He is Sovereign.
He is unchanging.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
It may take you a few minutes to find the book of Hosea in the Old Testament, but I promise it will be worth the time to read it. Hosea isn’t one of those books we go to often, but the story we find there is a tale of love and redemption and the relationship between Hosea and Gomer will leave you in awe of the redemption God offers me and you. I really want you to read it for yourself – if you don’t have time for fourteen chapters and want to read the condensed version, just read this:
Remember that little song from when you were a kid?
Oh be careful little ears what you hear,
Oh be careful little ears what you hear,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little ears what you hear!
There has never been a more important time for us to be careful with our eyes and our ears and our hearts than right now. There is a war being waged against us, but it’s not what we’re expecting. Most of us aren’t even in the battle.
I’ve never been real big on spiritual warfare – I’ve left that to the “fanatics” of Christianity for the most part. But I’ve noticed something lately that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The war waged against us is absolutely not a struggle “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Now hear me out…
I’ve always been a big fan of our Christian sub-culture. I love Christian music, Christian literature, Christian movies and Christian conferences. But here lately, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of influences in this Christian sub-culture that are leading us astray and most of us don’t even recognize the subtly twisted truth we’re being fed.
I was listening to a Christian radio station last week that played a little testimonial recorded by one of its listeners. The woman told a story of how she was an “overcomer” because she had been poor and destitute, driving a beat-up old car and headed for certain demise, when she met a couple of pastors who later ended up giving her $50,000 for a Mercedes. The DJs praised God for the way this woman “overcame” her circumstances with her new car. Check 1 John for specific references to Scripture that address being an overcomer. Each time you’ll see that as believers we overcome sin and death and the evil one, not poverty and the lack of a car. It’s a slight twist of Scripture. Indeed, we are overcomers. But if you aren’t grounded in the truth of Scripture, if you don’t know what the Bible says, you’ll gain a terribly wrong perspective on this concept of overcoming.
Yesterday I watched a video posted on Facebook by a very prominent Christian author/speaker/blogger that many of my friends adore. It was a video taken at the “Belong” tour that just this year replaced the old “Women of Faith” conferences. What surprised me is that this video showed a band performing a decidedly secular song at this event. I really liked their sound, so I checked out their website to learn more. I was disappointed to see that (although they could be believers), there was no evidence on their website that the members of this group are followers of Jesus. Their music is secular and their message is secular. They claim to be very involved in volunteering in humanitarian causes, but never claim to be Jesus-followers.
That led me to wonder why a conference marketed to “Christian” women, following in the footsteps of “Women of Faith” would put a secular band on their main stage. (Please note here that I have absolutely no problem with secular bands in general and I have many on my own playlists.) Instead of choosing from all the many Christian bands with Scripturally sound lyrics, this conference chose to present a couple singing a catchy love song on the stage. I love catchy love songs. But on the stage of a “Christian” event? I was surprised they went that direction.
So I checked out the website for the “Belong” tour. I was super disappointed to find that the name of Jesus was only written on their website once that I could find (in Jen Hatmaker’s bio). The mission stated on the website is for every woman to know that she is not alone and that she matters. Much is made of women being their “true selves”, and there is no mention of the good news that Jesus offers to sinners. This message of mattering seems so good. And at the conference it is quite possible that they did point people to the message of Christ. (I don’t know – I wasn’t there!) But the definite message of Scripture in Luke 9:23 is that in order to follow Christ, the believer must deny herself, take up her cross and follow Jesus. As a Christ-follower there is no room for me to be true to myself. My self is full of sin. Instead of being true to myself, I need to deny myself and embrace the new creation that I am in Christ.
Here’s the problem I see with the radio station and the conference I referenced. Many of us have slowly and without realizing it, replaced our personal relationship with Jesus for things that look like “good, Christian” things. We read blogs and books and attend churches and conferences and listen to radio stations and albums that are meant to encourage us in our walk with Christ, but were never supposed to replace our relationship with him. We’ve been satisfied with these replacements of Scripture for so long that we hardly even notice when these things become more and more un-Christlike.
I certainly am not trying to say that K-Love is evil or Jen Hatmaker is leading us all astray. But if we are taking everything that we hear from the Christian sub-culture and its representatives as gospel truth, we need to reevaluate our spiritual lives. And upon reevaluation of our spiritual lives, if we find that we have neglected our own personal relationships with Jesus due to our acceptance of all other things claiming to be “Christian”, it is time to repent and change things.
2 Timothy 3 warns us that there are people who have the false appearance of godliness and will try to worm their way into the homes of weak women. Friend, don’t be that weak woman. Open your Bible. Search the Scripture. Refuse to fall victim to the subtle twists of the truth that are popping up throughout our Christian sub-culture.
Oh be careful little ears what you hear.
Click here to read more from me about 2 Timothy 3 and Weak Women and Worms.
PS – If you did attend the Belong tour or plan to, PLEASE let me know if the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached there. I pray that it will be!
It’s the time of year I dread the most. I went out to my garage this morning to do some laundry and was almost instantly drenched in sweat. My kids have been running wildly (and oh-so-very-loudly) through the house playing hide and seek and I don’t have the heart to force them outside with a heat index of 114. By 9am, they were begging me for “something fun” to do and were sadly surprised to find that I am not their summer-entertainment-coordinator (which is actually what birthed the hide-and-go-seek game). Our calendar for June contained lots of fun things like Camp, Vacation Bible School and a trip to the beach, but July and August seem disturbingly empty, which only means many more slow days like this one are ahead. We’ll be checking things off of our summer bucket list, but even a trip to get a snow cone takes a mere 30 minutes, leaving me approximately eleven and a half blessed hours of the day to get through. I love my children with every breath in me and I try so hard to enjoy these fleeting years, knowing one day I’ll miss them. But I thrive on routines and schedules and the long, slow days of “nothing-to-do” really get to me. Honestly, I’m feeling pretty empty today.
So last week’s Open Your Bible group time really struck a chord with me when I read this quote,
“Don’t let your emptiness keep you from coming to the well. Come to the well to be filled.”
The story of the woman at the well in John 4 is not a new one for most of us, but I don’t think I’d ever read this one in this light before. If you haven’t read it yet, go now! This Samaritan woman was at Jacob’s well to draw water that would quench her thirst temporarily. Soon she would want more. But Jesus offered her his living water, a water that would satisfy forever.
The question was asked of us, “What would it be like to stop nourishing our lives with good intentions and empty wells?” Too many of us are looking for a drink of plain old tap water when the King of Kings is offering us his living water.
This week, make it a point to come straight to the source of God’s Living Water by opening your Bible. Any other attempt to satisfy your thirsty soul will leave you thirsty for more. John 4 would be a pretty good place to start – Go ahead, open your Bible!
If you were to take stock of the number of Bibles in my home, I’m sure the number would be at least in the twenties. We’ve got the ESV, NIV, KJV, NASB, HCSB, The Message, children’s Bibles, New Testaments, study Bibles and Bibles on every computer and mobile device. I am a Bible teacher and I am married to a Bible preacher. I was born and raised with a Bible in my hand and could hold my own in any Bible drill or Scripture memory contest. I truly, honestly, totally LOVE God’s Word.
So WHY, oh WHY do I fail to read it every day?
Here’s the answer I’ve come up with (and it hurts): I just really don’t want to.
I have a feeling I’m not alone here. In fact, I know I’m not. I sat with two other precious, godly ladies in our Bible study group on Wednesday who confessed to the same sin. We don’t read our Bibles daily. We had a bunch of reasons, most of which revolved around young children in our homes and busy-ness and exhaustion. One even confessed that she set up a notification on her phone’s Bible app that reminds her each day to read her Bible, but she often swipes it away and heads to Facebook instead. She’s not alone either. I can relate.
In the interest of full disclosure: I haven’t read my Bible today. Right now cartoons are blaring from the tv and with four kids home for the summer, someone keeps needing something every few seconds. Kids. I usually fill my days with appointments and errands and mothering. Busy. I’ll go to bed and honestly I’m not sure if I’ll read before bed either. Tired.
When you sift through all of the lame excuses and get to the heart of this particular issue, you’ll find that the reason I don’t open my Bible every day actually has nothing to do with my kids or that I’m too busy or that I’m too tired. It’s that I value other things over God’s Word. Stupid things like social media and tv and chores and hobbies. Good things like my husband and children and church and home. Remember what Paul says about that?
Did you catch that? EVERYTHING is loss next to Jesus. The bad things and the good things – All are loss compared to knowing Jesus. That means those precious kids He has entrusted to me on this earth are LOSS compared with Jesus. The items on my to-do list are worthless next to Him. Every excuse I can come up with for not seeking to know Him more is absolutely stupid because none of them can explain away the fact that ultimately I just put everything else before Jesus. It kills me to type that out in black and white.
But as they say, the first step to healing is admitting you need help, right? So would you join me in this journey to open the Bible? I won’t get it right 100% of the time and neither will you. But if we can begin to take steps that bring us closer to Jesus, we will discover the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus. And just like Paul, I’m convinced that everything else is loss because of the worth of knowing Him.
So guess what I just did? I ignored the cartoons blaring and the steady stream of questions and needs from the kids. I put my to-do list aside for just a minute and I opened my Bible. Technically, I opened another window on my computer, but hey, it’s the Bible! Are you on the computer right now? Your phone? Your tablet? I bet if you take just a minute, you can switch over to the Bible too! So, my friend, no more excuses. OPEN YOUR BIBLE!
I’ll be blogging through our summer Bible study called “Open Your Bible” by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams. You can get a book from me any time if you’re local or you can order one to be shipped to your doorstep from this link right here! I’d love for you to check out the She Reads Truth page to read an excerpt from this week’s group time. It’s so so good. Find it here.