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Never Enough: Confronting Lies About Appearance and Achievement with Gospel Hope

By |2022-05-07T23:24:58+00:00July 25, 2019|Blog, Identity|

It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was sitting around with my cross-country team listening to the older girls compare fat grams in bagel brands. If you have ever looked at bagel labels, you know that there is not any difference worth noting—unless you are obsessed with your weight. The Lies of Appearance and Achievement Little did I know how influential that conversation, and many more like it, would become in my life. Add to that the billboards, magazines, and other media that boasted model-thin women all around me, and I bought into the lie “I have to look like ‘her’ in order to be beautiful.” At the same time I was running cross-country, I was also playing basketball. Unlike the girls on my cross-country team, my teammates could down a fast-food burger in no time at all and not think twice about it. And my coach certainly thought I could use a few burgers myself in order to put on some weight for my position as forward or center. Add to that the fact he could fire off a cuss word, stomp his feet, clap his hands, and throw water, attempting to motivate us to play better and harder and I began to believe another lie: “My worth is based on my outward performance.” Failure to perform well led me to inflict punishment on myself—if I didn’t live up to my coach’s expectations, then I didn’t deserve to eat.These twin themes of body image and performance are still at the heart of young women’s search for beauty and worth today. But it is not just young women. Women of all ages struggle with defining their significance by their appearance and achievements.

Investing & Resting: Tiny Investments of Covenant Faithfulness

By |2022-05-04T23:16:19+00:00June 14, 2021|Blog, Rest|

RACHEL CRADDOCK|CONTRIBUTOR “You sow, and you sow, and you sow, and much later you will reap.” These words of life were spoken over me by an older friend of mine when I was a young mom to four children under five. The physical demands of rocking, holding, shushing, changing, and heavens to Betsy—the mealtime clean-up! There was never enough time to get all the spaghetti sauce off the baseboards nor pick every goldfish cracker up off of the floor. My friend’s words stuck with me; during the exhausting days of new motherhood, the image of sowing seeds coupled with the hope of reaping filled me with joy while I served the Lord in my home. Her words gave me the big, long, biblical picture of discipleship. God could use the seeds I was sowing with every wet wipe, every word of “Jesus Loves Me,” every ABC Bible Verse, and every sticky hand for His glory in the hearts of my children. I was sowing and making investments in the little disciples who filled up my lap. As a pastor’s wife, I have been alongside many different people in ministry: Sunday School students, youth group students, young adults, and women of all ages and stages. Just as in parenting my own children, my tiny gospel investments have been human, exhausting, and imperfect—many times I have not gotten to see the end of the story—but thinking biblically about sowing and the One who does the reaping has given me the freedom to invest and rest as a kingdom laborer. God uses the tiny investments of ordinary laborers not because of who they are, but because He is the Lord of the harvest. Discipleship is all about investing biblically and resting in the promises of a covenant-keeping God. He is faithful to His generational promise to redeem, deliver, and adopt the people He set apart before the fullness of time. In discipleship, whether you are alongside your own children or involved in the life of another Christ-follower, the tiniest gospel investments are perfected in the big, long, biblical picture of God’s covenant promises to an imperfect people. God is the covenant-keeping God. He takes the tiniest, imperfect investments of covenant faithfulness and brings them to completion by His grace and mercy. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Resting in Covenant Promises My sinful heart is prone to wander to unrest, which causes weariness in the sowing. In the flesh I want to fix things, hurry God’s plan with my human helping, complete a task on a discipleship-program-year timeline, and see the end of the story wrapped in a bow and with a cherry on top. Like Abram and Sarai, I want to nudge along the redemption process and give God a little bit of my own help. Unrest is earthly behavior but developing a posture of rest is heavenly. Resting in God’s covenant promises is a spiritual discipline. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17). In this life as a Christ-follower, you will sow, and you will sow, and you will sow, but much later you will reap. Much, much, later...

Our Savior’s Moment by Moment Intercession

By |2022-05-04T23:14:23+00:00March 29, 2021|Blog, Gospel|

SUE HARRIS|CONTRIBUTOR I took some time recently to pray for some of the ministry leaders in my church. I’m not trying to sound super-spiritual. Honestly, I should do this more often since the Holy Spirit is the one who actually does the work of the church. Anyway, I was overwhelmed with how long it took me to pray for each of those leaders by name. For some, I knew what to pray…but not all. I mean, these are women with lives and needs and pains and desires. I only know some details and, frankly, many of the women I had no idea what to pray about for them. Sometimes I just uttered their names, trusting that Romans 8:26 is true and that the Spirit does indeed intercede for those “unspoken” needs. Jesus’ Intercession for Us We’ve probably all grown accustomed to identifying the last calendar year as strange, different, or even uncertain. We are all grieving in different ways and facing various challenges in our lives. But I am reminded that regardless of who is surrounding our tables and what lies ahead, we have One who is making intercession for us, who knows what loneliness and grief feels like. We talk a lot about what Jesus accomplished on our behalf in our adoption and justification, and that’s extremely important. But we don’t often think about what he is doing today…like right now in this very moment. If Jesus completed his task on the cross and subsequent resurrection, what fills his schedule now? What is he doing? More specifically: what has been left undone? Scripture tells us that he always lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Like in the prayer time I mentioned, I know that I can only pray for one person or situation at a time and even that becomes burdensome, but not for our Savior. He is not overwhelmed. Somehow, while he is seated at the right hand of the throne of the God, he is talking about each believer to our Father. He knows it all. He knows every life, every need, every pain, every failure, and every desire. He knows us. How does it make you feel to know that the King of Kings is praying for you right now?  It drenches me with love...

John 16: A Perfect Peace

By |2022-05-04T00:24:56+00:00April 14, 2022|Blog, Last Words to Live By Series, MP Blog|

JENNA TEACHEY | GUEST What comes to mind when you hear the word “peace”? It’s funny, but when I hear the word peace, I think about the movie Miss Congeniality.  It’s a cute comedy with Sandra Bullock starring as an FBI agent who goes undercover as a beauty pageant contestant. At the end of the movie, the final five contestants are asked, “What is the one most important thing our society needs?” They all say, “world peace” except for Bullock’s character who says society needs stronger punishment for parole violators. When she says it, the auditorium goes completely silent, and the crowd looks appalled and Bullock quickly adds, “and world peace.” The crowd then goes wild, cheering and applauding. It makes me chuckle every time I watch it. I recognize the movie is clearly making fun of the typical beauty pageant answer of “world peace.” But really, who doesn’t want world peace? Who in their right mind prefers war over peace? So, what exactly is this peace that we all want? Webster defines peace as a freedom from disturbance; a state in which there is no war. This definition of peace sounds awesome but the more I have pondered this, it also seems fleeting.

Cultivating Hearts of Adoration

By |2022-05-04T00:37:03+00:00February 14, 2022|Blog, God's Word|

ABBY HUTTO | GUEST One summer while my children were in elementary school, I instituted a new prayer policy in our home. I could no longer take hearing the same prayer over and over again. Every single day, three times a day, they prayed, “Thank you, Jesus, for our food and please help us have a great day.” I finally had enough. I purchased a little chalkboard, downloaded a prayer guide with 31 names/attributes of God, and made a new rule: before we thank Jesus for our food, before we ask him to make every day a great day, we must first thank him for being himself. I declared that summer a season of adoration. Meditating on God’s Character My children were doing what comes instinctively to all of us. When we pray, it’s easy to thank God for the things he has done for us. We don’t have to search our minds for things we want to ask him for. If we’re truly spiritual, we confess our sins. But appreciating God for just being who he is doesn’t seem to come naturally to us. Adoration is not something modern American Christians spend a lot of time doing. Our culture, our schedules, and our overactive hearts don’t leave us time to slow down and meditate over who God is in his character and nature. We rarely separate who God is from what he does. At first glance, that may not seem like a big deal. After all, who God is in his character and nature is displayed in his acts of power as he works in our world to rescue and save his people. Thanksgiving and supplication are vital to our prayer lives. Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts.” It is good and right to be moved by God’s intervention in our life. When he provides, comforts, rescues, it is right to be thankful for what he has done. But do we also adore him for who he is? Do we open our prayers as Jesus taught us, adoring our Father who is hallowed and enthroned in his heavenly kingdom?

Stewarding the Struggle

By |2022-05-04T23:27:23+00:00November 11, 2021|Blog, God's Word|

KAREN GRANT|GUEST The rough concrete scratched my toes as I focused on keeping my nose above water at the Fun in the Sun Club pool in Arlington, Texas. My goal that day was to touch the bottom. Water pooled in my ears and my hair swayed like seaweed in my eyes as I learned to hold and release my breath while flipping upside down to touch the bottom. Then I could swim toward the light. My parents applauded as I ventured into deeper and deeper water, opening my eyes to churning legs and feet, and watching my breath in measured bubbles. Discovering that less and less effort was required to break the surface, I began to trust air and water to do what they do. Where were you in the murky pool called the pandemic—that time of uncertainty, fear, and crisis? Were you upside down, attempting to avoid the churning chaos, swimming for the light before you ran out of breath, looking for cheer from someone, anyone out there? To gain perspective, we must somehow step outside of our own view. I believe the only healthy way to do that is to open God’s word to a relevant passage, engage with it, wring it out, cry into it, and ask questions until we get to the bottom. We submerge ourselves and trust Christ to do what He does when we engage with the living and active breath of God. We burst through the surface into His world, His thoughts, His reality, and it does what He does: it reveals areas where we must repent, restrains us from wrong, and sheds enough light for at least the next step. Stewarding Our Sorrows I remember the image of my pastor many years ago as he related the death of over ten friends or family within the span of a year. He and his wife were left empty; they could only be still and listen. They realized that stewardship is not only for money, gifts, and time, but also includes stewarding our sorrows. He held his hands out in the shape of a bowl before the congregation and told us that all he had to offer the Lord was ashes. This image continues to guide me as I’ve come to Jesus with my own offerings of ashes due to losses, severed relationships, and broken dreams, laying them at His feet and trusting Him to make them beautiful in His time. My question to Jesus in 2020-21 then became, “How can I steward this unto Your glory? Would you use me, and re-form me to bring comfort and encouragement to others?” He took me to Isaiah 12, and I was stunned. The truths in this chapter are clear for both its original and prophetic audiences, the covenant people of God. Gratitude, Opportunity, and Joy This is what I found: Our stewardship comes through gratitude, opportunity, and joy. Look at verses 1 and 2...

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