Category: Blog

Why I Write

But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books (Eccl. 12:12 HCSB).

If Solomon were parenting today he might have said it this way, “There is no end to the making of many books, articles, blog posts, twe… Read more →

Freebie Friday! The Gospel Is a Love Story

Freebie Friday

Did you know that you can put the gospel on display just by being a girl? It’s true!

This week we are giving away a CD recording of some of my favorite ladies talking about how embracing God’s design for gender helps present a picture of God to the world. It’s good stuff.

Simply answer the questions in this survey to be entered to win a free copy of the CD, “The Gospel is a Love Story” featuring Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Holly Elliff, Dannah Gresh, and Mary Kassian (and I’m on there too!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Psst . . . BIG changes are coming to Be sure to check back often. You won’t want to miss this!

Read more →

Can I Know If I'm Saved?

Can I Know If I'm Saved?

the·ol·o·gy noun : the study of God

We study God through His Word each Thursday on the blog. Our goal is to present the truth of God in a way you can digest and apply. This week we will look at how to know that you are saved.

I decided I would stick around after youth group.

As my youth pastor picked up trash and straightened chairs, I shuffled toward him.

“What’s up, Erin?” he asked.

“I just don’t feel like I’m saved,” I said. “How can I know for sure?”

Living the Christian life with that much doubt isn’t fun. It leads to fear, worry, and anxiety and can rob us of joy and peace.

I’d had this same conversation with my youth pastor before. Lots of times. And with my parents. And with my Christian friends. Every time I heard a sermon on heaven or hell or salvation I wondered, Am I really saved? Honestly, their answers never did much to ease my fears.

I can say from experience that living the Christian life with that much doubt isn’t fun. It leads to fear, worry, and anxiety and can rob us of joy and peace. It’s a roller-coaster ride you don’t have to buy a ticket for.

First John 5:11–12 says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this is life in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

We have a tendency to overcomplicate things. John says if we have the Son (Jesus) we have eternal life.

And here is the icing on the cake.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (v. 13).

Your salvation doesn’t need to be a guessing game! Here are four questions to ask the next time you doubt your salvation.

  1. Do I understand the gospel?

    Part of the reason we decided to spend an entire month on the gospel is because it is possible to hear the gospel and somehow misunderstand it. When that happens, we are bound to question if Jesus really saved us from our sins. If you’re not sure if you understand the gospel, check out this post.

  2. Do I think salvation depends on me?

    If you secretly think you have to earn your salvation, you are destined for a lifetime of doubt. Every time you sin or fall short of God’s standards, you will wonder if God has retracted His offer for salvation because He is disappointed in you.

    Romans 5:15–16 says, “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.”

    Why do you think Paul saw fit to mention the “free gift” four times in four sentences? I bet it’s because he knew we would get gospel amnesia and that we would forget that salvation is a free gift Jesus offered us, not something He expected us to earn. (Get it? It’s FREE!)

  3. Do I think feelings are facts?

    One day you’re feeling totally pumped about your Christian life, the next you can barely muster the energy to read your Bible. One day you feel totally confident in God’s love for you, the next you doubt how He could ever love someone like you. One day you feel ready to do whatever God calls you to. The next day you’re riddled with fear about God’s plans for your life.

    Feelings are a terrible barometer for the truth. Instead, build your confidence on the promises of God’s Word.

  4. Am I listening to good teachers?

    There are several places in the New Testament where the confidence of believers’ was shaken because of false teachers. The apostles often wrote to them offering assurances and pointing them back to the truth of the gospel (see Rom. 6, Gal. 1, 2 Pet. 2:1, and Jude 1:3–4).

    If you are dealing with chronic doubts, make sure that the books you are reading, podcasts you are downloading, and sermons you are listening to are backed by God’s Word.

Are you a doubter? If so, I’d love to hear your answers to these four questions, but I also want to give you a very practical homework assignment.

Will you write out this verse on a card or piece of paper and put it somewhere where you can see it often? Ask the Lord to marinate your heart in this truth in the days to come.

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this is life in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11–13).

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

4 questions to ask the next time you doubt your salvation. Today on @lywbblog.

Psst . . . BIG changes are coming to Be sure to check back often. You won’t want to miss this!

Read more →

A Gospel for Serial Killers

A Gospel for Serial Killers

Ted Bundy was convicted of killing thirty-six women and girls, making him one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. While waiting on death row for his execution, Ted turned his life over to Jesus and became a Christian. He repented publicly for his crimes and spent his final night praying with his pastor.

Ted Bundy was a rapist.

Ted Bundy was a murderer.

Ted Bundy was a liar.

Assuming Ted Bundy really did confess his sins and put his whole trust in Jesus, today Ted is in heaven with Jesus.

The gospel applies to people in every nation and age bracket. It is for “good” people and really, really bad people.

Many people have questioned Ted’s conversion. I guess it’s hard for our minds to conceive that someone guilty of such evil could truly turn from their wicked ways and run toward Jesus. But I can only assume that Ted’s decision to become a Christian was legit. If I’m honest, there’s a part of me that is irritated by it. How could Jesus forgive a serial killer? That’s not fair!

God must have of known I would have this internal tug of war, because He addressed it often in His Word. Though not an easy pill to swallow, here is some hard-hitting truth about who really deserves the gospel and how to wrap our heads around the fairness of God.

The Good News is For All People

When the angel told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus, he announced it this way: “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

The angel wasn’t talking in generalizations. He wasn’t from the south, using the term “all” like “y’all” to include whoever was standing around at the moment. The Good News of Christ’s coming was for all people.

Jesus repeated this idea in Mark 16:15 when He gave the Great Commission.

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

The gospel is for all people. It applies to people in every nation and age bracket. It is for “good” people and really, really bad people. It is for young and old people. It is for people who have gone to church their whole lives and people who have never sat in a pew.

The Gospel is for Sinners

For most of us, there is a pocket of our hearts that questions if God’s grace should really extend to them. This is nothing new.

In Matthew 9, Jesus called Matthew to be a disciple. Matthew was a tax collector. Meaning, Matthew was scum. Nobody liked tax collectors because they were notorious thieves and schemers. So when Jesus called Matthew, the Pharisees got their feathers ruffled.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (vv. 11–13).

The gospel is not about making clean lives even cleaner. It’s not about making good people even better good people. It is about extending undeserved grace to those who have earned death because of their sin. The end result is that we get to become more like Jesus.

Be Glad God Is Generous

In Matthew 20, Jesus told a story designed to give us perspective on who deserves His grace. You can read the entire thing in Matthew 20:1–16.

Here are the highlights:

  • A man needs workers to work in his vineyard.
  • Early in the morning, he recruits a group of workers and agrees to pay them a denarius for a day of work. (That’s about $20.)
  • The men get right to work.
  • About mid-morning the vineyard owner goes to the grocery store and hires two more workers. He agrees to pay them $20, too.
  • He goes out again at noon and then in the late afternoon. Each time he hires more workers, always for the same wage.
  • At the end of the day, he paid all of the workers $20, no matter how long they worked.
  • The guys who had been working all day were mad! They couldn’t believe that the guys who had only been working an hour or two were paid the same amount that they were for working all day.

The vineyard owner replied this way, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last” (vv. 13–16).

If I’m honest, I often feel like those workers who got hired first. Because I’ve known Jesus a long time, I feel entitled to greater blessings from Him. But God has the right to do what He wants. (He’s God after all!) He certainly doesn’t need me armchair-quarterbacking when it comes to the salvation of others.

And more importantly . . .

God’s generosity has been a great gift to me. At the end of the day, I shouldn’t want God to be “fair,” because that would mean that I deserve punishment instead of grace. Instead of secretly hoping God will be stingy toward others, we can celebrate His crazy generosity.

The Thief Beside You

Jesus was crucified between two thieves. They admitted they were guilty. What happened to them might fit into our definition of “fair.” They were getting what they deserved.

One thief mocked Jesus, never admitting his need for him.

But one recognized Jesus’ divinity and innocence. He publicly proclaimed his desire to be with Jesus forever.

And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

That thief didn’t deserve paradise. He never did a single thing to earn grace. He didn’t go to church, didn’t lead a Bible study, didn’t pay back the money he had stolen . . . but God’s grace is crazy big. He offers it to us freely because He loves us, not because we’ve done anything to earn it.

Maybe it’s not serial killers or thieves who make you question the fairness of the gospel.

  • Maybe it’s that girl at school who is into such dark stuff that you don’t even bother to pray for her.
  • Maybe it’s people from a certain religion that you think would never accept the truth.
  • Maybe it’s someone who hurt you so deeply you secretly hope they will have to pay a heavy price for their sin.

The bottom line is that the gospel isn’t fair. None of us deserve the gift of grace that God so freely offers. With that in mind, would you ask God to show you where you have “begrudged His generosity” toward others, and then start praying radical prayers for the lost around you?

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

At the end of the day, here’s why we shouldn’t want God to be “fair.” @lywbblog

Read more →

6 Truths to Remember When a Christian Leader Screws Up Royally

When a Christian leader you’d looked up to and learned from screws up royally (and unfortunately it’s not a matter of if but when you’ll experience this), I know what you’ll want to do. You’ll want to block them on Facebook and delete their pictures on your Instagram account and burn their books and reject every truth they ever taught you but apparently didn’t live themselves.

A flood of emotions will bombard you from all sides—anger, disbelief, revulsion, guilt for not having seen through their hypocrisy. Your stomach will hurt, your head will ache, you’ll feel like throwing up. You won’t be able to understand how they could’ve preached against the very thing they were doing in secret.

When that happens, go ahead and weep. Let it tear you up. God’s glory is at stake. Pour out all your emotions to God like David does in the Psalms. In fact, that might be a great book of the Bible to camp out in for a while!

Always remember that anything good you see in a Christian leader—if it truly is good—is only a result of Jesus Christ making His home in them.

While your emotions are churning, though, it’s important to remember that your emotions are tied to your thoughts and beliefs. When a Christian leader you looked up to screws up royally, here are six truths to remember that will help tame your wild emotions:

  1. Only God is good. Jesus said it Himself in Mark 10:18: “No one is good except God alone.” Boy, we forget this all the time, don’t we? We set men and women up on pedestals and follow them rather than following the God to whom they’re pointing. Always remember that anything good you see in a Christian leader—if it truly is good—is only a result of Jesus Christ making His home in them.
  2. Truth is still truth, whether they lived it or not. Romans 1:18 doesn’t say man’s unrighteousness disproves the truth—He says it suppresses the truth. This is why God’s wrath is revealed from heaven, because He takes the truth very seriously! Truth is still truth—even if it’s hard to distinguish it through the lie of their life.

    It’s also entirely possible that they twisted the truth. Open your Bible, and search out truth for yourself. Don’t just do this when a leader fails but anytime a leader teaches or writes or preaches (Acts 17:11).

  3. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Be careful if you think you’re above ever stooping to that level. We’re warned in 1 Corinthians 10, “Let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (vv. 12–13). You will probably be tempted in a similar way someday. When that happens, God promises He’ll provide a way of escape (v. 13)—it’ll be up to you to take it. When that happens, run far, far away as fast as your little legs will take you. Don’t linger and dream about what it might be like to toy with sin just a little.
  4. God still loves them. Their sin hasn’t “chilled” God’s love for them. Remember, He died for them while they were still His enemies (Rom. 5:10)! The fact that their sin was discovered by others is actually God’s mercy. Romans 2:4 tells us that God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. If they don’t repent and trust in Christ’s righteousness on their behalf, you can be sure they’ll experience God’s wrath in the future (Rom. 2:5). But for now, He waits patiently, kindly, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
  5. Repentance is a process. If you’re like me, you’ll expect that leader to repent immediately. To confess their sin and bring it out into the light and turn from it back to the Lord. That’s certainly God’s desire, too! But this won’t always happen right away.

    When King David (a man who genuinely loved God) had sex with another man’s wife and then had that man murdered in order to cover up his sin, it was at least nine months before he acknowledged, “I have sinned against the LORD” (2 Sam. 12:13). Pray that God would give the leader you looked up to godly sorrow leading to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10).

  6. Not everyone who claims to be a Christ-follower actually is one. First John 2:19 tells us that only the person who finishes well was actually ever saved: “If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Not that believers never stumble (remember King David!). But if they really are Christ-followers, you will see them repent and return to their original faith in Christ’s righteousness on their behalf.

If you’ve ever had a “Christian” leader fail big time, what other truths have you clung to? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, is there someone you need to take off your pedestal? Remember, no one but God is ultimately good.

And don’t forget to pray for your leaders. A great prayer is found at the end of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:13: “Lead [them] not into temptation, but deliver [them] from evil.” Which leader can you commit to praying for regularly?

Read more →

A Freebie Friday Double Whammy!

Freebie Friday

I totally forgot to send out a Freebie Friday post last week. My bad!

To make up for my slack, we are giving away two books this week. Yep, TWO books! It’s a Freebie Friday double whammy!

Since we are focusing on the gospel this month on the blog, our giveaways this week have a gospel focus. Here is this week’s swag.

ESV Gospel Transformation Bible

The goal of this Bible is to help readers see Jesus in all of the Bible. This study Bible will help lead you to Jesus over and over with notes that point you to the gospel and give you practical application for God’s Word.

If you already have a great study Bible, consider using this one to participate in our Lazarus Project, and ask God to raise your school from the dead.

Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick

This book (complete with study questions and invitations to further study) is designed to rescue you from “identity amnesia” and point you toward your true identity as God’s beloved child.

If you’re wondering how the gospel should impact your daily life, this book is for you!

Since we’re giving away a Bible and a Bible study, I’d love to learn a little more about your Bible reading habits. Use the Giveaway Widget below to learn how to be entered to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read more →

The Cure for the Back-to-School Blues

A Cure for the Back-to-School Blues

There’s no denying it. Summer is winding down. Textbooks and school supplies are in your near future. It’s time to head back to school. (Some of you already have!)

God doesn’t so much care about where you’ll spend your school year but what you will do with the year ahead.

Maybe you love school and are excited about the return to regular routine. Maybe you hate it and are dreading the school year ahead. Either way, I think God has a mission for your school year. It doesn’t matter if you’re in middle school or college; home-schooled, private-schooled, or public-schooled, God doesn’t so much care about where you’ll spend your school year but what you will do with the year ahead.

In fact, no matter how or where you go to school, I believe these words sum up God’s plan for your school year:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).

This passage is often called the Great Commission. When Jesus spoke these words, He was giving us a very specific assignment. As Christians, Jesus trusts us with the message of His gospel. He wants us to tell others what He has done for us (and them!).

What if instead of looking at the year ahead with classes and clubs in mind, you made the Great Commission your focus? How would it change things if you decided to share the gospel with your school?

Waking the Dead

As I was thinking about encouraging you to share the gospel this year, I kept thinking about the story of Lazarus. If you don’t know it, you can read the whole story in John 11:1–44. But let me give you the short version.

  • Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. (You may have heard of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha.)
  • Lazarus had been dead three days by the time Jesus got to his tomb.
  • But that didn’t stop Jesus! He commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead, and Lazarus walked out of his tomb, alive and well.

Most of you know a Lazarus—someone who is dead in their sins, living their lives in darkness, separated from God. Maybe they’ve lived that way their whole lives, and there doesn’t seem to be much hope that they will ever choose the eternal life Christ offers.

But if Jesus can bring a dead man back to life, don’t you think He can rescue your friends and classmates who are dead in their sins?

Some of you will spend your school year feeling like you’re the one inside a tomb. Your school is a dark place. Most people don’t seem to care about Jesus. They’ve gotten so used to the smell of death, it doesn’t even seem to bother them anymore.

If that’s your school, be encouraged that God works even in the darkest places. And He is asking you shine like a bright light!

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:14–16).

No matter how dark your school is, God wants to shine His light through you. You remember the song? “Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.”

The Lazarus Project

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I hear other people talk about sharing the gospel, it can be a little hard to grasp. Sure, I want to tell others about Jesus. I definitely want to see my friends become disciples who live their lives for Him. But how am I supposed to do that exactly? I want a game plan!

I’d like to suggest a very specific plan. I’m calling it the Lazarus project.

Would you consider purchasing three new Bibles? If you’re short on cash, consider picking up some babysitting jobs or selling some of your stuff to raise some cash. Then, take those Bibles to school with you this year. You can stick them in your locker or keep them with you in your bag. But don’t miss the most important step!

Ask the Lord to show you who needs those Bibles. Pray for specific opportunities to share the gospel, and give a Bible to three people in your school.

God does the hard work! He is the One who calls us from death to life, but wouldn’t it be awesome to be standing beside the tomb when someone from your school turned their life over to Jesus and moved from death to life?

God is able to rescue your classmates from their sin. He is able to raise your school from the dead. He has commissioned you to be a part of His rescue mission for the people you will be rubbing shoulders with for the next nine months. Will you accept the challenge?

If you’re willing to share the gospel and a Bible with at least three people in the school year ahead, leave me a comment below. I’d love to pray for you and cheer you on as you take the gospel to your school this year.

Love this post? Share it. Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

Want a game plan for sharing the gospel? Check out @lywbblog today.

Read more →

The Not-So-Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

The Not-So-Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

We’re focusing on the gospel all month here on the blog. Since the nature of the gospel can be hard to understand, and even harder to believe, I’ll let Romans 5:8 give us a quick recap.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The gospel means:

  1. We are sinners who cannot stop sinning.
  2. The penalty we deserve for our sin is death.
  3. Jesus died for us, even though He knew all about points 1 and 2.
  4. His death made a way for us to be reconciled to God.

If we go to church very long at all, we can become very familiar with the gospel message. When we are in our church clothes around our church friends, we’ve learned how we should respond to the gospel. But if you’re like me, sometimes I respond to the gospel in ways I wouldn’t necessarily want my church friends to know about.

Yesterday, I told you about the Eeyore in me. Today, let’s look at another response to the gospel taken from the Hundred Acre Wood.

The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers

When we react to the news that Jesus died for our sins like Tigger would, the results aren’t so great.

When it comes to Winnie the Pooh’s friends, everyone loves Tigger. In addition to his bright orange fur and extra long tail, here are Tigger’s defining characteristics:

  • He bounces from point A to point B.
  • Sometimes he exhausts and exasperates his friends with his constant bouncing.
  • Tigger’s confidence is in himself. There’s nothing he thinks he cannot do.
  • Tigger’s actions sometimes lead to chaos.
  • He’s well meaning (and likeable!), but Tigger usually does more harm than good.

What does Tigger have to do with the way we respond to the gospel? All of this is pretty wonderful when it describes a fictional character in a book, but when we react to the news that Jesus died for our sins like Tigger would, the results aren’t so great.

Often, we respond to the gospel by trying to earn God’s love. We think . . .

  • If I can just impress Him, He won’t care so much about my sin.
  • If I can just be the very best daughter, sister, friend, in the whole planet, it will somehow make up for the fact that I am a sinner.
  • If I can be a super Christian, Jesus’ death for my sins will somehow make more sense.

Ultimately, girls with a Tigger heart love gold stars. We love high fives. We love attagirls. And if we are not careful, we can live our whole lives bouncing from one attempt to earn God’s approval to another.

But Good Girls Don’t Need the Gospel

Check out Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (emphasis added).

The gospel is a free gift. Tiggers know that, but we think we still need to figure out a way to earn it.

Tiggers, lean in. Listen close. Check out Romans 5:6–8.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (v. 6).

He didn’t die for you because you’re a good girl. Good girls don’t need a Savior.

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (vv. 7–8).

The gospel is this . . .

Yes! You are a stinkin’ sinner. The price you deserve to pay is death. But God died to pay the price.

You didn’t earn it.

He died for us because He loves us, not because of the number of gold stars we’ve earned on some imaginary chart. 

If you miss the gospel, you will spend your time bouncing from one thing to the next trying to earn God’s love and acceptance. Just like Tigger, you will end up creating a chaotic heart in the process.

Making Payments on a Free Car

Living the Christian life like Tigger is like trying to work for a car that someone has given you. It’s a free gift, but some of us are working ourselves to the bone to try to pay for it.

Imagine someone hands you the keys to a brand-new car and says, “It’s yours. I’ve paid for it. I’ve paid the taxes. I’ve paid the insurance. Here’s a gas card for all the gas you need. It’s yours because I love you.”

You look at the keys and the car, and this conversation follows:

You: “Man, I’ve got to get a job to pay for this car.”

The Giver: “No, it’s paid for.”

You: “I need to work 24-7 to earn the money to pay you back.”

The Giver: “I don’t need you to pay me back.”

You: “I need to prove that I deserve this car.”

The Giver: “You don’t deserve the car, baby girl. I gave it to you because I love you.”

Living the Christian life like Tigger is like trying to work for a car that someone has given you. It’s a free gift, but some of us are working ourselves to the bone to try to pay for it.

That might look like:

  • Striving to be perfect and being overly hard on ourselves when we fail.
  • Being involved in every good thing we have the opportunity to participate in.
  • Refusing to ever take off our mask in front of God or others. (What would they think if they saw the real us?)
  • Mistakenly believing that God will love us less if we miss our quiet time.
  • Running at a pace that leaves us totally exhausted all the time.

In the end, we know we are Tiggers when we feel totally exhausted by our faith instead of grateful and set free by the gift Jesus willingly gave.

Are You a Tigger?

How can you know if you’re trying to earn the free gift Jesus died to give you? Let’s look back at what defines Tigger with that big question in mind.

Tigger bounces from point A to point B.

  • Are you constantly running from one thing to the next, trying to earn God’s approval?

Tigger sometimes exhausts and exasperates his friends with his constant bouncing.

  • Are the people in your world exhausted by your constant doubts about God’s love? If you’re not sure, ask them!

Tigger’s confidence is in himself. There’s nothing he thinks he cannot do.

  • Is your confidence in God’s love for you really rooted in your ability to be a good girl?

Tigger’s actions sometimes lead to chaos.

  • Do you have a chaotic heart?

Tigger means well, but he usually does more harm than good.

  • Is it possible you are harming yourself and your relationship with Christ by trying to earn a gift that He freely offers you?

Let me be the first to admit I have a lot of Tigger tendencies. I bet I’m not the only one. Is there evidence in your life that you respond to the gospel like Tigger would? Tell me about it below. Be specific.

Love this post? Share it! Here is a tweet you can totally steal from us:

When it comes to the gospel, there’s a not-so-wonderful thing about Tiggers. Find out more on @lywbblog today.

Read more →

Eeyore's Response to the Good News

Eeyore's Response to the Good News

Last week, I asked you to define the gospel. Nearly one hundred of you responded, many with fantastic ideas about what the gospel really means. Here are just a few of my favs:

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been rescued from sin, death, and separation from God.

We all are born with Adam’s sin nature. We are destined for hell from birth. The gospel is that Christ died for His chosen people, because of His great love for us. We have salvation in Christ alone by faith alone. —Abbie

Man’s indwelling sinfulness overcome by the perfect power of our Savior! —Haley

The gospel is the good news that all of the sin I have ever committed has been paid for in Jesus Christ: His life, death, and resurrection. By His blood, I have been adopted as God’s own child and will stand blameless before Him, ransomed and redeemed. —Jenn

All of these descriptions of the gospel hit on three important highlights:

  1. We are all chronic sinners. (I loved how Haley called it our “indwelling sinfulness.” That means we are sinners to the core.)
  2. Jesus died to pay the penalty we deserved because of that sin.
  3. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have been rescued from sin, death, and separation from God.

It all sounds pretty warm and fuzzy on paper or when we hear it from the pulpit. But if you’re like me, you have a tendency to respond to the gospel in ways that aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. To put the ways I tend to respond to the gospel under a microscope, we need to take a little field trip to the Hundred Acre Wood. (In case you’ve forgotten, that’s where Winnie the Pooh and his friends live!)

“Thanks for Noticin’ Me”

Do you remember Eeyore from the stories of Winnie the Pooh?

There’s nothing spectacular about him. He’s just an old, gray donkey. He’s gloomy and grumpy, always looking at the ground. He’s famously fond of saying, “Thanks for noticin’ me,” as if he’s surprised that anyone would ever want to pay attention to him. He’s definitely a glass-is-half-empty kind of donkey. In fact, did you know that his corner of Pooh’s forest is called “Eeyore’s Gloomy Place: Rather Boggy and Sad”?

Eeyore is the kind of friend who sucks the life out of you. After fifteen minutes with him, we would all feel a little worse about the world.

My natural disposition isn’t quite as gloomy as ol’ Eeyore, but when it comes to the gospel, my response sometimes is. I often catch myself thinking thoughts like these:

  • “I’m stuck.”
  • “I’m such a screw up.”
  • “I will never get it right.”
  • “I will never overcome my sin.”

Have you ever felt those things? Then you know what we tell ourselves when we take the Eeyore approach.

  • “God doesn’t love me.”
  • “How could He?”
  • “I’m such a failure.”




Just like poor ol’ Eeyore.

The Antivenin for Eeyore Syndrome

It’s not about trying harder or winning more. It’s about Jesus. Our victory is through Him and because of Him.

Here’s how an Eeyore approach the to gospel plays out practically. We don’t try to get free from our sin. We don’t repent. (What difference would that make?) We live like slaves, even though God wants us to be free!

In fact, the gospel is the only antivenin to our Eeyore mentality. Because the gospel makes it clear that it is no longer our responsibility to cure our sin problem. We don’t have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s not about trying harder or winning more. It’s about Jesus. Our victory is through Him and because of Him. The gospel is a billboard seen throughout all of history that screams, “God loves me! Because of Him I am free!”

Eeyores assume that God just kind of tolerates us, but the gospel is proof that He doesn’t just tolerate us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He was willing to pay any price to rescue us.

When we look at our sin and Christ’s sacrifice and our heart starts responding like Eeyore would, we’ve got to learn to run to God’s Word for the truth that is anything but gloomy and hopeless. Whenever I feel Eeyore start to rise up in me, I run to one of my favorite verses . . .

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Gal. 5:1).

God set me free so that I could be free. Not so that I could be:

  • stuck.
  • depressed.
  • downtrodden.
  • hard on myself.
  • mopey.
  • hopeless.

So how about you? Do you ever get an Eeyore response to your sin or Christ’s sacrifice? How have you seen that impact your relationship with God and others?

PS: Be sure to hop back on the blog tomorrow to see how Tigger might respond to the gospel.

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

How would Eeyore respond to the gospel? Find out on @lywbblog today.

Read more →

Why the Real You Isn't Good News

Why the Real You Isn't Good News

Who are you?

I don’t mean your name necessarily.

I mean, what makes you, you.

If we were meeting for the first time, we would both introduce ourselves with the good stuff. We might talk about our families, our jobs, our hobbies, our school . . .

We like to polish our identity up to a high shine, but that’s not the whole story, is it?

The reality of who we are is very bad news, but there is good news.

David has a way of writing with a brand of brutal honesty that I love. Here’s one way he answered the question, “Who are you?”

Have mercy on me, O God,

   according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

   blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

   and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions,

   and my sin is ever before me.

Against you, you only, I have sinned

   and done what is evil in your sight (Ps. 51:1–4).

Want to hear my true confession? I’m a sinner, too. So are you. The Bible says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). That’s the not-so-shiny truth about who we really are. Put that on your Facebook profile.

Paul answered the “who are you” question by describing himself as the foremost of sinners. Sometimes I feel like I’m giving him a run for his money.

The truth is, who we are is very bad news. We are sinners who cannot shake our sin nature. No matter how much we want to or try to, we cannot live sin free.

And the bad news keeps coming . . .

For the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).

The cost of our sin is death. Who we are has put us on a path toward destruction.

But . . .

The reality of who we are is very bad news, but there is good news. The rest of Romans 6:23 says, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The bad news is we deserve death. But the story doesn’t end there.

What Is the Gospel?

Have you ever heard of the gospel? That’s a word that shows up in the New Testament about the time Jesus starts preaching and teaching. Gospel simply means good news. But what is the good news, exactly?

Even though the gospel is mentioned nearly 100 times in the New Testament, Paul sums it up for us in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

The gospel is this:

  • We are sinners who deserve death.
  • Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins.

This is the reason why Paul called this message the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). It is why all Christians are called to proclaim the gospel to those who are still sentenced to death by their sin (Mark 16:15).

A Gospel Worth Preaching

The gospel is what makes us Christians. It is a message we should want to shout from the rooftops. Romans 1:16 says it this way: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Simply put, the gospel changes everything.

That’s why we are looking at the gospel all month long. Look for posts about how to share the gospel, what to do when someone doesn’t deserve the gospel, and more.

To keep the wheels turning in your head, here’s a great video that beautifully illustrates why the gospel matters so much.

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

Find out why the gospel = Good News today on @lywbblog.

Read more →

Cheaters Welcome

I’ve never been good at math. Maybe that’s why when I discovered the answers in the back of my high school algebra textbook, I was giddy. True, only half of the answers were there, but they turned out to be practically the only answers I go… Read more →

Hope For the Anxious

Hope For the Anxious

A few days ago, I found myself in the middle of a storm. You may have heard about the massive dust storm that covered Arizona last week. (If not, here’s a crazy video of it.) While that storm sent people into their homes looking for cover, I was stranded on an airplane, sitting on the runway, waiting until it was safe for ground crews to direct us toward a gate.

To be honest, I was pretty oblivious to the storm at first. It was late at night, and I was dozing. But when we were finally allowed to disembark, a new storm started raging in my heart.

I suddenly found myself in an unfamiliar airport, alone at 1:00 in the morning. I missed my fight home and was shuffled toward an extremely long line of passengers waiting to rebook. I didn’t have access to my luggage. All of the restaurants were closed and I was hungry, with no way to get food. I didn’t know where I would sleep or whether or not I would be safe.

In addition to feeling tired, hungry, and homesick, I felt . . . anxious. I was afraid and nervous. I was eager for my circumstances to change. I didn’t know what would happen next, and the possibilities made my palms sweat.

Forecast? Stormy Weather

Don’t worry—this isn’t just a pity party by a weary traveler. We all know that travel plans can go haywire, and I eventually made it home. But I wonder how many of you find yourselves in the middle of a storm?

  • Your parents fight all the time. You wonder if they will stay married.
  • Your friend is mad at you. You’ve tried talking to her, but it hasn’t helped.
  • Everyone keeps mentioning college. You want to get in to a great school and eventually get a great job, but the pressure to have perfect grades makes you feel mostly S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D.
  • Your youth pastor is leaving, and your youth group is falling apart.
  • That boy you like likes you back, but your parents say “no.” As a result, your heart feels like a tornado.

I’m not sure what your storm is, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever felt anxious while waiting for the dust to settle.

When we are anxious in the middle of a storm, where can we look for a lifeline?

The Winds And Waves Obey Him

Jesus knows a thing or two about storms. Mark 4:35–41 tells about a time that Jesus found Himself smack dab in the middle of one. I’d encourage you to read the entire story (just one short paragraph), but here are the highlights:

  • Jesus and His disciples are on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee.
  • Other boats were with them. (That little detail will matter in a minute.)
  • A great windstorm arose.
  • It was such a big and scary storm that the boat started to break.
  • The disciples started having a full-on freak-out.
  • But not Jesus. He was peacefully sleeping while the storm raged.

The disciples woke Jesus up from His nap this way:

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (v. 38).

Be honest. When you find yourself in a middle of a storm, do you ever ask Jesus a version of this same question? In your heart, do you find yourself feeling like God let you down? Do you wonder if God caused the storm or why He allowed it to happen? Do you doubt that He will come to your rescue?

Me, too. And apparently so did the disciples.

And [Jesus] awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (v. 39).

The winds and waves obeyed Jesus. A storm that seconds earlier was ripping a boat to shreds suddenly got quiet.

This reality caused the disciples to have a different kind of freak-out.

He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (vv. 40–41).

Why We’re Really Anxious

God’s promises hold firm in every storm.

Yes, I am sure that storm was scary. Yes, watching chunks of your boat fall off into a raging sea would make me anxious, too. But that’s not really why the disciples were scared.

They forgot who was at the helm of their ship. Jesus was there. He was in charge. When they forgot that . . . when they thought the outcome was up to them . . . then, they got stressed.

Life’s storms have a way of clouding our vision. They make it hard for us to remember the promises of God because the sounds of thunder and lightning are so loud. But God’s promises hold firm in every storm.

That’s why God commands (yes, commands!) us not to be anxious:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil. 4:6).

God isn’t saying there will never be trouble, He is just clear that He is in charge no matter what. When anxiety makes us feel out of control, the antidote is to remember that God is always in control.

The Other Ships

There’s an old sermon that I love in which the pastor points out that Jesus’ boat was not the only ship on the water that day. Certainly, His was not the only one being beaten by the storm.

But when God commanded the winds and waves to be still, all of the boats were brought under His control.

When the Lord’s ship got calm, so did the others. This is how it works with our lives. When we recognize that God is in charge, it impacts our:

  • friend-ships
  • relation-ships
  • owner-ship
  • disciple-ship

And ultimately our wor-ship.

We can praise God in any storm instead of feeling anxious, worried, or afraid because we know He is in charge. He will not fail us. Our circumstances are not beyond His power and authority.

So think about your storm.

  • Are you anxious about your family because you don’t believe God can really reconcile relationships, even though He promises He can change even the hardest heart (Ezek. 36:26)?
  • Are you anxious about your friendships because you’ve forgotten you have a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24)?
  • Are you anxious about school because you think you’re the one planning your future (Jer. 29:11)?
  • Are you anxious about romance because you worry God doesn’t have a good plan for you in that department (Ps. 73:1)?

God met my every need in the middle of that dust storm. I found a cozy corner to sleep in and a couple of granola bars in the bottom of my bag. I was home with my family in no time, not because of me, but because of God who never left me alone for a minute, even in the middle of a big, scary storm.

What is making you anxious today?

How does that anxiety compare to a God who stills storms?

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

Are you anxious? Here’s hope. (Be sure to include a link to today’s blog.)

Read more →

Why You Need to Know the Rule of Three

Why You Need to Know the Rule of 3

If you’re lucky, you’ve got a few more lazy days of summer left, but it won’t be long before nothing-to-do turns into how-will-I get-it-all-done. As you look ahead to the new school year, you need to know about the Rule of Three.

What Is the Rule of Three?

The “rule of three” is a strategy used by the United States Marines. In a nutshell, the rule is this: each Marine has three things to worry about. Marines are divided into teams of four individual Marines (three team members and one team leader). Teams are divided into squads. Each squad is made up of three teams. Three squads make up a platoon.

The entire Marine organizational chart is made up this way. What’s more, Marines are encouraged to limit their attention to three tasks—three things to worry about. No more. No less.

Several years ago, the Marines experimented with a Rule of Four, and effectiveness plummeted. Marines were stretched too thin. They became overextended and confused. Lives were lost.

What does that have to do with you?

Are You a Good Soldier?

God doesn’t ask you to be involved in every sport and activity. He has a much simpler game plan for your schedule.

You may not be a Marine, but did you know that if you are a Christian, you are a soldier? Cue: “I’m in the Lord’s Army” song. (Yes, sir!)

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Tim. 2:3).

God has enlisted you into His army to fight big battles for His kingdom. But most of us are fruitless soldiers, because we are entangled in “civilian pursuits.” We are stretched too thin. Overtired. Overextended. Maybe no lives are lost because we’re trying to do it all, but opportunities are . . . relationships are . . . chances to serve others are.

God doesn’t ask you to be involved in every sport and activity. In fact, He has a much simpler game plan for your schedule.

In Matthew 6, Jesus was preaching about the things that tend to stress us out (are you picturing your maxed-out schedule?) when He said these words:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

The Rule of Threes means you can handle putting your effort toward three things. Not five. Not thirteen. Not seven. Three.

God clearly states what the first thing on our list should be. We are to seek God’s kingdom first. We are to organize our schedule, our priorities, our life around what matters most to God.

As you look at your plans for the school year ahead, are you seeking God’s kingdom first? If, instead, your schedule revolves around band or academics or hanging out with friends . . . you’ve got some rearranging to do.

The Twos and Threes

Your relationship with God needs to be your first priority. But what else should you fill your schedule with?

The answer to that question is different for all of us. If you’re in school, that’s one of the things you need to be focusing on. If you’re working, that’s an area of focus for you. Maybe you volunteer with a great not-for-profit or help your mom around the house several hours a week. Those are all great things, but as you plan, keep in mind the Rule of Threes.

You can be involved in Kingdom work, do well in school, and work a part-time job, but you probably can’t do all of that and play basketball and sing in the school musical without crashing and burning. You can volunteer in your church, go to school, and play a sport, but you won’t have bandwidth to also start a Bible study at school and try out for track and be on the leadership team for Fellowship of Christian athletes.

See how that works?

You pick three things and you do them well instead of picking twenty things that you do halfway.

I want to be upfront in saying that the Rule of Three is not a biblical principle. Nowhere in Scripture do we see God forbidding us from dividing our attention four or five ways. But from someone who has run a track meet or two in your shoes, for all the wrong reasons (I hated track, but wanted to impress my friends!), can I just encourage you to think about the wisdom found in a pared-down schedule? The purpose of your life is not to be involved in every club, activity, and sport possible. The purpose of your life is to glorify God and be used by Him. (It says so in Isaiah 43:7.)

As you look to the school year ahead, would you ask these questions?

  • Can I best glorify God if I am burned out and stretched too thin?
  • What/who are the “causalities” when my schedule is too full?
  • What are my top three priorities?
  • What can I let go in order to focus on these three things?

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:
As nothing-to-do turns into how-will-I-get-it-all-done, find out what you need to know on the @lywbblog today.
Read more →

How I Know You Will Get Married

How I Know You Will Get Married

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one way that movies should ever end.

Having faced whatever challenge the movie plot was about and won, the couple (because there is always a couple) should kiss. The camera should spin, and they should be transformed into a bride and groom kissing on their wedding day. The rice gets thrown. The Mr. and Mrs. ride off into the sunset, and happily ever after begins.


Movies that end in a wedding should win the Oscar every time.

But maybe, just maybe, when you see a wedding on the big screen you feel a pang of something like panic. When you go to weddings of friends and family members you feel something bitter along with the sweetness of it all.

Will I ever get married? you wonder.

What if happily ever after never happens for me?

First, let me shoot you straight that marriage can never be the answer to a happy life. Yes, marriage is a wonderful gift, designed by God to put the beauty of the gospel on display. But that’s not the same as saying that marriage will meet all of our needs. Only God can do that.

The desire you have to pledge your life to someone else in the name of love? That craving is about something bigger.

But for many of you, that doesn’t stop the ache, the craving, to one day be a bride, greeted at the aisle by a groom who is crazy about you.

Maybe you will get married some day and maybe you won’t, but that craving? The desire you have to pledge your life to someone else in the name of love? That craving is about something bigger, and I know for a fact that it will be satisfied.

The Story Starts With A Wedding

Grab your Bible. (Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.)

Check out Genesis 2:18–25. Here are the highlights:

  • Adam was alone, and it was “not good” (v. 18).
  • Adam had companions of every shape and size, but he needed “the one” who would be a helper fit for him (v. 20).
  • God formed a woman from the man (v. 21).
  • God brought the woman to the man (v. 22).

And Adam gushes some of the most romantic words ever written.

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (v. 23).

“At last!” Adam exclaims. “I have been waiting for you all my life.” Which wasn’t very long, but it must have felt like it. Adam knew what it was like to wait for love.

Then God gives these instructions to the new couple:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (v. 24).

Recognize those words? You’ve probably heard them at a wedding before.

God was telling Adam and Eve that they were now one. Their instructions were to cling to each other in good times and in bad. We just witnessed the first marriage ever.

Fast forward to the end of your Bible, to the book of Revelation.

The Story Ends With a Wedding

Check out Revelation 19:6–9:

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

Genesis tells the story of a simple wedding. The only ones in attendance were Adam, the groom, Eve, the bride, and God, the wedding officiant.

But Revelation tells of a grand affair. There are so many in attendance that their voices sound like mighty peals of thunder. The bride is spectacular, clothed in blinding white garments. This is the biggest event in history. This is a wedding not to be missed!

You’re Invited to the Wedding of Mr. And Mrs. ?

Sure, the wedding in Revelation sounds romantic, but we miss something big if we don’t catch who is getting married here.

This is a wedding between “the Lamb” and “His Bride” (v. 7).

Who is the Lamb? Jesus! We see Him called this in verses like John 1:29 and John 1:36. Scripture calls Him the Lamb because He was the sacrifice for our sins, a role reserved for livestock before Jesus came.

Who is the Bride? We are! If we believe in Jesus and turn our lives over to Him, we become a part of His Church. Scripture describes the Church like a bride.

Here are a few examples.

For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2).

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:9).

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25–27).

Jesus is the groom, and those of us who follow Him are His bride. He died so that we could be clothed in beautiful, white wedding clothes instead of the filthy rags our sin wraps us up in.

A Perfect Ending

If you follow Jesus, your wedding day is coming.

I don’t know how the story of your life will go. I don’t know if you’ll get to a plan a wedding or pick rice out of your hair. But I know that if you follow Jesus, your wedding day is coming.

There will be so many people there, that their voices will sound like thunder. The groom will be beaming. He has waited for this moment for an eternity. And you, girl? You will be the most beautiful bride there has ever been. Your wedding clothes will shine like the sun! And in that moment, the craving . . .

  • to be loved
  • to be known
  • to be accepted
  • to be someone’s forever

. . . will be realized.

It will be the perfect ending.

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:
What’s the perfect ending for the best story ever told? Find out on @lywbblog today.

Read more →

Blood, Bread, and Remembering Your Rescue

Blood, Bread, and Remembering Our Rescue

I brought a new friend to church with me recently. She’d never been before and when the communion tray was passed, she leaned over to me and whispered, “What is it?”

I wasn’t sure what to say, exactly.

For someone like me who has grown up in the church, communion can seem ordinary because it’s so common. I know it matters, and I know Jesus took it, but why? What’s the point of that little cup of juice and tiny cracker? What should I have said to my friend who has never seen the communion tray before?

Let’s dig into God’s Word together to find out.

An Object Lesson To Jog Your Memory

Jesus observed communion the night He was betrayed.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:26–29).

Imagine that you were in that upper room with Jesus. You’re sitting around the table with Him and your group of closest friends, and all of a sudden Jesus passes around a loaf of bread. You tear off a bite and start chewing, and Jesus says:

“Go on! Eat up. This is My body.”


What is He talking about? Sounds kinda creepy.

Jesus passes a cup around. You take a swig, and He says:

“That’s My blood. I’m going to pour it out for you.”

Double gulp!

Communion is an expression of your faith in a God who saves you by grace.

Broken bodies and spilled blood don’t sound like great appetizers. And Jesus is sitting at the table in the flesh as He’s talking. Clearly, He and His disciples aren’t eating His physical body or drinking His physical blood.

But Jesus knew what was coming. He was giving His disciples and all of the disciples who would come after (that includes us!) a tool to remember some very important stuff. My guess is He knew all about our tendency to get amnesia about the good news of the gospel and forget about the sacrifice He made for us on the cross.

Just like baptism doesn’t save you, neither does communion. It is an expression of your faith in a God who saves you by grace. Think of communion as an object lesson given to us by Jesus, the teacher. The cup and the bread are physical objects that symbolize deep, spiritual truths. The bread is a symbol of Jesus’ body, broken for us on the cross. The cup is a symbol of Jesus’ shed blood, poured out for us.

What to Do When the Tray is Passed

Jesus says for us to remember Him when we take the Lord’s Supper. We are to use communion to jog our memory about His death on the cross for our sins. When we take communion, we should take time to remember Him, and thank Him, for what He has done for us.

But Paul says before we get to the thank yous, we need a heart check.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Cor. 11:27–29).

Paul says that before you take communion you need to examine yourself. But what’s this “unworthy manner” business?

Worthy Ways for Unworthy People

Let’s get something straight. None of us are worthy of taking communion. It is, after all, a symbol of Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. None of us deserved that! We could never, ever earn it. It was a gift given to us because we are so loved, not because we are so worthy.

You don’t have to be perfect to take communion. It’s not only for those who come to church scrubbed clean (because none of us do).

But we still need to take communion in a worthy manner. When Paul wrote those words, the people in the church of Corinth were trying to use communion as a meal. Can you imagine trying to get filled up on tiny crackers and miniature cups of juice for lunch? It seems silly!

But just like the Christians in Corinth were using communion to fill their bellies, we can use it for the wrong reasons.

  • We can do it because we think it takes away our sin. Remember, it doesn’t. It’s just a symbol of the fact that only Jesus can do that.
  • We can do it to fit in. Everyone else in church seems to be partaking.
  • We can do it as a ritual; it’s just something we do.

Paul is saying, “Check yourself.” Make sure that when you take communion, you are doing it for the right reasons.

Shout It From the Rooftops

Do you remember last week when I told you that baptism was a way to show the world what God has done for you? Communion is like that, too. When you take communion, you’re showing others what Christ did for you.

Paul said it this way: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

Every time you eat that little cracker and drink that little cup of juice with a heart turned toward Jesus, you are telling the world, “He died for me! He is coming back for me soon!”

That’s a message I want to share with others. How about you? Do you take communion at your church?

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

What’s that tiny cup and little cracker all about? Find out on @lywbblog today.

Read more →

25 Rules for Strong Friendships

25 Rules for Strong Friendships

We could all use a little help in the relationship department from time to time. Here are twenty-five “rules” for friendship, straight out of the book of Proverbs.

Rule #1: Don’t get mad over nothing.

Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm (Prov. 3:30).

Rule #2: Don’t try to change a friend who is unwise.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you (Prov. 9:8).

Rule #3: Hatred leads to more fighting. Choose love.

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses (Prov. 10:12).

Rule #4: Don’t be two-faced.

The one who conceals hatred has lying lips (Prov. 10:18).

Rule #5: Don’t talk trash.

Whoever utters slander is a fool (Prov. 10:18).

Rule #6: Pick humble friends.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Prov. 11:2).

Rule #7: Keep criticism to yourself.

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent (Prov. 11:12).

Rule #8: Keep secrets.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered (Prov. 11:13).

Rule #9: Don’t be a mean girl.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself (Prov. 11:17).

Rule #10: Be an encourager.

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad (Prov. 12:25).

Rule #11: Just because you think it doesn’t mean you have to say it.

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin (Prov. 13:3).

Rule #12: Choose wise friends.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).

Rule #13: Don’t get mad easily.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly (Prov. 14:29).

Rule #14: Don’t be jealous.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot (Prov. 14:30).

Rule #15: Don’t be cranky.

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

Rule #16: Stay away from that girl with the temper.

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention (Prov. 15:18).

Rule #17: Get advice from wise friends.

Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed (Prov. 15:22).

Rule #18: Speak sweetly.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body (Prov. 16:24).

Rule #19: Don’t talk behind your friends’ backs.

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends (Prov. 16:28).

Rule #20: Don’t get mad easily.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Prov. 16:32).

Rule #21: Don’t jump ship.

A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17).

Rule #22: Pick a few close friends over lots of acquaintances.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).

Rule #23: Don’t be easily offended.

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense (Prov. 19:11).

Rule #24: Avoid the drama.

It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling (Prov. 20:3).

Rule #25: Don’t celebrate when your frenemy has trouble.

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him (Prov. 24:17–18).

What friendship rules has the Lord shown you in His Word? Tell me about it!

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

25 rules for better friendships, straight from God’s Word today on @lywbblog. 

Read more →

Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together

Enhance your summer reading with a True Woman book. The entire line is on sale this month.

Hey ladies!

I’m giddy to announce the release of my latest book, Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together. It’s about loneliness, and it’s the most personal thing I’ve ever written. I also know from months of traveling the country interviewing women like you that it might also be the most needed. Loneliness is a pandemic among us. But God’s Word holds the vaccine. Here’s a taste of the deep truth I found . . .

Polishing Up the Golden Rule

In Matthew 7, Jesus is teaching important principles about our relationships when He drops this little gem, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (v. 12).

We’ve come to identify this teaching as the Golden Rule. Later in Matthew, Jesus presented this same concept in a slightly different wrapper by saying that loving others as yourself is the second greatest commandment (Matt. 22:39).

We’ve got to learn to love others well without constantly wondering, What’s in this for me?

These verses urge us to love others in the same way we want to be loved, but they are not a guarantee that the favor will be returned. The Golden Rule is not an invitation to keep score.

When it comes to my relationships, I tend to think thoughts like these:

  • I was nice to you today, so you better always be nice to me.
  • I forgave you, but you better not ever hurt me again . . . or else.
  • I helped you, so you better help me.

But this is not the spirit of the Golden Rule. And let’s face it; it doesn’t make for great relationships. If we want to know and be known, we need to stop keeping score. If we want to move toward worrying less about having the right friends and put effort toward loving like Jesus did, we’ve got to learn to love others well without constantly wondering, What’s in this for me?

When Jesus gives us the second greatest commandment, what is He really commanding?

John Piper put it this way, “He is commanding that our self-love, which has now discovered its fulfillment in God-love, be the measure of the content of our neighbor-love. Or to put it another way, he is commanding that our inborn self-seeking, which has now been transposed into God-seeking, overflow and extend itself to our neighbor.”

Other’s Esteem

Jesus didn’t ask us to love others extravagantly simply so the neighborhood can hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” It’s not about warm fuzzies. It’s about giving teeth to our faith. It’s about letting the abundant love God has demonstrated toward us overflow and impact others instead of keeping it bottled up and to ourselves.

When it comes to our relationships, this is a mark that so many of us miss.

In a culture completely obsessed with feeling good, we’ve been raised with the idea that our self-esteem should be fed into. We look to our relationships to satisfy our craving for constant ego strokes. This is not the formula that Jesus modeled or taught.

Paul was urging Christians in Philippi to be encouraged by Christ’s example when he penned these words: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Perhaps it’s time we outgrow the notion that the purpose of our relationships is to provide a steady drip of feel-good fuel for our delicate self-esteem.

Perhaps it’s time we outgrow the notion that the purpose of our relationships is to provide a steady drip of feel-good fuel for our delicate self-esteem.

As I’ve wrestled with loneliness, I’ve learned that there’s more on the line than simply having great friends. If we can feel desperately lonely as wives, daughters, sisters, and friends, the antidote must be found in the quality of our relationships, not the quantity. The Bible teaches a paradoxical truth. The depth and quality of our relationships hinge on what we give, not what we get.

I don’t do math, but when we look at Jesus’ teachings and examples, it becomes clear why our relationship equations so rarely add up. We tend to plug the factors in this way:

Me + relationships built on my self-esteem = shallow connection.

We need a new equation that looks like this:

Me + relationships built on others’ esteem = deep connection.


True, deep connection, the kind that can keep us tethered and hemmed in, is born from sacrifice, not self-esteem. There is no room for an ATM mentality among the people of God.

If we are going to vaccinate ourselves and others against the pandemic of loneliness, we must love like Jesus loved. We’ve got to connect with people who have nothing to offer us. We should befriend the undesirable and cast out. We need to look at our relationships and ask what we can give instead of what we can get.

An Unexpected Parachute

Loving others wholeheartedly can feel like jumping without a parachute. There are no guarantees that they will love us back or be able to meet our relational needs. I think we should jump anyway . . . it’s the only way to find true connection. But as I looked in God’s Word for the answers to my loneliness, I found that God does offer a parachute. He is the parachute.

Deuteronomy 31:8 promises. “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

  • Do you feel lonely because no one is thinking about you? The truth is, since before you were even born, God knew you (Ps. 139:13–16).
  • Do you feel like no one notices how hard life can be? God keeps a record of every heartbreak (Ps. 56:8).
  • Do you feel friendless? Betrayed? Walked out on? The God who created everything out of nothing, who always was and always will be, whose name is Faithful and True, calls you His friend (John 15:15). You can never accurately say you are friendless. God’s offer for relational intimacy always stands.

So, yes, knowing and being known is risky, but God is able to meet our deep need for connection, and through His Word, He shows us how to let that ripple out into our relationships with others.

Ready to jump with me? If you’ve felt the sting of loneliness and are ready to discover the secrets of knowing and being known, leave me a comment about it. I will choose three of you to win a copy of Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together.

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read “Weathering the Storms of Loneliness and Life.”


Read more →

4 Good Reasons to be Baptized

4 Good Reasons to be Baptized

the·ol·o·gy noun : the study of God

We study God through His Word each Thursday on the blog. Our goal is to present the truth of God in a way you can digest and apply. This week we will look at what God’s Word says about baptism.

Laura was one of my closest friends in high school. She invited me to church long before I became a Christian. Once I turned my life over to Christ, she was a friend I ran to often with my questions about God and the Bible. But something about Laura bummed me out . . .

She didn’t want to be baptized.

We talked about it a few times. When I asked her why she had never been baptized, she would always say something like . . .

“I just don’t think I need to.”

“I don’t want to.”

“I’m a Christian. I love Jesus. I think that’s enough.”

Baptism is a picture of the way only God can make us pure and whole.

Laura was right. She didn’t have to be baptized in order to follow Jesus, but I still wanted her to. I just didn’t have enough biblical knowledge to understand why at the time. Many years later, I’ve seen God’s plan for baptism laced throughout the Bible, specifically in the Gospels and the book of Acts. Just in case there are some “Lauras” reading this blog who are Christians who have either decided not to be baptized or who are simply wondering why they should, here are four good reasons to be baptized.

You should be baptized as a symbol of God’s grace.

Repentance is a fancy church word for being sorry for and running away from your sin. The Bible makes a clear connection between repentance and baptism.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, emphasis added).

When we repent, we agree that we are sinners who violate God’s standards for holiness. Part of the process of repentance is telling God we need Him to clean up the messes we make. Because of grace, He is faithful to do it!

Baptism is a way to say the world, “I can’t be holy on my own. I’m a sinner and I can’t stop sinning, but because of God’s grace, I can turn from sin.” Baptism is a picture of the way only God can make us pure and whole. Isn’t that a picture you’d like to paint for the world?

You should be baptized because it shows your loyalty to Christ.

I like how Pastor John Piper puts it:

Faith unites us to Christ; baptism symbolizes the union.

An analogy would be saying, “With this ring I thee wed.” When we say that, we don’t mean that the ring or the putting on of the ring on the finger is what makes us married. No, it shows the covenant and symbolized the covenant, but the covenant-making vows make the marriage. So it is with faith and baptism.

You should be baptized because Jesus commanded it.

Right before Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His disciples their marching orders. These were His final words to them—the things He really wanted them to remember until His return.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20, emphasis added).

In addition to promising He would never leave us, God gave Christians very specific instructions:

  • Go.
  • Make disciples.
  • Baptize those disciples.
  • Teach them to follow God’s Word.

Because baptism is a symbol of God’s grace and because it is a way to publicly pledge our allegiance to Him, Christ commands it for His disciples.

You should be baptized because Jesus did it.

Matthew 3 tells the story of Jesus’ baptism:

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:16–17).

Jesus was baptized. I want to be like Jesus. That is good enough for me.

How about you? Have you been baptized? How would you convince my friend Laura to be baptized, too? I’d love to hear about it.

Love this post? Share it! Here’s a tweet you can totally steal from us:

Four good reasons to be baptized today on @lywbblog.

Read more →