Three Takeaways from TGCW18

It was standing-room-only.

At 7am, our panel discussion had an attendance that far surpassed what we’d expected. I thought 30-50 women might come (morning people!); instead, the room was packed. This turnout spoke of the universal experience of human suffering, and more importantly, of our desire for hope in the midst of it.

This event was one encouraging part of the whole of TGCW18. The hunger and passion in our room that morning was but a tiny sliver of what had been displayed in the main hall, as a vast ocean of women from across the globe worshipped Jesus together.        

Here are my takeaways from TGCW18:

To listen to Jesus is to live.

God’s command is simple: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). But obedience to it? Far from simple, for we’re naturally drawn to whatever will itch our ears and suit our passions. We’re a rebellious people who’ve wandered and turned away from listening to the truth (see 2 Timothy 4:2-4).

But our turning away is our death:

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey…by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply…But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-18, emphasis mine)

I confess, I often want to listen to Jesus so that I can accomplish other things; in this, the Lord and Savior of the universe becomes a means to my own selfish ends. But in running after other gods—like attention, influence, comfort, or success—my sorrows only multiply (Psalm 16:4). To be drawn away to worship and serve idols yields the fruit of sin and death: discontentment, anxiety, fear of man, and an incessant hunger for what will never truly satisfy.

But to listen to Jesus through his Word is life. In seeking to love him, walk in his ways, and keep his commands, we gain more of him and, therefore, the truest, most satisfying life possible. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Is my greatest desire to listen to Jesus and, therefore, to love him more and be satisfied in him? Do I trust his promised, sanctifying work to gradually expel these other loves from my heart as he gives me more of himself?   

Continue reading

Your Favorite Things Are Good…But God Is Better

Raindrops on roses, and whispers on kittens. These are not a few of my favorite things, but I’ve got a rolling list of my own.

Savory food. Sweet food. Delicious food that makes my mouth water and my taste buds dance.

A pinky-orange sunset, woven through with creamy clouds, so it looks like tie-die in the sky.

My husband’s silliness, the way he makes me laugh. His comforting words after a long, difficult day at work. His caresses and the way he holds my hand, the safety I feel in his arms. His prayers. His love.

The joy of friendship, the embrace of someone I deeply trust, someone I admire, someone I learn from, someone who reminds me of what is true.

The sweet, lingering scent of a burning fire in a neighbor’s backyard, as the soft breeze blows during an evening walk through our streets.

Finally, music, beautiful music. A melody so compelling, so enrapturing, that I am temporarily carried away by its epic sound and exalted to heaven by the richness of the lyrics.

My favorite things are good, but God is infinitely better. They are mere pointers proclaiming his excellence. His beauty. His creativity. His love. His glory.

All things were created for our enjoyment because all things were meant to point to God, to cause us to ponder the greater greatness of the Creator.

Still, we have made good things ultimate things, expecting them to come through for us, disappointed when they disappoint.

I love what worship pastor and author Matt Papa says in his book Look and Live: “Worship, true worship, looks through [the world] in amazement. To its source. To the One who is infinitely more amazing” (138).

Take a moment. Pinpoint some of your favorite things in this world. Realize that these delights were never meant to be an end in themselves but pointers to our Eternal Delight.

Taste your favorite, delectable meal…and worship the Bread of Life.

Hear the lulls of a favorite tune…and praise the One who put a new song in your heart when he made you a new creation in Christ.

Laugh with your loved ones, experience their embrace, approach God in prayer together…and think about the day you will see the Father perfectly, face-to-face, fully, as you are fully known.

Love the good things, delight in them, but don’t stop there. Look into them, to their Source.

Look beyond, and worship the One who made all good things, the One who is better by far. The One who is exceedingly glorious.