Going Forward

So, what do we do now?

What do we do in this world, in this day, in this time, in this era?

In this climate of increasing hostility toward Christians?

How do we glorify God and do people good in an environment where we’re colossally unpopular?

Bailing is not an option unless we really weren’t in it to start with. If an issue causes an exit, we were around Christ but not in Christ. (1 John 2:19) Hiding is ridiculously counterproductive since the reason we’re here is to be lights in the darkness.

So, what now?

My Scripture memory over the last month has had me in the fourth chapter of Ephesians so, for the process to work, I have to read the verses again and again,¬†asking God to peel them¬†from the page and stick them in my head and bind them to my heart. They speak to me in very personal ways but I can’t shake the thought of¬†their relevance to us corporately in a culture growing, in these hot days of summer, icy cold to Christianity. Sometime soon I hope you’ll steal away a moment to read the whole chapter. It is seed for the soil of our time under the sun as surely as it was when God first gave it to Paul. With your patience, I’ll pick out a few segments that might land on some ground firm enough to stand on when we’re shaken. The chapter opens with this:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

This is the world you and I have been called to serve. This exact world. This exact era. It is not a mistake. It is a mission. Isaiah 41:4 says, “Who acts and carries out decrees? Who summons the successive generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, am present at the very beginning and at the very end – I am the one.” (NET) 1 Peter 2:9 calls us a “chosen generation.” Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared for us beforehand. Acts 17:26 says that God “made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times.” (NET) God is sovereign in all things. Never unprepared. Never caught off guard. Nothing happening presently is inconsistent with what Jesus said prophetically in places like Matthew 24.

So, this stage is set for us. We’re on.

Bemoaning will not help us. Believing will. We here in the west have, generally speaking, gotten away with living out our Christianity selfishly, carnally, politically, lazily, and, forgive me and include me, sloppily. We’ve left it for the professionals to do for us while we’ve tried to stay buffered on neutral ground. That’s not going to work now. Christianity has grown too inconvenient. These are days for sanctification. These are days to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we each have been called. Let’s clear out the cultural camouflage from our closets and go ahead and be willing to look different from the world¬†and love different¬†than the world…

Or looking different is nothing but masquerading. There are people I dearly love on the other side of many of our issues. Wonderful people. My own flesh and blood. I want those relationships. To¬†lose them from my life would break my heart. I’ve got no stones to throw. No condemnation to scream. I breathe by the¬†grace of Jesus alone. My very colorful extended family doesn’t leave me the convenience of discussing cold concepts. These are warm-hearted fellow human beings welcome and wanted in my home. I need Jesus to teach me how to love them well in the midst of believing differently.

(V.2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

What’s not going to serve us well in this era is arrogance. We have to be willing to stare ourselves in the mirror and ask an honest question: does anybody out there in the unbelieving world want what I have? If we have the love and hope of Jesus and the joy of those who know they are forgiven and the security of those who know they are loved unconditionally, and the certainty of those who know where they are headed when this life is over, the answer to that question will be¬†yes. If we’re grossly self-righteous and condemning and lack humility and gentleness and grace and genuine love, we can’t blame their resistance on being put off by Jesus. They’ll be put off by us. We serve this world. That’s what we’re here to do. And we do it with humility and gentleness and patience and love.

(Vv.11-16) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This is a huge part of what provoked me to write this post:

It’s time for us to go forward to church. Not back. Forward. I mean to a local church. It has never been easier to be a believer in Christ and not be invested in a local body of believers. We can sit right in front of a screen every week and watch a church service. We can hear an endless stream of podcasts by our favorite preachers and teachers. We can do Bible studies at home – thank God – ¬†and have praise and worship in our cars on the way to work – I love that, too. And those things are fabulous and edifying but they cannot supplant the local church and us fulfill our missions and follow Christ’s way. I’m asking you to hear me out here. The days we have coming are days that will necessitate¬†– if we’re to live them well and effectively and in the will of Christ Jesus – congregating regularly and being in an intentional community with Bible-learning believers.

I’m not talking about going “back” to church the way we used to do church when Christianity was culturally and politically correct. I’m talking about going forward to church.

My maternal grandmother lived with us until she passed away when I was in early high school. She was born in rural Arkansas in the mid 1880s and died in the sprawling city of Houston, Texas in 1973. During her earthly tenure, life in these United States moved from horseback to automobiles and from jets to spacecrafts. She sat in front of a television screen utterly transfixed as Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and, with words thickly accentuated, made a statement anyone in that generation knew by heart until the day they died: “One small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” Perhaps no word characterized the era my grandmother occupied like “leap.” Progress didn’t meander along. It long-jumped. It was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.¬†The west wore a big S on its chest and a¬†red cape fluttering in the wind.

Never one to believe in keeping an opinion to herself, she scoffed openly every time she heard a person long for the good old days. “You can have them,” she’d say. Then she’d commence into a diatribe like this:

“Go right ahead and swelter in the heat. I’ll stay in the air conditioning.

Go right ahead and huddle in front of a small fireplace when it’s freezing outside and grab your pillows and sleep in there, all of you, because your rooms feel like they’re 20 degrees below zero. I’ll take a heater.

Go ahead and scrub your clothes then put them through the ringer one by one and hang them on a clothes line. I’ll put mine in the washer and dryer.

Go ahead and milk that cow early every morning. I’ll go to Piggly Wiggly. Just go right ahead. The good old days are yours for the taking. Cut your electricity off and have at it. As for me, I’ll keep the days we’re living in.”

The moment Pillsbury put out the first canned biscuits, my grandmother never rolled out another batch of homemade dough. She cracked open a can of biscuits on the counter in the gladdest defiance of the good old days.

I guess in some ways that’s how I feel about church and the general climate of Christianity in my upbringing. I loved church passionately. It was a lifeguard throwing out a buoy to me, flailing in waters way over my head. It meant more to me than I have breath and words to articulate. I walked through those doors three times a week minimum. But I do not wish for the good old days of church. I’ll take today. In my upbringing, practically everybody went to church whether or not they believed in God. It was America. And, in my part of the country, it’s what Americans did because American, by and large, meant Christian. But we didn’t speak much about¬†Jesus outside those walls. Salvation was something you received around eight or nine years old instead of every day for the rest of your life from the moment you called Jesus Lord. My family growing up wouldn’t have known to get down on the floor together on all our knees and cry out with one unified heart for God to come and rescue us from our destruction, our bitterness, our despair, our unforgiveness, our addictions and our hypocrisies. We’d never been taught or shown such a thing. Issues like rampant prejudice and sexual abuse never came up. Church didn’t sort through the trash. Collectively, church was mostly about being proper. Respectable. And, where I came from, American. I don’t have anything against being proper, respectable, or American. I want to be all those things. But it’s a new America and one the cross of Christ foresaw. The tide of Christ’s blood reached these banks way back then. He hasn’t moved off shore. This is the new America we who live here are called to inhabit on purpose and serve well.

I was raised in a thick Christian atmosphere. I have not been out of church for a single month in my entire life. In all those years I never heard anyone pray like I hear people pray today. That doesn’t mean plenty of people weren’t praying the roof down somewhere. I just didn’t happen to be where they were. I heard sweet prayers and meaningful prayers and reverent prayers and, all of them, genuine prayers. And they were heard by God, bless His Name. I cannot fathom where I’d be without them. They mattered greatly. But I never heard anybody pray under such an unction of the Holy Spirit that I had to open my eyes to see if they were lit up like a torch. I didn’t hear prayers like that at church until the last few decades. I don’t mean screaming and yelling. That doesn’t move me. ¬†I’m just talking about an atmosphere filled by the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit where the Word of God is not just taught, it is walked and stalked and pounded out on the pavement of our workplaces and social environments and under the roofs of our very own homes. An atmosphere not of convenience but of desperation where the Word of God has the power to break addictions and mend factions. When I was growing up, the only people who studied their Bibles were clergy. Good Lord, we’ve come a long way.

My experiences may not be yours. Maybe for you, days of the past really were the good old days. But whether we’d have them back or not, they are gone. Yesterday’s gone. LONG gone. Jesus longs to work here and now and among us in this world.

A gift has come to us if we’ll receive it. Our old way of doing things won’t work anymore. We won’t get away with being lazy in our faith and in our spiritual disciplines, not if we’re going to join that great cloud of witnesses one day who did their jobs well in their generations and did not shrink back in the face of hostility. We won’t get away with sharing the good news in a bad mood. Nobody will buy it. We won’t get away with virtual church. We can’t be equipped that way. We can’t fulfill our callings autonomously and self-contained. ¬†We won’t get away with all our fracturing and infighting over secondary issues. We’ll¬†need each other too badly. The padding on the Body of Christ in America has been stripped away with the last threads of nominal Christianity. We’re lean these days. Just listen to the statistics. But make no mistake. Lean can be strong. Lean can run fast and hard with the gospel around the globe.

4¬†There is one body and one Spirit‚ÄĒjust as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call‚ÄĒ 5¬†one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6¬†one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.¬†

We won’t get away with all our carnality. It’s cheating us of the Spirit. And, boy, do we need the Spirit.

22 put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We won’t get away with these things if we’re to walk worthy of our callings in a culture increasingly unwelcoming to Christians. Not if we’re going to love people who hate us. Bless people who curse us. Help people who hurt us.

And that is a gift.

Our lives will be over before we know it. And we will stand before Jesus and look at His glorious face and marvel over His worthiness of every ounce of our devotion. And we won’t be able to do this over. We’ll have only had this one chance to do this thing with all our hearts. Let’s not go back to church. Let’s go forward to it. Let’s not go back to the Bible. Let’s go forward to it. Let’s not go back to prayer. Let’s go forward to it. Let’s not go back to the way the Holy Spirit worked yesterday. The pipe is breaking. The Spirit pouring. He’s doing something wildly significant today. Let’s congregate, Church, under the nearest spout, so we can spread out¬†and splash on a dry and thirsty land.

for we are members one of another. (V.25)

And the devil’s not playing out there.

 

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207 Responses to “Going Forward”

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Angie says:

    Amen & Amen!!!

  2. 2

    Thank you for this beautiful kick in the pants this Monday morning! Boy did I need that.

  3. 3
    Kate Hawk says:

    Thank you Thank you, Beth! As I shared this on my Facebook page, I’ve been praying and pondering, wondering how He wants me to Go Forward. I’ve sensed an answering in my spirit, and He spoke a confirmation through your post. We’ve GOT to Go Forward, but we do it hand in hand listening for His voice to direct us on this new path. Praying His continued blessing on you, favor, and continued filling! Thank you for being a Bold, loving and caring leader!
    Big Hugs, Siesta Mama!

  4. 4
    Natalie says:

    So well said Beth! I so agree and want nothing more than Jesus and the church. But the church of now. The church that loves and moves to serve where people are hurting and in need. “Where there is sending without sanctification the sending is hollow’ Curtis Jones Hollowness won’t be sufficient to lead others to the Kingdom. Only one letter difference between hollow and hallow but a difference of eternal proportions. May we go forward to church. Forward to love. Forward in the Spirit. Forward to study the scriptures. Forward with the good good news.
    Love and appreciate you!!

  5. 5
    Selena says:

    Thank you, Siesta Mama, for these words of encouragement. It is so easy to want to hide or ignore what’s going on, but I know we can’t do that. Everything you said is exactly what I’ve been hearing everywhere- Sunday School lesson, sermon, and Bible Study yesterday.
    Lord, help us, we can’t do it on our own!

  6. 6
    Brigette Brock says:

    AMEN and AMEN!!

  7. 7

    Thanks for this blog. I am right there in agreement!!!

  8. 8
    Sabrina says:

    Wow. This was so powerful, Beth, and exactly what I needed to hear. I was just praying hard on this subject last night, and I’ll admit being a bit nostalgic for the old days when things seemed simpler. Easier. But God placed on my heart last night that simpler wasn’t necessarily better, and that just because our country seemed more Christian didn’t mean people really were. Then to read this message from you this morning? Well, it just hammered that point home. Thank you for writing this and speaking words of truth. We so desperately need to move forward.

  9. 9
    Karen says:

    Thank you Beth-good word for such a time as this! I thank God for you and your leadership!

  10. 10
    Tammie says:

    “Not if we‚Äôre going to love people who hate us. Bless people who curse us. Help people who hurt us.”

    This is EXACTLY why I felt God moving me to bring my testimony out of the closet. And it’s scary as heck, but I’m asking God to help me discern and share it gently, respectfully and lovingly. 2 Tim 2 22-25

  11. 11

    Thank you. For saying so eloquently what needed to be said. We have been sleeping…and now our slumber is over.

  12. 12
    Leigh says:

    Thank you for sharing this. Your tweet yesterday did not make sense to me, I was confused by it. What you wrote here makes perfect sense to me and is a very positive challenge for all followers of Christ. One I appreciate and need. Thank you.

  13. 13
    Redeemed says:

    Whew.
    I have been so frustrated lately….angry, even. Going to church these days has felt a little like walking into Starbucks (no disrespect intended here) Feels good, looks good, but man alive, it feels way too comfortable. I see our culture changing and wonder “what are we DOING?”
    And in my frustration and anger I have been pretty arrogant. Sharing the good news in a bad mood? Yep, that’s been me. Lord, help me.

  14. 14
    Amy Grace says:

    Thank you for your devotion to the study and teaching of God’s word, Beth! Excellent job posting this. John 4:35 states, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” It is time for us to do the will of Him who sent us. Jesus stated in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly.” We must be praying people, petitioning him to send revival to these dry, apathetic lands! Ephesians 2:8 declares, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” We were made for this. He chose us. He called us to do it. Fill us up, irrigate our hearts, renew us, and pour us out! I am right there with you, sister!

  15. 15
    Cindy says:

    Thank you Beth, for your words of wisdom

  16. 16
    Jami Johnson says:

    Such a lump in my throat and chills up and down my arm. I want to say so much to respond to this. But, all I can say is thank you for such a pure and honest heart. Let us be found faithful. Much love to you!

  17. 17
    Regina says:

    I appreciate these words so much today. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  18. 18
    Kay Martin says:

    Beth, Thank you so much for this post!! It encouraged me and I needed it!! I needed the encouragement to go on – to continue to stand firm in God’s Word even when some family members disagree saying there are a lot of gray areas. I am praying God helps me to be gentle but firm and merciful. Can’t do it without Him!!

  19. 19
    Carol Cantwell says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart ! I so agree !
    This is the scripture the Lord gave me after reading this blog ! Isaiah 42:16 along unfamiliar paths I will guide them I will turn the darkness into light before them !
    He is with us during very very crazy time ! We just need to stay focused ,and purposeful !
    Thank you Beth !

  20. 20

    Amen. I will need to go through this very convicting post and spend some time sitting with it.

    I have sensed that the Church, the Bride of Christ, is being refined by fire.. The impurities coming to the surface. Not sure if this is accurate or not.

    I think the Holy Spirit is passionately trying to wake us up from our spiritual narcolepsy. May we, may I, stay alert to His voice and walk in obedience with love and grace, keeping my eyes on Christ.

    Thank you for posting.

    Blessings,
    Terri

  21. 21
    Joelle Roibal says:

    Amen and Amen!!! Use me Lord to bring good news! Not bad judgement!

  22. 22
    Pam Burkham says:

    Dear Precious Beth,

    Sometimes I am so dry to hear a word from you. Today I was parched. You are able to say what I do not take the time to develop. I need that time alone. I need gentleness. I have knowledge. I need love and application. I have Jesus but I need to wear Him – not for my glory but HIS alone. I pray my heart out for America but I have issues of my own to deal with – pride, gluttony, judgmentalism. Not all of the time but too much. Thank you for helping me to look in the mirror first and to have the compassion – not of the world but the compassion of Jesus. Thank you for being real. Jesus was/is real. I want to be real. I want more of Jesus.
    Hugs and Blessings –

  23. 23
    Becky says:

    Thank your for such an encouraging word! I’ve been thinking and praying about this for a while now. We attend a church that is basically a Sunday only church. The main demographic is 30-45. They are young families that ” don’t have time for Bible studies or other mid-week “activities”. I’ve been holding studies in my home but the ladies peel away one by one. It makes me so sad that so many just don’t have time for Jesus. They argue online relentlessly about loving one another but there is no community to be encouraged to live it out. I’ll call myself out in wishing for the good ol days, the ones with weekly Bible study, Sunday picnics, people who’ve known you and aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. Now is the time we buckle down and get serious about knowing The Word. If we think times are hard now, what will it be for our grandchildren? As believers we have to be serious, living it out is just going to get harder, our roots had better go deeper!

  24. 24
    Beth Ellsworth says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write these words and to teach from the Scripture. Always an inspiration and your writing and teaching points us to Jesus and the wisdom of the Scriptures.

  25. 25
    Vickie biggs says:

    Wow! Very powerful stuff. I know for myself and my husband we have been searching for what God has for us, and in this process my husbands job contract was not renewed, he has had physical issues, and needs healing. Satan has pulled out the “big guns.” The harder we try and mor truth that comes, the harder satan tries to stop us. God is an awesome God and I know we will come through, he has a job interview on Wednesday! Praying for healing with his feet. Praying God’s word is so vital today, and one more thing, satan is a lier!! Thank you Beth for being that, living sermon I needed to see! Blessings!

  26. 26
    Kim says:

    Thank you Beth. Some dear friends and I were talking the other day, about the church and the times we live in. After discussing issues with no easy answers, at the end of it all we found ourselves concurring with john, not without desperation in our voices, ‘come Lord jesus’. For these are times when it is horribly unpopular to love the name of Jesus…. enough to make my heart quake within me at the thought of stepping up. But he who is in us is greater than he that is in the world. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  27. 27
    Allison Morrison says:

    Yes!! Grateful to you for putting into such beautiful words exactly how I feel ūüôā We can’t go back, we can’t cower under a rock- we must be strong and courageous, He’s got this, got us. I want to make my Daddy proud!

  28. 28
    Hannah Belle says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes. It seems like all I can pray lately is “God, give me the courage to stand up, stand out, and stand alone for Your truth, no matter the cost.” I’m so thankful for my local church Body and my pastor who brings the Word without compromising. And thankful for you, Ms. Beth, and your sweet but challenging encouragement. Thank you!

  29. 29
    Vickie ingle says:

    WOW, WOW, and WOW! Well said Beth and something I completely agree with. We must live what we believe or risk losing those God has placed right smack dab in our path. It is time!!

  30. 30
    Samantha says:

    A much needed post! Thank you for writing, Beth. We have sure missed your posts!

  31. 31
    Melany says:

    Thank you for this, Beth! How energizing! This is definitely not a boring time to be alive. As you wrote in the last line of this, Satan is NOT playing. I see him working so hard right now to destroy people in my family and circle of acquaintances. He seems to be really attacking the people of God, as well as our country and the world. Of course, that’s what he does. However, like you, I have seen such great working by the Spirit recently, and that’s exciting!!! One of my grandfathers (born in 1897 in rural TN) said the same thing your grandmother did about the good ol’ days. I know it will be challenging, but I’m excited about moving forward.

  32. 32
    Lauri says:

    WOW !! So much to think about … What a great powerful word this Monday morning !!!
    Thank you Lord for the gift of boldness !! Let us be bold for Jesus during these times of cultural persecution towards your disciples.

  33. 33
    Fran McCurry Plott says:

    “For such a time as THIS”! I could not walk this Walk without my church group and all it means to all of us!

    Our very close Sunday School Class is mourning one of our own precious ones today.
    With such sadness I must tell you that sweet BJ Horn went to be with Jesus early Thursday morning. I wanted you, Curtis, and Amanda to know. You brought sweet comfort to her in the last year of her life one Sunday at BCF. My husband and I, BJ, Amanda, Gay, and you sat together on the first row. Thank you for the caring and the prayers.
    Two of BJ’s best friends and I had hoped to be at the Greenville, SC with BJ this year…we three will still be there next weekend without BJ in person, but certainly in spirit and love.
    In the months before her diagnosis in May 2014, BJ had done two of your studies at one time, Daniel and Breaking Free. Daniel was to be her comfort, as she knew she would be healed “from the fire, through the fire, or by the fire”. Breaking Free was the impetus to promote healing in her relationship with her older daughter, who did not leave her side for the past year. Breaking Free also gave BJ the courage to mend the rifts between her two brothers and one of her sisters and herself. All were present at the wake yesterday, praise God.
    Thank you for all of the goodness you brought to my friend.
    God surely went before her as was made plain for all of us to see. We will celebrate her life at 2:00. today.

    With gratitude and love,
    Fran

    • 33.1
      LPM-KMac says:

      Hi Fran, I will get this news to Beth in the event she misses your comment. Thank you, and I am sorry to hear about this loss. So grateful to know about the relationships that were mended in time!

  34. 34
    Dana Strake says:

    AMEN and AMEN, sister! Thank you, Beth, for firing me (and hopefully all of us) up on this Monday. I see the greatest disaster right now in this country is Christian complacency and contentment in where we are, along with fear and hand wringing in what we should do. Let’s GET UP and go forward!! Love you and your sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit is telling you to tell us! I stand grateful! Love, Dana

  35. 35
    Axa Carnes says:

    Beth, revival is coming and it may have started in Charleston, SC on Saturday, June 13th at The Response prayer event. The governor of the state and several senators on both sides of the political isle came to pray and to be prayed over. The prayer time was as you describe above. There were prayers for unity and even a man at the end who had a word from God about being ready for what was coming. Four days later, the massacre of the 9 brothers and sister occurred. As a result multiple acts of contrition and reconciliation have taken place. Prayers meetings are starting at churches and many of us are seeking God in a way that we have never done before.

  36. 36
    Rachel says:

    Thank you for these words of encouragement Mama Beth!

  37. 37
    Lora says:

    Oh Yeah! You called me out my friend. Thank you and bless you.

    How do we glorify God and do people good in an environment where we’re colossally unpopular?

    22 put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    “…love people who hate us. Bless people who curse us. Help people who hurt us.”

  38. 38
    leigh says:

    Amen….Amen

  39. 39
    MargiebytheSea says:

    Thank you, Beth. SO much needed by me as I pray for God’s guidance. Within one week, my denomination made it impossible for me to stay because of decisions it has made for our national church that do not adhere to God’s Word ( you would not waste a prayer here!) preceded of course by the decisions made in our Supreme Court
    But, the Lord clearly showed me that I need only to keep focused on the Light, Jesus Christ, and to heed His promise, “I am coming,” reminding me that the world is not my home.
    Your insight in helping us to examine how to keep that walk in the place in which we all find ourselves is magnificent. We thank God for you.

  40. 40
    Kelly S says:

    AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!!
    Thank you! And see you in Greenville <3!

  41. 41
    Paula says:

    We have much in common. I have been going to church since I can remember. There was a time in my life when I was there every single day of the week for either church or school or a mixture of both. I loved it. It helped to make me who I am today. God used it to keep me out of trouble. I, like you, never want to go back.
    Things are so different today. I love being part of a group of women from several different churches who study Scripture together regularly and treat each other with such love and respect even as we disagree on the fine points.
    I feel blessed to have grown up in a time when Christianity seemed to be informing culture but I feel doubly blessed to step into a future when Christianity returns to its original state of being counter-cultural. I want to be like Peter in Acts 5:41 “So they went from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.”
    Thank you for sharing, Sister, and a big AMEN!

  42. 42
    Maggie says:

    Thank you so much for this awesome Holy Spirit inspired post. Recently, after facing some rather harsh criticism from church folks (we are long time pastors of a church here in Canada) I was tempted to just give up and throw in the towel. Its not that we havent experienced this before, it comes with the job from time to time, its just this has been particularly challenging for me. The verse that came to my mind was ” 1 Peter 4:7-8. The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I found it interesting that the end of all things was put together with loving one another deeply. Perhaps we will be more challenged to love our brothers and sisters well in these days. Therefore the need to be regularly connected to other believers is of vital importance even when it hurts. Learning to forgive and forbear is essential in and out of the church. Jesus said they would know we are Christians by our love for one another. This post was exactly what I needed this morning to regain my perspective, so thank you thank you thank you.

  43. 43
    Tara G. says:

    Our pastor keeps saying that the generations coming up now will have a much better understanding of Acts than those who grew up in the time when it was politically expedient to be nominally Christian in America because we are living in the days of “Rome” today.

    I appreciate you, Beth!

  44. 44
    Tomi Taulbee says:

    Yes. Thank you. I’m going forward to church. I’m going forward to the Bible. I’m going forward to prayer. God, help me! Help my brothers & sisters!

  45. 45
    Anita says:

    Thank you for this powerful encouragement! Very timely! God bless you!

  46. 46
    Ann Bailey says:

    Beth thank you for reminding each one of us to stand firm in the word of God.

  47. 47
    Barbara Severns says:

    Barbara Severns

    Amen!!! …for such a time as this

  48. 48
    Betty M says:

    Dear Beth, I hear even from my relatives that the church just doesn’t do for them any more. They have been badly hurt by others in the church and they are done with it. Well, yes, we as the body of Christ should be different but alot of times we fail others as well as the unchurched do. We are still Christians who sin daily and need forgiveness.
    My hubby and I were at each others throats last week I was ashamed of some of the things I said to him. We sat down Sat eve and forgave each other and took a step back and realized we were both stressed. Me from on the go traveling for over a month now and little down time, him from the daily grind of farming and ranching. Then in church yesterday we corporately confessed our sins and received the sweet forgiveness of our sins through our shepherd. That was very sweet.
    We can not just skip corporate worship. It is there we hear the Word of God and receive the forgiveness of our sins. Yes, the church can hurt us as it is made up of sinners who need forgiveness. If I no longer sense the need for weekly worship then I have to ask myself if I am growing my faith or killing it. You can not tread water when it comes to faith issues.
    I think this is a great time for the church as I feel the Lord is gleaning out the wheat from the tares and those of us who stand firm in the faith no matter what the cost will reap a reward. Pray we stay true to our calling to death if need be and I have no doubt the church will grow as never before. Persecution never killed faith in God it grew it!
    A great post, Beth.
    Betty

  49. 49
    D.A. says:

    Dear Beth,
    Thank you for these words… I asked the same question you first typed into this blog, this very morning, after my son came to us last night and declared he is not straight. My son who carried his red New Testament Bible every day to every class all through elementary from grade 5 and secondary school. Talking, challenging people about their walk in life, their faith, and who Jesus Christ is. He has also informed me that he is still a Christian. I am to say the least dumb-founded. Shock does not even begin to describe where I am at. Tears well up unceasingly.

    Again I thank you. I want to walk with Jesus through this testing of my faith. I want to continue to show Jesus to my son. I am stumbling, and overwhelmed, but I trust that Jesus will be with me every step of the way.
    I saw myself through out your post today. Thank you for helping a mom, when the day is dark.

  50. 50
    Marilyn Baker says:

    Thank you Beth for reaffirming my thoughts and feelings that we as Christians are on the brink of something entirely different from what has been. I posted a recent post on FB concerning my personal beliefs as a Christian not condemning any one or group just stating what I personally held as a conviction and belief in faith. The replies were disheartening. Family members, neighbors and friends were blasting me for my comments leaving me feeling as though I had committed a crime of being racist, prejudicial, judging and etc. Only one response confirmed that I was doing none of the above.

    Now, I am concerned and praying for the people I care about and love especially my grown children and grandchildren who seem to deny the Word of God and His teachings. They consider me to be “out of touch” with the real world and unrealistic in my beliefs. My heart breaks but my prayers continue for their spiritual eyes, ears and heart be opened and that God’s love blast into their lives. May His glory and love be theirs.

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