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)

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?

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!)

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

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?

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?

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)

MANIPULATED MINDS (PART TWO)

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Note: Intentional misspellings.

This is one of the most crucial and heartbreaking posts I am confident we will ever publish. In part one of this post, that was published on Thursday (November 18, 2021), I stated that I am frightened that many Christians, pastors, and people in church leadership positions think that obeying mandates put in place by devout liars, murders, and people who want to be god is what we are called to as believers.

Again, that is a lie straight from the enemy, and the people believing these deceivers are not walking in the truth nor are they trustworthy. I also mentioned that we are not being told the truth about most things (specifically the v a c c), and that I cannot remain silent about the things that I now know and will be sharing with you in this post.

I pray you hear my heart, as it is not intended to make any individual who didn’t know about this despicable act I am about to write of feel as if they are a terrible person or that they have committed some kind of unforgiveable sin. That is not the intent of this post in any way.

The point of this post is to make people (especially Christians) aware of the lies the enemy has planted within our world and minds in order to manipulate us and make us weak. My hope is that this truth being revealed will bring us to our knees in repentance for the detestable sins being committed in America and across the world.

As James 4:17 says, “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Revealing these atrocities is the right thing, and we will not fail to do it. Stay with me here, we must lay some groundwork first.

If someone is a true Christian, it will be evident that they have been radically changed and operate differently than they did before because of what Jesus did for them on the cross. It is supposed to change your whole deal. We no longer expect that of people though, and being a Christian in today’s world just means that you spend an hour or so in church on Sunday, and that’s if your schedule permits.

We no longer ask the Lord how He would have us live, what He wants us to choose, or what is right. Instead, we consult the world and often, unknowingly, allow the enemy to dictate how we live, what we choose, or what is right.

Unfortunately, this is precisely what a majority of Christians have done when it comes to the C o v i d  v @ c c i n e  that we are being told will save our lives. According to many Christians, if we choose not to receive it, we are putting other’s lives in danger and are not loving or considerate.

Make no mistake, they have been manipulated.

Here is why I believe that Christians should not receive the v @ c c i n e and should reject it in full. I hope you will do your own research as well. In March of 2021, F a u c i revealed in an interview that there is “aborted fetal tissue” in the v a c c i n e s. He claimed that the fetal tissue was used for testing purposes. You can watch the video of part of the interview by clicking here.

Does that bother us? Christians should be absolutely sickened by the fact that they are experimenting with aborted fetal tissue, especially for something that they want to inject into our bodies. However, it only gets worse.

In October, an article was released that reveals the horrific murder of cell line HEK293T, which P f i z e r has been using to test and create their v @ c c i n e s. P f i z e r has kept the details of this murder under wraps for many years, and it was just recently leaked by a w h i s t l e b l o w e r  that worked for them. Because they have not disclosed this information to the public, we are unsure if aborted fetal tissue is still in the v @ c c i n e that people are receiving. J & J, however, has fully admitted that there is aborted fetal tissue in their product (watch video linked above).

A baby girl that was born alive in the early 1970s started the cell line HEK293T and was murdered by having her organs harvested (specifically her kidneys). As the article explains, harvesting body parts such as kidneys requires blood flow, requiring a beating heart, which means that she had to be fully alive at the time of harvesting. A murder such as this also requires that there be no use of anesthesia as the organs are cut out. Read full article here.

Allow me to state this very clearly. This is infanticide. It is wrong. It breaks God’s heart, and it should undoubtedly break ours. We are utterly fooled if we think that this was the first or last murder of a living baby for the use of testing or creating of v a c c i n e s.

This is the cell line used to create the C o v i d  v @ c c i n e s that people are being injected with today. Many people have absolutely no idea about this because they have been manipulating and lying to us. In fact, I know several church leaders that were not aware of this. I am challenging Christians to stand up and speak up for life by rejecting ANY and EVERY v @ c c i n e that contains this kind of history.

The American Church has always stood strong on fighting for life in the past; we cannot stop now because of our ignorance. I strongly believe that this is Satan’s plan. If he can keep us ignorant, then we will fall for anything.

Matthew 24:24 says, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

Scripture warns us over and over again that we are to be on guard, always discerning what is pure, holy, and of God. Do you realize that even the elect (believers) are deceived and that we are listening to individuals who are ok with the murdering of babies?

Will we allow the murder of innocent babies to take place in order that we may attempt to save our own lives? Oh, God forgive us!

Church, do not fail to do the right thing. We must get a backbone and understand that these scientists and big p h a r m a are evil. They have no regard for life. The most pressing question, though, is this. Do we?

Friends, we want you to know our heart on this matter. If you have received the v @ c c i n e and were not aware of the aborted fetal cell lines being used in their testing and manufacturing, we do not condemn you. We, ourselves, have received v @ c c i n e s in the past, before we knew about this issue. Our purpose here is to make you aware now, so that you can make a well-informed choice in the future.

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The story behind cell line HEK293T must be shared, and it is up to us to do so.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Did you know about the murder of the baby that led to cell line HEK293T?

= What are you going to do differently?

DANCING IN THE DISAPPOINTMENT

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, keep on dancing.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What has disappointment produced in your life?

= What are you going to do differently?

IT’S NOT ABOUT HOW HARD YOU CAN HIT

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Just recently, my dad, brother, and I started watching the “Rocky” movie series, and as usual, I was able to reap some valuable movie watching wisdom!

In the final movie, Rocky tries to impart some deep, inspirational advice to his son, who was completely unhappy with his life, and who felt like a failure. Many of you may know this quote, but I want you to look at it in a bit of a different light today.

Rocky says, “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and it’ll beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. ‘Cause you, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth, but you’ve got to be willing to take the hits. Not saying you ain’t where you want to be because of him, or her, or anybody. That’s what cowards do and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

I know, inspiration, 1,000%

The reason I really love this quote is not only because it is so motivational, but because it is also deeply spiritual. I believe that this simple quote, from a boxer from Philadelphia, perfectly describes the Christian life.

Every time I hear this wisdom, I am reminded of all the things in life I can’t control. I’m reminded of all the times I’ve failed. Of all the times my family has been hit so hard by the world, that I couldn’t help but wonder how we were ever going to rise again. Of all the times I have felt bruised and battered, and like I have nothing left.  But then, I am also reminded of the nail-pierced hand that reaches down from Heaven and pulls me out of the ashes and says, ‘Come on, Madie. I made you so much stronger than this. You still have fight left in you, now get up and use it. I’m right here with you.’

You see, dear reader, we always have someone walking right next to us who has had the world throw its fist at him harder than any of us can even imagine. That man is Jesus, our Lord, who shouldn’t have had to experience the heat this world can bring. But He did anyway, for you and me, and every other human being that will ever walk on the face of this earth.

I know. Life hits pretty stinking hard sometimes. But let me ask you, what are you really taking the hits for?

Right now, are you just getting hit for spreading drama at work? Or for wearing something you know you shouldn’t be? Or maybe for falling into friend groups where you know you’re going to be asked to do things you know aren’t right?

Or are you getting hit for being the person that shuts down the drama right when you hear it? Or for making modest clothing choices that other people may think are lame? Or for separating from friends because you realize they are dragging you down?

Let me tell you, I’ve been hit for a little bit of all those things at one time or another. But the moment I made the decision to not get hit for my stupid decisions, but for the truth I want to spread about Jesus, the atmosphere completely changed in my boxing ring.

Because I can’t hit as hard as life. There are things I can’t control. There are people around me who want to see me fail. I am weak.

But I know who can hit harder than life. When I started living for Jesus, it didn’t matter how hard I got hit, because I was getting hit for the right reasons, and I wasn’t relying on my strength.

You see, when you’re getting hit for the eternal stuff that satisfies you to your very soul, the pain isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1Corinthians 15:58)

Let me tell you something you already know. We are weak. We are incapable of succeeding in this world on our own. We can’t hit as hard as life. But it isn’t about how hard we can hit, how strong we are, or how successful we are.

It’s about how hard we can get hit, and keep moving forward.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= What are you really taking the hits for?

= What are you going to do differently?

COUNTERCLAIMED

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you know where they lurk?

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

RISE UP

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

We live in a day and age where people get on social media, write up a quick post, and then drop it like a bomb into the world with no intention to defend their opinion with facts or to respectfully debate with someone on the matter. I think we have all seen this done, especially over the last year and a half.

We have almost lost the ability to intelligently and respectfully debate. Most people typically “walk away” from their post without taking a stand or making a legitimate point, because reality is, they can’t. Actions like these are quickly ruining my generation in various ways that I find extremely alarming.

Young people today are terrified to go against the grain of society and to take a stand for anything except for what they see others posting about on social media (because for most, that’s their world). Why is this?

Because the world no longer believes in fundamental truths, and if anyone raises an objection they are deemed “judgmental”, “unloving”, the list goes on. They are also afraid of being the only one. These two things fill young people with absolute fear and anxiety because they don’t know how to refute those opinion filled comments with facts and the truth.

Honestly, my generation hasn’t been taught how to talk to people, let alone stand up and fight for something noble.

So today, I’d like to speak specifically to teens and hopefully encourage them to refuse to be average, but I’m sure some of you adults reading may need to hear this as well.

One of my favorite verses is Ezra 10:4 which says, “Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

This is what I desperately wish I could tell every teenager. The matter is in your hands. We must fight to protect the unborn. We must learn about America’s founding and why it has been the most successful system of government ever known. We must learn how to read good books and apply them to our everyday lives. We must learn how to research a topic and defend our position with facts. We must realize that the government does not own us and that morality and the concept of trusting our neighbor is under attack.

It is indeed up to my generation to be God-fearing, educated, intelligent individuals or we will live our lives believing and falling for every lie the world chooses to tell us. Unfortunately, this is how most of the generation that came before us currently lives.

I want young people to know that despite what almost everyone else is screaming at you right now, it’s ok to love Jesus and live radically for Him. It’s ok to be different and say what no one else wants to say. Call evil out for what it is! It’s ok to fight for your country and for the things it stands for. Things such as liberty and independence. It’s ok to desire to be married and to raise kids out in the middle of nowhere to be the next leaders (and no, climbing the corporate ladder is not nearly as important as raising a family). It’s ok to be white, and you’re certainly not racist just because you are. It’s ok to be black, and you’re not lesser or unloved just because you are.  

Your voice is of great value, refuse to be silenced. Think for yourself and don’t quit when it becomes difficult.

1 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

Read through each of those things again. Seem familiar? We are seeing that description being lived out in our very world right now, and I truly believe that we are in the last days.

I’m a 17-year-old girl who’s trying to rise up in a time where everyone else has sat down. I have to wonder if there isn’t another young person out there who will join me? To my generation: It’s time to take courage and do it. The matter is in our hands.

“Look at the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”    (Habakkuk 1:5)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you terrified to go against the grain in the society we live in?

= What is stopping you from rising up and doing something?

= What are you going to do differently?

THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

I woke up yesterday morning to the news that a mural honoring George Floyd had been struck by lightning, resulting in its complete destruction. Perhaps you heard this news as well.

When people hear of things such as this happening, they tend to think that it is just a coincidence and nothing more. Take a quick look at the major news headlines reporting about the mural, for instance. The mayor himself said that “we may never know” what destroyed it, and another report I saw claimed that “It was just age. It just came away”. One year later? Hmm, I don’t think so. Interestingly enough, it was also reported one month ago that a porn star was found dead after posing nude in front of the mural.

I am here to tell you, however, that absolutely nothing is a coincidence in life.

You may be wondering why I believe there are no coincidences when it comes to incidents like these, and it’s because of Scriptures like this one…“I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant, and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless.”  (Isaiah 13:11)

That is God talking, y’all! Don’t think for a single second that He won’t judge America for its sin. What happened to the mural on Tuesday evening is a warning for us. A warning to repent and turn from our wicked ways, and to seek Him first.

It can be overwhelming to think that one day the Lord will judge the world, and that His standard is Jesus. Yet, believers can and should take joy in knowing that His standard is Jesus. If we have decided to follow Him, then His blood covers us and takes our sin away. We can be free, and freedom works on everyone. Knowing that God will one day judge the living and the dead (2 Tim. 4:1) should fill us with a sense of urgency, not taking our duty to share the simple Gospel lightly.

I have mentioned that revival starts with us, and I am more convinced of that as each week goes by. Do we tremble at the Lord’s justice and live in a Godly fear of it?

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped around their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go unwarned or unprayed for.”

Are you letting people go unwarned or unprayed for? My concern is that most Christians have recently lost sight of the Biblical command to warn the lost and are instead listening to the world’s megaphone message being screamed in their ears to just “be kind” and to “love everything” and “do what the Government says”.

Listen dear Christian, you were not created to love everything. To love everything is to be unashamed of sin, and to be proud of sin shows others that we have not and will not stand for anything righteous!

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

If we really want to have a lasting impact on our country and change outcomes, I am convinced that it starts nowhere else than on our knees. George Washington said, “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…”

We must acknowledge Him and obey His commands if it is our desire to live a life worthy of the calling (Eph. 4:1).

Friend, if you are reading this post today and you have accepted and maybe even supported sinful ideologies such as b L m (intentional misspelling), Trans gender ism, and w o ke ism then I want to warn you to repent and to ask the Lord to reveal truth to you about those things.

It’s time to realize, Church, that our society is no longer a “Christian” one. Instead, it is permeated with counter-Christian messages that teach people to despise God and to treat His ways with contempt.

This does not, however, change the fact that there are NO coincidences with our God. He is coming back, and He is blatantly warning us of this truth. Are you bold enough to love Biblical truth, expose evil, and stand firm in this post-Christian society with us?

“And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming.”  (1 John 2:28)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you have a desire to live confidently for Jesus each day?

= Does the Lord’s justice cause you to tremble?

= What are you going to do differently?

BUT IF NOT

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Will you give your all for Jesus?

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

= What are you going to do differently?

A TIME OF TRIAL

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Would you?

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

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

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

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

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

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Is your heart confident in God?

= What are you going to do differently?

DO YOU WANT TO WANT?

(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)

Here we are, four days post-Easter weekend, and I am once again just absolutely in awe of my Savior’s perfect love and the ultimate sacrifice He made for my sin. I am so refreshed in my relationship with Jesus when I am reminded of all that He has done for me, and I pray the same for you.

You know, I was so encouraged this weekend when I saw people sharing their testimonies and posting Scripture that was impacting them, as well as how they were celebrating Jesus. It was simply incredible! Christians were actually publicly professing to be followers of Jesus. However, when Monday came, all of those things ceased. It was as if Easter was just a slight “interruption” in their lives and nothing more than that.

What happened?

I can’t tell you how many individuals I heard say that they just felt different. Many expressed that they felt content with where God had them. Others explained that were falling in love with God’s Word again, and that they knew God was trying to speak to them in powerful ways.

Then, most of them went back to their worldly “normal”.

You probably already have an idea of where I am going with this, but allow me to ask you a question…

If we feel so free when we are actually doing what God commands of His followers, why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that every day?

It pains me to see how quickly our love and devotion for Jesus fades, and how fast we run back to materialistic things and glorifying ourselves.

We so desperately want to be God!

Somehow, we have tricked ourselves into thinking that three days is really enough because we want to get back to our “normal”. Are you content with spending three days to mourn your sin, celebrate the cross, and post lifechanging Scripture?

I’m not.

A.W. Tozer once prayed, “O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me the grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wondered so long.”

I want to want Thee. That is my prayer. I want Jesus more than anything else. Church, are we ashamed of our lack of desire for Him?

The good news is this… If you’re not content with only feeling free for three days, you don’t have to be. Jesus can help you change; you just have to choose Him above all else.

If you want to want Him, make different choices. It all starts with your choices.

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do people know you are a follower of Jesus?

= What keeps you from living for Him?

= What are you going to do differently?

I TALK BACK

We may not see it, we might even forget it’s there, but I believe the biggest battle is going on in the spiritual realm, even as I type. The enemy loves nothing more than for us to begin our days discouraged and defeated, bringing fear and stress into our homes, schools, and workplaces.

Which is what many of us fall into most days.

If your actions are like salt and light in this dark world, it is only a matter of time before you encounter spiritual warfare. The Devil will hurl obstacles and attacks in your face all day long. God challenges us, however, to stand guard and be alert against these schemes, and to stay intimately close to Him.

The Word of God is our sword, and He equips us with strength, wisdom, and discernment through the Holy Spirit. He invites us to spend time in His presence, pressing in to know Him more.

As we begin to understand God’s truth and what is real, we also know more of what is false, and we are stronger to stand against it in the powerful name of Jesus. He never leaves us to fend for ourselves in an evil world, but reminds us that He is constantly with us, fighting for us, even when we cannot see.

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

This is powerful y’all. That verse right there should change your attitude when you wake up in the morning. No doubt, we are certainly living in enemy occupied territory. But Jesus has given us authority over the enemy!

Praying God’s words back to Him is one of the most powerful weapons against the forces of evil. A practice Jesus made a priority. It reminds us that God knows our way and understands what we face. It allows us to be solely dependent upon Him and trust Him. It guards our hearts and focuses our minds back on Him.

It wins the battle.

Christians need to start talking back to the Devil. God’s people need to remind the enemy over and over who he really is, and the authority we have over Him because of what Jesus did on the cross.

A.W. Tozer once said, “I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible – but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good – forgiveness and cleansing and blessing – everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!””

In our prayer and praise we should talk back to the Devil. I’m asking believers to throw God’s Word in the Devil’s face every single chance they get.

Psalm 44:5 says, “Through You we will push back our adversaries, through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.” 

Through the name of Jesus, amen? May He teach us, help us, and sustain us. I want to be better for Him, better than I was yesterday.

I talk back to the devil by claiming victory. How about you, Christian?

“My main ambition in life is to be on the Devil’s most wanted list.”  (Leonard Ravenhill)

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Are you encountering spiritual warfare?

= Do you pray God’s words back to Him?

= What are you going to do differently?

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?