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!

THE POWER OF PREVAILING PATERNAL PRAYER

(Guest Post by: Gerald Steele)

Yesterday my Uncle Frank was laid to rest. He was my mother’s youngest brother and he lived to be 99 years old. He was a retired pastor who lived not only a long, but a very productive life. As I reflect on Uncle Frank’s life, I think of the words of Psalm 92:14, “They will still bear fruit in old age, they shall stay fresh and green…”

Uncle Frank was a hero and mentor to me. He was a World War II veteran who was an Army medic in the historic Battle of the Bulge. He was a very gifted and successful pastor. However, Uncle Frank excelled in prayer. His day typically began at 4:30 a.m. He would pray in a disciplined way for a myriad of requests that included family, missionaries, and the lost.

He confessed to me, just several years ago, that sometimes he would awaken at 2:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep so he would get up and start his prayer journey for the day. His entire bedroom wall was plastered with photos, missionary prayer cards, and written requests. Uncle Frank did not hastily offer “a word of prayer.” He was old school, and he knew the reality of a “sweet hour(s) of prayer.” Like the great Apostle Paul, he knew the agony and reality of suffering “labor pains” (see Galatians 4:19) on behalf of those who were not in right alignment with God.

He was an intercessor.

Fortunately, our family was the object of Uncle Frank’s prayers. He had our missionary prayer card on his wall as a reminder. When my Aunt Betty, Uncle Frank’s wife, died in 2012, he told me he just wanted to get to heaven as quickly as he could. I told him that I was not going to allow that to happen because I depended on his prayers. He enjoyed a quick little chuckle, and he knew that the Father still had work on this earth for him to do.

His prayer ministry continued on for nearly another decade. Through the years, Uncle Frank partnered with Miriam and me in praying for the conversion of our son Joel. When Miriam (my wife) and I went to Brazil as missionaries, we had two small girls. Prior to embarking on our missionary journey, we had discussed the idea of adopting a baby boy. So, after six months of language school, the Lord opened up an opportunity to adopt our Joel David. He was only eight days old when he came to us. A few days later, at our annual missionary conference in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil we dedicated him to the Lord and his service. Joel’s boyhood and early years could be described as normal. He was an obedient and compliant child.

Joel was eleven years old when we returned to the States. During his middle school years, we began to notice some behavioral changes. However, we were not overly alarmed. But following his high school years there were some significant changes, and none were for the better. This even included some gang activity in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

By then, Miriam and I were living and working in Portugal as missionaries. Finally, when Joel was nineteen, he had an altercation with a fellow gang member and was severely beaten up. This too, was an answer to prayer. Not long after this experience he got a job and established some new friendships. But Joel still had other issues to be dealt with.

He had multiple live-in girlfriends. He fathered a child with a young lady who was not even a girlfriend, but rather just a sex partner for a few nights. Finally, in his thirties he moved into a long term, live-in relationship with a young lady. They lived together for fourteen years. Life seemed to be treating him, and her, well. However, after fourteen years the relationship ended rather abruptly. Joel was devastated. He began to experience depression and anxiety. This culminated in a phone call to me around 10:00 p.m. on a cold January night two and a half years ago. 

Miriam and I had driven up to Fort Wayne from Florida for my cousin’s funeral. In the phone conversation that I had with him that night, I sensed that he was in crisis mode, so I got up from bed and put on my clothes and drove through the freshly fallen snow to his place. He talked that night. He talked like he had never talked before. He expressed his fear and anxiety. He told me about a friend that he had reconnected with in recent weeks who had been texting Bible verses to him.  He wanted me to hear some of those verses, that basically dealt with the issues of sin and salvation. Actually, this friend was a man who was nearly 80 years old by the name of Pete. My response was, “Son, Pete is an answer to my prayers.” He responded, “I know that’s true dad.”

At that juncture, I asked Joel if he wanted me to pray for him and he indicated that yes, he did. I went over to couch and put my hand on his shoulder and began to pray. The tears were beginning to stream down my son’s face as I prayed. When I finished, I said, “Son, it’s your turn to pray.” He said, “Dad, I don’t know how.” I asked him, “Do you want me to coach you?” He said, “Yes.” At that point in time, I basically helped him pray a prayer of repentance.  And repent he did! He put his face down on the coffee table in front of him and sobbed, totally broken. After it was over, I returned to my daughter’s home where Miriam and I were staying. I told Miriam that it was one of the most “ugly/beautiful” experiences of my life. Ugly, because tears and snot were dripping everywhere. Beautiful, because I watched a gorgeous butterfly emerge from a cocoon, a life redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

A week ago, Miriam and I had lunch with Joel and his new girlfriend. Before we ate, I called Joel’s new girlfriend by name and told her that we had a practice in our home of saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the food before we ate our meal. She said, “I know, because Joel prays with me all the time.” Wow! What an affirmation! Joel continues to climb. Recently he’s landed a real good job with Pepsi Cola. I have had the joy of discipling him from a distance. We text each other almost daily.

The moral of this story, in the words of Jesus is, “Pray and never give up.” We need praying fathers like never before. Uncle Frank, who had to prevail in prayer for some of his children, taught me this lesson.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! If you by chance have children who are not following Jesus, make prayer for them a priority.              

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What valuable lesson has your father/man in your life taught you?

= Have you experienced the power of prayer in your own life?

= What are you going to do differently?

DESPERATELY DESPERATE

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

What does it mean to be desperate for God? Biblically, I believe it is something we are to strive towards, and it seems like there is a sense of desperation in the worship songs we sing at church on Sunday, but what does it look like in everyday life? Is it just a feeling you experience when everything in your life goes terribly wrong and you have no other “fix” or solution?

These are real-life questions that I believe pertain many of us, no matter how young or old we are. I think it is also safe to say that many of us may know the “right answers”, but can you actually explain, from personal experience, what it’s like to be desperate for God?

The other day, my family and I were praying for one of our friends who has cancer. He was in the hospital, and not doing well, and we felt like God wanted us to drive to the hospital to simply pray in the parking lot for his healing.

As we were praying, my dad said something that honestly, I thought was a bit crazy at first. He said, “Well Lord, I’m glad we’ve finally come to the point where every other possible solution has ceased to work and where we can realize that you’re all we’ve got.”

He wasn’t saying that the radiation wasn’t worth it or that the chemo was useless for our friend. We were trusting that God would use those things in whatever way He wanted to. My dad was just sharing that he was actually glad that God had made Himself our only hope, and that we wanted and expected Him to work powerfully!

Psalm 91:14-16 says, “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

I think we tend to get this whole “desperate for God” thing mixed up. Most people only want God when the chemo does not work or when they don’t have anything else to try. That’s the only time they’re desperate.

But I think that being desperate for God really just means that we constantly realize He is all we’ve got. Being desperate for God isn’t necessarily about acquiring His presence in our lives, because if we have a relationship with Him, we should know that God is always with us. A desperate need for God results from already having a relationship with Him but wanting more and more of Him and only Him.

Because in reality y’all, we are always at the end of ourselves.

God says that he will deliver those who hold fast to Him, and that He will protect those who know His name. You may ask about those who are unsaved, and I truly believe He works even in the lives of people who are not close to Him. He comes to them when they are at the end of themselves because He wants them to know Him and rely on Him. But trust me, it is SO much better for those who always recognize that they are at the end of themselves and rely on God every second of every day.

They know full well that it is God who works all things for our good, and ultimately, God gets all the glory.

We should always be desperate as followers of Jesus because we should want more of Him! Don’t just settle with past experiences you may have had! There is always more.

Leonard Ravenhill once said, “Prayer is as mighty as God, because He has committed Himself to answer it.”

Do you understand the gravity of that today? Prayer is as mighty as God, and yet most of us hardly pray at all. And if we do, I bet we don’t pray with the knowledge and attitude that it is that powerful. You see, we should be in a constant state of prayer because of our constant desperation for Him.

I am glad we’ve finally come to the point where every other possible solution has ceased to work. There’s not a solution. There’s a Savior.

“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.”  (Psalm 61:2)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you tend to only be desperate for God when times are hard?

= Have you come to the end of yourself?

= What are you going to do differently?