To servants of Jesus in your 30s and 40s

Spectacular joys come to older ones in the faith as we get to witness the next generation coming of age. By coming of age I don’t mean numerically. There will always be individuals in Christ who hardly grow beyond their salvation and will wonder to the grave why God never came through with that meaningful life they thought they were supposed to receive. But the distractions of the world are enormous, demanding and titillating and, well, the phone and all. That we can be in Christ and immersed in a community of faith but never fulfill our calling is clear from places in Scripture like Colossians 4:17 where Paul told the brothers at Colossae,

And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

No need to exhort somebody to fulfill a ministry if it’s not possible to leave it unfulfilled.

There will always be those who are enormously gifted and hold tremendous potential to impact community and globe for the kingdom of God but, like the unfaithful steward in Matthew 25, will bury what they’ve been given until Jesus returns at which point they’ll hand it back to Him looking pretty much like it did when they got it. They lost interest. But they are not my concern today as I write this article. These words are to those of you who are doing what it takes. Who are in the thing up to your necks. You, who are coming of age in your calling, though God knows that, most of the time, if you’re like me, you’re not even sure how you got there. Oh, you could try to tell someone younger what steps you took. You could write a blog post about it. You could do a very effective Q&A on a panel about it. You could even write a book about it but you know dang well deep in your heart that you really had no earthly idea what you were doing. All you can say at the end of the day is that you kept doing something – the next thing – however awkwardly, and perhaps even embarrassingly as you look back on it, to somehow serve Jesus. And, lo and behold, something finally started working. Not all the time, of course, but often enough to realize you might be onto something. You might be onto your calling. This season of your calling. Your works are producing fruit. You have this sense that you are where you are supposed to be for now.

That’s what I mean by coming of age. Though it’s not about chronological age, it often corresponds enough for most of you to be in your thirties and forties.

Man, it’s a gorgeous thing for your older brothers and sisters to behold. To get to cheer you on cheers me in a way I find ridiculously exhilarating. Right here on the spot I could list one hundred different names off the top of my head of men and women doing the thing. Some of you I get the chance to watch close up. Hands on. You delight me to no end. First and foremost, my daughters. My son-in-law. My spiritual sons and daughters. Others from across the room at church and others by phone and face-to-face as often as possible, like my beloved Priscilla Shirer. Good Lord, how I love her. Others of you on social media, which I love, by the way, and on which I’ve made some connections that really do have an ounce of substance to them. Jefferson Bethke, for instance. So many like him. Men and women. These relationships mean something to me. Their names are in my prayer journal. About eight young women communicators and Bible teachers are on my mind almost every day and jotted down regularly in a square in my prayer journal.

And I get to see you prosper in the Holy Spirit. I get to see your life bear fruit. I get to celebrate what God is doing through you. And I get to squirm, rub my forehead and groan – often audibly – as I watch you awaken to the war. That is why I’m writing today.

You didn’t know it was going to be like this.

You had no idea what you’d stepped into.

You think you must have done something wrong to make it this hard. When you started out, it wasn’t like this.

You haven’t really told anyone. Or not very many. Mainly because you’re too embarrassed.

You have no idea that every other person worth his/her salt in the kingdom of the living Christ is either going to go through their own version of the same thing or they are enduring it that very minute.

And it is hellacious.

The enemy comes for you. Of course, some of you aren’t calling it spiritual warfare yet because that’s what the older generation called it and you want to be cooler than that. You had sort-of become convinced that the devil was not that real. Not that specific. Not that personal. Not that aware. And surely God would not allow him to mess with your kids.

And it’s not just the enemy. Your own vulnerabilities erupt into liabilities. Life’s taking a crowbar to every crack in your armor. You are tempted to things you swore you’d never do. That you judged ________________ for doing. Your past comes calling. If you’re married, your marriage, which you’d boasted about publicly, looks like it could go humiliatingly belly-up. Your kids are going nuts. Or maybe it’s you losing your mind. Half the time, you think you are going crazy. You’re getting criticized. You’re getting a lot of opposition. You daydream sometimes that you quit and moved to a remote island with your family, wore loin cloths and drank milk out of coconuts and swam with dolphins. You night-dream that you hung in there in your calling and it slaughtered you.

You have come of age.

What you’re going through is how it goes. I don’t know why on earth we older ones are not telling you more often and with more volume. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to discourage you but it’s so ridiculous because you’re already discouraged. Or maybe it’s that you won’t listen to us anyway.

But this is my shot at it today. You have come of age. You have come of notice to the devil. At the same time, your very faithful God who loves you has made a covenant through the cross of Christ not only to save you but to conform you to the image of His Son. His obligation out of His wonderful grace is to grow you up. And there is suffering in growing up. Among other things, you are forced to face the deceiver and pretender in your mirror.

I’m here to say to you today that it will not always be this hellacious. Oh, trust me. It will ALWAYS be hard. It will at times be horrific. But this season of eyeball-bulging nobody-ever-said-it would-be-like-this coming of age will not last forever. Mine lasted about seven years. Yours could last one. Or ten. That’s all up to God. Well, and you. Your cooperation is required.

It’s all about whether or not you’ll quit. Or whether or not you’ll get sloppy. Whether or not you’ll hang onto the first things that so drove you in the beginning. Jesus. The Scriptures. Holy passion. Holiness. And not just hang onto them but press further and further and further into them. Or will you slip into the black hole of busy-ness and business, of name-making, marketing, position, notoriety, self-importance, celebrity and Instacrap? Now that you are no longer naïve, what will you do with all of this? Will you fight for a pure heart that the world and your own flesh have so polluted that you think you no longer have what it takes or will you just go with it and figure this is how it happens?

And, in the words of Galatians 3:3, what you’d begun in the Spirit, you’ll just do from now on mostly in the flesh. You’ll  get prayer warriors to pray for you instead of also scrapping it out yourself on the floor, fighting with everything you’ve got in the heavenlies, hacking it through, bloody and bruised, defending the ground God entrusted to you.

You’re at the most critical place in your calling. The place of slaughter. The place where either the devil’s going to all but kill you, your flesh is going to destroy you or God is going to crucify with Christ that ego and fear and, truth-told, laziness and raise you MIGHTY.

Fight it out. Do not quit. If you’ve gotten sloppy, stop it. If you’re messing around in sin, repent. Go back to your face. Get that Bible open and plant your nose in it. Memorize Scripture. Learn how to fast and pray. Quit talking about Jesus more than you actually talk to Him. Quit letting your mouth overshoot your character. Become that person you’ve made fun of for taking it too seriously and being so dramatic about it.

You have what it takes. Do it. And I’m going to tell you something. What it will get you is Jesus. JESUS HIMSELF. Pre-eminent in all things. He is the joy. He is the prize in the fight. He is what makes getting hit by the debris in the hurricane worth it. Jesus Himself. He is everything.

I’m writing you today because I’m so proud of you. You’re out there doing the thing. And I don’t want you to quit.

Pay the price.

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

Just Something Silly I Wrote On Behalf of Moms

Good Monday morning, all of you! I had the privilege of serving my church yesterday on Mother’s Day and, after delivering the message, read this silly thing at the end on behalf of moms who resonated. This is not artwork here, folks. I jotted it down in a few minutes while getting my message ready. A mom who came to our church yesterday just asked me if I’d share it with her so I thought I might as well go ahead and share it with any of you who want it. By the way, we applied mothering pretty broadly yesterday in the message I gave. If you have travailed in some fairly serious pain and personal sacrifice to help bring forth some life in somebody, Girlfriend, you have mothered. Listen, if the Apostle Paul could see himself as having labored with the anguish of childbearing (Galatians 4:19) and say he and Timothy and Silvanus had cared for the Thessalonians with the gentleness of a nursing mother caring for her children (1 Thess 2:7), I think you are pretty safe to do the same, particularly if you have labored to see Christ made obvious in someone you care deeply about.

I love you guys. Be encouraged in Jesus today.

Okay. Here’s what I read at the end before prayer:

 

I once was young when so were you

A newborn then so quick turned two.

You toddled, cackled, climbed and cried

You threw some tantrums. So did I.

 

You went to school and I was glad.

By half past noon I’d gotten sad

You’d walk in the door, hey what’s to eat?

I fought your phone till time to sleep

 

You yelled hey mom! a trillion times

Till I would nearly lose my mind

I drove you fifty billion miles

You and every neighbor’s child.

 

Then one day you had outgrown me

Had your own car and your own key.

And off you went, you’re all grown up

Not my snuggly baby long enough

 

And now when I could take a nap

I want you back, right in my lap

Did you know I loved you so

Would have given you my life and soul?

 

Got it wrong too many times

But I was yours and you were mine

So proud of you, you’re doing well

Life here on earth is hard as…hades

 

Strollers, trikes and bikes, all past

The days went slow, the years went fast

With you all grown this might seem strange

But some things time just cannot change

 

When life seems mean, not worth the bother

I’ll feed you, hug you, fight for you.

 

I’m still your mother.

 

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

LPL Norfolk Recap Video + bonus clip

Norfolk / Nawfawk / Netflix:  However you pronounce it, Living Proof Live sure looks like it was a blast in the Word!

 

BONUS!
We so hope to serve you well and to encourage you through the Wednesday night television program on TBN. Here is a bonus clip as a Mother’s Day program appetizer!
Watch Beth live: 7p (PST) | 8p (MST) | 9p (CST) | 10p (EST)

 

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

Who’s ready to talk Summer Bible Study?

Our friends at Lifeway are hosting another online Bible study this Summer! Will you join us?

Watch this quick video from Beth to catch the details.

7 week Bible study
Begins June 9 – July 21
Register online at:  www.LifewayWomen.com/OBS

 

Let’s stay in the Word together this Summer.  See you online!!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

LPL Norfolk Scholarship Tickets

LPL_box_leaf_LONG 2016

Good morning! This weekend Living Proof Live comes for the first time to Norfolk, VA!

Beth and the entire Lifeway team are looking forward to serving you in worship and the Word.  Pray for all, and for Beth as she prepares her teachings, would you?  We prepare to gather in unity for one distinct purpose:  Taste and see that the LORD is good! 

 

We would like to help you go if you are in the local Norfolk area.

 

This year, our scholarship tickets are set aside especially for first-timers!
We have fifteen (15) tickets to share with you for Norfolk: first come, first served.

If you have never attended an LPL, or if the cost would keep you from coming, one of these tickets is for you!  Newbies, just give Kimberly a call at our office and she will set you up. Toll-free 1-888-700-1999 (NOT 800).

We sure hope to see you this weekend! To purchase tickets, or for detailed information about this weekend, visit Lifeway.com here.

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

LPL Omaha Recap Video

Living Proof Live Omaha 2016 | Recap from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

Living Proof Live: Omaha Scholarship Tickets

LPL_box_leaf_LONG 2016

NEBRASKA! This weekend Living Proof LIVE is headed to Omaha! Who is coming?

If you are new to Living Proof LIVE, we want you to know that you can count on a fresh word this weekend. Our teacher is diligently seeking God (as she does for each event) to know what message He would have her share with you. We have a good Father, and He sees and cares for each of you.

This year, our scholarship tickets are set aside especially for first-timers!
We have fifteen (15) tickets to share with you for Omaha: first come, first served. If you have never attended an LPL, or if the cost would keep you from coming, one of these tickets is for you!  Newbies, just give Kimberly Meyer a call at our office and she will set you up. Toll-free 1-888-700-1999 (NOT 800).

We sure hope to see you this weekend! To purchase tickets, or for detailed information about this weekend, visit Lifeway.com here.

Come, as Beth opens up the Scriptures, taste and see that the LORD is good!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

LPL Miami Recap Video

Living Proof Live Miami 2016 | Recap from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

LPL Miami Scholarship Tickets

LPL_box_leaf_LONG 2016

What a grace privilege from the Lord that we have the opportunity to minister within the culturally diverse community that is Miami. The last time the feet of Living Proof Live were in the S. Florida sand was 18 years ago at the first LPL in Ft. Lauderdale!

 

We will gather in unity for one distinct purpose:
“Prueben y vean que el Señor es bueno!”
Taste and see that the LORD is good!

 

We would like to help you go if you are in the local Miami area.

 

This year, our scholarship tickets are set aside especially for first-timers!
We have fifteen (15) tickets to share with you for Miami: first come, first served.
If you have never attended an LPL, or if the cost would keep you from coming, one of these tickets is for you!  Newbies, just give Kimberly a call at our office and she will set you up. Toll-free 1-888-700-1999 (NOT 800).

We sure hope to see you this weekend! To purchase tickets, or for detailed information about this weekend, visit Lifeway.com here.

 

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Share

What the Cross has Meant to me

My assistant, Kimberly, passed a message to me from TBN at the end of last week asking if I might be willing to share what the cross of Christ has meant to me personally. They weren’t requesting a teaching. They were requesting a testimony. I couldn’t remember ever being asked for precisely that in those exact words.

Beth, what has the cross of Jesus meant specifically to you? 

Since I would have been writing a post for Holy Week anyway, I decided to try to articulate my response as best and as briefly as I could. What I know for certain is that my finite mind lacks the elasticity to stretch without snapping to the bounds of what the cross has meant to me. A vertical log with a reach “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” A horizontal crossbar with a stretch “as far as east is from west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Who can estimate this side of the cloudy sky all He has saved us from and saved us for? All He has fought for us and won for us? And not the cross itself, of course. Our faith has no reliance in relics. Those two pieces of wood possessed no personhood, no atoning power. It was Jesus alone, hammered beyond recognition and nailed to them.

But within the limitations of my understanding and the language of story, what has the cross of Jesus meant specifically to me?

I have no memory of innocence. As young as I can remember, I bore an indefinable but unshakable sense of shame, guilt and anxiety. I do not know exactly what happened in those earliest days to bring such a cloud over a child so young. It was not until I was victimized a little later in my childhood that I was bombarded with silent horror by a sickening sense of familiarity.

Green kids

I have no memory of Jesus-lessness. The custodian of First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia, Arkansas rarely unlocked that east entrance to the public that the Green family, party of eight, did not pile out of a blue and white van and walk through them. We went to Sunday school and worship service on Sunday morning. We headed to choir late Sunday afternoon then stayed for Sunday night church, where our pastor delivered a different message from the one he’d given earlier. On Wednesday late afternoon, we headed to church after school and attended world mission classes (in our church a child’s first words would have been ma-ma, da-da and the-Great-Commission) and afterward we skidded down a linoleum floor to Wednesday night supper in our fellowship hall. I can still picture just exactly how that food was arranged on that plate: sliced ham (anemic pink) with a side-slice of deep red cinnamon apple. Same circle every time. Perfect hole where it had been pre-cored. Next to it were approximately 27 green peas – a little wrinkled but still well able to roll off the plate and onto the floor where all glad congregants could wear them home on the soles of their shoes – and a barely-browned dinner roll that split right down the middle like Baptists have a mind to do.

The moment Wednesday night supper was swallowed, prayer meeting up and followed and right there in that same fellowship hall. The plates clacking loudly in the kitchen became rhythmless percussions and the flatware, musical spoons, to an overture of the same deep, familiar amens voiced somewhere from the back. Strange how a disembodied voice could bring considerable comfort. In a world of disturbing undependability, we could depend on certain things around there like Brother Humphrey’s seven syllable a-a-a-a-a-a-mens. I went to Vacation Bible School every summer where my mother always served and, by the sixth grade, I helped in this class or that. We suddenly picked up – lock, stock and barrel – and moved to Houston, Texas when I was 15 and I continued the same pattern at a nearby church and would not miss a summer of VBS until I was 37. And lo, how it pained me to break that record. If I were given to lying in a testimony, I’d lie right now and tell you I hadn’t missed one yet. A person with my background wants in the worst way to have just one perfect record to humbly boast.

I accepted Jesus as my very own Savior around eight years old – Lord, how I wish I knew the exact date – and made it public before my church at nine. We stood up front in those days when we made decisions like that and congregants stood in line to shake our hands. I cried like a baby, face as red as a beet, caught completely off guard by the humiliating eruption of snot and tears. Those Arkansas gray-hairs, though. They understood. I know that now by the way they nodded their heads and smiled warmly at me. “Yep. We get it,” maybe the women were trying to say with the lipstick bleeding in the cracks of their mouths. “You’ll feel that way a lot of times and, by the way, this will be the best decision you’ll ever make.” Yes. I’ll give a thunderous seven syllable amen to that.

Our family had yet to suffer our peak years of instability. Those would come when I was in junior high and high school.

Madness.

This was my life. This parallel existence, tiptoeing, knees shaking wildly, on the tight rope hung between love and lunacy, where I was too terrified of heights to guess which way I would fall.

But fall, I did. At first just into occasional ditches. Then into an abyss so deep it seemed to have no floor. I tried to will myself into a reversal of gravity. I tried to repent my way into a reversal of gravity. Though I was utterly repentant and miserable and spotlessly forgiven by a merciful God, I continued to freefall, limbs flailing, and sanity teetering. I knew no other way. My theology had yet to collide with my reality. The belief in my heart had not yet jumped to life in my bones. I had been sorry before. Truly sorry. But I eventually returned to the same defeated pattern. I had a heart for God. I’d been mesmerized by Jesus since childhood. But I had a mind bent with torment. My battle would not have been obvious to most observers. I had been a successful student and an overachiever in endless organizations through both adolescence and young adulthood. But a reckoning had come. My past had come to reckon with my present and it would have a titanic effect on my future. How, as I free fell further and further into that black canyon, only time could tell.

I no longer knew who I was. If this Alice could have peered into a looking glass, the person she would have seen bore no resemblance whatsoever to the person she thought she was. She was dying. My infirmity, vulnerability, weakness and sin had joined forces and done me in. Life as I had known it was over. I, as I had known myself, was dead.

Hopeless.

And that’s when it happened. With the hardest jolt of my life, I fell with a deadweight thud into the arms of Jesus.

The person I had been before would twitch here and there for just a little while like there was just a little life left in her but, like a hen losing its head to a farmer’s ax, the old me finally gave up the protest, accepted she was dead and dropped to the dirt where she belonged.

Many years have come and gone since then and life has never lost its sharp, mean edge but I have lived adventures – some that are none of your business – with the One who caught me. He fought and won His bloody way to the incomparable love of my life and is, to date, the solitary good that dwells in me. He is a greater reality – this unseen Savior – than any human form I can see with natural eyes or touch with the skin of my fingertips.

I thought and, in many ways was taught, that the power of the cross was only for the lost. And I praised God for it and was awed by it and deeply thankful for it. I am still unspeakably grateful for it. Life with Jesus begins no other way. The lost must be saved. The sin-wrecked must repent. Eyes blinded to the Gospel must, by the work of the Holy Spirit, come to see. This is death to life for us all. Those who come, come this way alone.

But, the power of the cross has only begun to have its full sway when a man or woman is born a second time and, not by natural means but, by the Spirit. I got up again this morning by the power of the cross. I opened my Bible this morning and received the living, breathing word of God by the power of the cross. I prayed this very morning for impossible things to happen and had the guts to thank God in advance for miracles by the power of the cross. I came to my feet and proclaimed his greatness and his holiness and his power and his favor and his future over my family by the power of the cross. I kissed my husband of 37 years for the umpteenth time this morning by the power of the cross. My children love me and do not think me a fraud and, I promise you, only by the power of the cross. A few days ago I hugged a total stranger, a young mom named Lisa, tightly like she’d been my kin for years on end, right there in a grocery check-out line by the power of the cross. She told me with tears in her eyes how many times we’d  studied the Bible together. My memory of sin completely intact, the divine wonder of it was not wasted on me.

office verse her many sins forgiven

 

 

This coming Sunday at my church, by the power of the cross I will walk to the front and receive the elements from a man and a woman holding them out tenderly, accessibly.

Miss Beth, Christ’s body broken for you. Miss Beth, Christ’s blood shed for you. And I will want to cry. And  probably will.

I will sing what He has done for me. I will proclaim that I once was dead and now I live. And I will do so by the power of the cross.

Any and every victorious moment I ever experience is by the power of the cross. That the enemy did not and still has not destroyed me is by the power of the cross. The power of the cross saved me as a child and it saves me as an adult. It will save me in my death and, through its crimson gate, His glorious resurrection will raise me in God’s presence.

There I will see the face I long to see. There I will see the arms that caught me. There I will see the scars that saved me. There I will see the Lord’s Christ and know as I’ve been known.

Oh, that my words were recorded, 

that they were written on a scroll, 

that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, 

or engraved in rock forever! 

I know that my redeemer  lives, 

and that in the end he will stand on the earth. 

And after my skin has been destroyed, 

yet in my flesh I will see God; 

I myself will see him 

with my own eyes—I, and not another. 

How my heart yearns within me! 

Job 19:23-27


Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:

Share