Lord, I really want my own house. I want to make a home and get to know my neighbors and have get togethers to reach them with love and the Gospel. I want to have a library and a cute kitchen and slumber parties with my small group girls. I want my home to be a place where people are well loved, well fed, and well treasured. A place where people feel safe, accepted, welcomed, and warm. Where they receive cookies, gratitude, encouragement, love, and the Gospel. Where they can come to relax, to be quiet, to talk, to praise, to read, to cry, to laugh, to sing.
I want a home.
A home not just for me but for my girls,
Lord, in Your time, would You give me a home? A semi-nice one, not for luxury but so more people can squeeze in and be squeezed by Love?
According to Scripture, we do not have anything that hasn’t been given to us from the Lord, and from His Word we know His gifts were not intended to find their eternal home with us. It is clear we have received all we have in order to leverage all we have for the joy of all people and the worship of our Savior (1 Peter 4:10-11).
If our lives, lips, talents, and gifts are to be used for God’s honor, why should our living situation be any different?
How can we use our homes to make God famous? How can we strategically use our dorms, apartments, houses, and yards in such a way as to make God look as good as He is?
The goals of my (future) home are simple. I pray it will be a place of refuge for people to gather, celebrate, weep, struggle, pray, and feast on good food and the Gospel.
What are the goals of your home? Do they line up with the Gospel message? Are they in line with Jesus’ mission? How can we redeem the home from self-itis (selfishness, self-gratification, and all things “mine”) and instead glorify the One who has given us a spiritual and earthly home?
When we remember the Gospel, we see the truth in vibrant color: we are not our own, we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). In light of that glorious reality, we now live to glorify the One who redeemed us from the curse of sin by employing every resource we have for His exaltation.
Our homes should be a refuge for our own souls but it doesn’t stop there. Because of the Gospel, we see this life is not about us. Therefore, counter-culturally, our homes are not just for us. Do you see your living space as an instrument entrusted to you by God for the purpose of loving Him and loving others?
Because Jesus has paid our debt, we now exist for His glory and the joy of everyone around us, so we are driven to unlock our hearts, doors, and lives to others, ready and eager to share with them the storehouses of God’s grace and kindness.
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. -1 Thessalonians 2:8
Do we extend the Gospel with our lips and lives?
“Be a pipeline not a puddle.”
“Be a fountain not a drain.”
Be a giver of God’s goodness not just a receiver.
Do not hoard the gifts of the Savior as if they were intended for you alone. If God is anything, He is a divine multi-tasker who has given us what we have to be a blessing for others.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. -1 Timothy 6:17-19
Because I was bought with a price, what I once claimed as “mine” has been laid down before the King who saved me and therefore I am at His disposal to do with as He chooses (as are all my resources). The way my life and home are stewarded should reflect that.
Are we stingy with what we own or do we recognize the gift of the Gospel that reveals the way we have been undeservedly loved and, as a result, equipped to love others and live in the surplus of the Gospel?
Living to impress others is like walking into a prison cell, locking the door, and asking the guard to burn the keys. You’re enslaving yourself.
Love doesn’t seek to impress. Love lays itself bare and serves another, come what may. As Dustin Willis said in Life in Community,
The Gospel says the pressure is off. You’re freed to love people because there’s no need to impress them. You don’t have to give people Disney World every time you open the doors of your home. Give them you.
People don’t need to see the illusion of perfection. That includes the illusion of a perfect soul, personality, or home. You are not Chip and Joanna Gaines. You do not have to give your guests a Magnolia-worthy atmosphere. They don’t need your “perfect” aesthetics. They need Jesus.
No one benefits from seeing perfection unless they are seeing the perfection of Christ. In the Gospel, we have been freed from any lingering pressure to self-promote or appear better than we are. People need to see real, raw, honest faith that repents quickly and welcomes all into the lavish generosity of the Gospel.
Are you laboring with the people God has placed around you? Are you serving and inviting them to your table as a way to glorify the One who invited us to the greatest table of all time?
In a world of words that slice and dice, strive to represent the Word by creating a space where ours are used only to build up, heal, and edify.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. –Proverbs 18:21
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. –Ephesians 4:29
We serve a God who speaks and in whose words contain the power of eternal life. Do our words reflect and point to the Word made flesh?
Making much of the Lord and having open doors can happen regardless of the size of your apartment, dorm, or home. Upon examination, one may realize the one-two punch combo command to “show hospitality without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8) and to “make disciples ‘as we go’” (Matthew 28:19) is not contingent on a luxurious environment.
Our home is a tool, not a trophy. –Jani Ortlund
Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are to reject any inclination toward selfishness and instead use our homes as catalysts for ministry, creating spaces for retreat and refuge for others to receive the Gospel demonstrated in real life.
“Excitement for this new chapter filled with opportunities and fulfillment, and fear because this next chapter will last the next 40 years of their life,” he said. “There is a great trepidation of entering the ‘rat race.’”
Though both feelings are valid, Dennis said they must be guided, lest we end up falling into the same pitfalls as the rest of the world.
“Those are the two fallacies we must guard our hearts against lest work becomes either an idol or it becomes utterly toilsome,” Dennis said.
He gives two pieces of advice to do so.
“Fear that excitement and be guarded,” he said. “Be excited for the God-given joy to derive from work, but beware the danger of work becoming your life pursuit. An ambition for earthly greatness and finding self-worth in work has been the downfall of many Christians.”
“Work is frustrating and toilsome, there’s no sugar-coating that,” he said. “The flip side of the temptation to make work an idol is the temptation to think work is meaningless and should be avoided.”
Guard your heart from pursuing freedom from work.
Guide your fear into a realization that work is cursed not a curse.
Invited to a feast, a banquet of epic proportions, to celebrate the greatness of this God who redeemed us from our sin and separation from Him. The festivities have begun and the appetizers are being served so we can taste and see that the Master of Ceremonies is indeed as good as He claims, but we’re not yet to the main celebration.
No, the doors to this eternal marriage supper have yet to fling open and we haven’t been granted full entrance to the reception, but until then we’ve been issued a divine edict and a high privilege.
A few days later, His Spirit exploded on the scene and His followers were given power and authority to bring as many people as possible to the party that will (literally) end all parties.
Jesus enlisted us in this amazing mission, giving the command and the ability to carry it out. What could possibly keep us from joyfully obeying?
Well, as it turns out, lots of things.
When the Gospel is nothing more than a list of facts, we won’t see the need to participate in the mission. We might not even realize or remember the mission is for us.
Do we remember what we’ve been rescued from? Do we remember how Jesus came to us at our darkest and spoke light into our self-built cave of sin and shame?
Not remembering, not having our lives saturated in the truth that saved us, will hinder us from fulfilling Jesus’ command because the importance and urgency will be drowned out by our day-to-day routines.
When we don’t know the Gospel for ourselves and we forget what Jesus has done for us, there is little to no motivation to get into the messes of others in order to snatch them from the fire (Jude 23). But when we remember how Jesus laid aside His dignity and got into our miry pit to lift us out, it propels us to do the same for others so they can know the hope and rescue we’ve been given.
This life on life stuff is no joke.
Discipleship, as Jesus defined and demonstrated, takes work. It would be so much easier to do other things (or nothing) rather than invest in others for the long haul, but Jesus didn’t rescue us from the wrath of God to give us an easy life.
Running the race, fighting the fight of faith, waging war on sin, and pouring our lives into others are action verbs for a reason. When Christ saves us, He doesn’t call us to a passive existence but to an abundant life of activity where we forcefully discard self-gratification (including our inclinations to laziness) and intentionally pursue holiness.
Laziness sets in when we forget that extending party invitations is a joy and privilege, not a depressing duty from a harsh taskmaster. When we remember what the Gospel has done for us and called us to, we will be willing to lay aside our desire for ease and comfort and actively pursue Christ and others for His glory.
“What do you have to offer anyone?”
“You don’t know enough.”
“You’re not equipped for ‘ministry.’”
“If people spend time with you, they’ll see you’re not as holy as you claim to be.”
The lies rattle in our brains with compelling force. And you can be sure of this: Where two or more lies are gathered, fear is there in the midst of them.
Fear hinders disciple making because it’s an anesthetic, a potent tranquilizer that numbs us to our responsibilities and to the truth that God has called, equipped, and will continue to equip us to fulfill His mission.
But fear can also serve us because it exposes where our dependence is.
Fear arises when we imagine everything depends on us. –Elisabeth Elliot
When dependence is on what we can do not what God can do through a jar of clay yielded to Him, our hearts will be tossed to and fro by the turbulent fears. But when we remember the Lord is the One who chose us and has provided all things that pertain to life and godliness, which includes providing the grace necessary to make disciples who make disciples, confidence rises and action will be taken.
Do you believe that when God saved you, He gave you everything you needed for this situation? Your life will reveal what you believe.
I had the privilege of meeting Jaquelle last year at a writer’s workshop at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference and my soul immediately connected with hers. She is a light in this generation, full of humility-cloaked wisdom and grace, and a gentle but fierce warrior for the Gospel. Out of the overflow of God’s work in her life, she has written This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years (Crossway, 2017).
And it is a necessary gem for the church.
If you could potentially encounter a teen at some point in your life, you should read it. It’s that important. This is for teens, yes, but also for parents, teachers, and the entirety of the church.
As a youth leader, I’m grateful for Jaquelle’s beautiful heart and her desire to see this generation of teenagers changed and motivated by the only thing worth living and dying for. Within this book, she powerfully speaks truth as a peer, honors her parents who have modeled the Best Story in front of her, and drives readers toward the one thing that will give them eternal incentive to swim against the tides of the culture: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It really does change everything.
Sophie McDonald: Why is it important for teenagers to be involved in a local church? What’s their role and function?
Jaquelle Crowe: The Bible is pretty clear about calling every single Christian to be involved in a local church—and nowhere does it exclude teenage Christians. Teenagers have the same role in the local church as any other Christian—to be servant-members who worship, sacrifice, give, love, fellowship and are held accountable in the context of covenant community. How they actually function will look different because of their age, but it won’t change their fundamental role or position. The church doesn’t have an age limit.
SM: Life for a teenager is primarily a self-focused time (picking colleges, classes, friend groups, activities, etc.); how does the Gospel change that?
JC: Without the Gospel, everyone lives a purely self-focused life, dictated by our own selfish desires, dreams, and motivations. But the Gospel strips us of this idolatry and gives us an identity as submissive slaves to Jesus. For teenagers, He is Lord of our lives now, so in a radical act of counter-culturalism, we pick colleges, classes, friends, activities, and everything with the ultimate purpose of honoring God first and submitting our lives to His word.
SM: You say teenagers don’t have to rebel. Why? Expound on that.
JC: Culture expects teenagers to rebel. It’s become more than just a stereotype; it’s a pervasive assumption. But the Gospel calls teens to submit to Scripture’s expectations, not the world’s. The Gospel actually gives us a reason not to rebel—because we serve a faithful, peace-making God.
SM: How can teenagers join the greater Story and push back the darkness, or, as you say in the book, reject the status quo?
JC: Teenagers face overwhelming pressure and temptation to conform to culture. But the Gospel invites us to join this greater, bigger, happier Story by trusting in the redeeming work of Jesus. Living for this Story means we fight the temptation to be accepted by the world and all that it believes in and choose instead to stand for the truths of the Gospel.
In the preface of his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Bunyan, who was born in 1628 in Bedfordshire, England, said, “It is profitable for Christians to often call to mind the very beginnings of grace in their souls.” It is the Giver of that grace whom Bunyan seeks to magnify as he recounts his journey of salvation.
In that journey, we find Bunyan no stranger to unbelief but rather one who wrestled extensively with heavy doubts, guilt, and condemnation, often arguing that God could not save him.
Sin and corruption would as naturally bubble out of my heart as water would bubble out of a fountain. I thought now that everyone had a better heart than I had; I could have changed hearts with anybody. I thought none but the devil himself could equalize me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind. I fell at the sight of my own vileness into deep despair, for I concluded that this condition that I was in could not stand with a state of grace. Sure, I thought, I am forsaken of God; sure I am given up to the devil and to a reprobate mind. And thus I continued a long while, even for several years.
In full disclosure I admit that as I read Bunyan’s story, I found myself getting so impatient (and sometimes frustrated) with the length of his conviction period that I would catch myself subconsciously praying that God would save him and relieve him from the weight of his doubts and paralyzing unbelief. Then I saw myself in his place. Praise for a God who is patient and forbearing with the frailty of our flesh. What a Savior.
During his years of battling for belief, the already vulnerable Bunyan was constantly plagued with the Accuser’s taunting, torments, and distortion of the truth. As you read the following excerpts, perhaps you will see, as I did, that the enemy of our souls has no new material but continues only to repackage the same lies he’s used for centuries. “Same cake, different party,” as my dad says.
However, because he still remained in the flesh the battle with unbelief never ended but victory was gained.
I leave you with two final quotes from the book. These were penned while Bunyan was in prison for not conforming to the Church of England. All glory to our Conquering King.
I have never in all my life had so great an inlet into the Word of God as now. The Scriptures that I saw nothing in before are made to shine on me in this place and state.
I never knew what it was like to have God stand by me at every turn and every offer of Satan to afflict me as I have found Him since I came here. For as fears have presented themselves, so have support and encouragement.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on it or all that it encompasses but Scripture does give some lanterns to guide us to a biblical understanding of diversity and how it relates to the kingdom. And what we know for certain is that the kingdom is diverse because God is the most diverse Person the universe has ever known.
First, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page with what diversity means. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
DIVERSE = Differing from one another; composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities
We’re given a clue in Genesis when God promised Abraham he would be the father of many nations, which foreshadowed how Jesus would be the light for the nations so that salvation would reach to the end of the earth (Genesis 17:4, Isaiah 49:6).
A meeting of the United Nations is not comprised of people who look the same or approach life in the same manner. They are not carbon copies of each other, nor are they trying to be. When the UN gathers at its headquarters in Manhattan, the world is given a tiny glimpse of the beauty, safety, and wisdom found in diversity.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” –Revelation 7:9-10
Diversity bespeaks the Gospel. Where else do you find people of every stripe, language, background, and vocation blended together in a joyful concoction of beauty and unity?
Thanks to the Tower of Babel, the human race has more colors than a Bob Ross painting. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but the point is there. We have a variety of colors and it all stems back to when God sent out the earth’s limited population to diverse places around the globe.
But, in a tactical maneuver calculated before the foundations of the earth, He would not leave them scattered. When the Son of God became a man, He came with the purpose of gathering and reconciling His multicolored, multicultural, multifaceted bride and presenting her faultless before the throne.
Newsflash: His mission did not fail.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came One like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. –Daniel 7:13-14
The kingdom is populated with different cultures, castes, and countries. It’s peppered with people raised in different environments and contexts, climates and neighborhoods.
Jews, Gentiles, people from the Far East, people from poverty-stricken third world countries, billionaires from Wall Street. Thieves, murderers, Pharisees, drunkards, tax collectors. Physically attractive, physically unappealing (see: Jesus, Isaiah 53:2), people we hold in high regard, and people we disagree with.
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are You to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”
God’s empire is one body made up of different parts with each part, like the human body, having a different role and function. However, in Jesus’ body there are no negotiable parts. There will never be an emergency surgery to remove spleens or tonsils, appendixes or gall bladders, because each part serves a strategic purpose and each one is here to stay.
Through these different parts, Jesus’ personality is displayed in varied ways. If we were all alike, not only would our lives be incredibly boring but Jesus wouldn’t be fully demonstrated in the most vibrant way.
There’s a reason we all look different and have varying personality types with different weaknesses, strengths, temptations, talents, and abilities. Each of those things tells us something about Jesus in a particular way that reveals more of His person than we could see on our own.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. –Romans 12:4-8
From the very beginning, God made us different. Adam and Eve, different and unique, varied and distinct. Yet the same God took what was diverse, scattered, and fragmented and made it into one. Jesus is the creative genius that takes what is plural and makes it singular.
Though Abraham was promised to be the father of many nations, the covenant was made to one nation (Genesis 12:2, Exodus 19:6); a race of new creations reconciled through a costly sacrifice after their story started with a fall. Perhaps Creator God blowing into a handful of dirt specks to make one body wasn’t a one-time event.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. –Ephesians 4:15-16
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one Man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. –Romans 5:19
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. –1 Corinthians 12:13
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. –1 Peter 2:9
That marvelous light is the earmark of God’s empire. And His empire is here. Jesus even taught us to pray “on earth as it is in heaven.” Heaven isn’t comprised of one color. Heaven doesn’t speak one language. Heaven isn’t full of one personality type. Jesus didn’t die for a white church. He didn’t die for a black church. He didn’t die for a church full of pastors. He didn’t die for a church full of moms or car salesmen, writers or musicians. He didn’t die for a church full of blue-eyed athletes, teachers, or homeless people.
As Scripture has proven time and again, Jesus died for every tribe, tongue, and nation, and He did so in a way that meant only He could reap the glory when He made them all into one race, with one background: sin, and one future: grace.
Andrew Peterson is a sculptor of sentences, a gifted singer/songwriter, and a delighter in all things beautiful and true.
Striving to marvel ever more greatly over the mysteries of God and His greatness, Andrew creates sound with purpose. He has 17 albums, several of which debuted in or reached the top 10 of Billboard’s Top Christian Albums, and is the author of The Wingfeather Saga series, currently being animated for the screen.
Prior to our meeting, like any journalist, I researched the 42-year-old Illinois native, listened to his music, read his blogs, looked at pictures of his beautiful wife and their three cute kids, and discovered we share a mutual love for C. S. Lewis, Oxford, and vibrant literature. What my research failed to tell me was how extraordinarily kind and unassuming he would be.
He was well dressed, well read, well spoken, and well mannered. His words were kind, his posture open. His tone was light, his humor on point. He praised others and spoke little of himself. He gazed at the world with eyes ready to see magnificence in this arena of beauty in which we live.
For me, he was a human version of Claritin®, the antihistamine that clears allergies from impairing your vision. I left Franklin with eyes that seemed to see the world a little brighter than before.
This was in part due to his easy going nature and in part due to his obvious love for “the jewel of the Gospel” and the miracle of grace, something that hasn’t ceased amazing him though 33 years have elapsed since 9-year-old Andrew made a public confession of faith in Christ and was, as he put it, “humiliated in baptism.”
“The beautiful paradox of the Gospel is that as you begin to realize how broken you are and how desperately you need Jesus, the level of wonder and appreciation for how deeply He loves you increases,” he said. “I think that is all sanctifying so that the older you get the more you grow in grace. The church talks about growing in grace, that’s a growing in a deeper understanding of how badly you need grace. Then what you get is a saint. The saints are the rascals that walk through the world with this astonishment that God really does love them like He says. That’s what I hope for myself.”
This heavenly bedazzling, which often results from study, is something that won’t reach completion this side of heaven, a reality Andrew feels keenly.
“I’m still on an ongoing cycle of sin, self-hatred, the wrong kind of repentance, followed by these evidences through people, through communion, through church, through books that I read, whatever it may be, of God continuing to push back against that deep-rooted assumption I have about who I am and who He is. It’s ongoing, and every time I’m a little more astonished by grace.”
My small group girls will come over tonight and we’ll have a birthday party for him and watch David Payne’s An Evening with C. S. Lewis (we won’t watch the exact one linked but it is so good and well worth the time to watch a YouTube video with “antique” graphics) while drinking tea and celebrating the work of God in his life and legacy. Until then, here’s a little blurb I wrote about “Jack” for the November/December RTM Magazine, along with 12 quotes from his famous sermon The Weight of Glory.
We hope it propels you to worship the One who conquered hell for your redemption.
The best writer, in fact, for not only did He craft the true and better “tale as old as time,” but also the tales that will go on after time as we know it has ceased.
In this story called life, we’re given glimpses of the great Writer imaged in His characters—our fellow man—and an image of God’s authorship is, for me, often seen clearest in the writings of C. S. Lewis.
When I read Lewis’s works and drink in the way he uncloaks simple and profound truths by wrapping them in sentences spun in so much beauty, I see God. Not only because Lewis is pointing me to Him but because His handiwork is on display in the way it’s written.
What follows are 12 quotes from The Weight of Glory, in successive order as they appear in the sermon Lewis originally delivered in Oxford on June 8, 1941. We hope these nuggets of truth will stir your heart and imagination to the Glory beyond this world, which is the same Glory that became flesh and dwelt among us and continues to dwell among us through His masterpieces of creation, including you.