Good morning! I will just go ahead and warn you…this is a multi-purpose post. I’m all over the board with it, so hang on.
I’m pretty excited that it is Friday and the weekend is here. Really, what I am excited about is Sabbath and a day of rest and worship. Y’all, I am leaning into Sabbath like my life depended on it. Because really, it does! After reading Shelly Miller’s book Rhythms of Rest TWICE, I am absolutely convinced that Sabbath is an all-out necessity. So, on Friday I change the sheets on the beds. On Saturday I do a couple of loads of laundry and prepare food for us to have on Sunday. Then, at 7pm on Saturday I settle in for Sabbath. No laundry is done on Sunday. Very little food is cooked on Sunday. I gather my book and quilt and spend Sunday afternoon reading and resting. Sometimes I sit on my deck and pray, while other times I visit with family and friends. My Sabbath rest re-charges me for the week ahead and draws me closer to Jesus. I really, really want to encourage you to lean into Sabbath. You can do it, even if you have littles in your home. It may be a Sabbath hour while they are napping, but you can carve out some Sabbath time for your heart.
Ladies, there is still time to register for the Come Away [retreat}. I have a couple of spaces open and I would love to have you join us September 15-17th for some intimate time with Jesus. It is a time when we will study the Scriptures, worship, pray, rest, and just cozy up next to our Lord. Would you join us? Go HERE to learn more about the retreat and how to register.
Finally, I wanted to share something with you that I heard on the radio this week. It impacted my heart greatly, and I hope it will be a blessing to you, as well. The pastor on the radio was named Randy Snyder and he was speaking about how parents can impact the lives of their children. This is not the word-for-word quote, but it is close.
As parents, we go to war for our children every time we pray for them. It is the most important thing we can do for our children.
It really is true. While I have no children to whom I gave birth, there are a handful that of young adults that I love with all my heart. Charlie, Bree, Parker, Coleson, Kalem, Erika, my Compassion daughters, and a few more. It is privilege to go to war for them on a regular basis. I ask the Lord to give them hearts that love Him deeply and to bring them spouses that love Jesus more than he or she love them. I ask Him to guide them and lead them each day. I go to war for these young adults because I love them as if they were my own.
Do you have children or young adults for whom you go to war? Suit up! The next generation needs our prayers.
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I am not a quitter.
I was taught from an early age to stay faithful to my commitments, even when it is hard. But in the past couple of years I have wanted to quit the hard stuff, like ministry. In fact, in the spirit of transparency, in the few couple of weeks I had decided to do just that. Later this year, after the Come Away retreat was in the books, I would quietly step away from writing and speaking and mentoring in order to ‘just be’. My heart craves ‘just being’ right now like you would not even believe.
November will mark 10 years that I have been in ministry. God gave me a clarion call in late 2007 to a speaking ministry that shared Jesus and His grace. That ministry bloomed into a writing ministry that has allowed me to publish a few books. That ministry blossomed into a mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry that has been the most fun thing I have ever done.
So, how did I arrive at this place of wanting to quit? I’ve pondered deeply whether it is a result of God withdrawing my calling to ministry. I’ve even secretly hoped that was the root of it all, yet each time I have tried to settle into that, God has sent something or someone along my path to point me in a different direction.
Like a Scripture: For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable ~ Romans 11:29
Well, okay, there is that!
Months ago I sat with a wise and trusted counselor who reminded me that perhaps I have not allowed my heart to heal from the traumas I have experienced over the past 3 years.
Almost nothing in my life right now is the way I had envisioned it would be. Loss upon loss. Hurt compounded like interest. There have been blessings come out of it but, like a good ‘bootstrapper’, in the beginning of it all I soldiered on, feeling the pain, but not allowing myself time and space to move through the stages of grief. Is it any wonder I have nothing to pour out?
Still the desire to quit nearly suffocates me on a regular basis. I feel as if I have little of worth to give, and the words that once flowed easily now seem to have dried up. I even have trouble coming up with a worthwhile Facebook post.
Maybe you, too, have wanted to quit. Maybe you want to quit right now. Your job, your marriage, your ministry, your mothering, a friendship, a hobby, life. You want to quit because it has become too hard, too painful, too exhausting, too _____________________. I get that! I really do.
May I invite you to do with your ‘quit’ exactly what I did? Take it to Jesus. Ask Him if He has ‘quitting’ in the plans for you. Ask Him to give you wise counselors. Ask Him to speak to your heart over the whole thing. Ask Him for books to read or music to listen to or walks to take that will help you find His plan for your ‘quit’. Ask Him for peace and healing, for heaven’s sake.
I don’t know what He will tell you about your quit, but I know that He gave me encouragement through Dr. Tony Evans to not completely throw in the towel. He is encouraging me to hop out of the rat race for a time, come to Him, and allow Him to heal my heart. I am re-reading Shelly Miller’s wonderful book entitled, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, and realizing that perhaps part of my ‘quit’ is my disobedience about observing a Sabbath rest each week. God instituted Sabbath for us, and the fact that I do not regularly observe a Sabbath rest smacks of self-sufficiency and pride. And we all know how God feels about pride!
So, where does this leave you and me, dear reader? Well, I might be here with a post, but I also might not. And I am okay with that even though the ‘experts’ tell bloggers that you MUST post regularly in order to get/retain readers. Y’all, I will be here when the Holy Spirit tells my heart to write, and not until. I am grateful for you, and I hope the Spirit gives me permission and desire to return to this space regularly one day, full of His words to share with you. I would be so grateful for your prayers.
Please do not forget about the Come Away retreat! Registration is still open, but there are only a few spaces left. So click over to THIS POST to find out more information about the retreat and how to register.
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Friends, summer is here! While I do not have children to tend to, summer does beckon me to a different pace of life. To that end, you will not find me here tapping out posts on a regular schedule for a couple of months. I am going to offer myself grace to rest and read a few books and visit with friends and loved ones. I am also going to spend a fair amount of time and energy this summer writing the teaching sessions for the Come Away retreat (Want to know more about the retreat? Click HERE). Oh, I will be posting, but it won’t be three times a week. It might only be once a week. Now, on to today’s post!
For 17 months I have known the day would come when we needed to peel back the layers of Scripture and look at one of the most hotly debated topics therein….the Rapture. Well, people, today is the day. In fact, we may take several weeks to explore this topic.
Some folks have strongly held opinions on the rapture that have caused divisions among churches and friends. May it not be so in this space. Prior to my in-depth study of Revelation, I was one who simply hoped for a pre-tribulation rapture in order to avoid the intense suffering that is detailed in Revelation. I really had little Scriptural support for my stance. After spending time in Revelation and other books of the Bible, I feel like I have a better understanding of when the rapture MIGHT occur. I say ‘might’ because there are cogent arguments for each of the possible times of the rapture….pre-tribulation, mid-trib, post-trib, and pre-wrath. I will also tell you that my guess about when it may occur MIGHT has changed over the years.
Today we will take a couple of excursions outside of Revelation to gather Scriptures that pertain to this most interesting topic, but first let me tell you that the word ‘rapture’ is never used in Scripture. Nope! Not once. This word comes from a Greek word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that means ‘to seize, catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). (Strongs)
Let’s take a quick look at that broader passage:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Let me explain the context of this group of verses. Paul was teaching the church at Thessalonica concerning what happens to believers after they die, a topic about which there was some confusion. Scholars believe that someone was teaching that all those who had already died would miss the second coming of Christ. Paul was seeking to set the record straight.
So, what we have in these verses is this:
- Jesus descends from heaven and issues a command, presumably “Come up here”, “Y’all come”, or something similar.
- Those who have died in Christ will rise first.
- Those believers who are alive at that time will follow and be ‘caught up’ (rapture) together with the dead in the clouds (not on the earth, so this is not the second coming of Christ to earth) to be with the Lord.
A passage that corresponds to the 1 Thessalonians passage is found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. Let’s take a look at it.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
Again, this is Paul speaking about what happens to the mortal body of a believer in the end. He addresses both those who have already died and those who are alive at the time. Everyone will get a changed body. Here is what happens according to this passage:
- A final trumpet will sound (can we surmise this is the 7th trumpet? Perhaps.)
- Things are going to happen F-A-S-T
- The dead in Christ will be raised and changed
- The living will be changed
Okay, let’s put a wrap on today’s study. What do we know about the rapture at this point that establishes it as a fact?
- A trumpet is going to sound
- Jesus will descend from heaven and call his children to meet Him in the air/clouds
- Those who have already died will rise first
- Those who are still alive will rise next
- We will all get new bodies
Pretty stout evidence that the rapture is a real event, I’d say. I hope you will join me next time as we look at an event that is closely tied to the rapture. Until then,
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I don’t know about you, but for me, it is so easy to fall into the world’s line of thinking.
I got mine, you get yours.
It’s all about me.
What’s in it for me?
Problem is, for a Christian, this way of thinking is completely contrary to what Jesus taught. It is also contrary to what I had modeled for me growing up. Although I never fully realized the scope of what my parents did for others until they were gone, I knew they were generous toward those who were in need…both in the body of Christ and outside of it.
At my Daddy’s funeral, my Mother, Sister, and I greeted hundreds who came to pay their respects. Over and over people told us how my Daddy had helped them.
He paid my house payment when I was about to lose my home.
He came to my appliance store, bought a refrigerator, and told me where to deliver it. But he said that I was not to tell the recipients who provided it.
When my electricity was about to be cut off, he paid my bill.
He bailed me out of jail when I made a poor choice.
Then, when my Mother died, many shared similar stories of her love and generosity.
These testimonies, and so many more, were evidence of Romans 12:13 in the life of my parents.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
I love the reminder offered by John MacArthur in his commentary on the book of Romans.
The flow of the supernatural life is outward, not inward.
It is true. The life modeled after Jesus is not a life of selfish ambition, but one of self-less sacrifice and offering.
Billy Graham said:
The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.
As I think about the life that Jesus lived, I see a life of service and hospitality to others:
He restored life
He ate with the outcast
He never heaped shame on those who sought Him out
He took my place on the cross and paid the fine for my sin
So, really, how can I justify being selfish and self-serving? Everything I have…my body, my money, my talents, my time, my home, everything…..is on loan to me from God. None of it is really mine, so if the Jesus-life tells me to be generous in giving and hospitable to others, how can I do otherwise?
The question then becomes whether the flow of my life is outward or inward. It is the question for your life, as well.
Outward or Inward?
One of the ways I seek to help women develop that outward flowing life is to encourage them to walk more intimately with Christ. September 15-17, 2017 the Come Away retreat for women will offer ladies an opportunity to lean into Jesus in a beautiful, relaxed setting. In our world of constant stimulation and social media, one must be intentional in their pursuit of Christ. Come Away with Jesus for a weekend! Click HERE to learn more.
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Every week I am privileged to spend an hour or so of private time with my pastor’s sweet wife, Becca. We talk, we share, we cry, we pray, we simply do life together. She is young enough to be my daughter, and I love her as if she were. She is a beautiful, honest, all-out-crazy-for-Jesus young woman. Her heart is very much for seeing those who do not know Jesus come to Him, and she is a blessing to me in a dozen different ways.
Recently we were talking about how God’s plans often end up looking very different from the plans that we make for our life. I shared with her how true that is for me, especially in regard to ministry.
I told her that when the Lord called me into ministry in 2007, He made it so clear that I was to speak and teach God’s Word. He confirmed it through several avenues, and so I stepped boldly into that calling. To be very transparent, I secretly hoped I would be the next Christian teacher ‘star’….’the next Beth Moore’, as so many told me at my speaking engagements. I know….ten years into this wild ministry ride, I see how ridiculous and prideful that sounds, but I’m just being honest with you.
For about seven years all of my dreams seemed to be on track. I spoke at ladies events all over the southeast. I was blessed to write and publish four books. Ministry life was good and going according to ‘my plans’. I held on tightly to a quote I read on a flip calendar somewhere. It said something like this: It can take ten years to be an ‘overnight sensation’.
As Becca and I talked, I shared with her that when my ministry began to change, at first I was not happy with God about it. I saw other speakers going on to bigger and better things, while God seemed to be drawing down my ministry. Oh, He was not pulling me out of ministry. Rather, He was changing what ministry looked like for me. Instead of the big stage, it was more one-on-one and small group ministry. Instead of preparing messages to be delivered to a few hundred women, I was pulling together ingredients for making biscuits and pound cakes and chicken and dressing. Instead of spending time writing more books, I am spending face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time loving on, mentoring, and doing life with women. And you know what, now I love it and I cannot imagine doing anything else.
I had a choice about how I would respond when God changed up ministry. I could have been angry with Him and pouted. (yeah, that would have worked out well!) I could have been jealous over the speaking opportunities and book contracts that other people received. (hmmm, that would have been pretty!) Instead I bent my knee to God’s plan and have found incredible peace and satisfaction in ministry. Don’t misunderstand me, there were fleeting moments of ‘why, God?’ questions and green-with-envy jealousy, but those were only for a moment. I knew that God sees the big picture, and whatever He ordains for me is for my good and for His glory. I realized that to grasp for anything else is relational suicide as far as my relationship with God goes.
Sometime after Becca and I shared that conversation I received a text from her that made my heart so full of love for her and gratitude to God for how He is allowing me to serve His kingdom.
I love you so much, Leah. I’m so, so, so, so thankful God didn’t make you the ‘next Beth Moore” because our time on the porch feels like the closest thing to Heaven on earth to me. I am so glad you’re in my life. Thank you.
I do not always do life and ministry perfectly, but I love that He trusts me with it at all. Me! A woman who has made her share of mistakes and oopsies in life, but who falls so heavily on the grace and mercy of Jesus.
Part of the ‘new’ look for ministry for me is the upcoming Come Away retreat that I am hosting in September. I’d love for you to pray about attending.
Come Away will be an intimate time of leaning into Jesus through worship, Scripture study, and prayer. We will set aside tweets and posts and hashtags in order to hear from Jesus about how crazy He is over us. The retreat will be held September 15-17, 2017. Pop over HERE to learn more details.
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I am not a lazy woman. Most days I have a list of tasks that need accomplished and I revel in checking off that list throughout the day. As I have shared here and here before, rest is not something that comes easily to me. I have to be very intentional about carving out times of rest and relaxation. I definitely do not want to have to re-travel the road of God having to put me on my back in order to convince me to rest.
So, why is it that for someone who is so driven in daily tasks, it is sometimes easy to slide into laziness in my Christian walk? Oh, you too?
That brings me to Romans 12:11, the verse that we are studying in our Authentic Christianity series this week.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (ESV)
Let’s take a look at the verse in the NIV.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)
As we have already studied in this series there are certain behaviors and attitudes that mark a Christ-follower.
Offering our entire selves to Christ as a living sacrifice
Allowing our minds to be transformed by His Word
Calling evil what it is
There are also other actions that mark a believer:
Sharing Christ with others
Making life and character choices that are godly
I am diligent about some of these things, but not so much with some others. I do very well with staying in Bible study, but sometimes grow lazy in my prayer life and in sharing Jesus with other people. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I fall into Satan’s trap of thinking that my prayer life is not as important as staying in the Word. Now, that makes about as much sense as me deciding that I will read all about my husband, Greg, but it really is not important for me to talk with him. Our relationship would never grow and deepen if we did not talk to each other. Same thing with my relationship with the Lord. If I only read about Him in the Word, but never have conversations with Him, my faith will stagnate.
Then, there is the issue of talking about Jesus and what He has done in my life with other people. Sometimes I am timid about it. Sometimes I am fearful of what others will think of me. But, according to Scripture, believers in Jesus have everything we need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), and that means we are equipped to share Him with others. Could it be that I am not remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for me? Perhaps I have grown lazy in my remembering the cross and the empty tomb?
Y’all, I do not want to be lacking in enthusiasm and passion for serving my Jesus. I want to always remember the sacrifice that He made for me. So, how do we keep our spiritual fervor?
Well, I think that it has to start with remembering…remembering what Jesus has done for us…remembering what He has saved us FROM, as well as TO. It also includes staying diligent in studying His Word and in prayer. I am convinced it also requires me to stay in fellowship with other believers. Christian community is where we are encouraged and, yes, even corrected when we stray.
The better you and I know Jesus, the more we love Him. A vibrant Christian walk does not just happen, friend. It requires diligence and work. It requires sacrifice and persistence. But, it is so worth it.
So, let’s not be Eeyore Christians….walking around all gloomy and negative. Let’s show the world that walking with Jesus is exciting and fulfilling by maintaining our spiritual vibrancy!
Are there other ways you maintain your passion for Christ? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
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