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.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 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.



207 Responses to “Going Forward”

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  1. 51
    DeLene Gilbert says:

    Wow such a powerful message! We agree 100%. Our world needs us now!
    Thank you so much for your inspiration!

  2. 52
    Lynne says:

    Wow! Yes! I so needed these words.

  3. 53
    Sarah Mae says:

    Beth, this is something I’ve been feeling so heavy lately. But how? How do we go forward? What does it mean? I have so many questions about this.

  4. 54
    Tammy C. says:

    Thank you, Beth. The last few weeks have had me searching as what I’m supposed to “look” like. After much prayer and reading (positive and negative), I come back to the point you made: Love. That’s what we’re called to do: Love God and love others. Sometimes, I think we try to make things so darn complicated. Thank you for these words.

  5. 55
    patti reavis says:

    Patti, Clemmons, NC
    Awesome message, Beth. Help us , Lord, to walk our faith out daily in love and conviction. We love you.

  6. 56
    Kaitlin says:


  7. 57
    Debi says:

    Thanks Beth……..I needed it, I’m challenged by your words and I’m crying out that God will always give me the spirit of love, forgiveness, and humility. I don’t want to go back, I want to go forward…God bless you.

  8. 58
    Jennifer Winner says:

    Thank you!!! My husband is a pastor and this is all the meat and sentiment we have been trying to share as well! It was hard to know whether to talk about it “at church” but he did this week! You are right. Now is not the time to hide or scream in anger! We both just read Unoffendable by Brant Hansen and it has helped us know how to react to lots of things! It is so nice to hear other Christian leaders speaking in love and truth! Thank you so much!

  9. 59
    Cheri says:

    Amen & Amen! I’ve been pretty anxious watching all the events unfold – as with you Beth, I have family members whom I love so very much – that are celebrating the culture’s shift. I don’t want to lose them or their love; so for the most part, I’ve just remained silent at least in public. “Lord, help us to know when AND HOW to speak that truth in love! Give us practical steps to take to be Your light in the darkness! I feel so inadequate and puny – but if I’m believing that I am who YOU say I am, I’m not either of those things in YOU! Just show me – teach me – guide me – hit me over the head with the “how’s”, because sometimes I can be so dense! Thank You for loving me in spite of myself! In Jesus Name, Amen.”

  10. 60
    Kristin A. says:

    Thank you so much, Beth, for your encouraging conviction. Mordecai’s words to Queen Esther come to mind as I ponder this post: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b NIV). We are daughters of the King and we were created for such a time as this! Let’s rise up and do this thing well! Glory to Him!

  11. 61
    Becca Groves says:

    Thank you, Beth. I am always so grateful for your ability to put into words to all of these feelings inside of me.

  12. 62
    Volleyball Ginger says:

    thank you Beth! Not only do we all need to hear this…..I really needed to read it!

    Ginger S. Lowe
    Wetumpka, AL

  13. 63
    Brenda says:

    This resonates with our church service yesterday morning. We had a missionary from Africa as a guest speaker and our Old Testament reading was Ezekiel 2:1-5 –

    He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen — for they are a rebellious people — they will know that a prophet has been among them.

    It seemed a very appropriate passage to read just before hearing an update about the work being done among the people of Ghana.

  14. 64
    Dannel says:

    Beth, this reminds me of your teaching in Thessalonians where we are moving towards time versus running out of time. May we finish this leg of life on earth strong and moving towards the One who calls us to Himself. Thank you for living what you know, praying for you and yours…

  15. 65
    Alyssa says:

    Amen!!! So well said! We must move forward into what God has for us– none of the recent events of our world are a surprise to Him. He has placed us here for THIS time. And hooray for a lean, not-so-mean, fighting machine of a church to reach a hurting world for Christ! Love you, Siesta Mama! So good to hear from you today.

  16. 66
    1gleaner says:

    It sounds like I was raised exactly like you were! Church was poured into me…Sunday School, Training Union, Prayer meeting, GA’s and VBS…we were there! Now it’s really time I pour myself into the community with all the love of Jesus and his word I have to give.
    Thanks for the reminder…we are not playing church…this cultural war is real and folks need us on the front lines serving up some kindness and forgiveness and pointing the way to the cross.

    You are the real thing, Beth. I love you and can’t wait to see you in Greenville SC this weekend!

  17. 67
    Sharon says:

    Thanks for the fuel for the spirit.

    God seems to light my way one day at a time, and some days are painful, but other days are grand! Thanks for being a light to those of us still trying to carry our cross.

  18. 68
    Ruth Farmer says:

    Wow. Thank you. Can’t wait to see and hear you next week! So thankful for you!

  19. 69
    Donita says:

    Beth: I read your blog this morning and I have to tell you that it has hung with me all day long. It scares me (which is a good thing because I need to be more aware, alert and active with my walk with God) but also because I KNOW time is growing short – my spirit just tells me that we are so close and time is so short. The world is a very dark and dangerous place to be and it seems to grower darker day by day. I remember when I was 12 years old my grandmother, who was a devoted Christian, told me that I would see Jesus come back and I have never ever forgotten that. Thank you for being obedient to the Lord and doing His work and reminding us who we belong to. I will be forever grateful for the huge price Jesus paid for me. Keep up the work Beth and I pray that He will bless you and your family mightily! Donita

  20. 70
    Dee Dee Thornton says:

    Thanks for sharing Beth! I usually check in the blog when it is time to post my next verse. And I know the Lord prompted me to check in because I needed the exhortation and encouragement big time!!!!! I love you!!

  21. 71
    Jackie Diamond says:

    Amen! Keep preaching the Word, Beth!

  22. 72
    Geraldine says:

    Thank you, this is an on time word.
    I really appreciate this and to hear the feedback, there is always something new to learn from one another, and how to handle day to day issues, new one that never occured, because sometimes we don’t know all of the answers, although we trust God and pray for answers, and don’t listen, his grace is sufficient.

  23. 73
    Allison Ashton says:

    If a Christian is going to look different than the world and love differently than, I believe a lot of adjusting needs to take place in the music arena. Some of it is just too much like the world and I wonder why does it have to sound like the world?? But, I have to do my part in my world. Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness….

  24. 74
    Marilyn N-S :-) says:

    SE Michigan

    1 John 4:4 King James Version

    Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

  25. 75
    sherry triblo says:

    Thank you Beth you always give me something to think about

  26. 76
    Anne says:

    Wow! This is exactly what the Holy Spirit has laid on my heart! I am coming to see you this weekend and boy am I excited! You are in my prayers as I know you need them right now! As do we all!

  27. 77
    Sherry says:

    There just aren’t enough Amen in me for this post. AMEN to infinity… and BEYOND!

  28. 78
    Shannon Pate says:

    Well said, sweet sister!!!!!!!

  29. 79
    Shell says:

    Wow. What an awesome message. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  30. 80
    Anna says:

    “Onward Christian soldiers,
    Marching as to war,
    With the Cross of Jesus
    Going on before”

  31. 81
    Mary G. says:

    Hi Beth,
    A powerful word indeed! As I was reading your post my mind wandered to the prayer I said as I was getting ready for work today. I was thinking about the day ahead, and reading your post it applies to every day. Thank you Lord that you have given me the grace for today. Not tomorrow, but today. Whatever I am facing in front of me and all that lay ahead you give me the grace every single day. I pray sweet Jesus that I will be faithful and I will live out every day to please you, not man. I pray your love would shine thru me and somehow thru this very imperfect vessel lead others to you. I pray this for us all.
    Love, Mary

  32. 82
    Susan says:

    Whoa baby! What a Word! My heart’s desire is that I will be in the midst of this moving forward and not left in the dust!

  33. 83
    Liz Payne says:

    Thank you Beth. I needed to read that. I’m always so amazed by your insight into what we need to hear — just when we need to hear it most. Truly God inspired messages.

  34. 84
    Michelle Thomas says:

    Sweet Sister,

    This is such a powerful post, “for such a time as this” – I am inspired and convicted to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…and run {FORWARD} with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”

    <3 Thank you and God bless!

  35. 85
    Lorie Brothers says:

    I have a prayer list that I pray every night, I’d like to share one with you. 1st Thessalonians 3:12-13: And may the Lord make your Love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our Love for you overflows. May he,as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and Holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again with all his Holy people. Amen.

  36. 86
    Karen says:

    Perfect timing! Both convicting and reassuring. I was feeling the need to dig a hole and climb in. What was I thinking???

  37. 87
    Malcolm Pierre says:

    What a timely word. As always, thanks for teaching truth! The blinders have been removed and many are seeing for the very first time. As we all move forward in this new world, proper teaching is a must. Thank you for your handling of God’s Word and the effective communication of the same.

    Love you sister.


  38. 88
    Cary says:

    All I can say is AMEN & AMEN!

  39. 89
    Mindy Seekford says:

    Mrs Beth,

    This was so good. Thank you for these words. They helpedme not be
    afraid of the world my kids are growing up in. We are here for such a time as this.
    Love you, Lady

  40. 90
    Cathy H says:

    Beth, You are such a beautiful sister in the Lord. Thanks for the encouragement, and for helping us to lift our heads to our Maker and Creator who holds this whole world in His completely capable hands. I have gotten bogged down and discouraged lately by much I see and hear on news and social media. Thank you so much for the reminder that God has indeed placed us here for such a time as this and that we just need to get out there and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

  41. 91
    JennyBC says:

    You expressed so much of what my own heart has been feeling lately. I sensed a few months ago that the tide was really turning for Christians. Oh, I’ve seen it coming but there was a shift that was palpable. Several things came to mind for me 1) Christians better know the Word and know how it applies to their lives, 2) It is time for the church to start living a real, authentic life before the rest of the world (and we cannot do this on our own, it will only happen when we encounter and cooperate with the Holy Spirit) 3) we need an extraordinary measure of love and kindness to the world around us (we need to be a peculiar people),
    4) we must stop being a selfish people and be desperate for this world to know the depth and breadth and height of the love of Jesus 5) We must be on our knees before the Lord as never before.
    My quiet times have gotten longer and I feel a greater need to be in His presence. One thing is for sure, I need Jesus like never before. I believe the wheat and the chaff will be separated soon. It’s a desperation but not one based on fear but on the realization that on my own I am nothing but a clanging cymbal. I want to be found faithful in these days but this self sufficient, in-her-own-strength problem solving girl will never be good for anything unless I have more of Him. I want to be filled to the very brim to overflowing so I can be a drink to those who do not know Him and have no hope.

  42. 92
    Michelle says:

    Thank you for speaking out on behalf of so many…the truth is refreshing and full of hope!

  43. 93
    Warm in Alaska says:

    Amen and amen.

  44. 94
    Lindsay says:

    Beth, I have read this at least 3 or 4 times today (once aloud) and have shared it with family and friends. As someone who works in a unique field of ministry that has been trying for years to awaken the Church to the coming hostility, this made my day. I was dancing on every word. I’m grateful for your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to know exactly when to pivot and use your God-given platform to address difficult truths. I am praying for you and other Christian leaders who many are now looking to for direction. Your ministry has been significant from day one, but it’s about to be everything. What an honor to be a Believer and Follower in this day!

  45. 95
    lynda rickey says:

    My sweet Beth, No words for how beautifully written and awe-fully true this post is. I stand in front of the most high King and say “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief. Pour yourself into me and give me a heart to love others so that I may pour the love you give to me on them. Give me a holy fire for you and a love I do not possess in my own self for others.” Thank you for opening your heart to the Lord and sharing Him with us. I love you, sweet thing. Lynda

  46. 96
    Lisa says:

    Wow. What a way to see it, to not give up. It’s time to Step Up! Embrace this new world.

  47. 97
    Marie says:

    I needed to read this tonight.

    Honestly, I’ve been very anxious the last couple of weeks. Being a Christian is going to become more difficult. Faith is going to cost something. And I have wondered if I can stand whatever is coming.

    Then the Holy Spirit reminded me that Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego did not go through the fire alone. So will God be with me, with us, every step of every day. He will strengthen our faith if we but ask. Give us a resolve and holy love that we can’t manufacture.

    We go forward by diving in. Learning the truth. Soaking ourselves in Scripture so that we are not deceived. We go forward by standing on the promises of God, as the song says. By taking every opportunity to communicate the radical message of salvation in every way possible. We love people like Jesus loves them – far too much to let them go off the cliff without every warning, every word of desperate love.

    I am afraid. But I can’t let that be more important than Jesus.

  48. 98
    Joy says:

    Amen, Sister!

  49. 99
    Lillie White says:

    Thank you for reminding us its time we do things a little different. This is the first time I had a chance to read your blog. It is a blessing to me. I look forward to reading and taking part in more of your blogs.

  50. 100
    Kim B. in AZ says:

    So well said and much needed. Thank you.

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