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:
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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I have one main job. It is to encourage people to come to know and feverishly love Jesus Christ through the study of the Bible. God called me at 18 between my freshman and sophomore year of college, started teaching me how to get up in front of a group and communicate between that time and my mid-twenties then, at 27, He set a torch in my chest for His Word. That fire has burned in me for 30 years. It is my whole ministry life. I love those pages more than I love a sizzling skillet of great food. I love the One who breathed those words on the page, taking His own sweet time, over centuries strewn mysteriously with periods of divine silence. From the very beginning, God called me to serve interdenominationally. I have been part of one denomination since the cradle roll but I have had the privilege and clear insistence of the Holy Spirit to serve all over the Christian spectrum where people would have me. I will serve any group of people anywhere my schedule allows as long as I don’t have to compromise the message of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus alone and the exhortation for people to come to love and know Him and serve Him through the ongoing study of Scripture.
I serve Baptists, Lutherans, Assembly of God and everything around them and in between. I serve both cessationists and charismatics. I serve people who raise their hands and people who sit on their hands. Doesn’t matter to me. I’ll serve anybody. It’s not everybody’s calling but it’s mine. I may feel less comfortable some places than others as Jesus opens gates to new fields but I cannot find a single place Jesus commanded us in Scripture to go where we feel most comfortable or where people already agree with everything we have to say. I love the Body of Christ in all its diversity. I am not blind to our flaws and sins and imbalances but I still believe in the power of Jesus Christ to save and deliver through the gospel invading this globe.
Here’s why I’m writing today. We are in colossal need of a collective uprising of faith even amid our differences of opinions on other matters. Faith is still the paramount response God requires from His people. We want so much for it to be our righteousness because it feels more secure and reliable and tame and God knows it looks better out there in front of people. You will get no argument from me on that one. Make no mistake, our pursuit of righteousness is crucial. Carnality kills our witness and quenches the Holy Spirit. It destroys our relationships and unravels our effectiveness. But God has a greater priority even than our righteousness. He wants our FAITH. We don’t get to make the rules. We don’t get a vote. God is sovereign and this is the way He’s chosen to do it: Our faith is counted to us as righteousness. Of Abraham, Paul wrote in Romans 5…
20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Without faith, it is still impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Jesus can do anything He pleases but He is still the same Savior who worked few wonders where He saw little faith. (Mark 5:5-6) He is still the same Son of God who stated unwaveringly, “According to your faith be it done to you.” (Matthew 9:29)
We need God’s intervention in our day. Our nation needs His help. Our globe is quaking with oppression and darkness. People are lost, suffering, starving and dying. People in nearby cubicles at work feel despair and hopelessness. Many within a few miles of each of our front doors are contemplating suicide. We need doors open for the gospel that are shut so tight, the best evangelical strategies will not budge them. We need God’s wonders to be renewed in our day. (Habakkuk 3:2) Even if you believe wonders largely ceased with the completion of the New Testament canon, I’m wondering if perhaps you might be willing to cry out for the sake of this broken world and ask God to have mercy on us and intervene miraculously in our midst.
The common bond for all of us truly in Christ is our faith in what He has already done through the power of His cross and resurrection. That is nonnegotiable. But is He not also calling us to faith in what He has yet to do in fulfillment of His own prophetic word? What He might currently do if enough of us were willing to lay down our differences and our comforts to fall on our faces and ask? This is not about spiritual gifts if that is an issue that makes you resistant to believing God for wonders in our day. This is about supernatural power. And we are desperate for it. We need wonders of salvation, deliverance, freedom, rescue, repentance, revival, reconciliation, forgiveness. We need healing from bitterness and offense. We need miracles of unity in a fractured church. We need holiness and wholeness. We need mighty servants of God raised up all over the world to serve Him, to teach and preach His Word. We need boldness and fearlessness. We need supernatural strength to suffer well when suffering is imperative to His glory. We need to love people we hate. We need miracles.
To those of us who are willing to keep believing Him, God has promised the immeasurable greatness of the very power He exercised to raise Jesus from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-20) He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or think but He commands us to both ask and think, and to pray and believe, to seek and beat the door down.
We are here such a short time. You and I will stand in that great cloud of witnesses in the blink of an eye. We want to be among the generations of whom Jesus can say, “I got to do great and mighty things in that era right there. Those people had some kind of fiery faith.” Oh, make it so, Lord Jesus. Let it be. Revive us again.
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8
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Release date: September 20, 2016
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We have a dream that our gloriously faithful God is bringing to pass. All of us on the Living Proof-LifeWay team involved in Living Proof Live would give anything if we could just throw open the doors to our events and do them free of charge. You cannot imagine how thrilling that would be for all of us. Event costs are grossly prohibitive and the only way to cover a non-ticketed event is to take up offerings perhaps even multiple times during the gathering. If you’ve been to large events, that’s why you’ve seen one of two practices: they are either ticketed or supported by offerings. Neither way is ideal and, with God’s leadership and with right hearts and motives and godly stewardship, neither way is wrong. In our structuring, we’ve met costs through ticketing then given away as many scholarships as possible – primarily behind the scenes – so that ticket costs would not prohibit women who so desired to attend from coming.
At the same time we’ve had this deep wish to do a throw-open-the-door event, God placed a dream on another woman’s heart – one woman’s heart – who leads Bible study and ministers to Native American women in Arizona. Her great desire was to bring Living Proof Live to Chinle to sow wider seed of God’s Word into that fertile soil in order that many more would be saved, transformed by the power of the Spirit, informed about discipleship opportunities then discipled in ongoing Bible studies from that point forward. THAT, my friends, is some kind of vision! Keep in mind, all of what I’m about to share with you was placed by God on ONE FAITHFUL WOMAN’S HEART who was willing to pray with feverish faith and believe Him wildly for the people she dearly loves. As she presented this deep desire to the LifeWay team and the LifeWay team shared it with me, our eyes grew wide and our hearts leapt in our chests. We cried out, “YES!!!!!! Our answer is yes! We don’t know how we’ll do this but Jesus will show us!”
And this is the unfolding result:
LPL Chinle, AZ is a unique one-day ministry event that will serve the Native American women among the Navajo, Apache, Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribes. It will be funded entirely by a scholarship program in which women from all over the country can provide a scholarship ticket on behalf of a Native American woman. Women sowing into women. It doesn’t get better than that.
Who is invited to attend this event?
Native American women living and/or working and serving on a Native American Reservation. We want so much to serve these beautiful women and sow into a great harvest of God among them that could have effects for every generation of their descendants until Christ’s kingdom comes.
Here are two ways to participate:
- Provide a scholarship for a Native American woman to attend. lifeway.com/chinle ($25) AND PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY!!!! Pray BIG. Pray BOLDLY. Pray SPECIFICALLY. We promise to give you glimpses of what God is doing that weekend through Periscope (if we have good connections) and videos and tweets. You’ll be able to keep up with the event through social media and see answers to your prayers – please Lord Jesus! – and fruit of your generosity.
- If you qualify to attend, reserve your free ticket! As a Native American woman in the region, you qualify to participate just by reserving a free ticket: lifeway.com/chinle. ($5 suggested donation at the door to cover lunch)
We will gather together in the worship of our worthy and living God and in the study of His Word on Saturday, October 8, 2016 in the Chinle High School Wildcat Den. We are believing God to do something WAY BEYOND what we could plan or ask or accomplish. Something none of us at the event will ever forget, ever get over and ever cease to see the effects of. We are powerless to make this happen. Jesus alone can do what we’re seeking. Please pray that He will. Please pray that He will show tremendous favor to this event. We want to please Him so much. No, we want to do more than that. We want to DELIGHT Him. THANK YOU, SISTERS!!!
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I emerged from my prayer time and Scripture reading this morning with a burden on my heart for our ranks. I see and hear of truly astonishing works of God in our day. The ink in my pen flows warm with affection this morning and free of pessimism and hopelessness. I don’t have the luxury today of writing an overly-involved article. I will jump straight to what’s on my heart.
We are warned in the Scriptures that darkness will increasingly rage as time hastens toward Christ’s return. We are not date-setters but this we know. His return is closer today than it was yesterday. And the enemy is angrier today than he was yesterday. (Rev.12:12) And he wants us. He wants our testimonies. He wants to render us ineffective and make us a laughingstock. He wants to come between us and distract us with ridiculous things, showy things, boastful things, petty things, divisive things so that we’ll miss the tidal wave of temptation and seduction begging to engulf us. Jesus told us to be prepared. And we’re not. If we were, we’d be poring over our Bibles and flat on our faces in prayer. We’d come to our feet in the power of the Holy Spirit and preach and teach the Gospel with love and holy fire.
Instead, many believers – leaders and followers alike – will fall. Even servants who have had sincere and pure devotion to Jesus. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 warns us this can happen.
And those many believers – leaders and followers alike – must be helped back to their feet. Biblically, compassionately, gently, diligently and completely. Churches must train mature men and women in the faith who walk in the Spirit to actively minister Galatians 6:1. You’ve got to know I’m not casting stones here. I well know what it’s like to be in the grips of bondage and in heaps of defeat and sin. I also know for a fact that, by the grace and mercy of Jesus, we can be transformed and old tendencies and repetitive cycles utterly broken.
We must hang on for dear life to the word repentance. Watch carefully as that word becomes less and less popular in our churches and on our Christian platforms. Do not think for a second there is no scheme of the darkness to see to it. I will not waste words here. I just ask you to go to the Scriptures and see all that hinges on repentance and start picturing the terrifying ramifications of its absence. In a Christian climate where we call less and less sin, we will call fewer and fewer to repentance. That’s not rocket science. Repentance is one of the most glorious rights hailed by the cry of Christ’s finished work on the cross. We get to repent. This is not our self-condemnation. This is not our self-loathing. This is our liberty. Our restoration. Our cleansing, whiter than snow. God delights to show us mercy and cast our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7)
No one wants to fall grievously and no one has to. Sin is not our master. We all sin and grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. We all long for the day when faith will become sight and that which is incomplete will be made perfect. But we do not have to fall headlong into a ditch and, if we do, not one of us has to remain there. Each person has the right to get up by the grace of Jesus. The one who refuses the fallen the right to get up – and on the same level ground – is in far graver sin than he or she. God forbid that we would be a stumbling block to someone’s restoration.
We are not victims of the darkness. We are children of light, children of the Day, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 says. The difference between stumbling and falling is often the simple timing of our repentance. We don’t jump into a deep pit of sin. We take steps there. But, if we were to realize with that first or second step that we were already in trouble, we could repent right then. And we will have stumbled. But we will not have fallen.
Still, many will. And, by the power of Christ’s Cross and resurrection, each gets to grab hold of the hand of God and stand back up.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when He delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
I’ll end this with a cry to my sisters and brothers in Christ who are full of faith, believing voraciously in the power of the Word of God and for great works and wonders of the Holy Spirit in our day. Let’s tighten up our sanctification. Not our legalism, for the love of God. Our sanctification. Sanctification is a work of the Spirit and Truth, not of the law and the flesh. Let’s do some courageous self-examination and ask God to show us where we’re vulnerable to attack and where our feet are on the path toward a deep hole. Let’s shut illicit relationships down or they’ll shut us down. Let’s repent of our pride because it is the one guarantee of a pending fall. Let’s repent of our pretense. Let’s have the courage to face the brokenness in our lives and bring it without shame to Jesus. We can either deal with our stuff or I promise you our stuff will deal with us.
The enemy knows where we’re vulnerable. After thousands of years, he’s perfected his aim. He will not bother shooting many fiery darts where we are covered. He’s going for the bull’s eye, that glaring bald-spot where we refuse to come under the authority of Christ. We keep calling it a blind spot. Oh, we have blind spots alright but I don’t think they’re the biggest problem. We’re not blind to most of our disobedience and sin. We hope others are but we’re usually wide-eyed and well aware. It’s not a blind spot. It’s a bald-spot, uncovered because we so badly don’t want to give Jesus authority over it.
Here’s the thing. We who believe so much in the work of the Spirit in our day will be the biggest targets because the enemy knows the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. He can’t make it go away. He can only scheme to make it ineffective. And all that takes is to ridicule us into quenching the Spirit. Without the Spirit, the body of Christ is a corpse.
There is refinement and revival on the horizon according to the Scriptures. I want to see it with my own eyes. I want to be part of it. I know you do, too. And we can. The burgeoning unpopularity of Christianity will prove over time to be purifying for us but God help us in the meantime. My plea this morning is that we open our eyes to the darkness coming for us. A tidal wave of seduction looms over us. We are being taken down behind the scenes by the thousands, feeling alone and isolated and having no idea how many are enduring the same kinds of suffering and defeat. Let’s come back together and get brushed off, cleaned up and educated in the Scriptures and fortified by the Spirit. Let’s own our brokenness, our enormous temptations and weaknesses and go back to the practice of true repentance and commit ourselves to the pursuit of sanctification. Let’s learn how to restore. Let’s learn how to recognize fruit of repentance. Let’s help each other back to our feet and learn how to stay on our feet.
Let’s be the Church, bruised but beautiful. Innocent as a dove. Wise as a serpent. Smart and humble.
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