CHANGED YOUR MIND? (BLOGMAS DAY TWENTY-EIGHT)

(Post by: Scott Hobbs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Changed your mind?

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

WALKING FREE

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

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

HOW CAN MAN DIE BETTER?

(Post by: Madie Hobbs)

Over Labor Day weekend, my family and I went on a camping trip, like we usually do for holiday weekends. However, this weekend seemed a little bit different than it usually did.

As many of you know, our family has been experiencing a lot of stress over the past couple of months. Our mom is facing a possible job loss for standing up against tyrannical mandates and our family has become more politically active than we ever have been. Our dad has been having some medical issues and is still having tests and things run. Lilly and I have been having our own struggles within friend groups, Bible studies, discipleship relationships, etc. and it feels like the problems just keep coming.

Even though we were on “vacation” for the holiday, it still seemed like we could not escape the stresses that continually haunt us in our everyday lives. That stress just continues to be present, no matter where we are.

Now, I am not writing this post in order to gain pity or sympathy, but to tell you that the stress we are feeling, is actually good.

On Monday evening, we were planning on sitting around the campfire, and hanging out outside, but unfortunately it started raining, so we had to go inside the camper. Most of the fam ended up just going to bed, but my dad and I decided to watch one of our favorite “comfort” movies. That movie is one about Winston Churchill called Darkest Hour. The whole movie is based around Churchill coming into his position as Prime Minister in the height of WWII, and specifically the issues he faces with getting most of the British army off the island of Dunkirk (I wrote a blog post all about Dunkirk, But If Not, if you would like to read more about it).

At Winston’s literal darkest hour, when his entire party and war cabinet has lost faith in him, when they are pushing him to surrender and seek peace with Hitler, he decides to seek the thoughts of the British people. The day that Operation Dynamo is initiated, Winston decides to ride the Underground and speak with some people who don’t have all the facts about their present, serious difficulties, and get some perspective on it all.

His whole entire railway car says the same thing; they will never surrender.

In this scene, Winston quotes an ancient poem and says, “Then out spake, brave Horatius, Captain of the Gate. To every man upon this earth death cometh soon or late. And how can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, and the temples of his gods?”

This is probably my favorite quote in the whole entire movie, and literally brought tears to my eyes as I sat in my camper at 12:30am, the weight of all my stresses resting on my shoulders.

All of us have “stresses” that we face in life, but are your “stresses” the ones that matter? Are you stressing over the things that impact eternity, or just your petty little grievances with others?

I have become sick and tired of churchgoers acting like they are such martyrs for the faith when they stand up for a minor, frivolous argument in which they do not even act like Jesus. I hate to even think about how many of us will die thinking we have accomplished something important, that we have faced fearful odds. Only because you blew up at someone about something on Facebook and will then have to face the sad reality that you did not help someone grow closer to the Lord but rather made them run in the other direction.

I believe that the kind of stress you experience matters. Are you simply stressing over the juicy new gossip you just heard at school or work, or are you over here so stressed about the poor state of Christianity that you cannot help but be on your knees before the Lord?

If we look back on history, who is remembered? Those who dwelled on gossip and cower in their bubbles of self- righteousness and fake martyrdom? Or those who were worried about their fellow man and the causes for which they fought, and were concerned with more important things than cowardly self-preservation?

“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.”   (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Why are movies being made about Winston Churchill? Because he faced fearful odds, and he even did it alone.

It is time for all of us to start stressing about the right things, because most of us are going to come to the end of this life and see that all our actions are strung up in one long line of compliance.

Those who are remembered, who made a real impact on this world, so much so that we still talk about it today, all faced fearful odds.

What kind of odds are you really facing?

SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?

= Do you experience eternal stress?

= How do you usually respond to stress?

= 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?