How then should we live? A letter to my children in the last days…

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To my precious four,

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like if you would have grown up in a different time in history. A day when the world wasn’t so cynical. When tolerance wasn’t a religion, when success meant more than money, and when more people genuinely looked out for each other. But different times only would have come with a different set of challenges in this sin-sick world. God’s purposes for us – for our family – are in the here and now. 

So let’s embrace where God has us.

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you that Jesus is coming back. I know that’s hard to grasp in the middle of responsibilities and friendships and growing up with seemingly unending opportunities ahead of you. But he is, and that should change how we live now. Hear me, sweet one. The size of our house, the newness of our cars, the clothes we wear, and the thrills we seek after? They’ll all be gone one day. Don’t be distracted by their temporary allurement. Living our lives for what lasts starts now, not later.

So how then should we live?

Until Jesus comes back, the world will busy you and speak confusion into your life, seeking to lure you away from your first love. Dear one, anticipate Christ and his return. Long for him more than anything else, and hold fast to his promises like never before.

Live today like Jesus might come back tomorrow.

Because he might. Love God and love people with all that you have. Forgive generously, because you have been forgiven much. Keep short accounts, remembering that you may not have tomorrow. Pursue holy living not just for the sake of rule-following, but because there is safety, peace, and joy in living God’s way, because a lost world is watching, and because your Jesus – the One who died in your place – is worthy of it. When Christ returns, oh that he may find us diligently pursuing after him.

No matter how crazy this world gets, live in confidence knowing that God has the last word.

Because you are his, you are heirs to an inheritance that never perishes, spoils, or fades. When bad news comes, when doubters rise up against you, when it feels like the world is winning (and sweet child, it will feel like this more often than not)… cling to the peace that can only be found in Christ. When you lay your head on your pillow each night, rest in the One who is in control of all things; the One who has all power to save; the One who is coming again to rule and reign over all.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart because for you, child of God, all is well.

Because you know this great peace, you mustn’t keep it to yourself.

Speak truth in love, even when it’s not popular. Find your identity in Christ, not in the approval of man. Tell of God’s free gift of salvation while there’s still time. When others divide and quarrel and waste away their days, rise above to love deeply and be the feet that bring good news. Time is short, and oh, how the world desperately needs to hear it.

Stand firm, my child.

The world won’t be shy in fighting for your allegiance, and so you must be ready to fight back. Be careful and on guard, weighing everything against Scripture. Don’t give in to weak and twisted truth, but instead grow in your knowledge of God so you won’t be led astray. There will be a thousand voices calling your name; quiet yourself long enough to hear his still, small voice that says, “This is the way; walk in it.” It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Finally, adore Christ.

Adore him much more than you adore sports, the latest gadget, fame, or your plan for a perfect life. Never stray far from the foot of the cross so that you can be reminded of the precious blood that was shed for you. Never forget that you deserved death, but instead he gave you life. And let your life reflect the wonder and awe that shines brightly in you because you just can’t get over the fact that Jesus saved you.

Oh my child, I know it’s hard to imagine, but one day you’ll see Jesus face to face. You’ll see him and every sacrifice, every tear, every trial will fade in comparison to his glory.

Hold tight.

Stand firm.

Never give up hope.

One day our faith will be made sight, and we won’t regret one single day of living for him.

He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. ~ Revelation 22:20

Come, Lord Jesus…

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: If you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow, what changes would you make today? 

*On this final day of our study, share how God has used our time in #1&2Peter in YOUR life…

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Sad that our {1&2 Peter} study has come to an end? Don’t be! Mark your calendars now for our BRAND NEW #LoveGodGreatly Summer Online Bible Study, beginning on June 15th! Grab some friends and meet us in {Psalm 119}… you won’t want to miss it!

Love God Greatly Psalm 119

No longer a slave…

people in bokeh, street of LondonBreathe, Whitney…

A single drop of sweat trickled down my forehead as I inhaled the thick, cigarette smoke-filled air. The hallway that led to the gate was dark and hot, and I could feel the temperature in my face rising.

“Why have you brought me here, Lord?”

Immediately after I entered in, the guard locked the gate behind me. The sound of the heavy iron slamming was their cue that I had arrived. Just like clockwork, they began making their way out of their quiet cell blocks and into the common area where we would all meet. After all, they’d be crazy to miss an opportunity to change up their all too repetitive daily routine.

It wasn’t the first time I had been locked behind those bars.

I had spent the year traveling for my job, providing health education in jails and substance abuse treatment centers across the state. I was used to this. But I never got used to the emptiness that filled their eyes.

I was there to educate, but they showed up looking for so much more…

slaves

The world is a tricky place, the way it disguises deceit in such cleverly decorated packages. It appeals to the weak and strategically preys on the unstable – the ones who are already overcome…

Overcome by their human desires.

Overcome by their suffering.

Overcome by empty promises.

Overcome by their addiction to people pleasing.

Overcome by their desire for an easy fix.

Overcome by another’s power or abuse.

Overcome by their need to escape.

Overcome by a million empty things pursued while they desperately try to fill the empty places.

They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” ~ 2 Peter 2:19

Before I had a chance to begin, she leaned over and asked if I had kids.

“No, not yet,” I answered with a soft smile.

And tears filled her eyes as she spoke of the vulnerability and seduction that led to her life behind those bars – the life and choices that had painfully separated her from her little one.

Empty, overcome, and now enslaved.

She had been promised freedom, but her misguided pursuits had left her anything but free.

______________________

Ends up we wouldn’t ever get to the original agenda planned for that day. Instead, we landed on a much more needed truth – the One her soul was longing for all along…

“Let me tell you about Jesus, the One who overcomes…”

Have you never seen a man shut up in the iron cage? It has been my painful duty to talk with several of such prisoners. I have seen the captive shake the iron bars, but he could not break from them. He has implored us to set him free by some means; but we have been powerless. Glory be to God, the blood is a universal solvent, and it has dissolved the iron-bars of despair, until the poor captive conscience has been able to escape. How sweet for the desponding to sing – “I believe that Jesus died for me”! There is nothing, indeed, dear friends, which the blood of the Lamb will not overcome. ~ Charles Spurgeon

“Who is it that overcomes the world?

Only the one who believes that

Jesus is the Son of God.”

~ 1 John 5:5 

No longer a slave…

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: What is enslaving you? Our team would love to pray for you…

Do you question God’s power? Here’s why…

people in bokeh, street of LondonSoon after our engagement, my husband and I began pre-martial counseling with our pastor. One of our very first assignments was to choose a Scripture passage to memorize that would be a lifetime foundation of truth for our marriage. After much seeking and praying together, we landed on 2 Peter 1:3-4…

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

God’s power has given us everything we need. Aaahhh, yes. 

Since life was glorious in almost every way, we had no trouble believing this. We were finishing up our college degrees, madly in love, and hadn’t yet been confronted with the does-the-toilet-paper-roll-go-over-or-under great debate yet. Heh. Young and convinced of our successful future, we were confident that his power would sustain us through marital bliss, white picket fences, babies, and beyond.

And then we got married.

We laughed our way through conquering silly stuff like toilet paper orientation. I mean, reallyBut then the hard stuff came.

Job dissatisfaction.

Financial worries. 

Independent personalities.

Difficult decisions. 

Selfish attitudes.

Hard-to-get-along-with people.

Personal insecurities.

Isn’t it crazy how often our circumstances cause us to question God’s presence and power in our lives? 

In our dating years, we had intentionally taken time to grow together in our pursuit of God. Tyler’s surrender to the Lord during our college days inspired a new-found passion in both of us, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to stay up late into the night studying our Bibles and talking about the things of God.

And then life happened.

Instead of craving more of God, we craved stuff like a day off of work, a more reliable trendy car, and for the other one to volunteer to unload the dishwasher first. Oh, we still went to church faithfully and read our Bibles most days. But worldly distractions took the place of the intimacy we once had with our Father.

If you want to enjoy God’s peace and be the aroma of his grace in the world, your knowledge of him has to grow. Where knowledge of the glory and excellence of God languishes, grace does not flow. The channel from God’s infinite reservoir of grace into and through our lives is knowledge of God. We do not study the Scripture for its own sake, but because through it comes the knowledge of God, and through that grace and peace are multiplied in your heart in the church and in the world. ~ John Piper

God’s power has given us everything we need.

You see, God’s power doesn’t change. That power that raised Jesus from the dead? He’s still that God. But our perspective of him changes so quickly when we stop pursuing growing in the knowledge of our Savior.

{If you are unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

His divine power has given us everything we need. But we can’t stop there. He’s given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him. Notice that it doesn’t say an easy life. It says a godly life. Big difference.

Do you question God’s power?

Are you longing for more grace and peace in your heart?

Do you desire to live a godly life?

Then maybe it’s time to get reacquainted with the One who gave His life for you. 

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…” ~ Ephesians 1:17-20

Knowing you, Jesus… there is no greater thing.

At His feet,

 

{Week 6} Challenge: Do a Google search and make a list of the different names of God found in the Bible. Make a commitment to grow in the knowledge of God every day this week by reviewing the meaning of each name, reminding yourself of God’s infinite power, grace and provision in your life.

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{Week 6} Reading Plan:

Week6

 

{Week 6} Memory Verse:

Peter MVWK6

 

 

That temporary thing you’re desperately trying to hold onto? Jesus is better…

people in bokeh, street of London

I just met her last Sunday and I’m not sure I’ll see her again this side of heaven, but she’s changed my life forever.

Ever meet anyone like that?

Someone brave. Someone extremely humble, but confident in God’s plan for her life. Someone who’s on a mission and wants to make the most of her days. I’m not even sure she set out to inspire everyone around her. She just does.

Even while she’s dying.

She held a garage sale recently and affectionately named it her “Going-to-Heaven Garage Sale.”  As quiet tears rolled down the faces surrounding me, she smiled and continued on to explain the real purpose behind her visit to our Sunday school class that morning.

{Wait… Heaven. Oh, can you even begin to imagine it?}

A new ministry would get off the ground – one that she helped to inspire through her own suffering. A ministry that will provide knowledge, encouragement, practical support, and relationship for those on their own cancer journeys – from those who have already been there. Love will reign over all, and Jesus will be the foundation for their hope. And while there’s still time she’s making her rounds… because she doesn’t want to miss a single opportunity to speak life - both in her living, and in her dying.

She doesn’t want to leave a legacy that bears her name. She wants to leave behind more of Jesus while she can.

Hearing her talk took my breath away. I’ve spent seasons of my life trying to avoid suffering at all cost, yet I hung onto her carefully constructed sentences that told me that Jesus is more beautiful to her in this very place.

LoveGodGreatlyI couldn’t stand it, so I tracked down her number and called her this week. I just wanted to hear more of her voice. To soak in her wisdom. To stop wasting my days desperately holding onto the temporary when I could know more of the beauty of Christ in the hard here and now. To ask her how she got to this place of sweet surrender.

Run to God’s Word. Look for opportunities to see God at work. Pray, expecting to hear from heaven. Tell about God’s faithfulness. Commit to the process, knowing that He who started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…

We crave happy. He craves holy.

We run after stuff. He wants us to run after Him.

Jesus, draw me close
Closer, Lord, to You.
Let the world around me fade away.

Jesus, draw me close;
Closer, Lord, to You.
For I desire to worship and obey.

Time is not on her side, but God is. And He is better. He just is, and she’s walking so closely with him that she can already taste it.

When did we start expecting so much from this world?

Rejoice!

Because Jesus is better. Now, and for all of eternity.

And while there’s still time she’s making her rounds, because she doesn’t want to miss a single opportunity to speak life…

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will

should commit themselves to their faithful Creator

and continue to do good.” ~ 1 Peter 4:19

Suffering is real. But child of God, it’s not the end.

Jesus, help me to leave behind more of You…

At His feet,

 

*LET’S TALK: What are you holding onto? 

Arming ourselves for godly living {out with the old, in with the new}…

people in bokeh, street of London

Some of the most defining “growing up” years of my life came in those early days of motherhood.

All of a sudden there was this dramatic shift in focus.

Before kids I worked, played, ate, and slept according to my own schedule. After kids, I quickly learned that much of parenting – especially in those early years – is about dying to self. Schedules and everyday conveniences would now take on a new look. This beautiful, noble calling would not be without its sacrifices; but oh the deep joy of pursuing something other than my personal gain.

It wasn’t about me. It was hard, and it was freeing.

There was a better me developing, but I would definitely have to fight hard against the selfish ways of my former life.

In many ways the Christian life is much like this. When Jesus transforms us, there is this dramatic shift:

Priorities and every day life take on a whole new look.

Surrender becomes a calling instead of a dreaded sentence.

The old must die to make room for the new…

LoveGodGreatly

Okay, so practically, how do we do it? How do we get good at dying to ourselves so that God is consistently glorified in our lives?

Peter says that we arm ourselves. 

Think of it as preparation for battle. Just as soldiers enter the battlefield with strategic training and discipline, we too must ready ourselves in the fight against sin and our former way of thinking so that we’ll be prepared for suffering as Christ’s return draws near.

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.” ~ 1 Peter 4:1-2


{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

1 Peter 4 says that we arm ourselves…

1. By right thinking. Time in God’s Word reminds us of our human frailty and points us to our Savior, who willingly suffered in our place. When we’re consistently spending time in our Bibles, our minds are transformed by this amazing truth, resulting in an attitude that’s ready for battle (1 Peter 1:13).

2. By fleeing from sin. When we arm ourselves with the attitude of Christ, we are done with sin. For the believer, fleeing the daily temptation of sin doesn’t just stop with recognition and repentance – it’s actively fought by turning the opposite direction and running hard after righteousness (2 Tim. 2:22).

3. By living for God. And now it’s time to grow up in Christ by surrendering our lives to him. Paul Tripp encourages us with this: Your life doesn’t belong to you anymore, but you need to know that the One who now owns it is a willing giver of faithful, patient grace.” The great news is that with Jesus residing in us, God’s power can equip us with everything good to do his will (Hebrews 13:21).

Here’s the thing: we can’t hold onto our old selves while trying to live in the new.

In our flesh we’ll fight it. Ooooh, how we fight it. But because we were made to bring glory to the One who made us, discipline in godly living yields a joy and peace that can never be found while we’re stubbornly still on the throne.

Living for God…

It’s hard. It’s freeing. And it’s far better than anything this world has to offer.

Go ahead and step down, once and for all.

Let’s arm ourselves for godly living this week… because He’s worthy.

At His feet,

*Let’s talk: Do you struggle most with right thinking, sin-fleeing, or life-surrendering? Our team would be honored to pray for you this week…

{Week 4} Challenge: Read Colossians 3:1-17. On one side of a notecard, list all of the things this passage says to “put to death.” On the other side of your notecard, list all of the things this passage says to “clothe yourselves” with. When you are confronted with temptation this week, use your notecard to remind you of ways that you can live for God by replacing sin with righteousness.

Weekly-Challenge-4

{Week 4} Reading Plan:

Week4

{Week 4} Memory Verse:

Peter MVWK4

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