Every sibling group has a baby - the one that's the youngest and somehow the most tender and the most sweet no matter what they do. That youngest brother or sister can get away with things that the others never would. You baby them and carry them on your hip and cover for their wrongs well beyond the age that you should. You pinch their cheeks, take their pictures and hide your annoyance when they get the most attention (and the most Christmas presents under the tree). You wonder if they are ever going to grow up - even though they are about to graduate high school.
And then. . .all of a sudden. . .they do.
Seemingly, overnight, the baby is not the baby anymore. He's a solid, mature, thoughtful, responsible husband and father who surprises you with his depth of insight and entrepreneurial ingenuity. You actually imagine that one day, sooner than later, you'll end up working the front desk at a company he builds. . .and somehow, you're happy about it.
That's cause. . .you're a proud sister.
That's certainly what I am.
Jonathan Evans is one of my favorite people on the planet. I don't have near enough time to tell you all the funny stories and memories from our childhood that were centered around his gregarious personality. He was - and still is - always a bright light in our lives. He is a man that I respect and admire for his leadership and devotion to family and the faith.
Currently, Jonathan is on the tail end of completing his Masters of Theology Degree at Dallas Theological Seminary and serves as the chaplain of the Dallas Cowboys. He is married to one of my closest friends and together they have three beautiful children. He is a great communicator (just like his father) and listening to his preaching is one of my favorite things to do.
Today, he writes about respecting God - a thought provoking-message that we all need to hear.
Read it: Proverbs 1:7
As a kid growing up in the Evans household, it’s safe to say that I had a fear of my father. This did not mean I was scared of him, but it did mean that I highly respected him. Whenever I was disobedient, whether in school or at home, I knew that not only would my father be disappointed in me, but I would also be reprimanded for my actions. I never wanted to disappoint my father because of our relationship but I, of course, did not want to be reprimanded for my actions because of the pain! I quickly realized that doing things my own way without first getting instructions from my father was not a good idea. I learned that respecting my father while skipping his instruction was not respecting him at all. I learned that true respect and true reverence for my father would be to go to him upfront and receive the knowledge I needed to apply things appropriately. When I began to operate this way people would say, “for a young kid, you are wise beyond your years.” However, I knew on the inside that I was a regular kid with a very wise father.
Fearing or respecting God does not mean that you just say that you respect Him. It is not displayed by simply going to church on Sunday or having an occasional Bible study. It is not displayed by simply really feeling that you respect Him or that you participate in a lot of religious activities. It does mean however, that you go to Him FIRST! It means that your entire mentality is derived off of His mentality. It means that your goal is to not take any steps in life that are outside of instruction received by Him. It means that your father in heaven has the only say and the final say over every area of your life. Many people will claim that they have a fear or respect for their father in heaven, while they simultaneously skip his instruction. If you fear God, He will become the beginning of all of your knowledge. He will be FIRST! Then people will say, “You are wise beyond your years,” But that’s when you can say, ” I am just a kid with a wise Father.”
Think about it: Do you respect Him or do you RESPECT Him?
I’ve been waiting – waiting and thinking about when and if to write about it here. Wondering if this virtual living room was an appropriate forum for a post on such things.
And it is. It has to be.
If ministry – all ministries – are not connected to and involved with the issues of culture and society then what is its real power. So sometimes we write about silly things – superficial things – like hair or recipes. Sometimes we inspire you spiritually or ask for your comments about a personally enriching topic. But sometimes. . .sometimes. . .
. . .we write about Ferguson.
I’ve watched it all play out in the media just like you have. So many details still unknown and unclear. So many questions and hurt feelings that are pulsing in the soul of our already heart-bruised nation. Who should bear the weight of guilt will prayerfully be decided as justice unfolds but choosing a culprit is not my intention today.
I’m not a judge.
But I am a mother of black boys.
Several Sundays ago, my family and I visited Concord Church where Pastor Bryan L. Carter spoke powerfully about the turmoil and discord surrounding this issue. He focused our attention on Jesus as the only One who has and can ever bring complete peace in situations like this one that have roots too deep for human solutions to reach. It was beautiful and challenging.
My three sons sat in between their father and me and for the first time they heard the details of Ferguson. They looked at the pictures that the pastor had coordinated to accentuate his message as they flashed across the screen behind the pulpit. I glanced over and watched their faces pulse with concern. Their brows furrow in confusion.
Over brunch, the questions came. Why? How? Where? What next? We gave them as many details as we could but then I sat quietly as their father – a stately, dignified black man – looked his growing black sons in their curious eyes and told them what every young man of color needs to hear.
“Boys, there are labels and stereotypes hanging over your heads. Your choices will determine whether or not they stick.”
He was honest with them about his own experiences – the times he’s been followed and closely monitored by an attendant in a high-priced department store or disregarded while sitting around a conference room table with his peers. He told them about the women (black and white) who have clutched their purses when he got on the elevator next to them and the police officer that stopped him because he “fit the profile” of the culprit they were looking for. He explained to our sons that, sadly, the burden of proof fell on them to prove that the stereotypes don’t fit them and never will.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, ”many people will not give you the benefit of the doubt. They’ll judge you the moment they see you walk into the store or the meeting or the elevator or pull up next to them at the stop light. They’ll make estimations about your status and your background and draw unfair conclusions about your potential. They’ll see your hooded sweater – the same one that other kid is wearing on the other side of town – and make decisions about your intentions that are untrue and that they’d never apply to the other guy. It will be up to you to let them know that their pigeonholes are too small and narrow – that they are for the birds not black boys. So, young men, the way you dress does matter. The way you talk does matter. The way you wear your hair matters. The education you receive matters. For now, that’s just the way it is.”
And, listen to me friend, my husband is right. It does matter.
I need to tell you that it was only a decade ago that I walked off of a stage after having spoken at a prayer breakfast in one of our nation’s major cities. An older man with kind and tender eyes, walked up to me, shook my hand and in the most sincere way he knew gave me a “compliment” – That was a great message. You are a credit to your race.
A credit? To my race?
He was utterly sincere.
The fact remains that there is an underlying divide in our nation that still exists. The expectations for minorities are so low that when one excels it’s a surprise. The individual is viewed by some as a “credit” to an otherwise bleak people group. And, every now and then, this dismal perspective erupts - more often than the media has time to cover - revealing its ugly head and taunting those who have gone before and paid such a high price for equality.
What does Ferguson teach us? So many things that I don’t feel qualified to cover. But one thing this, and other cases like it, has reminded me – a mom of young minority children – is that it would be foolish for me to turn a blind eye and act as if everything is ok just because blatant acts of racism have not been my regular experience. I don’t do my boys any favors by keeping them uninformed to the stark reality of the situation. If I don’t tell my boys about the shadow following them, they’ll make choices ignorantly and leave themselves open for brutal criticism, marginalization or . . .much, much worse.
So, Ferguson taught me to be honest. My 11 year old, 10 year old and even the innocent-eyed 5 year old, need to know and it’s the job of their father and I to tell them.
Red. Yellow. Black. White. Will you tell your little humans that we are ALL precious in His sight? That none of us deserves a label that we haven’t personally earned. Will you teach your kiddos to respect others and to choose their friends based on character and not color? Will you commit to telling them the truth about race relations in our nation? Will you refuse to act like the struggles aren’t real even if they aren’t largely your personal experience and even if it’s just easier to turn off the news and send the kids to bed? Will you tell them the flaws of our history and the appropriate way to overcome them? Will you admit and recognize your own prejudices (we all have them) and put them away for good?
Will you tell them – not naively but truthfully – that the only color that ever really matters anyway is red.
His blood bridges every gap and every divide. Let’s act like it.
My life has been dramatically and profoundly impacted by Anne Graham Lotz. Our paths crossed nearly two decades ago and I still remember our first meeting as if it were yesterday. Her passion for God's people and intense devotion to faith and family lit a fire in my soul for the same. She didn't have to take the time to talk to me that day. . .but she did and it changed the trajectory of what would be my future ministry.
Her ministry spans far and wide - in and out of various denominations and across continents. Her books and studies, teachings and messages are deeply stirring and life changing. Every single word she speaks drips with an authority that can only be given by God's Spirit. Her feminine yet powerful voice stirs stadiums and crowded arenas and galvanizes people - men and women alike - to an active faith.
Just like her father's did.
I almost weep to write this short introduction today.
Because in my young twenties, this woman gathered me under her ministerial wing and gently nudged me forward. She cared more about the stability and strength of my soul than the growth of my ministry. She answered my questions, prayed for my requests, responded to my emails and then invited me along to her conferences for several years so that I could have an up close view of what ministry onstage (and off) was supposed to look like. When I wondered what it meant to be a wife and mom who was also in full-time ministry, her example was in plain view. When I wasn't sure how to speak with an authority that was gentle but would still carry the weight of God's own power, her example was - and still is - in plain view.
I'll never forget (and tears sting the corners of my eyes now) the day I was speaking at a conference in the vicinity of her home town. There were a couple thousand women in the room that day. I looked out into the crowd, somewhere between my message introduction and the first point, and there was that unmistakably, beautiful silver-ish hair glimmering in the audience. I almost lost my words at the thought that she - she - had taken time out of her schedule to come.
I was twenty-seven.
Afterward, Miss Anne came backstage to give me a tight hug, speak words of blessing over me and pray for God's hand to cover me. Then she got back in her car and drove home...leaving a spiritual inheritance and blessing behind her that I carry in my heart til this day.
Anne Graham Lotz is a student of God's Word and cares deeply for the bride of Christ. She hears from God and we hear Him more clearly through her. In this post, you'll see her passion peeking through every line. She's not apologetic or apprehensive. She never has been.
And why should she be. There has and will always only ever be. . .One Way To Safety.
Miss Anne, thank you for always pointing us - pointing me - to Jesus.
Jesus answered, “I am the way…” John 14:6
On August 8, tens of thousands of people were trapped on Mt. Sinjar by Islamic State forces who surrounded the base. The men, women, and children were cut off from food and water, with many dying and all being threatened by ISIS who issued the ultimatum that they convert to Islam, or die. Pictures have been circulated on YouTube of babies being butchered, Christians being crucified, and men being beheaded by this demonically controlled group of vicious fighters.
While the world seemed to look on helplessly, the Syrian Kurds and the Peshmerga fighters combined to open up an escape route from the mountain to northern Syria. If you are like me, you breathed a sigh of relief and uttered a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving to God for the rescue.
As far as I know, not one of those trapped complained that the Kurds and Peshmerga had not opened up more ways off the mountain. They were simply grateful and took the one way provided. Thus they were saved.
What a dramatic picture of the equally desperate state of the human race. We are trapped on the “mountain” by our own sin, selfishness, and Satan. We are dying from lack of Living Water and the Bread of Life. The enemy is circling, seeking those he can devour and destroy. Threatening us with eternal extermination. Hell.
But praise God! There is a Rescuer! A Savior! He left Heaven’s throne and came down to open up a way out for you and me. A way of salvation! A way to safety. One way. His name is Jesus!
Stop complaining that there is only one way to salvation. One way to eternal life. One way to Heaven. Just thank God that there is a way. Then take it.
Anne Graham Lotz
Sometimes we have the tendency to forget - forget why we are here, forget that God loves, forget that He protects, and forget that our purpose is to know God and make Him known. Instead, we often decide to focus on the fleeting things of this world and allow the downfalls of those around to steer us in the wrong direction. We take much offense when the people in our lives offend or hurt us. As a result, self-protection becomes our focal points. Instead of giving all of ourselves to others, we close ourselves off from their investment in us...and our investment in them.
But what if we sat and really thought about how our heavenly father has set all of this up. We would find that fullness of life is found when we lose our lives. When we give it away to the poor, to the oppressed, to the sick, to the sinner, to the believer, to the offenders. Our greatest fulfillment is found not when we think highly of ourselves, seeking to exalt oneself or self protect, but when we willingly and openly seek to serve and give to others. (Matt 10:39)
I sometimes get so lost in deceitful thoughts wondering, “Who will watch out for me while I’m pouring myself out for others?” Well, our Father promises to do that. He also promises restoration.
So today, in the strength of our Savior, let us resolve to throw out resentment and give all of ourselves - our joy, our hope, our excitement, our gifting, our energy, and our lives to others, knowing that we serve the great restorer. We can choose to tear down the walls that keep us from loving and serving one another. We cannot do this in our own power because it is an impossible task, but we can spread God's love and gospel in the energy and power that He gives us through the Holy Spirit. (Col. 1:28)
Lord, give us the ability to trust in your unfailing love, living in a way that is pleasing to you today. (Ps. 107:43) I pray that we understand all that you give to us is simply for us to be stewards over. I pray that we will seek instruction on how to use it to serve and to give to someone else. Our time, our energy, our lives, our love, our talents, they all belong to you, entrusted to us for your good work. So, we stand today resolving to give it ALL to you, allowing you to do your good work in this world through us your children.
“…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)
We just love Christine Caine here at the Going Beyond office. Like...LOVE! Christine was one of our guest bloggers in January and we've wanted to hear more ever since. So, we have more! She is our guest blogger today and we couldn't be more grateful!
Have you ever found yourself looking at your resources or your talents and feeling completely ill-equipped for the position you've been placed in? Aren't you thankful that God sees otherwise and knows our potential when we don't? Christine's message will hit a home run for many of us. I pray this post will encourage you right where you are today. Hold on tight to these truths the next time you are feeling wrong for the part.
Read, enjoy, and pass on the good news!
1 Samuel 16:16
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
When the Prophet Samuel saw Eliab the eldest son of Jesse he assumed that He was the one chosen to be the next king of Israel based on his external appearance. The only problem was that although he looked to be the best choice he was not God's first choice. So often we can make the same mistake. We think if someone is talented or gifted or smart or eloquent they must be the one whom God has chosen. More often than not we think everyone is a better choice than we would be.
God has always chosen those that no one else would choose so that His glory can shine through him or her. God sees possibility when no one else does. God sees potential where no one else does. God sees faithfulness when no one else does. God sees loyalty when no one else does.
God always sees more in us than we see in ourselves. He sees a king when everyone else sees a shepherd boy. If you feel overlooked or forgotten by man, know that God sees you. God has chosen and called you. Will you respond to that call today?
Have you ever felt that God could not use you because of your own limitations? Make a list of all of the strengths that God has given you and tell him you are ready to be used by Him.
Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
Proverbs 14:13 NLT
This face has brought the world an overflowing dose of laughter for over 30 years. Regretfully, Robin Williams’ life ended Monday.
Depression is nothing to take lightly and I am, by no means, an expert on the topic. This post is not about a specific celebrity’s death. I’ve struggled with depression during a season in my life, you may have battled with it yourself, currently going through it, or know someone that has. There are even examples in the Bible that show us depression can strike anyone. King Solomon suffered a season, as did King David and Job, just to name a few. Rich, poor, young, old, man, woman, just and unjust. It can happen to anyone.
Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.
Psalm 34:17 MSG
My heart behind this post is for us to make others aware of the impact that they have on our lives; to take some time to love on one another; to help someone see the beauty we see in them, and what God sees in them. I want to encourage you (and myself) to be intentional with letting your friends, family, and even co-workers know exactly how their life impacts the world around them. Especially you as an individual.
You can verbalize your thoughts over a lunch conversation or, better yet, a written, tangible note for them to keep in their wallet and read from time to time. And instead of the letter starting with, “You were an incredible woman because…”, it will start with, “You are an incredible woman because…”.
We don’t have to wait until a eulogy is required. May we see ourselves the way our Heavenly Father sees us – created in His image, a beautiful and priceless masterpiece, marked with a purpose that will bring Him glory.
If you are struggling with depression, please do not suffer in silence. God is our hope when we are in trouble. Light will always outshine darkness. It may not happen overnight but continue to fix your eyes on God’s love for you and the power He has to rescue. Reach out to your family, friends or someone in your home church that can point you in the right direction for help. Make it known to someone you trust. You are never alone in this.
Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? (I will) fix my eyes on God. Soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He is my God.
Psalm 42:11 MSG
You are loved, thought of, and prayed for.
If there has ever been a power-couple for the Kingdom, it is John and Lisa Bevere. These two have a firey passion for God that can been seen from a million miles away. They travel the globe as pastors, preachers and teachers, leading God's people into a more personal, intimate and victorious relationship with Him.
More than once, their books and resources have sent me straight to my knees in conviction and re-dedication. I have been so grateful for their commitment to minister to others.
You see, far beyond all of their travels and ministry accomplishments, their committment to each other and their four adult sons is a beautiful sight to behold. As a woman in her teenage years of marriage who has a brood of young boys still holding onto my apron strings, I look at their thriving children and am encouraged. I'm grateful for their faithfulness to their family. It is a huge blessing to those of us looking on.
Today, John and Lisa share on marriage - the topic of their new book The Story of Marriage. Read every juicy insight and then run to the bookstore (or the internet for that matter) and get it right away. You'll be so glad you did.
You are fiercely loved,
But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”
Matthew 19:11-12 The Message, emphasis added
Too many people today see marriage as a trap! Some have entered into it with joy only to find that the commitment seems to have placed limitations on their lives. Others are hesitant to enter marriage at all, afraid it will lessen their dreams or diminish their strengths. Yet Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19 has the potential to increase the limits of our existence. Jesus doesn’t see marriage as a trap! He sees it as something that can enlarge our lives.
It may seem that marriage diminishes the number and value of its participants; after all, isn’t it two becoming one? Rather than diminishing or dividing, however, marriage causes increase. When two become one, there is multiplication in every area of life. Not until the creation of Eve could God give Adam the command to be fruitful and multiply—a decree that wasn’t limited to making babies. The true potential of multiplication in marriage is impossible to quantify and too expansive to measure.
When God charged Adam and Eve to multiply, He wasn’t just talking about making babies. God realized that the joining of the man and woman (what appears to be the simple addition of one plus one) would create the opportunity for great multiplication. This principle holds true in every area of life: your career, your family life, your spiritual life, and more. In marriage, God has given us something that can push back our boundaries.
This has been true in our marriage. We have both had the opportunity to author books and travel and minister worldwide. We can assure you that none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for our marriage. We would have lived small lives. Has our marriage always been easy? Absolutely not! But it has been full of encouragement. We have called out the gifts of God we see in one another. God has used our marriage to enlarge our lives in every way.
We’ve written our new book, The Story of Marriage, to help you establish a marriage that enlarges your life. Whether you are single, engaged, or already married, your love story has a big part to play in displaying God’s love to the world around you! We want to help you do that well.
We pray you are having a great week thus far! There are a couple of happenings in the Going Beyond world that we wanted to share with you. It’s the beginning of a new month and with that comes a new Jewelry Box article as well as a new episode of The Chat with Priscilla!
Do you struggle with having to be right? Does winning an argument and having the last word sometimes give a sense of satisfaction? In this month’s Jewelry Box, Priscilla talks about one little word that can quickly calm a raging storm – OK. When you prefer peace over madness, restoration over discord, love instead of animosity, this word can make a world of difference.
This month’s article is out now and you may view it here or by clicking on the Jewelry Box banner above. You also have the opportunity to have it sent directly to your inbox each month! When you head on over to the Jewelry Box page, you’ll find all the information needed at the bottom of the page to do so.
This month’s The Chat with Priscilla is on a rather controversial topic. Many of you may have heard of the book (and soon-to-be-released movie), 50 Shades of Grey, that has been sweeping the nation. Priscilla sits down with Dr. Juli Slattery and Dannah Gresh to discuss this social phenomenon and the Christian perspective. This episode has aired in the past but due to the book's upcoming movie release, we are airing it again for the purpose of insight and understanding. (Please note, this month’s content is considered mature and you may not find it suitable for younger ears.) Part one will air every Tuesday and part two will air every Thursday during the month of August at 12pm, 6pm, and 10pm central time.
That is all for now, friends! Enjoy the rest of your week!
- Going Beyond Team
It is guest blogger time here at Going Beyond and today we have a great post by Michelle Stimpson. That name may ring a bell for many of you because Michelle was one of our guest bloggers during the month of April! (If you've missed her post, Shredding the Past, or it's just been a while, definitely check it out.) We've brought her back and this one is just. as. good! If you've ever dealt with fear, or know someone who has, this post will really feed your soul.
Enjoy, sisters, and have a wonderful, wonderful Friday!
When I had babies, I feared they would contract a disease that would be misdiagnosed and mistreated until it was too late. When they were toddlers, I feared I’d lose them in the mall and they’d get kidnapped. When they entered school, I feared they would be bullied because they were so much taller than all the other kids. Every year, I breathed a little easier because the other kids were catching up.
Are you seeing a pattern here? Wait. There’s more…
In middle school, I feared they would start hanging with the wrong crowd. And when they started driving in high school…let’s just say it’s a good thing I can only get nitrous oxide at the dentist’s office. I looked forward to the day they left my house because THEN I wouldn’t be so fearful anymore.
When our oldest, a son, finally prepared to leave the nest, the old fears sprouted up again cleverly disguised as new fears. What if he gets sick away from home? What if he gets kidnapped and I don’t realize it for days (this kid never called home unless he wanted money)? What if someone mistook him for a thug or overreacted to a silly prank?
Suddenly, it hit me: People have lied to me. There’s no feeling of “Whew! I’m done with that!” when your kids turn 18 or leave the house. I’m sure this sounds very unmotherly-like, but I’m telling you, I really thought I’d be home free when my kids finished school.
This same 18-year-old boy (6’2”, 140 lbs.—think J.J. from Good Times) decided to take the night shift at a county jail filled with hardened criminals. I knew my mind had to be renewed by something or I would have no peace.
That something was Psalm 91. The Lord led me to study it, stand on it, pray it over my son, and share this word with him, too. The truth of the matter is: There is no real protection outside of Him. Whatever He allows has purpose. Whatever He doesn’t allow flat ain’t gonna happen.
Furthermore, the only real, true, everlasting disaster that could ever occur is for someone to die outside of Christ. All other so-called disasters (even death) end with the deceased person closing their eyes to this world and waking up in the presence of Jesus. That’s not a disaster—that’s what we hope for!
As it turns out, the jail job was preparation for the next step in my son’s life, the next level of faith as his mother. He’s leaving for the Army next week. I’m not sure exactly what his assignment entails, but when he rattles off his job-code-number-thingy, other military people are like, “Dude, that’s pretty intense.”
And I take a deep breath.
God is the same God in kindergarten, in junior high, in a jail, and in the military. Moms, dads, grandparents and even adventurous children can rest in His shadow.
I won’t be long today at all. Promise. I just wanted to share a quick prayer with you that I recently read while going through one of Priscilla’s Bible studies. If you’ve done the Discerning the Voice of God Bible study, you’ll be nodding your head in a minute. I’ve recently posted it on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, too, so many of you will recognize it!
Lord, heighten my spiritual senses
to see that which is not visible,
hear that which is not audible,
sense that which is not tangible,
believe that which is unbelievable.
Teach me to sort through
the noises of this world,
to hear and discern Your powerful,
wonderful, pure, precious voice.
Oh man, I love that. "...Your powerful, wonderful, pure, precious voice."
That has been my prayer these past few days. I break my own heart just thinking that I have gone through many, many days unaware of God’s handy-work (the fine details, pristine craftsmanship) or that I can become so busy that I unintentionally block out His voice as He pursues me daily.
Before you go about your busy day today, whisper this prayer a few times. If I’ve caught you in the middle of your day, give yourself permission to stop what you’re doing and pray this prayer out loud. Close your eyes and just take it all in for a minute before you continue with your day.
He hears you and will answer you. He will speak to you. If you’ve already seen Him at work, if He’s answered your prayer, if your spiritual senses have been heightened, will you share it with us? Your words will definitely encourage another!
Hey, see? I told you I wasn’t going to be long. :)