Nothing Will Bring You More Joy Than This

By: Justin Beville

I do not think there is anything that brings more joy to my earthly life than to see my kids happy. Tucker and Turner (our new twins) are doing great and everyday make positive strides towards growing and consuming food. I cannot wait to see them grow as the year continues. Our other son is three and his world is brand new compared to two months ago. He may get on my nerves sometimes, but his joy and happiness is contagious. Luke enjoys things that he loves. We should enjoy things we love when they are in their right place.

Yesterday, Luke got to dress up for a fall festival. He has been wanting to be Blippi, so we surprised him and made that happen. He was not disappointed as told by the story on his face! He was joyous and it made me happy to see him enjoying his little life. I also enjoyed some of his candy he brought home (he doesn’t know how much I ate, so do not tell him).

This moment and many others in my family will bring me great joy. Unfortunately, this joy is temporary compared to eternal joy. Yes, I will have memories and think back to these moments with a smile on my face! Yes, I will remind my kids of the joyous moments in their life, but the only joy that last is joy found in Christ! I pray that one day my kids will experience everlasting joy.

There is no greater joy in life compared to what we were created for! We were created in God’s image and for His glory (Gen. 1:27-28). Joy is a common theme in the Bible that we see as people are united to Christ. Prior to his conversion, Paul found great joy in persecuting Christians. His life was redeemed and he gladly exchanged persecuting to being the persecuted. It was a joy to be in prison for being faithful to Jesus. Nothing else mattered! This resulted in a life and pursuit of Jesus and the joy that he give through life with Him. Again, this is what we were created for!

Paul in Romans writes, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

James tells us to count it all joy when we endure trials (James 1:2).

No joy is fully understood or achieved apart from Christ. Jesus died for us so that we could receive salvation. Hebrews 12:1-2 make it so clear “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It was of great joy for Jesus to do the will of the Father. Too often we look to say, I’ll find joy apart from Christ (entertainment, drugs, alcohol, etc). In reality, true joy is only found in the will of the Father. True joy is found in Christ. This is what we were designed for (to bring God glory). You may be looking for joy in a lot of places, but nothing will bring you more joy than this!

5 Things Worth Purchasing for Your Home: Newborn Edition

By: Justin Beville

It has been three years since we had the newborn stage in our home. We are officially in it again as we just had twins last month. One twin is home and the other will hopefully be soon. Technology advances quickly, but I cannot help to think how these five items would have helped during the newborn stage with our firstborn. Quite frankly, I was in limbo with our first as I had to learn the basics (diaper changes and changing clothes). Granted, I did call for backup the other day!

I am going to assume that you have the baby essentials. This list will not be about diapers, wipes, and burp clothes. However, have those handy. These five things are more of conveniences worth considering. In a few short weeks, these five things have made an impact in our daily routine.

1. Smart Home

Google Home has been our friend for a while. We love being able to control parts of our house with our voice or smartphone, whether we are home or not. It’s revolutionary and convenient to be able to utilize these features. The best part, is you can get started for minimum costs. Of course, you can get complex with increased costs.

2. Dimmable Lights

No longer do we need special switches or fixtures to dim lights. A smart led bulb (this is where costs start adding up) will enable you more control during particular situations. While you could add smart lighting to your entire house, a few bulbs would make a huge difference. I could spend all day selling you on a smart home, but just picture changing a diaper and being able to adjust lighting or to play calming music with the sound of your voice.

3. Synced Smartphones

Amanda and I have synced components of our phone for years. Shared calendars and notes enable us to stay organized and to communicate well during the middle of the night feedings (when I update on time) or while one is away. This doesn’t replace verbal communication, but it surely helps.

4. Storage

We have a lot of stuff. Honestly, we have a ton of baby stuff. Add to that twins and just picture the quantity of stuff. We are constantly getting more storage bins (we probably should get more today). While not revolutionary, effective storage will go a long way. Once Amanda reads this, I’ll likely be making another trip to the attic 😀).

5. Transportation

Okay, yes you’ll need a car for visits to the doctors, but I’m talking about in home transportation. We always have something to do (laundry, bottles, etc). Effective baby transportation will to a long way. Currently, we utilize a red wagon with a boppy pilllow. Once they are bigger, we will probably be using carriers. Please remember to think through safety when selecting transportation around the house.

This list will surely grow over time, especially when our other twin comes home.

What would you add to this list? Do you utilize any smart home devices in your home?

Are Debates Worth Winning?

By: Justin Beville

You do not have to look far to realize that there is a presidential election on the horizon. TV, radio, advertisement, social media, and many other things are geared toward the upcoming presidential election. Circumstances led to two presidential debates leading up to November’s election. Very different debates, but the same expected outcome for both parties. Who won?

This post is not intended to answer that question, but to offer a different perspective on debates. Christians will often debate their view of biblical theology and eschatology. There is no shame and nothing wrong with discussing and debating various topics. Even presidential debates have their place. These times are often times of sharpening and strengthening of our faith or our understanding of a particular political platform and agenda. Unfortunately, it is not always this way. Debates often end in a manner not worth discussing. People get hurt and emotions boil over. Is it worth doing whatever it takes to “win” the debate? Should Christians aim to be victorious from their perspective when it comes to theology and eschatology? When discussing and debating with an unbeliever, do we do more damage trying to win the argument rather than winning the person?

When I woke up this morning, multiple news sources, articles, and my social media feed were full of views on who won the second presidential debate last night. Presidential results and debates matter, but does it do more harm than good if the outcome is solely victory? Do not get me wrong, I love being an American and am grateful for our political system and freedoms. I am just asking the question: What if we focused more on winning people than winning debates? What if you had to “lose” a debate in order to win a person that otherwise would not of been swayed. It takes great humility to be willing to not “win” in terms of the world. It takes great humility for a Christian to say, “I do not have a good answer to that, but I will find out and get back to you.”

Winning is fun, I get it! Too bad my Atlanta Braves did not win the NLCS this past week (I am still bitter). Winning people and their trust is better. I would much rather trust someone as an end result than know that my representative won a ruthless blood bath. I would rather have the opportunity to talk with someone again about Christ, than to tarnish any opportunity to ever speak into their life again because I won the debate.

Healthy discussion and humility will go a long way! It is okay to disagree with someone else. We should be able to have healthy discussion, but never at the expense of losing hope to ever communicate again.

1,000 Miles and Counting

By Justin Beville

The NICU life is a difficult life. I have read and heard many stories about the difficulties of having a child/children in the NICU. The countless miles on the road, the hours upon hours visiting, and just trying to enjoy a season of life (the NICU journey) not wanted, that will eventually be a past reality.

When I found out we were having twins, I began preparing myself for a possible NICU stay that day (I process early and often). When we found out that one was growth restricted, I prepared myself more of the possible incoming reality. I prepared myself for the many miles on the road as we traveled to see our boys (one twin came home yesterday (3 weeks and 1 day)). I prepared myself for seeing little babies, but did not realize how small they really were. I prepared myself for countless conversations with doctors (our boys are doing great, they just need to grow).

Adjustments are running ahead at full speed in our household as we adjust to this new life with twins (including the NICU). While these adjustments are difficult and trying, I set out determined that this current period of life would make me stronger and more reliant on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me. Here are three things that I have learned over the first three weeks of our NICU journey.

1. Preparation is helpful, construction is essential.

Preparation is never bad, but full preparation will still not avoid every incoming obstacle. A water line will break (no pun intended), unforeseen material will need cut, and a trip for more materials is quite possible. It’s helpful to be prepared, but the moment of construction is what is essential. I felt prepared for these twins. Honestly, that part is going well for me. I wasn’t prepared for the construction on my patience with Luke (our three year old). I am generally patient, but I have really had my buttons pressed the last few weeks. While difficult right now, I’m excited to see the essential construction of my personal patience. I’m determined to be more patient and that God will use this to construct this area of my life.

2. Life is precious and amazing.

A two pound baby is a sight you wish you wouldn’t have to see, but it is a sight that has made a profound impact on my appreciation and awe of human life! As I held our smallest for the first time, I was reminded of how precious and amazing life is. This NICU season will have a profound impact on my outlook at life. Praise God that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14).

3. We were created for community, not isolation.

So many people have invested time, money, resources, energy, care, and work among other things to our family. We could not and cannot do this without you. Social media can often be a pit of depravity, but some moments outshine those by miles. If only social media could be a bright spot and a glimpse for the community we all long for (this can only be found in Christ). It has helped bridge gaps, but it is far from what we are designed for. This is a time that many isolate themselves, but what is needed above all, is community. Community is essential.

We are still in the stages of infancy on this journey with twins. While I anticipate difficult times ahead, the long lasting joys will far outweigh the difficulties. I look forward to my personal construction, the construction of the twins, and the construction of my family. I pray we are all drawn closer to Christ and that others are because of our faithfulness and obedience to Him. I pray that Luke and the Twins will come to have a saving faith in Jesus one day. I pray that they grow up in a society where life is championed and community is restored. Lord willing, our life has many miles to go, whether hundreds or tens of thousands, I pray that the Holy Spirit moves mightily!

What Is Your Battle Cry?

By: Justin Beville

Pep rally’s! Do you remember them? I remember doing some crazy things that corresponded to the theme of the day! Tie Dye was never my thing, but I would wear it for a pep rally. Spray paint my hair green, sure, why not (I probably should of looked in the mirror because I looked ridiculous)? At the end of every pep rally, we were asked to be as loud as possible with our battle cry. We do crazy things when we have passion and zeal for a particular thing.

Last weekend was the official kickoff for college football, but today is the big day as more teams begin their COVID-19 season! Things may be looking different with Covid, but this season, I anticipate many tides rolling and eagles causing war! Fans, whether they are in the stadium or on their social media’s, will not be shy or ashamed about their fandom. Shirts will be worn, faces will be painted, and teams will win or lose. Battle cries and team anthems will be the face of the day.

Football teams may make shock waves throughout the season, but Christian, our battle cry impacts eternity. It is so easy for us to get hyped about worldly things (I do too), yet forget the mission and battle cry that can save a life. Our battle cry is simple and life changing: Jesus is LORD! Faith and trust in this message is a battle cry worth choosing. Christian, the world needs to hear of this good news! If a Crimson Tide is going to roll, I choose the spilt blood of Jesus!

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

What crazy things did you do for your High School pep rally? Christian, when is the last time that you got hyped about Jesus being LORD?

Christian, Would You Stand on a Ladder to be at Church?

By: Justin Beville

The 2020 baseball has proved to be an interesting season. I have enjoyed seeing how teams have adjusted to the restrictions that COVID-19 has placed on their team. The Atlanta Braves, my favorite team, was in Philadelphia a little over a week ago. Most MLB teams are now hosting cardboard cutouts that refuse to leave when their team is being beat down.

As MLB teams are adjusting to no fans, it is interesting to watch how fans still try to make an impact. I do not like the Philadelphia Phillies, but I applaud their effort and the effort of their fans. Their fans have started accumulating in an area outside the stadium in order to catch a glimpse of the baseball season. The Fandemic Crew climb ladders, peak through gated fences, and obnoxiously toot their air horns (which would be illegal inside the stadium). These fans are doing whatever it takes to get a small bite size glimpse into the season.

Professional sports are not the only organizations having to make changes and accommodations to account for COVID-19. Many churches now live stream and are strategizing to continue to connect people with Christ. The church I serve at consistently asks the question: how can we connect our people to Christ, especially those we no longer see?

I understand the concern that many have in regards to attending in person services. Your church may not even offer in person services yet. The question is this: Christian, would you do whatever it took to attend church and be with other believers (in person or online)? The answer to this question will be different for everyone, but you must ask this question to yourself. Sports fans are doing whatever it takes to be involved in some capacity.

Church, are we going to sit back and not do anything, drift apart, and fill our time with something else? Or will we be knocking down the doors of the church (maybe not literally) and doing whatever it takes to be connected to Christ and His bride. Many Christians are missing their hands and toes right now as they are apart from the church body during this season.

How are you being connected to the church right now? Are you still engaged digitally? Are you attending in person services?

Church…Today Is The Send Deadline

By: Justin Beville

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is today at 4pm (August 31, 2020). This date marks a month later than normal years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is at this deadline where teams make moves to improve their roster. Some have the motive of winning a championship now, while others are looking at future years. Therefore, some are called buyers and the others are sellers. Trades will take place of large and small magnitude. However, the rippling effects tend to be great storylines to watch.

Church, what if we had a send deadline? The church has a role in discipling and pointing believers to Christ. Ephesians 4 calls this, “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). I am by no means calling for a yearly date on a calendar. I am simply asking and suggesting that this should consistently be on our radar.

Sports teams across the spectrum have a deadline to send and to receive. The understanding is that these moves will benefit the organization in the long run. Some teams make moves and their respective organization goes on to win the championship.

Churches are not going for a championship. They are seeking to connect people with Christ and to point people to the crown of glory (Jesus). What if we made bold moves to “move” our people on to do the work of ministry? As a training ground, what if the church sent more than they received? What if our best people were sent? Imagine if we looked at the work of ministry as a sending ministry. Jesus did not intend to build up a group of disciples to stay stagnant. He built a group of disciples with the understanding that they would be sent. The early church was built with an understanding that men and women would be raised up to be sent out. The sending deadline came often and it was a time of celebration.

Church, God may want to use that family that you are equipping for the work of ministry in magnificent ways across the globe, across the state, or across the town. While some may stay, many may go and we should champion that. Pastor, we at some point were sent. The IMB regularly sends individuals to the uttermost parts of the world. Believers need to be trained up and sent to do the work of ministry. That ministry may be your church or it may be elsewhere.

What storylines will we get the joy of watching because we were faithful to send? Who is ready to be sent in your congregation?

How are we equipping the saints for the work of ministry? What is your send strategy? Who are you sending?

Do You Need More Parking Blocks In Your Life?

By: Justin Beville

Have you ever tried to drive over a parking block? I have never tried in drive, but I have hit a few in reverse (I like backing into parking spots). Unless you have a big truck, you likely are not driving your four door car over a parking block. Well, feel free to do so, but be warned, it will not end well for your car.

Parking blocks are intended to help with traffic control and to keep you from advancing because of potentially harmful scenarios (for you or other pedestrians). A parking block is intended to stop you from something that you have no business dabbing your wheels in. Consider God’s love for us as if it was a parking block. When God issued the Ten Commandments, it was God’s loving way to provide protection for us. God issued a parking block in the garden by removing Adam and Eve so that they would not fall deeper into the destruction of sin.

Christian, it is true that we will struggle with sin because of our sin nature. Praise God that we are saved not on our own merit, but by God’s loving grace granted to us because of the cross and death of Jesus. We are saved and sanctified because of Jesus. Progressive sanctification is the daily work of the Holy Spirit guiding us to walking in the newness of our salvation.

Parking blocks are not intended to remove your fun of driving your truck in uncharted waters. Parking blocks are intended to be a guide and help to protect you, others, and your vehicle. The Holy Spirit guides us, directs us, and protects ourselves and others. The next time you want to drive over the parking block (that may be protecting you from sin) or when you try to get as close as possible, remember that you are not being blocked to remove your fun, but instead to protect you and to push your closer to Jesus. The goal is to daily die to self, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).

What parking blocks are causing you to stumble? How can you eliminate parking blocks in your life?

The Apple Ecosystem Effect

By: Justin Beville

Apple announced the iPhone 12 lineup this week. There are two types of people. People that despise Apple and walking Apple Trees. If you have an iPhone, the chances are high that you carry another Apple device in some capacity.

I fall into the category of a walking Apple Tree. Apple has done an excellent job appealing to your “needs”. A watch that interacts and mirrors parts of your phone, why not? Wireless headphones with the power of Siri, you bet! A screen much larger that enables you to complete more labor intensive tasks, give it to me now. You get the point.

It goes much further than this though. These devices work well as standalone devices, but they really shine when paired with another Apple product. Apple has earned the by in of their most loyal followers.

What if Christians started looking at their faith journey as a journey that necessitates other individuals involvement. I would have a hard time leaving the house without my Apple Watch, but it should be even more difficult for me to leave church without A, B, and C. We need fellowship with one another. We need to sing together. We need accountability. We need discipleship. We need to serve and give mightily. None of these items save us (the grace of Christ alone accomplishes that). However, our salvation and our lives were designed for community.

I have thought about breaking free from the Apple brand. Honestly though, I think I would have a hard time and a difficult transition because of the impact and effect their products have in my life. This Covid season has taught me this: I cannot break free from the Church and the people God wants to use to draw me closer to Himself. In fact, I do not want to because I have seen the value and would not want to break free. I need the church and so do you! The church really shines when it functions as it was designed to be.

What area of your Christian life needs pruning? Where in your faith journey do you need to grow?

Christian, Maybe we Need Some Little League in our Life?

By: Justin Beville

Photo: Pixabay

If not for 2020, this would be the season for the Little League World Series. As a baseball fan, the Little League World Series is one of the best competitions of the year. Sixteen teams made up of 11-13 year old kids come together from across the world to compete for the championship. The entertainment is pure, comical, and a joy to watch (especially the player introductions; Thanks Big Al). This might as well be the baseball equivalent to March Madness (NCAA Basketball Tournament).

While competitive, Little League baseball has a soft spot in my heart. It was on the diamond that I learned how to be a team player, how to hit, and how to have fun. Mass chaos can happen at any moment though. A kid can frantically run home during a game changing inside the park home run. Another kid is the kid picking dandelions in right field. I had many predictable moments in my Little League career, but most of them were a product of a Little League game (fun, laughable, and entertaining).

Does 2020 feel like a Little League game to you? The ebb and flow of the year is wearing down everyone and I wonder if it feels like a little league game. You are going up to bat, only to realize that you are batting out of order. You run to right field only to realize you forgot your glove. You catch the ball and throw it in the wrong direction.

Life is currently hitting hard. Seniors walked into school, only to realize that they would never return. Athletes trained all year for a chance at stardom, but never saw the field. Your vacation plans crashed and your big surprise hit the dust.

Life may feel like a Little League game right now. Things may seem unpredictable. You may be learning to catch in a new field of work. However, remember that no Little League game last forever. Yes, some go on to stardom, but many others excel in many different areas of life. Learn the lessons that God is teaching you during this Covid-19 season. Be willing to step up to the plate and be molded by what He is teaching you. Ultimately, we must remember that snack time is available. The healthiness of the snack is up to you. Christian, pack healthy snacks centered around the Word of God. Every Little Leaguer loves snack time and so should you. God’s Word fits into our life like a Little Leaguer’s hand into a glove. Be sure to have daily moments of rest and training with God’s Word.

When do you find time to read God’s Word? Where do you like to read?