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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 |2023-03-24T18:19:25+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...

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The One Thing You Have to Get Right

By |2023-08-15T13:40:41+00:00March 27, 2023|Blog, Faith|

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR You can get a lot of things wrong in life. You can go to the wrong school. You can give the wrong gift. You can wear the wrong outfit to a business presentation. You can buy the wrong house. You can marry the wrong man. But there is one thing you absolutely cannot get wrong in life: who Jesus is and what his time on earth was all about. Who is Jesus? If you want to know who Jesus is, ask Him. He isn’t shy. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus declares in John 10:30. Jesus is God. Let that thought linger for a moment. Sit with it awhile. Jesus is God. Meditate on it. Ponder all the implications that statement carries with it. Jesus is God. Evaluate your reaction to his identity claim. Wrestle with any discomfort you may feel as the form Jesus has taken in your imagination morphs into the identity Jesus claims about Himself. Jesus is God. What was Jesus’ ministry all about? Jesus did many great things during His three-year ministry. He miraculously fed thousands of people, but those same people were hungry the next day. He healed numerous physical ailments and raised some people from the dead; however, those same people eventually died at the end of their time. If Jesus’ miracles didn’t “stick,” then what was the purpose of them? Why feed people tonight who will only need to eat again tomorrow morning? Why raise someone from the dead now when they will only die again at some future date? Again, let’s ask Jesus the “why” behind the miracles. He is transparent about them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,” Jesus explains in John 10:25. The miracles are proof that Jesus is God. Jesus is God who took on the flesh of mankind to do what exactly? If the miracles aren’t the mission, if the easing of suffering is not the mission, then why, Jesus, are you here? “I am here to suffer, to be humiliated, and die,” Jesus proclaims to His followers. “I won’t stay dead. I will rise from the dead on the third day” (Matt. 16:21, Mk. 8:31, Lk. 9:22, paraphrased). Jesus is God. Jesus entered the world as a man so that He could die. Having divine power allows Jesus to fight death and rise again...

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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...

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