believe. It stops you from fighting right where you are.

In the eloquent words of Ernest Hemingway, “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

May I ask you a question? Who else is going to fight where you are if you won’t? Let the goodness of the Lord you have experienced drive you to fight for more of it. Not for you alone to have, but for the ones coming after us.

As Christians, what we need to do is understand the state and the urgency of the battle we’re in, kick the devil in the teeth every day we get out of bed, and decide we won’t let him defeat us or mess with those around us.

A day may come when the courage of men fails, but it is not this day.

This day, we fight.

“Someday the Church can relax her guard, call her watchmen down from the wall and live in safety and peace; but not yet, not yet.” (A. W. Tozer)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= In your corner of the world, what can you do to make a difference for the Kingdom?

= Is goodness and beauty worth protecting? Why?

= What are you going to do differently?

A LIVING HOUSE

(Re-Published Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any way you slice it, it’s not legit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are your initial thoughts after reading this post?

= Are you willing to be changed?

= What are you going to do differently?

AIR BRAKES AND DEEP THOUGHTS

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you thinking about?

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

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

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

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

Why does it matter what I’m thinking about?

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN POEM

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

(Poem by: Robert Frost)

DISTORTION

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

Every good thing can be distorted, even Christianity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

OUR NEW CHRISTIAN RESOURCE PAGE & LIFE UPDATE!

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Y’ALL! Madie and I have been so pumped and thankful this week because our Podcast, A Few Minutes With The Few, hit 7,000 downloads and we released our new, free, Christian Resource Page that we have been working on for the last couple of months! It is available to download and print right here from the Blog on our resource tab!

It is a simple, but powerful resource to use in your own life, but also if you are discipling someone and want them to read truth-filled books, listen to encouraging music, challenge themselves in the area of accountability, and have a deeper understanding and love for Scripture!

CLICK HERE to get a copy of our Christian Resource Page today!

I know many of you loved reading the last life update we published in June, and I think all the celebration this week calls for another one!

First, let me update you on how the Healthy Kids Day Outreach went, as well as our four-year anniversary weekend, because my goodness, it was one of the craziest weekends. The outreach was a blast, most of the girls in our Bible Study group came, and we got to pray for almost every kid/parent that stopped by our table! We made prayer journals with the kids which they got to take home with them, and we also gifted two giveaway baskets that included Bibles, adorable Bible story books, some little toys, etc.

It was an amazing experience and an outreach we most definitely look forward to as a group!

After the outreach we celebrated our four-year anniversary in our newly renovated Ministry Center and spent most of the weekend having super deep and meaningful conversations about the Lord and dreaming about what the next year might look like. So many memories were made, one of the most memorable being dedicating the Ministry Center to the Lord together on Sunday, June 5th!

As we were dedicating the Ministry Center, our dad received an unexpected phone call about a young lady that needed help. I’m afraid I can’t share all the details of her story here on the Blog, but God allowed our paths to cross for a brief afternoon. Us girls were able to do what we could to help her, and we are continuing to pray for her and her situation.

On our way home from helping this young lady, one of our friends (who is also a part of our Bible Study group) mentioned that she had seen a few old doors sitting by a telephone pole at the end of someone’s driveway. This was a total God-thing, as we had been looking for an old door over the past few months to put in the Ministry Center!

Not even three minutes after she had made that comment, we passed the driveway she had noticed earlier, and we saw the most perfect, beautiful old door that was EXACTLY what we needed! It was simply the best, and we are still in awe over how God rewards obedience!

Now, fast forward to present-day… I will be starting college this fall to earn my Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, and Madie will continue her General Education classes. Our plan is to continue with The Few, doing weekly Bible Studies, Blogging, Podcasting, posting on IG, and possibly starting a YouTube channel. We’ll see where the Lord takes that last one. 😉

On July 23rd we are going to host our first ever FEW Retreat with our Bible Study girls in the Ministry Center, and we will spend the whole day discussing Biblical womanhood and what God made us for. We will take a deep dive into the feminist movement, the dark history of abortion, and how the enemy has lied to women about the most important “jobs” we could ever have – being wives and mothers and building a home in obedience to Christ.

Madie & I were invited to speak to a class of 5th and 6th grade students at a church camp near us on July 27th. We will be sharing the Gospel with them, as well as teaching them how to share the Gospel with those they are around and giving them the tools to do so! Please pray alongside us that these kid’s lives would be radically transformed by the Gospel!

Just yesterday the Lord provided us with some chairs that we’ve been needing for the Ministry Center. I, of course, could go on and on about all the amazing ways we’ve been seeing God work over the last weeks, but for the sake of time I will save some stories for another post.

Trust me when I say ministry is hard, and there are some really rough moments that you just have to battle through and rise above, but God truly does reward obedience and He provides exactly what we need in the midst of it all.

Thanks for being here in our little corner of the world. Continue to seek the Lord this week, and I’ll see you here again next Thursday!

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!””   (Psalm 118:14-16)

P.S. Comment below how we can pray for you this week!

DOES FREE REALLY MEAN FREE?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are free, really free. Praise the Lord.

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= How dear is freedom to you?

= Are you currently burdened by a yoke of slavery?

= What are you going to do differently?

WHAT WE’VE BEEN USED TO

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that sink in for a minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

THESE ARE THE DAYS!

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

I would like to ask you a question. Please, take some time to really think about it and answer honestly.

Are these the most spiritually fulfilling days of your life?

My family and I are at a ministry conference this week. The speaker yesterday posed that question to us, and I have been mulling it over ever since.

What is my answer? Well, in some ways, “Yes”. Overall, probably, “No”.

When I think of the most spiritually fulfilling days in my life, I think of the first few years after I got saved. Scott and I were in our late twenties when we got saved, and we were on fire for Jesus immediately. We attended every class we could. We studied the Bible every day. The Word was opened up to us in a powerful way. It was exciting and exhilarating!

I remember looking around at other church attendees, people in our Sunday School classes and worship services, and not seeing the joy and excitement I was feeling at the time. I found it odd. I knew they loved the Lord, but the pressing desire to worship, study, and learn new things was not evident.

They were comfortable. If I am honest, I have now grown comfortable, as well.

Comfortable is a dangerous place to be in the Gospel, friends. Revelation 3: 14-17 says, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”

Those of us who have been saved and/or have gone to church and have done “Christian stuff” for several years have a tendency to simply get comfortable. We lose our zeal for the Gospel. We lose our passion for learning new things; our deep desire to know the Lord more each day. We lose sight of the lost and walk around defeated, thinking there is nothing we can do about the state of the world around us.

We are content to remain in a state where we feel no guilt, but there is also no blessing.

That, dear Christian, is exactly where the enemy wants you; and precisely where the Lord has warned us not to be. From the verses I previously cited, it sounds like the Lord flat out despises that state. When we are comfortable, we are lukewarm and completely ineffective.

The speaker from our conference yesterday, shared a story from a time when he was in seminary, and he went to listen to an old, seasoned preacher. After the sermon, he told one of his professors that he would give anything to be as spiritual as the preacher they had just listened to. The wise professor replied, “No you wouldn’t. You don’t want to get up at 5:00 am to pray for two hours like he does. You don’t want to spend three hours a day studying Scripture. You don’t want to spend countless hours serving the hurting people in your community. You don’t want to pray with the store clerk or share the Gospel with a stranger or a fellow classmate.”

That wise professor said, “Each of us are as spiritual as we really want to be.”

Ouch! That is a hard truth, isn’t it?

You see, when I look back at the days that I would say are the most spiritually fulfilling days of my life, they are the days when I was willing to put a lot of effort into my relationship with Christ. I was praying, studying, and serving every day. They were the days when I learned how to pray with people and share the Gospel with them, and I actually went out and did that on a regular basis. They were the days when I saw the truth being ignored and injustice being accepted, and I spoke out, in love, against it.

My most spiritually fulfilling days, depend on me, and me alone. No one else can lead me into them. I cannot ride into them on someone else’s coattail.

We are each as spiritual as we really want to be.

Friend, do not allow yourself to get comfortable; to become lukewarm in your faith. Can you imagine how wonderful life would be if we would strive to make each day the most spiritually fulfilling day we have ever had?

It’s not too late for you and me to do just that!

I was so encouraged at the end of our service yesterday.  After the speaker shared this message, he gave an altar call for those who wanted to commit to making the days ahead more spiritually fulfilling than the days behind. An elderly woman, with a full head of white hair and walker to steady her gait, was the first one to make her way down to the altar. It was no easy task for her, but she obviously recognized that there was great reward in making this commitment.

Oh Lord, let that be me when I am old and gray!

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are these the most spiritually fulfilling days of your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

TO THE DISCOURAGED CHRISTIAN…

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

Me neither, Mr. Lewis. Me neither.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

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

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

“Courage, dear heart.”  – C. S. Lewis

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

GRIEF EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE TERROR, AND ALL SHAPES OF DEATH

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

You know how people often say, “Well, it certainly has been one of those days”? They usually accompany the statement with a slump of the shoulders or an irritated sigh. Well, for me, it seems to be one of those months.

If you read last week’s blog post, you will have heard about some of the incredible, exciting things going on in The Few and in our personal lives. We just went on an outreach, celebrated four years of Bible study with our best friends, our podcast is only a few listens away from hitting 7,000 downloads, etc. etc. However, over the course of my life, I have come to accept the sad reality that joy and excitement are often mingled with pain and sorrow.

Early on Saturday morning, the day we were getting ready to celebrate an incredibly huge milestone with our friends, we were made aware of the news that a twenty-one-year-old woman from our church had been tragically, and very abruptly, killed. When Lilly told me the news my brain quite literally couldn’t absorb the information.

This was a girl who I have known practically forever, who was in the prime of her life having just graduated from college, gotten engaged, and was entering one of the most exciting new chapters of her life, and she was suddenly gone. I had never been particularly close with her, but both our families have watched each other grow up, have been in many of the same camps and Sunday schools together. To realize life could change that quickly for anyone on this earth, hit me like a ton of bricks.

I spent the entire day repeating the exact same phrase over and over again, saying, “I just can’t even fathom it.” Our whole group couldn’t get the subject off our minds. As we sat around a campfire later that night, we began to ask ourselves what life would look like for The Few if one of us would be taken just that quickly. The accident had put my whole life into perspective, as I thought about what it would be like for her sisters, her fiancé, her parents.

The emotion I’d been trying to hold back all day finally broke lose as we talked, and I sat in front of that campfire weeping. All I could ask was, “Can you even imagine?”

I write this post having just come back from one of the most heartbreaking, sorrowful funerals I have ever had to sit through, and only one quote comes to my mind as I try to grapple with the grief that has struck so quickly.

“Grief everywhere, everywhere terror, and all shapes of death.”

~ The Aeneid

I say it has been ‘one of those months’ because it seems like one thing after another has brought more and more sorrow to my personal life, but also to the lives of those around me, and our entire world.

The quote above may sound a bit grim, or downcast, or harsh, but I think all of us can say that we have experienced this same feeling that Aenias conveys when speaking of the fall of Troy.

Our world is a place of utter darkness, and sometimes it feels like we’re drowning in it. Like we’ll never be able to see the light again.

But let me encourage you, dear heart, it wasn’t supposed to be this way, and it won’t be like this forever.

We often use these times to normalize asking God why He can’t always save us from things like death and sickness. But let me tell you, He doesn’t desire that it should be this way. Unfortunately, death and grief are consequences of sin, and day by day we will have to find the strength to bear it.

But do not despair. Our Redemption is near.

“The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy; they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and awesome is His name!” (Psalm 111:7-9 ESV)

Something I’ve always really disliked about times like these, where everyone is shocked into the realization that life is short, is the fact that this thought wears off so quickly. In one week, the number of cards that family is receiving will be minimized. In one month, people will stop texting, asking what they need, and letting them know they’re being thought of. In one year, those people will just be a few more simple faces blending into the crowd, and everyone will have forgotten the trauma and tragedy they have gone through.

A week from now people will not be asking themselves what they would wish they’d have done differently if their daughter, sister, fiancée had been taken away that quickly. If they had been in her place. So, I’m here to ask you that question again. If you knew exactly how much time you had left on earth, what would you do differently?

Would you wish you’d not have sent that insensitive text to one of your kids when you got angry? Would you have read Scripture more? Would you tell your family you loved them a little bit more adamantly and regularly than usual?

Let me tell you, on Saturday night as I sat weeping in front of that campfire, asking myself that very question, I thought of quite a few things I would change.

I would get closer to Jesus. I would write obsessively. I would change my attitude towards siblings. I would hug my friends a little tighter before they left my house. I wouldn’t waste time on things that have no soul.

My life would look radically different. How about yours?

My prayer is that we live our lives so well we can truly look ourselves in the mirror and admit with confidence that we are so much different than every other bundle of bones on this planet.

The one thing that is certain in this world is that none of us are making it out of here alive. So, wouldn’t you rather leave with a bang? On fire with passion for eternal things, and with no regrets left behind.

Vivanus, moriendum est.

            ————

Let us live, since we must die.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

LIFE UPDATE!

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Happy Thursday, y’all! This Blog Post is going to look a little bit different than it usually does, but I am excited to update you on all the awesome things God has been doing in our little corner of the world recently!

We need to do this more often!

Our family is getting ready for a big weekend of outreach and celebration which are, of course, the best kind of weekends, in our book. We are participating in an event called Healthy Kids Day in a county close to us, where we will set up a couple tables and have some Christian resources, prayer journal crafts for kids, and offer to pray/share the Gospel with those we encounter and connect with! Please pray that hearts would be open to hearing and receiving the Gospel.

Our closest friends/Bible Study girls are coming along for the adventure. After the outreach we will celebrate our FOUR-YEAR anniversary of being a Bible Study group, together, in our newly renovated Ministry Center.

I can’t tell you how much our group looks forward to these times where we can get away from all the noise and business to celebrate, spend some quality time together, and thank the Lord for His great faithfulness to us. The Lord always reveals Himself to us in new ways as we attempt to re-focus on what ultimately matters, which is eternity.

Because we want to be fully present this weekend, Madie & I decided to take this week off from recording and editing for the Podcast. However, we shared with our Podcast listeners in our latest episode that we created a Spotify Worship Playlist as a free resource for y’all! CLICK HERE to listen to some of our favorite worship songs and worship with us. It’s over three hours long, and we plan to continue to add more songs over time!

Here’s a list with direct links to our three recent Podcast Episodes in case you missed them (click on title of episode to listen) …

Rebellion To Tyrants Is Obedience To God – Season 2 Finale & Memorial Day Special!

What To Do When Life Feels Boring – S2:EP54

Compassion And Critical Thinking – S2:EP53

I mentioned earlier that we are celebrating in the Ministry Center, and so many amazing things are happening in that space! Our parents (Scott and Michelle) have been doing some marriage counseling out there, and one of the couples they are counseling decided to follow Jesus and give their lives to Him a few weeks ago. These are the very first salvations to take place in the Ministry Center! Praise the Lord! We are excited to see them continue to seek Jesus and grow in their knowledge of Him.

Alright, I could spend so much more time updating, but I’ve got to get ready for our Bible Study time with the girls tonight! I want to thank you so much for being here and for reading, listening, and supporting The Few every week. We appreciate y’all so very much!

If you have any questions or topics you would like us to write/talk about, leave them in the comment section below, and please let us know how we could pray for you this week!

Bye guys! 😊

WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

A few days ago, my dad and I were sitting on our couch listening to some of our favorite, old songs. Songs we always used to listen to when we went trucking. It was two o’clock in the morning, the whole house was quiet, and only the sound, interrupting the silence, was those songs which hold so many of my favorite memories.

After a little while of listening, Dad said he’d re-discovered an old Alan Jackson song; one I had never heard before. He looked it up on YouTube and found the video he had watched. It was a video of Alan Jackson preforming a song he wrote about the tragic terrorist attack of 9/11 for the first time.

In this song, he asks the question, “Where were you when the world stopped turning,” and gives several examples of what people may have done as soon as they heard about the attack and in the days following. Even though I’ve heard a multitude of horrific stories revolving around that fateful day, the song brought a tear to my eye as I was newly reminded of the tragedy and grief so many people were forced to experience.

Dad made a comment, saying that almost every one of the scenarios mentioned in the song were things he had experienced that day. He told me about how, just a little while after he had heard about what happened, he went out and hung an American flag on our front porch.

He reminded me of the special services our church held and the hundreds of people who showed up that normally would never have even thought of entering a church building.

He talked about crowding around the TV and radio, desperate for little scraps of information about who had done it, and whether any more bodies had been found in the rubble.

We all know about the incredible way people came together and stood with those who had lost loved ones, vowed vengeance against the perpetrators of the attack, and sought God more than they had in a long time. But as that tear rose to my eye, I experienced sorrow for the absence of that fellowship today.

Think back with me to the many times our world has “stopped turning” over the past three years especially. I’m sure quite a few different events just came to your mind. Many of our cities were nearly burned to the ground because of violent BLM protestors. A few of our own states have begun proposing bills that would allow “abortions” to take place up to two weeks after birth. LGBTQ ideologies have infiltrated our schools and are destroying the young people of my own generation. Suicide rates have sky-rocketed due to ridiculous C o v I D mandates and political instability in our country. Our government has chosen to leave American citizens and allies in Afghanistan to suffer terrible fates.

I could go on, and on, and on. If you’re anything like me, your heart ceases to beat for a moment, and your world stops turning just thinking about these outrageous events.

Now, I would like you to think back with me to the times where the entire country came together to protect the innocent, stand up for our country, and turn to Jesus, the One who has so abundantly blessed our nation.

Not as many events came to your mind, did they? If you’re like me (especially if you’re younger like me), not even one event came to mind.

“I in them and you in me, that you may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:23 ESV)

The question I have asked myself so many times throughout my life is where has our ability and desire to unify gone? When I look around and see how little some of my friends and acquaintances think of America, and how I seem to be the only one who still has pride for American exceptionalism, I can’t help but wonder.

When we look back on the terrorist attack of 9/11, we don’t see a divide between democrats and republicans, white and black, adult and child.

Quite simply, all we see is American exceptionalism at its very best.

But this pride isn’t just something we “pass down through the bloodstream”, as President Reagan once said. It is found, rather, in the small, everyday deeds of ordinary people and the tremendous miracles the Lord has performed in our country.

As we celebrate Memorial Day on Monday, and remember the incredible sacrifices of our veterans, I implore you to look at your fellow man and simply see that we are all created in the image of God, and we live in the greatest country in the history of the world.

When our world stops turning, I can only pray that we move past our petty grievances and stand as one nation under God; the One who enables our world to begin spinning again and causes the sun to rise anew over this blessed land.

“No one is beat till he quits,

No one is through till he stops,

No matter how hard Failure hits,

No matter how often he drops,

A fellow’s not drown till he lies

In the dust and refuses to rise.

Fate can slam him and bang him around,

And batter his frame till he’s sore,

But she never can say he’s drowned

While he bobs up serenely for more.

A fellow’s not dead till he dies,

Nor beat till he no longer tries.”

~ Edgar Guest – Defeat

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you believe we have been created in the image of God and made for fellowship and unity?

= What are you going to do differently?

WE HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps you have as well?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

A HERO ALWAYS KNOWS (PART THREE)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

Who does a hero look like to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now go be their hero…

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

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

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

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

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

EVERY STORY HAS A MONSTER (PART ONE)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

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

CHRISTIANITY AND…

(Republished Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

“My dear Wormwood,

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

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

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

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

The truth is most of us would not be.

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

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

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

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

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

We just need Jesus.

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= How are you going to change that?

= What are you going to do differently?

WITHOUT THIS WEEK

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

-Sarah Clarkson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WILDERNESS AND WASTELAND

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

Our souls are in desperate need of being tended to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

THE PRESENT PRESSURE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although He didn’t, did He?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It seems like madness, but He’s waiting.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

YOUR MISSION

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

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

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

      *      *      *      *      *

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

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

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

POEM BY: ELLEN H. GATES

NEVER REALLY WHAT YOU WANT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you long to change?

= What are you going to do differently?

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

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

WHY THEM?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you been feeling weighed down by the world?

= What are you going to do differently?

CLUTTERED ALTARS

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What have you allowed to clutter your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

SOMETHING MORE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

But it used to be something more.

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

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

It used to be something more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Have you encountered Jesus for yourself?

= What are you going to do differently?

OUR OLD, DEAD SELF

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you going to do differently?

References

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

EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL VERY BRAVE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

We look precisely like them.

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

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

We will be distracted and preoccupied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

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

= What are you going to do differently?

GOT MY HEART GOING

(Re-published by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= Does the thought of love scare you?

= What are you going to do differently?

TWENTY-TWO THINGS CHRISTIANS SHOULD DO IN 2022

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

IF YOU DON’T LOOK UP

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

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be afraid to look up.

SO, WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Where can you stand up against darkness?

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

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

Why? Why do we think that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let this be His year.

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

START 2022 OFF RIGHT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

EVERY NOW AND THEN (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTY-ONE)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SONG OF THE SHEPHERDS by Richard Bauckham

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

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

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

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

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

WAR WITHOUT WAR (BLOGMAS DAY THIRTY)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

If that’s ok?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T TREAD ON ME

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

Ain’t no devil
Gonna tread on me

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

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

Let us start from the beginning, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I KNOW A GHOST

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

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

CHANGED YOUR MIND? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-EIGHT)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changed your mind?

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

WALKING FREE

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

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

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

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

(Cue the scary music)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

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

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

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

(Post by: Barbara Reffey)

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

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

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

Jesus Christ. The very Son of God.

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

“A Son who has been given.”

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

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

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

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

That is who HE really is… Our Savior.

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

Join me as I press on in 4 areas:

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

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

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

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

All for the glory of God. Amen and Amen.

AWAY IN A MANGER

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

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

DEALING WITH DARKNESS (BLOGMAS DAY EIGHTEEN)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SILENT NIGHT

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

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

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sign me up.

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

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

Merry Christmas!

LIGHT OF THE WORLD

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

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

FROM CHILDISH TO CHILDLIKE (BLOGMAS DAY THREE)

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

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

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

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OUR LONGED-FOR GUEST (BLOGMAS DAY TWO)

(Post by: Michelle Hobbs)

Hello friends, and welcome to Advent!

Advent, literally “arrival”. The coming or arrival of something or someone that is important or worthy of note.

Though Advent has been observed since the earliest days of the Church, most people today do not so much as acknowledge it. We are ushered into Thanksgiving and December by a flurry of worldly activities we call “the holiday season”. For most of us it turns out to be the most stressful, lonely, overwhelming time of the year. We Christians like to say, “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but do our actions, our wallets, our hearts really prove that out?

How many of us, who genuinely love Jesus, still lose sight of the incarnation, the dank stable on a cold night, the closed door at the inn? Do you take time to contemplate God’s great plan to reconcile Himself to man? Do you share the longing of the ancient prophets who ached for the Messiah to come? Do you watch the heavens, as the Magi did, for a sign that God is near?

Advent is a chance for us to prepare for the coming or arrival of the most important person into our midst. Friend, is Jesus your longed-for guest today and every day? Do you desire the arrival of the kingdom in your home and in your heart this Advent season?

How can you and I prepare a place for His coming? We can look to John the Baptist for some wisdom. John the Baptist’s message and ministry ended four hundred years of silence. His voice, crying in the desert, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Matt. 3:3), bridged the gap between a time without the presence of God and a time when God walked with His people again. He heralded the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God.

Oh friend, do you desire that the Kingdom of God would break into your “holiday season” and bridge the gap between you and the Lord? I know I do! The great news is that it is possible! It’s quite simple to realize this desire. We must again look to John the Baptist’s message and simply “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2).

We must repent of our losing sight of Him. Repentance means that we realize we have been doing something wrong, turning away from that, and begin again in the right way. Like John the Baptist, doing Advent in the right way will look very different than the world around us.

We must root ourselves in His story. Make prayer and reflection on Jesus’ previous coming and His promised future coming our priority. As we prepare our homes with decorations of the season, let’s make sure we are first preparing our hearts, our lives, our time, as a place where He is welcome.

The beauty of Advent is in the reminding of ourselves that our ordinary lives, our small places in this world, are places where Jesus can arrive and change the atmosphere entirely. Allow Him to enter ordinary moments. The making of a meal. The washing of linens. The writing of a letter. If you invite Jesus to invade everything you do this Advent and beyond, He will change you, your family, your friends, all those you have contact with.

There is a profound quote from Wendell Berry’s book, Hannah Coulter, that sums up what I am trying to convey. “Our love of this life and our keeping of it, is where heaven joins earth.”

You have before you, this Advent season, the chance to join heaven with earth. I pray that we all repent and intentionally prepare our hearts for the arrival of our longed-for guest. That we make our lives such a comfortable place for Him that He dwells in us and we in Him for all eternity.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.  

COME, LORD JESUS

As we trust in the Lord helplessly,

Depend on Him as our love and strength,

And listen to His speaking,

Our hope is to be raptured

Through the redemption of our body.

And our prayer is –

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

And our prayer is –

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

“Lord Jesus, come!”