September 1st, 2011
I’ll admit I’m a people watcher. But not for the purpose of judging; I love to read them like a book. I look at their lives much like the characters in the Bible, who were of no notoriety or fame until God decided one day that their story was noteworthy. And now, if you mention Peter, James or John, though there is no surname attached, most people will immediately think of the disciples. They were ordinary people whom the Lord saved and used in an extraordinary way.
So when I meet people in the course of the day I have to wonder, what’s your story? If your angel is taking notes in the book of “you” what is the title of today’s chapter? Is it in the category of romance, tragedy, horror or like mine most days, comedy?
Going off on a random trail here, but not really, because it is about people watching…a Facebook friend of mine posted from a McDonalds yesterday that he was people watching a couple of cowboys. Real cowboys! Who were flirting with a McDonald’s employee. He asked the gal “Hey thar young lady… wanna tomaaater?” then he proceeded to reach in his pocket and pull out a tomato and hand it to her! My Facebook friend is a musician who travels a great deal, so I really have no idea what State he was in, and I won’t stereotype any state by guessing, but I have my theories. The story left me in the state of hysterics! People are too stinkin’ funny. Why watch television when you can get that kind of comedy in person at McDonalds!? And for free.
Can you imagine that guy’s angel’s reaction? I wonder if he wrote that down; probably just shook his head and said, “Really God, this is who you gave me to follow?” You may question my theory on this but in Matthew 18:10 Christ says “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is heaven.” Angels are indeed people watchers, and they are in the presence of God, so that conversation could theoretically happen.
Now back to my point…
The title of today’s chapter in the book of Shari would be “Watch where you’re going.” I get so wrapped up in people watching sometimes that I forget to watch my own direction.
Hebrews 12:1 says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily best us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
Sometimes I look at other peoples stories out of concern, interest or because my story seems less interesting, or by way of denial because mine brings sorrow or frustration to my own heart. Whatever the reason, I am without excuse if in the process of reading someone else’s story, my book ends poorly. I'm not the only people watcher, I am compassed about with a cloud of witnesses and I don't want to fall flat on my face in this race because I was watching someone else.
Today I don’t have any “tomaaaters” for you, but I have this prayer, I pray that God sends a chapter into your book filled with the goodness of God, laughter from Heaven, and the provision of your needs. God Bless!
August 31st, 2011
A Pathway to Adventure!
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
This past Saturday I took my grandson to a “Build-A-Bear” workshop in Charleston, WV as a treat for his fourth birthday. It was a great experience…once we got there. Rural West Virginia may be beautiful, but it’s seldom handy. But my pathway to the big city had a u-turn when I traveled a few miles down the road and realized I had forgotten the gift certificate I’d purchased online. I hate to turn around and go back home after something, I’m always excited about the destination and it’s such a waste of time. It would be so much better if I could just stay on the path.
The word ‘path’ is mentioned nineteen times in the book of Proverbs, more than any other in the Bible. Most likely because Proverbs is a book of instruction on life, and life is filled with pathways. I ponder pathways a lot, mostly double checking that I listened correctly to the Lord’s instruction, because I oftentimes have to turn around and go back, and not just for gift certificates. Sometimes I have to turn around and begin anew, on a different path, because the one I was traveling was not established in the ways of God. So frustrating! And such a waste of time. If only I had taken the time to ponder, to contemplate and really pray about the direction I was going.
But that is not usually the way of Shari.
The way of Shari is to jump in the car, pull it in gear, shove down the gas, and drive. And then a few miles into my path I began to ponder things like, “I wonder how much gas I need to get there, and will a quarter of a tank do? (It’ll be plenty I say to myself) Should I have printed off directions? (I’m sure they’ll be signs). And by the way God, where exactly do you want me to go? Oh, not this way. I probably better find a wide spot and turn around…”
Ponderin’s good. Making sure that a pathway (for we travel many in a lifetime) is established by God is crucial to success. Satan loves to waste time because he knows it’s a precious commodity here on earth. Our lives are like vapors, gone in no time at all, and if he can cause us to waste it he knows that we’ll be less effective for the cause of Heaven. Establishing is to begin, create or my personal favorite, to launch! That’s what God does. He begins a work in us and then launches us into a grand adventure. If we’re on the right path.
I pray today that you’ll do some serious ponderin’. West Virginia porches are good for that. Y’all have a nice day!
August 30th, 2011
Hebrews 3:14-19 ~ For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
I cannot imagine the inward strength it took to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. Leadership’s not for everyone. I know for a fact that I’ve doubted myself as a leader. And if truth be told I’ve questioned the Lord’s judgment putting me in this role. Why would He suffer people with me, knowing that I lack so much. I realize that Moses was not a man of super strength; that he was an ordinary man used in an extraordinary way, but he still had to have a little something extra to lead so many. It’s hard enough for Pastors to lead one hundred out of sin whilst their own congregation is full of strife, discontent and murmurings. What must it have been like to lead hundreds of thousands?
Because of their unbelief in God’s plan and God’s man, with the exception of a few, the original crew of Moses’ didn’t make it out of Egypt. They lost the promise along the way and for forty years they grumbled.
I see this daily in the children of God, who live in defeat, without the rest and peace of God because of the provocation of Satan in their lives. Satan whispers lies in their ears and they buy it hook, line and sinker. And their hearts harden a little more each day. Satan tells them they are unloved, unwanted, unworthy and misunderstood. He tells them to throw in the towel they’ve messed up one too many times.
Well as one of the greatest “messer uppers” of all times, I’m here to tell you don’t buy Satan’s lie. If you are saved and covered by the blood of Jesus, Egypt is far behind you and you will make it into the Promised Land. Keep your eyes focused ahead. Joshua and Caleb made it out of the wilderness because when they saw giant adversaries, they saw giant potential in God. I cannot make it in this world two seconds on my own without focusing on the negative. But with God, I see what Satan intended for my harm as a catalyst for God to make something great out of it. When Satan gives me a struggle, I view it as a challenge.
Don’t let Satan steal your opportunity to enter into rest. When Satan puts people or circumstances in your life today, don’t even glance their directions. Put your sites on Heaven!
August 29th, 2011
O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
Somewhat less than one hundred years ago when I started down the road of salvation, in actuality it was 1996, I stood before the congregation of Victory Baptist Church to make my debut. Most had only known me for about 6 months, others had known me from my youth, but they hadn’t known a secret desire in my heart. That night I was about to share it with them from the platform. As I stood there clenching the podium with a white knuckled hand, using the other to clutch a microphone that trembled like the earthquake a few days ago, I sang for the first time ever to a crowd of approximately one thousand people. Or possibly it was one hundred, but it seemed like one thousand to me. The song I will never forget was “When He Hung the Moon.”
This particular song struck a chord in my heart as a new convert. Forever and always my insecurities had left me feeling unworthy of the goodness of anyone. To think that the Lord, Who was ‘my’ Lord, and (as the song said) “from the beginning of time, I was on His mind, when He hung the moon,” left me in awe. This new found Friend that I had discovered now lived in my soul and not only knew what was behind me, but knew what was before me. He knew that the song that I sang that evening was the first of countless songs to be sung in the coming years to crowds in West Virginia, Ohio and as far as Tarlac City in the Philippine Islands. That was big stuff for this gal. But that’s the God I serve. He uses the least likely to confound the world.
God ordains it all.
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
It doesn’t surprise me that God can do anything, because He’s God, and I believe the Book; but it always surprises me when God does something with me. If you knew me growing up I was a wallpaper kid blending in with the room. A somewhat gifted artist, but again my insecurities would not allow it to shine. I don’t believe the insecurity part was happenstance either. I believe that God allowed that in my life to prevent a God given gift from being wasted on the world. God uses the weak things of this world to prove to us that it’s not about us, it’s about Him. He who controls the heavens, controls the earth as well.
I had that same feeling as my youngest daughter stood before the congregation yesterday and sang, “I Refuse to be Afraid.” I was in awe. As a young mother she’s grown closer in the Lord and I can see the ordination of God on her life in the ministry. Nothing just happens to us. It’s all a part of the plan.
So, what’s the plan for your life today? There is one. You are on His mind!
August 28th, 2011
This Morning... Just Believe.
Sunday morning came early. Yesterday was filled with family events and the general duties of Saturday, and as I awoke this morning, several times actually, a few times from the bed, and a few times from the recliner, I thought to myself “Lord, can you do anything with me today?” My mind can’t even form full sentences this morning, and as my mind trailed off in a hundred different directions I felt like I was speed dating with my thoughts. I didn’t date any of them seriously either. But I wanted to. I wanted to write with passion about the goodness and greatness of my Lord and encourage the saints of God, but the words wouldn’t form. So I read. A little. My mind wouldn’t even grasp the Word this morning until I read John 6:28-29 ~Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
Those who spoke to Jesus had sought Him out, they’d seen His miracles, and they wanted to be a part of the ministry. It’s great to be a part of the ministry when everything’s on a high note. When people are getting saved, the church is bustling with activities and there is excitement in the air. But the ministry is not just a ministry of high notes, it’s more of ballad, telling the tale of the lives of God’s people, and it didn’t stop with the last chapter in Revelation. The story continues today with high note and low notes, and sometimes there are no notes at all, just a stillness.
When the people asked Christ what they could do to work in the ministry, He told them just to believe on Him whom he hath sent. I don’t know where my ministry is going most days, but I believe that God has great plans for me. This morning, I’m just going to believe that God sent His Son to die for me, so that I could have the promise of eternity in Heaven through that faith. God sent Him and the work for me is to believe it, even when I don’t see the miracles, the movement or the majesty. Even when the words won’t form, just believe.
Is it still at your house too? Just believe…
August 27th, 2011
In fifteen years in the ministry I’ve seen leadership struggle from discouragement from within and without the camp. Anytime there is a movement in the church it causes concern among those who do not adapt well to change. Most would be content at holding their place on row twenty two, where the seat conforms to their bottom just right and their hymnal has the pages dog eared of their favorite songs, wondering why the others are even in the book. Hmmm, I may be preachin’ to someone! I better quit.
But it’s true. If you want to see grown people stomp their foot and cross their arms introduce a new idea. Before any of my own church folk wonder if our Pastor has big plans that they know nothing about, you can stop the panic. None that I know of, I’m just speaking in general terms that could apply to everyday life. Or perhaps God’s got other plans for us and He laid this thought on my heart by way of introduction, I don’t know, but I love change! So I’m okay with that. And in truth our church adapts very well to change, with the exception of the few that we have to drag along clenching to their seats in fear of losing their sweet spot. Is that a funny image or what!?
Discouragement can come in many forms for leadership, but probably the most discouraging is when they’re faced with defending God’s plan to God’s people. Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The responsibility of the vision of the church falls upon leadership, primarily the Pastor of the church who is God’s man, receiving God’s Word. Hebrews 13:7 reminds us to “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” Which may be why I seldom every hear Proverbs 29:18 quoted past the colon. The vision of the church belongs to the leadership, and that’s not always popular.
Balking change is not new. Moses, the greatest leader in history, constantly battled the naysayers, even up until the point they were ready to cross over into the Promised Land, when they could see victory! The children of Gad and Rueben decided not to cross over but to stay in the land of Jazer and Gilead. (Numbers 32) They were just shy of God’s plan. Moses asked them why “discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them? Thus did your fathers…”
Discouragement is not only contagious it’s hereditary. A few people who decide not to follow leadership can discourage the entire congregation, and that is mighty dangerous ground. It could cost you 40 years and your life, it did Israel.
Something’s never change. God. His Word. His Plan. The plan didn’t change but His people were moving forward, at least until some of them stopped.
If your Pastor has a vision, don’t stop, claim the promise!
August 26th, 2011
I often times do not understand the ways of God. As a woman of great compassion it is so easy for me to compromise on the intents of God and let things slide to keep from hurting people. That is most usually the beginning of trouble for me, whether it is my sin or someone else’s. God never turns a blind eye to sin; He sees it, and He deals with it in one manner or another. His ways are not our ways, but I’m trying to understand them. Leadership has been heavy on my heart lately, because I know if America has any hope at all, her leadership is going to have to get things right with God, and when I speak of leadership, it’s not the leadership in Washington, DC. Not that I have given up hope on them, but that’s not the leadership that has the greatest effect on America. That would be the Church. The only ones who know the One true God. The One in control, which even we often forget or ignore.
This morning as I read the “Great Divorce” in Ezra; a fascinating story in chapters 9 and 10, I found a remnant of God’s chosen people, who at the encouragement of Ezra, decide to get right with God. It wasn’t easy for them, or for Ezra who brought their sin to light. God had forbidden marriages with the heathen nations they were among, and yet in spite of it, many of the nation’s leaders married into those families, putting at risk their descendants to become worshippers of idols and ruining their families hope for an eternal life with God.
Satan would have us believe that we can embrace the ways of the world and be “okay” in the eyes of God. Not so.
In Chapter 9 Ezra has been told that the leadership has “mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” And when he heard the news he tore his clothes, plucked off the hair from his head and beard and set down astonished and embarrassed at the condition of his nation. That’s a pretty extreme reaction!
It will take a pretty extreme action in America to get us back on the path of our forefathers. Church leadership should be comprised of folks who have a healthy fear of God and are willing to stand up for the cause of Christ even if it goes against everyone else. Matthew Henry says that “The sin that rightly troubles us, shall not ruin us.” It’s the beginning of healing when a heart turns back to God.
Ezra had assembled before him “every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression.” (Ezra 9 vs. 4) Ezra brought together those who reverenced God and were willing to turn back to God and allow their nation to be healed. It wasn’t a change that could be taken lightly. Many of those leaders that had transgressed against God had to separate themselves from people they loved. That’s tough, but it was necessary.
Chapter 10 beginning in verse 18 through 44 lists the names of 112 men who transgressed against God. He called them out by name and listed them in the eternal Word of God. The God of then, is the God of now. He has not changed, and sin is still sin. I wonder if He were to come into the congregations of the Lord in America this Sunday morning with a new list to call out, who would be on it. That makes me weep.
But again in the words of Matthew Henry “Weeping is good, reforming is better.”
August 25th, 2011
Philippians 2:25-30 Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:
I recently subscribed to www.klout.com to use as a tracking tool of my effectiveness with web based ministry. I honestly do not know if it’s accurate in its reporting, but it certainly interesting, and they say nice things about me which is always an encouragement. The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others. The Klout Score uses data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare in order to measure how many people you influence, how much you influence them, how influential they are.
Epaphroditus had clout, even before the day of “klout”.
Because of his labors in the ministry Paul told the others to hold such in reputation. He was “somebody” in Paul’s world and he wanted the others in the ministry to look to him for support and encouragement as well as encourage him. Epaphroditus had encouraged Paul during his time of imprisonment; so much so in his labor that he almost worked himself to death. It does not say what the illness was, but it was obviously serious, causing Paul great concern and great joy when he was healed. As Paul sent him back to the church he instructed them to celebrate his return and that too would encourage Paul. He had serious Klout!
Although I enjoy tracking my ability to drive and motivate people, it’s more important for me to see that I drive and motivate people in my immediate surroundings each day. Since public started the beginning of the week I’ve joined the students at Calhoun Middle High School each morning to pray for their school. It’s exciting and gut wrenching as I watch them try to influence their school for the cause of Christ with very little support. It’s disheartening when I watch them ask kids to join them and be turned down, and it’s amazing to watch their face light up when someone accepts and join in the circle. These kids have more klout than they know. I continued praying for them as I drove off, and they are heavy on my heart today. They’ve influenced me. They’ve given me a drive to be a better witness for Christ today. I may not be as cute as the little chick in the high heels who won her friend into the circle today, or my little missionary who stood her ground yesterday when a classmate said she’d gone overboard with this “God thing.” But I’ve got Klout! And so do you. Use it wisely dear friends.
August 24th, 2011
A whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on!
Feeling a four story stone building move beneath you is a little un-nerving to say the least. It gives you a quick heart check on salvation too! So glad I passed. Unlike other types of natural events, thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc, there’s no preparation for an earthquake. It just happens. One minute you’re sitting at your desk, the next your insides feel like Jello®. West Virginia’s quake was small in comparison to that of Washington, DC but it was still rattling. I’m so glad I know Who the quake Maker is!
I’m not saying there’s any spiritual significance to the location of yesterday’s quake, striking so close our Nation’s Capitol. After all, it happened in Colorado yesterday morning and that’s nowhere close. But I do hope that it shook a few of America’s leaders into an understanding of just Who is in control of our Nation. The pride of man scares me in regard to America’s leadership, and worse yet is the lackadaisical attitude of Christianity towards their attitude.
In the day of Moses the earth didn’t have to shake to make people understand the power of God; just the news that God was on His way made them tremble. But when God showed up, you better believe that the earth knew it.
And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
The leader of Israel spoke to God and He spoke back. Wouldn’t it be nice if our leaders had a relationship like that! If one Monday morning God showed up on Capitol Hill because America’s leadership had gotten right. If the earth quaked beneath DC because God had descended when they called and smoke barreled down from Heaven instead of out the ears of disgruntled, self-magnifying politicians who scoff at Christians who call them out on ungodly decisions. Woops, sorry….I got into a preachin’ mode there! I’m really not sorry, but I do try to be an encourager of my sisters and brothers in Christ, not a discourager. But some days you just have to speak out, before the mountain does.
Three things I find in Israel’s third day experience:
- All that were in the camp trembled – They knew the power of the Almighty God. America has given too much credit to the little gods.
- Their leadership brought them to God – Ours is trying to turn us away.
- Their humility was shown in the fact that they stood at the “nether” part of the mountain, the hindmost part. They didn’t go boldly before God as if He owed them anything.
And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
I don’t want the rocks to do my crying. I don’t want to hold my peace. I want God’s people to show the political powers that be Who is in control.
August 23rd, 2011
Whether it’s the ministry of the Lord that we’re striving in, or life in the world, things go much smoother when those who strive together work in harmony. It’s seldom easy, because the last thing on earth Satan wants is harmony in our lives. He has no trouble finding helpers for his cause either. I believe that he whispers in the ear of some people in my life daily giving them the initiative to make my life difficult. But God is so faithful to send me encouragers in the faith. It is often through the youth, who have yet to get the jaded outlook on life that many adults have. Encouragement from the believer is like water to a parched plant. It puts new life in you! Just when you thought you couldn’t go another step, someone says, “Nice shoes!” and you’re walkin’.
I have discovered the key to receiving encouragement; encourage others. It’s contagious. It says in Isaiah 41:6-7
They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.
And possibly someone said to their neighbor, “nice shoes!” It didn’t really matter what the encouragement was, everyone helped their neighbor. Isn’t that what the church should be about? What if everyone on the job today got their share done, and then turned to their coworker and said, “Now, how can I help you?” Or told them what a great job they were doing? I’d venture to say that harmony would be in the house.
Encouragement costs nothing, unless it’s pride, which shouldn’t be there anyway.
I also realize that on some day’s encouragement is sparse. Perhaps Satan is whispering in the ear of several people in your life and you just can’t get your mind wrapped around the idea of telling them “Nice shoes.” But be of good courage, because you have an encourager. In that same chapter of Isaiah in verse 13 God says, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”
And He will!
I love the quote of Vincent Van Gogh who said “If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” There will be discouragers in life that will tell you that you can’t succeed; but you have One greater than they holding your hand, telling you to be of good courage and continue on!
August 22nd, 2011
=Provision for the soul
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Lately my mornings with the Lord have been a little rough. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends; the problem I foresee with that is if the candle is not in its holder my fingers will eventually get singed! But I have so much I want to get done! So as I read and study scripture this very early bleary eyed morning the Lord now holds the candle with which I see. I’ve given it up once again.
Making provision for the flesh for the lust thereof is different for everyone. It is whatever floats your boat outside the will and desires of God. For some its wealth or fame, others it is the thrill of the game, for me it is the immediate. Whatever needs done at any given moment in time I want to do it. I seldom stop to think ‘is this mine to do?’ It’s not wicked things, although Satan certainly places those temptations there, it’s just stuff of no eternal value. I just do it, usually leaving other things undone in its wake, which is why I am the queen of unfinished projects and often not allowing time for the provision of my soul.
It is so important, not only for me, but to us all to begin our day with Christ; to put him on anew every day as we would armor in the battle. Daily battles are rough on the flesh. They leave me needing Band-Aids all over my heart. If I don’t equip myself for that battle I know by day’s end I’m going to come in from the battle field pretty ragged.
God knows what we stand in need of today. He knows that our bodies have need of “stuff” for which He’ll provide. But the soul is ours to tend to; it requires a spiritual vigilance.
A good soldier is one who is both mentally and physically prepared. Their armor has been tested for weak spots and proven worthy. Their mind is alert and aware of their surroundings, and their comrades in arms are beside them, they’re not going it alone. Jesus said “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” (Hebrews 13:5) So today I am ready. He’s holding the light, I’m holding His hand. Bring on Monday!
August 21st, 2011
C.A.T.H. ChristianityFor the “Not Going Away Party” of Catherine JacobsMissionary to Papua New GuineaAs spoken at Marietta Bible College on August 20th, 2011By Shari Johnson
- CALLED and CHOSEN
- ACCEPTED that call and took it one step further
- TAUGHT others
- HONORED CHRIST
I thank you for the opportunity to speak in honor of Catherine’s service to the Lord through Marietta Bible College. Marietta Bible College is near and dear to my heart, because through its people I have learned what true servitude is.
I thought I knew about servitude, because I’ve always had a servant’s heart, a desire to leave the world I live in better. But servitude in America and servitude in foreign countries (or at least those that are represented here) is two different things. Americans for one are spoiled. I whine because I have a slow internet connection, or I have to travel a few miles without bars on my cell phone. But through my Papua New Guinea and Philippine friends I’ve learned about Christ styled service.
Catherine left her homeland because she felt a calling on her life. Americans have trouble leaving the couch!
The calling of God has been heard by anyone who was saved. Jesus said that in Romans 1:6 “Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ:” but then in Matthew 22:14 Christ said that “many are called, but few are chosen.” I think Catherine went a step further, I think she was chosen. Chosen because they are those who are willing to be what my Pastor calls a two mile Christian. Christ said in Matthew 5:41 “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” That’s why we’re having a “Not going away Party for Catherine.” Because when she was asked, she said I’ll go the 2nd mile. She’s staying in America the extra year. I know that decision was not easy for her.
Catherine accepted the role of the Chosen. I think that is why so few are chosen, because few will accept it. That is why churches sit empty today, because it’s not easy to accept when the Lord asks you to do something. When you finally get to the point that you’re ready to get saved, you also have an understanding of what unsaved is and we for sure don’t want to die and go to hell. But let’s stop there; let someone else be the chosen one. I’m satisfied with saved. I’ll be called, but I don’t want to be chosen.
Catherine accepted the role of the chosen and then she taught it. Teaching is not for everyone. But it is for someone. And perhaps there is someone here who hasn’t stepped out, but they have been called into a teaching ministry. I’ve seen teachers that had no business in the classroom, in the school or in the Sunday school. I think some of them stepped in front of someone else in line when the Lord was calling.
I would say every church struggles with getting folks to teach in the ministry especially the right folks; when it comes time to enlist volunteers they’re AWOL. Always Weary of Labor.
Well goodnight they brought cookies for bible school, you want them to teach too! You ask too much!
Whether we like it or not, we’re a teacher. We may or may not have a classroom, but we have a following. Our families follow us, our neighbors and friends follow us. And if you don’t move, they won’t either.
Why bother, if it’s not important to Noni, (that’s my Grandma name) it’s not important to Luke and Noah. I’m not available a lot for my Grandchildren, because I’m working in the church. A lot of what I’m doing, I’m doing it for two reasons: because someone else who could, is not, or because I desire to. Because I’ve learned from missionaries like Catherine that serving in the manner Christ taught is sacrificial.
My final point in CATH Christianity is to acknowledge the honor that Catherine brings to the name of Christ, and the honor that each one of us should be striving for. I praise God for Marietta Bible College because the church and the sponsors take care of the missionaries. But I think America can do more in Marietta.
I feel like Marietta Bible Center Church is tired. I feel like while you’ve been so busy taking care of the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Egypt, Romania and so many others, Marietta’s mission field needs a boost.
In John 4:44 it says ‘For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.’
I know how hard it is to work your own Mission field in America. It’s sad that foreign soil is so much more receptive to the Gospel of Christ than our own. But I want to encourage you as women in Christ, friends of the faith, not to give up but to press on for the cause in our own land. Because someday, Catherine is likely going home to honor Christ back in her home land. And if Marietta is like Victory, when one servant is gone, there’s none to stand in the gap. Don’t forget Marietta. God bless you all.
August 19th, 2011
A Servant to be remembered…
The Bible fascinates me on so many levels. First and foremost because it is the living Word of my Lord; every time I open it it’s like a “spiritual wash cloth” as a friend of mine once said. It’ll clean you up! Other times I read it and it’s a history book, a drama, a comedy, and a love story all rolled into one. It’s been around for centuries; so what must it be like to have been one of those mentioned in a not so favorable storyline? To know that thousands of years later, someone is standing before the congregation of the Lord still talking about how you messed up! I hope in God’s book of remembrance in Malachi 3:16 He leaves out part of my story!
In 3 John 1:9, 10 John speaks of a man named Diotrephes in a manner that lets you understand he’s not happy with him. He had a little righteous rage going on concerning this church leader to the point that feathers were going to fly when arrived at the church. “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
You can hear the tension in his words when he said “I will remember...” I myself don’t deal well with confrontation, especially in the church, but this is one time I may have liked to have been there. Diotrephes was wielding his authority around like a loaded pistol at others in church. He did not want anyone stealing the show from him, and was going to great measures to insure it. John said he was prating against them, talking idly and at length with malicious words, forbidding some to come in and throwing others out who didn’t agree with him. You can tell that John had had it up to here with the fellow. But then John’s tone changes to a softer more compassionate one when he speaks of Demetrius in verses 11 and 12, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.”
John Maxwell once said, “Everything rises or falls on leadership”. And so goes the church. Demetrius obviously knew a thing or two about leadership. Demetrius spoke well of those in his church, he didn’t tear them down as Diotrephes did. True leadership builds up the believers, encouraging them in truth. He didn’t make things up, he observed and reported the good that his friends had done. How encouraging that must have been to John.
John ended his letter with one more word of advice for the leaders of the church; he said “Greet the friends by name.”
Regardless of the size of the church it’s important to know those whom we serve, and know their name. It shows that you’ve noticed who they are and that they’re important. In this busy world, it’s so easy to get so caught up in the service and miss who we’re serving.
August 18th, 2011
Jeremiah 17:7-10 ~ Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
In doing the personality profiling I speak a great deal about fruit, and being that my purpose is to use those profiles to draw us all closer to God I feel that it’s appropriate, because God refers often to fruit as well when speaking on spiritual matters. Fruit is the evidence of many things in the life of a tree and a saint of God.
Planted by the water
The Word of God should be flowing freely in and out of a child of God. If we neglect the very essence of God by failing to spend time in His word, we’ll be as malnourished as a fruit tree in a drought. If we desire the blessings of God it requires time in the Word, rooting us in the ground. Then, when troubles come we’ll be able to withstand the storm. If the world around us is dry as a cracker barrel, we’ll still have a rivers of mercy flowing in and around us. The Lord said if we trusted Him our leaves would be green and would not stop yielding fruit. That’s good news! It has within it the power to stay young, at least young at heart!
Serving God should be an exciting time, but the heart is deceitful. The heart will tell you,”You don’t have time to read the Word, life is happening.” The heart will tell you “Don’t share the gospel; they’ll think you’re crazy.” They already know I’m crazy. You too probably, you are reading me after all. The gospel in and out of a child of God is what keeps the fruit growing, and nothing is more exciting than planting the seed of faith inside another soul and watching it grow. I want an orchard!
Jeremiah asks and answers the question “who can know the heart?” It’s the Lord! He knows every thought, every struggle, and every desire within us. God said He searches the heart. He takes the time not just to stop by, but he tries the reins. He puts the breaks on things in your life that are taking you the wrong directions, He’ll pull you to the left or right if need be, but you have to obey. Just like a horse you could pull on the reins but if he’s not obedient he can race on out of control.
Are your planted by the water today? Or are you racing on down the creek bank away from the things of God.
Just like the old Gospel song says, I want to be “Glory Hallelujah I shall not be moved, anchored in Jehovah I shall not be moved, just like a tree, planted by the living waters, I shall not be moved!
August 17th, 2011
Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
What I have discovered about being in serious service for the Lord is that I do not have to fight my way up through a line to get to the Lord. It is certainly not that I am anyone of any importance in the world, but I’ve known from 1996 that I was important to the Kingdom of God. I was not saved to merely sit in the pew, God had much more in mind, I was chosen. Perhaps I am what God meant in 1 Corinthians 1:27 when He said that He had “chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” I am both foolish and weak in so many respects, but chosen none the less.
I am continually asking why if many are called, why are few chosen and why am I one of them? Jesus has an abundance of talented people to serve Him, why would He then use someone like me. I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none. I do many things good, not necessarily well. I constantly compare my singing, my writing, my artistry to others. I know that’s wrong, but it is a weakness. I read other blogs, both secular and spiritual and think, “Why do I even bother?”
Not that I am of the caliber of Paul, but when Ananias wondered why God would want such an evil soul as Paul, the Lord said “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me.” (Acts 9:15) I stopped questioning God on ‘if’ I was chosen, but I ask Him ‘why’ pretty often.
Here are a few of the common characteristics of the chosen that I can identify with...
Not being entangled with the “affairs of life” mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:4. To dedicate your life to the Lord’s service requires you separating yourself from the world’s service. This has been complicated for me from the standpoint that I have a natural servant’s heart, which gives me the desire to serve anyone for any reason (within reason). But God has clearly said I’m not called for any reason, I’m called for a divine purpose. So I’m learning to say no. It’s a new word in my vocabulary. I often want to add a “but” to the end of it. No, but I’ll do… God said say no. So I’m learning.
The chosen are rich in faith. (James 2:5) I’m not rich by the world’s standards, but I believe my God can do anything. I believe that He can take a nobody like me and use me to make a difference in the world. I believe that the “Jesus Chick” is sanctified website, for the purpose of glorifying God, and that God will use it. I believe it because I’m rich in faith. God has given me an abundant supply through encouragement and encouragers along the way.
The chosen have tasted that the Lord is gracious and are lively! (1 Peter 2:3-5) Peter said we were disallowed by men but we are chosen and precious to God. He said that we were lively stones that are building a spiritual house, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. That ought to put a shout on somebody! It’s hard for me to understand, but there are folks who don’t like lively Christians, we push them way outside their comfort zone. They may be called, but they are not chosen, ‘cause God said the chosen were a lively bunch. Woohoo!!!!
My greatest characteristic of the chosen is the fact that I’m peculiar. 1st Peter 2:9 says that we are “a chosen generation, a peculiar people.” Peculiar people stand out in a crowd. That’s how the world will see Jesus. I am a chosen vessel.
August 16th, 2011
Have you ever wondered why certain things fell to your lot in life? I certainly have, usually daily. There are days that I wonder why God tolerates me and my whining, or why He doesn’t just take me on to Heaven and get me out of the way down here. Pity parties are always well attended, folks will come from miles around to sing the blues with you and encourage you to be discouraged. Praise God I’m a *Mango and I can find a sunny spot in life rather quickly. We are the ADHD fruit.
But the problem is this; what damage was done while I was down, even if it were momentary.
II Corinthians 12:7-9 ~ And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Three times Paul ask the Lord to remove the thorn from his flesh. Three times He did not. I have besought the Lord far more than thrice, I am whiner! Paul doesn’t say what his thorn was. Possibly because we’ve all got a thorn, if he had labeled it we may have said, Oh, mine is way worse than that! Or, mine’s not even worthy of calling it a thorn, maybe not even a splinter! But the problems in life hurt just as does the splinter. The constant reminder tears you down mentally, physically and spiritually. Praise God, His grace is sufficient.
The key to overcoming is to continue on regardless. Paul said that he gave it to the Lord three times, and I see three lessons the Lord returned to him.
1. My grace is sufficient.
God will see you through, and it’s usually a very humbling experience. But humility is a growing process, it’s when the heart is tender and willing to hear and accept everything God says. If you’re down far enough, you’ll glean the sides of the field to find nourishment in the Lord.
2. My strength is made perfect in weakness.
At our weakest point, when we have only God to depend on, it’s then that we realize that He is all we ever had to begin with. When times are good we are often so self reliant we forget Who’s really in charge of life, and it’s not us! I know for myself, hard times often come as God’s way of getting my attention focused back on Him. He has to grow so tired of hearing me say, “I got this one.”
3. Glory in my infirmities.
That’s the tough one! But that is the one that others look on and that your testimony depends on. There is no glory for Christ in whining and complaining. But if in the midst of a trial you tell others how good God is (and mean it), if they see you not discouraged but challenged by the whole process, they’ll see God glorified. Paul found rest in knowing that God allowed him to go through whatever this trial was.
So, is there a thorn in your flesh? Rest on, knowing that God believes in you.* Mango personalities: Learn more @ http://www.sharijohnson.net/index.php?p=1_17_Hand-Designed-Personalities
August 15th, 2011
1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls
Shepherd of the Soul
From the day of salvation I knew I was different, I knew God had changed me from the inside out, and I was a new creature in Christ, and yet…
I fail Him. I make the same stupid mistakes again and again, I understand why we are referred to as sheep. They are the critters with an IQ in the single digits. They’ll just wander off, causing the shepherd to leave the rest of the flock and take care of the one. I’ve been the one on multitudes of occasions that Christ has had to fetch my hind end home because I’d got out in the world away from Him and was about to be devoured.
What is it about sheep? Why does the grass always look greener on the other side of the fence, why do we not want to stay close to the Shepherd and in the safety of His field? I don’t know how else to say it, except, because we’re stupid. Maybe it’s just me I’m talking about, and if so that’s fine. Every time I do something stupid (which is often) I get the image of one of those big eyed cartoon sheep in my head, with the naïve look and think… you fell for it again Shari. You bought the lies of Satan that this would make it better. I’m not always the Jesus Chick, I am sometimes the Jesus sheep.
I loved it when Peter said that Christ was the Shepherd of my Soul. Because John 10:14 says ‘I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.’
That’s good news for me. Because my stupidity did not catch God off guard. When I failed him, my angel did not run in shouting, “Oh my stars, you’re not going to believe what she did today” causing God to fall from His throne in shock. My angel may have done that, but God would have said, “I know my sheep. She’s stupid.” Okay maybe God wouldn’t say I’m stupid, but He knew I’d mess up, it didn’t catch Him by surprise. So why does He continue to love me? Because He is the Good Shepherd. The One who’s ways are not our ways.
Jesus knows me, and I know Him. Which should cause me to live a holier life, but it doesn’t always. Christ died meek and lowly as a lamb going to slaughter so that I could live eternally. Praise God He is the Shepherd of my soul. That when I go astray, He carries me back into the fold of God and sets me gently down and says to me, “listen and learn Shari. Stay close by my side, Satan desires to devour you and you’re making it easy!
Help me Lord to stay in the field of the Father…
August 14th, 2011
In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
Not until I was saved and began understanding scripture did I read the story of Noah’s Ark with a great burden for the lost. What must it have been like to be shut up in the ark and listen as the world around you was destroyed? Surely people were knocking and pleading at the arks door and yet Noah could not let them in. Verse 16 said, “the LORD shut him in.” Letting them in was beyond his control.
Noah was in the ark because he alone had found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He had warned the people and warned them again of the coming disaster on earth and no one would take heed with the exception of his family. The world around him was so wicked that every thought and imagination they had was wicked, yet Noah kept his thoughts toward God. I wonder how he stayed so focused in a fallen world. There is goodness around me and I still struggle!
I have no doubt that God would have had to have been the One to shut Noah in, if it were up to us, every man and woman would be saved, and most likely with compromise. But that’s not how it will be. God’s ways are not our way and there will be lost souls. It should and does break my heart, it should make me a soul winner; it doesn’t always. I fail God like that.
The closed door made me consider this morning those in my life who have walked away from God and no pleading or begging could bring them back. Or those I tell again and again about God’s mercy and they stare at me or through me wishing I would stop. If destruction would come, I would let them in, but God says no; this was their decision, they rejected Me. I also think that as an ark of safety God also shuts people out of my life for my own sake spiritually. They drag my attention away from the ministries of God by tearing me down emotionally. Sometimes I just have to sit on the ark and let God close the door because I’m too weak.
Perhaps today there are people who have let you down or discouraged you and you wonder why they are no longer in your life. You may even miss them. But God may have shut that door, and a door God closes, does not need to be opened until He is ready. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and the water prevailed upon the earth 150 days. Noah had plenty of time to ponder things before God allowed him to begin life anew with his family. There was plenty of time to focus.
You too could possibly be in the days of focus. Make sure your focus is on the Almighty and His desires for your life. When the door opens again, it will be an exciting time. Rest up!
August 13th, 2011
I Samuiel 16:18 ~Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him.
Possibly I desire to be like David because he was a man after God’s own heart, or possibly it is because he was the original bluegrasser, or a little bit of both, but none the less is a favored character of mine in the Old Testament for a multitude of reasons, first and foremost because his testimony stood strong; it mattered.
Following his anointing as King of Israel, God began to place David where he needed to be. That’s how God works! He uses people and circumstances to guide us into a place of purpose. He used a nameless servant to tell Saul that there was a man who could calm his soul when the Lord departed from him. Saul as King had used his position with disregard for the Lord, thus the Spirit of God no longer dwelled with him and the when the Spirit departed he could find no peace. But the servant knew a man who knew the Lord and knew that he could speak peace to his master’s heart through the playing of the harp. And so it was that day that Saul sent to Jesse for his son David.
I find it odd that one chapter later, when David slew Goliath, we find Saul asking David who his father was. There is no mention that Saul said “Well if it’s not my little bluegrasser that calmed my soul with his harp.” No, he said “Whose son art thou, thou young man?” Even though twice he had sent servants to Jesse, first to tell David to come, and the second time to tell Jesse that he wanted his son to stay. So how had he now forgotten whose son he was?
Saul may have forgotten, but those who knew the Lord didn’t. The servant remembered everything that David used for the Lord’s glory; his ability to play music, his skill as a warrior, and his disciplined attitude. Just as the servant remembered David’s testimony so will people in our lives remember ours.
When one of my teens from church wrecked his car a few weeks ago he told his Dad, “I have to go see Shari.” Not because I could fix the car, but because he wanted to get in touch with God. He was scared and thankful and he wanted to pray. I was touched that he thought that much of me to want my prayer, it was a night I’ll not soon forget.
It’s important that our testimony stand strong in this world. People are hurting, abuse abounds and they need to see our Hope. Saul forgot David because he no longer looked to God for guidance, he trusted self. Christians cannot trust in self and be successful in the ministry, we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to get us into our place of purpose and keep us there.
I want to do something that matters. I am nothing. Chris is everything!
August 12th, 2011
Or... Life from the Bench
I Samuel 16:3 ~ And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.
God knows your name
That phrase seems so simple, and yet, how often do we trudge about life as if God weren’t in the picture. Making decisions based upon self will and desires, as if God had no part in the outcome. Good morning Shari, this message is for you. (Maybe it’s for the readers as well)
I speak much about my salvation because it was a pivotal point in my life. I was truly never the same. God came into my life and began directing me down paths that I personally would never have taken. Sometimes He had to take my hand like a scared little girl and whisper continually in my ear “I’ll go with you.” And my response would be “Okay, but could you keep telling me until we get there.” He was faithful. But the further I've gone down this road I’ve often ran ahead of God and tried to navigate the path alone, only to find myself parked on a bench somewhere, waiting for God to catch up, He moves slow sometimes.
And while I’m on the bench I have to do a lot of pondering as to why I’m stuck in that place, and God gently chides “Did I tell you to do that?” And another life lesson is played out, usually one I’ve learned before.
It’s like God has to hit me on the back of the head like Gibbs does Denozzo on an NCIS episode. I am His, He called my name, He showed up at my house just as He did David’s. He anointed me as a servant of God and my title changed, my responsibilities changed. I could no longer make decisions based on what I wanted; it had to be what He wanted. And for the most part I get that. I talk to God all day long! Except…. When I don’t want too. Except…. When He’ll tell me no on something that I really want to do. And then I’ll say (note I didn’t say pray) “God, You want me to have the desires of my heart, right? Of course You do!” - - - Hello park bench!
God knows my name; He knows my thoughts and the desires of my heart. And He has a plan for all of it. I just have to stop running ahead, stay in line and accountable. The end result will be huge! He’s told me so. But I’ve got to stay focused…
August 11th, 2011
On my birthday I can’t help thinking about the words to a Chuck Compton song, Second Birth, “I've got a birth I can't remember, and one I can't forget. It’s true!
I’ve been blessed my entire life to have people who love me. I don’t take that for granted, because every day I meet with people who have little encouragement in their lives, and are without hope because they are without Christ. I can’t talk enough about what He has done in my life! I weave God into so many conversations throughout the day it’s like a beautiful basket by day’s end weaving people through my life and binding many of them to my heart. I pray today it is no different. I pray my birthday will open the opportunity to tell well wishers about the most important birth in my life, the second one.
In Isaiah 66:12 it says “For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.”
That’s how I feel today. Like a little girl having been given milk and cookies and dandled upon the knees of my Father. What a sweet thought! Childhood should be a time of wonderment and joy, and yet for many children it’s filled with abuse and distrust. But there is One who won’t let them down. One who offers peace that flows like a river over their soul, refreshing it and washing it clean from the pain inflicted in this life, created by their first birth.
We were born into sin, there’s no escaping it without the second birth.
Today’s thoughts are short and sweet. I pray you have Christ dwelling within your heart, and that you understand the love the Heavenly Father has for you. It’s the gift that keeps on giving every day. Perhaps you’re a grown child desiring that nurturing feeling that comes from a parent when they wrap their arms around you and tell you everything going to be alright. Maybe you’ve never known it. I can tell you today where to find it! In Christ!
The ABC’s of Faith
- Admit you’re a sinner and that you have a debt to pay for the sins you’ve committed. Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
- Believe (trust) that Christ paid that debt for you. Not because you were worthy, but because He was worthy to be the sacrifice for your sin. You can do nothing to be saved, Christ has already done it. You just have to believe it. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- C. Confess it – meaning to agree that God died on the cross of Calvary to pay your sin debt and that He rose again the third day. He now resides in Heaven where He makes intercession for your failures with the Father, making them as if they’d never happened. Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation
If you followed the ABC plan today, pray this prayer:
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and your heart, and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
August 10th, 2011
As much fun as being the youth program director in my home church is, I take that role VERY SERIOUSLY. The opportunity is a gift from God for which I’ll answer.
I Peter 4:10 says “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
This is why, when I see youth growing up too fast with the assistance of adults, my heart breaks. And such was the case when I attended a music competition recently with my daughter. Standing on the platform was the sweetest little girl ever with a voice to match. She was absolutely beautiful and about the age of 10 singing “Casanova Cowboy” by Carrie Underwood.
I seldom listen to secular music, so I wasn’t familiar with the song, but it didn’t take me long to get the gist of it. The lyrics began
You better take it from me,
That boy is like a disease
You’re running, you’re tired, you’re trying to hide
And you’re wondering why you can’t get free
He’s like a curse he’s like a drug.
You get addicted to his love.
You wanna get out but he’s holding you down ‘Cause you can’t live without one more touch.
As she sang she moved in a manner that made a knot rise in my throat. She was 10! Why on earth would any adult put a child in front of an audience of 1,000 people singing a song of such an adult theme in such a provocative manner. I will grant you that I have no idea if the parents were Christian, which could have had a great deal to do with it, but saved or not, I doubt they gave thought to how many pedophiles could have been seated in that audience of 1,000.
Okay, now that I have the ranting out of my system, let’s look at it from a youth leadership perspective. Kids are growing up too fast in every aspect of life, not just the music performance realm. So how does the church deal with it?
First and foremost we shouldn’t ever condone it, nor deny its existence. When questions arise from teens about the diminishing standards in society today, we approach it honestly and without waver that God’s standards have never changed and neither has the depravity of man. It is the sin nature to go as far as a Godless conscience will allow. However when you throw the Holy Spirit into the mix, the accepted is no longer acceptable from any age.
We often discuss the acts that lead to ungodly acts. This is where parent, family and friend influences can turn a sweet innocent child into a 30 year old wanna-be with knowledge far beyond what a child should know through movies and watched behaviors. I’m not a child psychologist, but it doesn’t take one to see the unhealthy manifestation of children knowing too much too soon.
As youth leaders we often have children in our classes, who are themselves in good homes, but are exposed to children that have little to no moral compass in the home, or the compass is pointed due south! We need to stand strong and firm on the foundational truths of the Word of God. We need to call sin what it is regardless of a world that promotes situational ethics. We need to be on guard to the lies that Satan tells parents that children need to “fit in” to society, or that watching a few bad things on television won’t corrupt them because they “know” better. They just may not.
Okay, I’m done. I’ve kicked the soap box out of the way and I’ll be still… at least until tomorrow.
August 9th, 2011
Girlfriend in God’s Mary Southerland wrote about the sandpaper people in her life who wait until the last minute to get in a merging lane of traffic.She was reminded through this circumstance of her impatience when a gentleman pleaded for mercy with a scribbled on napkin causing her to laugh with mercy. I chuckled under my breath thinking, “Yep, I’d be one of them.” Not intentionally, that’s just how we *Mango role, rushed! If I had to guess on the personality type of Miss Mary, I’d say she was an *Apple or Lime, or perhaps a combination, who have little tolerance of Mangoes mayhem. I know this because my driving drives my *Apple husband nuts!; especially the part about waiting until the last minute to get into the right lane; or the left lane as the case may be. This makes absolutely no sense to him. The guy in traffic who broke down Mary's barrier of denying the existence of sandpaper people by scribbling “Pleeeeeeeease” on a napkin in his car, was most likely a *Mango.” Because Mangoes are resourceful and funny like that, they also have napkins and pens in their front seat because they like to write and drive and eat. Multi-taskers! And they seldom clean out their car.
Miss Mary did have mercy on the Mango and allow him to merge into her lane; it was the Christian thing to do. I love her writing because she’s very straightforward in her thinking, and I need that. Give me the truth and I’ll take it, sugarcoat something and I will slide right past you and learn nothing. That’s why I love preaching!!! Note the three exclamation points. I really love preaching of the Truth!
I’d rather listen to good preaching than anything. Emphasis on “good.” Bad preachers either bore me, or anger me depending upon why they're bad. If they’re soft, slow talkers, they cannot keep my attention. If they’re soft talkers from the stand point that they sugarcoat the gospel, they aggravate me, because that style of preaching let me believe I was “okay,” when I was unsaved and too close Hell for comfort.
My tale got sidetracked, but it’s all good! Although I don’t know how I got from sandpaper people to preaching, unless…
I need the Miss Mary’s in my life, who take the route that makes sense and have mercy on those who don’t. Those logical thinkers thinker’s challenge me and make me better, or at least make me praise the Lord for mercy. Mary admits she has an issue with Mangoes, (well not exactly mangoes) but that she has an issue with people who do not conform, and she shared that struggle. Mary is who God made her. She stretched herself outside the comfort zone to show mercy on another; is that not what the Gospel is about.
II Corinthians 10:13-14 ~. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:
I think it is. It’s not about us, it’s about using what God gave us and going one step beyond what is necessary to see souls saved. Amen!
By the way, Don’t try to cut line in front of a Mango, most likely they won’t see you because they’re eating, or scribbling notes on a napkin.
Check out Mary Southerland at http://www.girlfriendsingod.com. Sign up for their daily devotios and be blessed every day!
August 8th, 2011
Psalm 37:26 He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.
As a child I knew there was a God. I grew up in a Christian home, I went to Church and I did what was asked of me in service to the house of the Lord. That is indeed a lot of “I’s” But I did not know Jesus as my Savior, and that was the only I that mattered. I may have known John 3:16, but I doubt it. I was a good counterfeit Christian.
But during the summer of 1996 life on earth as I knew it changed forever! It was no longer about I, it was about Him. He had blessed me with multiple talents, and all I wanted to do was use them for Him. I had used them and been taken advantage of by people for years because I didn’t value the gifts. But now it was different, now I understood that anything God gave me was priceless and truly did not belong to me, it was merely on loan. One thing that I understand about loans is that a lender can demand return immediately if He so desires, but God is merciful.
To tell you of the blessings that God has put into my life would look boastful about myself, and that is the last thing I want to do. But I don’t want fail to give God glory where it’s due. I’ve always been somewhat of a Jack of all trades but a master of none. I by no means am the best at anything, which Satan has used to my defeat on a regular basis, but I’m good at a lot. I’m an artist in multiple mediums, a writer of poetry and prose, a singer, a songwriter and a musician and now a speaker. Each of those gifts I received from God, and use in service to the Master. He continues the increase. He has now added to my repertoire of abilities, leader of leaders. This one I’m still struggling with. I’ve literally given this one back on several occasions wrapped with a bow and marked “Return to sender unclaimed.” This one I feel lousy at, not even close “good,” and yet He keeps sending it back my direction. Satan keeps sending folks my way to remind me how inadequate I am, which is what brought me to the point of writing about it today, because if Satan is upset about it, it's because He knows God intends it for His glory!
I’m on borrowed blessings and I don’t want God to start taking them back because I’m ungrateful and fail to use the gift. I’ve often bought things for my children or grandchildren only to discover it tossed in a corner and long forgotten. It wasn’t that they didn’t appreciate it when I bought it, but at some point they stopped valuing it. I don’t want to stop valuing what God has so graciously given and entrusted me with.
What about you? Are there gifts in the corners of your life that you’ve forgotten, or refused to use for His glory? Luke 12:48 (in part) says “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:” God expects a return, and it is your way to a blessing. Do it!
August 7th, 2011
2 Timothy 2
15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
Can I just tell you, before I start getting into my thought for the day, “Hypocrites bother me.”They bother me first of all because I often am one, and secondly because I’m more often than not defending them to the unsaved. If you would go pew by pew in any church I doubt they’d be one row without one. If you’d like to know who they are, ask an unsaved person, because they seem to get what many of the saved do not; Christians should live holy lives.
Holy livin’ is hard. I know because I try and fail miserably. I understand what Paul meant in the latter part of Romans 7:15 when he said “…but what I hate, that do I.” The very thing I say I’m not going to do, is the very temptation I’ll fall to. My point being this, I’m not saved because I’m holy, I’m holy because I’m saved. It’s the part that the unsaved don’t understand when they look at a hypocrite (and I’m not saying all hypocrites are saved), but salvation comes to us because of what Christ did, not because of what we do.
So what’s the answer? If you try and cannot live holy, what’s the point? I also think that the unsaved know the difference between a saint of God who tries and fails, and the hypocrite who fails to try. It is those that I wonder if they have ever received salvation at all. I don’t want to judge, but I’ m just as concerned for their soul as I am the one who know and confesses they are not saved. I’m concerned for their salvation and those they turn away from salvation.
A hypocrite is dangerous!
As I said, if you want to know who a hypocrite is ask an unsaved person, because they watch them. And it turns their stomach the same way it turns mine, because they know that God expects better. The difference between them and I, is that I turn to God, and they turn away.
When I write, I want to write honest and I want the reader to understand that Christians are not perfect, we struggle. Of late I’ve struggled with hypocritical lives in the church that became a sin in my own life because I allowed them to steal my praise in a service and squelched the Holy Spirit’s work in my own life. I often say that Satan knows what buttons to punch in my life and he keeps them on speed dial. I want this battle to be over, but it’s not, I’m fighting a battle within and without. Within is the flesh that wants to get self righteous even though I know I have no righteousness within me, without is Satan who stands and accuses me continually.
Praise God, (and I will again) I know that greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world. Satan can accuse all he wants, but Jesus stands between he and I and before Almighty God as my Defense Attorney. God then says, “Shari’s innocent because my Son paid the price.” Woohoo! I love Him! He alone is worthy.
Don’t let a hypocrite steal your joy or your opportunity to know true peace.
August 5th, 2011
Every year at the Victory Baptist Church tent meeting God sends newness into our midst. Through people or events our hearts are stirred and our compassion for souls and the furtherance of the Kingdom is expanded, our coast is enlarged.
1 Chronicles 4:10
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
Several years ago when the book “The Prayer of Jabez” hit the market, it was all the rage. I have too! It was a great book. But what I seen happen on one occasion just about soured me on the book. Not because of anything in it, but the importance placed on it. The story of Jabez was not new, it had been around a little while, but the concept of his prayer began to fascinate people. What if it were that easy to receive God’s blessing. Just read and believe this book. Hello? Is anyone there?
The souring occasion occurred on a Tuesday morning at Victory Baptist Church when a fella came to our Tuesday morning prayer time where week after week, year after year we poured our hearts out to God for revival in our church. I don’t know if prior to that day, or ever afterward he came to our prayer time, but this day he did, to straighten us out on our lack of faith. Insert rolled eyes here. He wasn’t nasty; he in his sincerity came to encourage us. That’s not the discouraging part for me. That came from the fact that I knew his life. Not the rumors of his life, but the real deal. It was a mess. I’ll leave the details for your imagination, and I doubt your imagination will take you too far. It was crazy! My point being is that he took the time to read that little book, and he got the miracle part, he just didn’t get the part prior to verse 10 where God said Jabez was “was more honourable than his brethren.” Jabez’s mother named him so because she”bare him with sorrow.” Jabez was an honorable man in hard times and God blessed.
That’s not the only story in the bible where God blessed after a trial because of a person’s tenacity to make it through. There are too many to count. It is God’s way to reward faithfulness.
God will enlarge our coasts if we desire to enlarge His kingdom. I love so many of the people at Victory because they have a genuine burden for the lost. Not just Victory! Some of the newness at Victory’s tent meeting comes from people from other churches, who have a desire to see their own church grow. That’s what it has to be about. Getting our hearts right and ready. I believe that’s what lead Jabez to his revival. Jabez prayed that God would keep him from evil. We’re all prone to go that direction, it’s our nature. I’ll not dare say that I’ve arrived spiritually, because as sure as I do I’ll find myself in a pothole of life. Wondering where the blessings went, and instead of enlarging my coasts, I’ll not even be close the shoreline.
I’m praying that God enlarges my coast and that it is in a direction that takes me closer to Christ. I pray I have the tenacity to hang on in the hard times, because I know Satan’s desire is watch me fall. I pray that if you’re reading this and you’re in the midst of a struggle, that you’ll hang on and give God the glory and that God will enlarge your coast too.
August 4th, 2011
Genesis 37:12-24~And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
The story of Joseph is a Bible favorite for young and old alike. It’s a story of family treason, divine intervention and a restoration of compassion; much like the salvation of man. Looking at it from the point when his brothers put him into the pit, until he was sold into slavery, it doesn’t say anything about Joseph’s frame of mind. We can only imagine what it might have been. Did he look at the dirt walls and see despair, or did he look at the heaven above and see hope? Maybe both.
I am by nature a positive person. If ask if the glass is half empty or full, I’m thinking full. If ask if a person is innocent or guilty, I’m praying innocent. But there are days that a cloud of darkness can overtake me and I have a pit perspective. I’m just stuck, without a theory on how to get out. It can come out of somewhere or nowhere if you know what I mean. There may be a reason, or there may not. But it’s a pit, and I’m in it.Sometimes the pit isPothole Deep
There have been times that my pit wasn’t any deeper than a pothole, but it still had me stuck. There wasn’t a major catastrophe going on in my life, I may have just awoke one morning and Satan sat on the foot of my bed saying, “Good morning Shari, I’ll be your tour guide today. I’ll be showing you all the seedy sides of life, make sure you travel the path of discouragement, and as icing on the cake I’ll make sure everyone who has a negative word stops by, O we’ll have a grand time!” That day was last Thursday!Sometimes the pit isDitch Deep
Again, not a major catastrophe, but enough of an issue that my life feels like a wreck! Those days generally occur when someone I love is hurting, either physically or emotionally. Those days tilt my world a little sideways. Where I would generally pray and plod on, I start to look at people with my head turned sideways. Maybe you know the look. It’s where you cock your head a little and think in your mind “Really? Did that just happen?” You marvel at the depth of some peoples inconsiderate ways, or watch the news which has a story so gut wrenching you can’t get it out of your mind. Or, like yesterday, the news came by way of a conversation regarding the abuse of a child, and I just couldn’t get past it. I don’t understand (nor do I want to) how things like that can happen. But when they do, it stops me in my tracks. Makes me want to grab my kids and my grandbabies and hold on.Sometimes the pit isGrave Deep
These times have been rare, PRAISE GOD! And give Him Glory! But they’ve been. It’s the times in my life when all I could see was the side of the pit. The walls were caving in on me and I had little hope. With Christ there is always a hope! But I wasn’t sure from my vantage point what that hope was. Sometimes I got in that pit because someone shoved me in. Sometimes I got in there because I was walking too close the edge and slipped. And other times I just dove right in by my own free will. Now your head is probably cocked sideways thinking “Really? Why’d you do that?!” It was those times when my relationship with God wasn’t what it should have been. I didn’t pray like I used to, I didn’t read the Word like I knew too, I didn’t fellowship with saints for encouragement. I stopped trying to stay out the pit, I just opened my arms and dove in head first.
Are you in a pit of your own? There’s only one way out. UP! Look to Jesus and if I can encourage you along the way or give you a boost out, please let me know.
August 3rd, 2011
And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
My Pastor has recently preached more sermons from the book of Ruth than any other book over the past year, and no two sermons were alike and every one of them has been filled with nuggets of wisdom that I could apply to my life. At the tent meeting last night he once again preached from the book of Ruth. I don’t know if a lifetime is long enough. It’s like my life lessons; I never learn those the first time either. So when I stumbled upon this verse this morning in Acts I loved it!
I have a song in my repertoire by the name of “Tell Me One More Time About Jesus.” Every time I sing it, my heart gets stirred up. I had heard about Jesus from my infancy, but I didn’t get it. I knew it, but didn’t have it. I needed to hear it again and again. I wondered why. The story is not complex, but somewhere between mind and heart it would stop and I would fall just shy of belief. Praise God for mercy! And Praise God! someone told the story one more time.
The verses following Acts 13:42 continue the story:
43-44: Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
I love that! When the service ended they followed the preachers compelling them to preach on! They were obviously excited about what they had heard. So excited that they must have told someone, because the next Sabbath it said the whole city came together. How awesome is that!
That is my prayer for the tent meeting 2011 at Victory Baptist Church. I hope not only our whole community comes together to hear the Word of God, but every community around us. It’s an exciting time. One of my youth stood before the congregation last night pouring his heart out about what the Lord had done in his life, and giving Him the glory. He went home and wrote his testimony out, posted it on Facebook and asked his friends to come to tonight’s meeting. That’s what gets souls saved! Telling them one more time! The message is the same, whether it’s preached out of Ruth, Matthew, James or John. Jesus Saves. He is the redeemer!
I know everyone can’t come to our Tent meeting. But everyone can pray and I covet it.
My 3 year old grandson Noah and I arrived at the tent meeting last night early. If you’re unfamiliar with a tent meeting, it’s a large open air, old fashioned preaching event under a very large tent. Our (Victory Baptist Church’s) tent is red, white and blue, in honor of our theme “Turning America back to God.” This is our twelfth year of tent meetings, but it was Noah’s first being really old enough to understand such things. Although he still didn’t understand when I had to let him down and tell him there were no clowns or acrobats beneath the big tent! He did get over it and move on, rather fascinated by the music and the excitement in the air during preaching.
I took the picture above of Noah’s attitude. If you’re of the lot who believe little boys shouldn’t be in church without a shirt, you’ll just have forgive, it was 95 degrees yesterday! As I look back on this picture it reminded me of a few Church folks I’ve seen in my day. “What no clowns?”
Entertainment in church has become somewhat of an issue. Please don’t misunderstand, I love music. I am a musician and singer after all, it would be pretty odd for me not to. But many churches across America have become entertainment venues rather soul saving stations, with the emphasis being on keeping folks happy and content with the sound of music, rather than preaching the gospel. The Bible warned of it in 2 Timothy 4:3 when it said “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
It may not be to the clown and acrobat stage in churches, but its close.
Music certainly has its place. A dear friend of mine who has gone on to be with the Lord was not only a singer, but a preacher. And did both extremely well, and he understood the role of both in the ministry of God. He came to our church at a time when we needed uplifting, and what a lift he gave. He was a retired Pastor from the South who brought the sounds of black gospel into a little country church, and a preaching style all his own and he taught us a thing or two about worship! One such thing was his “sermonic solos”. Preceding the Pastor’s sermon, Walt would stand before the congregation of the Lord and belt out “My God is Real” and the church would come alive. By the time Pastor Mike would get on the platform, hearts were ready and willing to accept the Word of God. Music has its place. It sets the tone of the service, or so it should.
But when more emphasis is put on the music than the Master, we’ve missed the mark. Romans 1:16 says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” It is the Word of God that leads souls to Christ.
For the record, I love preaching! I can listen to it all day long. I search it out on the internet and on the rare occasion I watch television. It sooths my soul because it saved my soul. It can be entertainment in its own right, we laugh and have a good time in the services of Victory Baptist Church more than most people do at the movies, but when it comes down to the foundation of our Church, the preaching is serious business.
What, no clowns? Well, I won’t go so far as to say that, we have a few of those too, but they are for sure fools for Christ!
Tent meeting is still going on. If you’re in the vicinity of Victory Baptist Church in Grantsville, WV, stop by around 7:00 p.m. The air is not "too" hot, but the preachin’ sure is! If you’d like to see the images of an old fashioned tent meeting, find me on Facebook, I post them every night.
August 2nd, 2011
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Revival is not a mystery, it’s a movement!
When I speak of the Revival of Victory Baptist Church this past summer, some people look as if I have two heads. I invite and encourage folks to attend this summer’s Tent Meeting, and it’s as if I had asked them to give up their first born child, or Monday night football. Excuses come easy. It’s as if they’ve practiced them to perfection.
But I don’t let that stop me from moving on to someone else!
I can so easily get frustrated when time after time I am rejected and ridiculed for my avid desire to see folks come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I am sure that there are folks who do not understand my look of confusion when they say “I’m a Christian,” and yet they have no time for church or concern for lost souls.
I understand why Jesus, when He saw the multitudes, was moved with compassion. I see people starving today and they don’t even realize that they are skeletal in their spiritual life. They’re life is so full of “stuff”, that God has no room to fit in, or so they think. I was there in the not so distant past. Running my children to every game and event, active in every committee for the betterment of society, scattered abroad, all the while if something had happened to me during that time, I would have busted Hell wide open. But when I got saved, oh my stars, I met the Shepherd! I started looking at people differently, I could see the brokenness in their hearts, the frustration with life consuming all their time until the day ended and they would collapse in exhaustion, but find no rest. Satan would have them believe that they are fine and in that they are lulled to sleep, only to get up and begin that empty cycle again.
I understand, it is no mystery to me, it’s a movement. It is what drives me every day to get out of bed early and write, to tell everyone I know about what Jesus is doing in my life. To share the gospel with young, old and in between, and weep for people I don’t even know. It causes a joy in my soul that sometimes bursts forth in song, or makes me smile as others look on and wonder why.
The Spirit of God stirs my soul and causes me to get on peoples nerves and I’m not one bit sorry! I’m excited! Tonight is Tent Meeting day 1. It’s been 90+ degrees in Grantsville West Virginia lately, and it’s likely to be a little toasty under the tent. Although we do have fans to circulate the air, and its close dark, so it’ll be okay. But let me say this, and then I’ll shush (at least for a minute). Hell is a whole lot hotter than the tent meeting.
If you’re around Grantsville, WV, stop in around 7 pm at Victory Baptist Church. I’m going expecting something to happen. I’ve got my cup turned up, ready to be filled with blessing!
July 30th, 2011
Photo from Victory Baptist Church 2010 Tent Meeting
Exodus 40:34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Bring Down the Fire!
I read scripture and try in my finite mind to imagine being present in the day. In this verse the Tabernacle of God had just been completed and the presence of God came down filling the tent with His glory. Wow! Imagine it! The presence of God was so much so that Moses couldn’t even enter into the tent. What must it have felt like? I have no doubt that the physical feeling of the presence of God was as powerful as the visual image. The children of Israel must have talked about it for years; or at least until the murmuring set in and squelched the Spirit.
One year ago this week was such a moment for Victory Baptist Church. We’re still talking about it. We could not visually see God inside our old fashioned tent, but believe me when I say, we felt Him. It was a defining moment for many of us. It was a day that we set our sights on the mission field we call home and determined to make a difference. The tent meeting was scheduled for five days, as it had been for the past eleven years. But this year was different. We were different. We came hungry. For twenty two days we came night after night, pouring our hearts out to God, the altar lined and spilling down into the aisle; with people from within our community, and others who traveled further. The word spread that something was happening in Grantsville, WV.
I can only speak for me personally, but I was changed, and not in a minor sense of the word. I no longer was willing to sit idly by as the world around me accepted the filth and vulgarity that Satan had created and call it normal, or acceptable. The “system” may say it is okay but the scripture didn’t change. The little things that I accepted as inevitable; gossip, apathy, poor influence on youth, etc. were no longer inevitable. I desired to be a better wife, mother and servant for the cause of Christ. I WAS DIFFERENT. The fire that God stirred in that tent meeting caught hold in my soul with a passion and fervor I can’t explain. It wasn’t about denominationalism; it was about the Savior, Jesus Christ.
We begin our tent meeting again, this Monday, August 1st. I don’t know if it will be like last year, my prayer is for an even grander time. It took me about a week to catch fire last year. This year I’m going in blazing! If you’re around Route 16 South, Grantsville, WV and you’d like to be a part of it, please! stop by. You’ll be welcome. If you're not, you can still pray. We'd appreciate that too!
July 29th, 2011
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brothers way.
I try really hard not to judge others, I’m not always successful at it, but I try. I try because I know how very unworthy I am to be in the leadership position that the Lord has placed me in. How dare I look at the faults or decisions of another when I have so many of my own! But at a recent event I was pushed way, way out of my comfort zone.
Following a 100 day challenge that I had given to a group, four ladies set across from me and said, “Tell us what we need to change in our lives to draw us closer to Christ.” My first thought was “run!” Please understand that this was a group of friends. I would never go into a group of unknown and attempt such a thing. But that didn’t make it any easier. My second thought was “run now!” Why would I want to destroy the friendship of these women by telling them where they could improve their lives?” It’s not that the changes they needed to make were of a grand proportion, but some people embrace change, others accept it, some tolerate it and others will put both feet down flat and say “you want me to do what?” Even though I knew these ladies, I didn’t know what their reaction to my recommendation would be. After all, I was dealing with two *limes, an apple and a banana. Not a mango in the bunch! Mangoes embrace change.
I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and bridle my tongue and gingerly told each one what the Lord had laid on my heart. As soon as the words spilled from my mouth, each of them said, “I knew that. I just needed to hear someone say it.” Whew!
God was in that meeting, else I would have messed it up. We’re not to judge one another. If I get in the flesh and judge a brother or sister in Christ in err, that error of judgment could be a stumbling block in how they choose a direction for their life. The recommendations that I had for my friends were not directional from the standpoint of their ministry or God’s design for their life, that decision is personal, and between God and them. My suggestion was directional in that I gave them advice on stepping forward where God had called them, or walking away from things in their past that hindered their relationship with God. They already knew it. My words were confirmation, not condemnation.
I was honored that they thought enough of me to ask, and that they valued my opinion, because I value their friendship. I prayed and judged my thoughts before I spoke, just as I hope you do before you speak. There is no delete button in the conversations of life. I pray today that there will be some encouragement in your path, and that you will be an encouragement to someone else along your way.
July 28th, 2011
As a parent I was a lousy with discipline. My children would likely give you a big hearty Amen! As a young Mother I was unsaved and knew nothing of the biblical principles of raising children. The fact that I am undisciplined didn’t help. I am not referring to my upbringing, I refer to self discipline. This continues to be a major issue in my life. With my children my disciplining technique depended on my mood. If I was having a good day, I had the patience of Job, if I were having a bad day I was more like Job’s friends; my spirit was critical toward my family and myself. As I’ve grown older and have the Holy Spirit within me, although it’s a struggle, I’m far better at it than before.
Being a blogger takes discipline. Oh my stars! I had no idea when I set off on this venture the discipline it would take. Determining in my soul to get in touch with God every morning got Satan out of bed early too. And evidently he’s mood oriented as well because he’s on me like white on rice. Trying to focus on spiritual matters at 5 a.m. is a challenge. I get up, get the coffee going and then Satan begins the dance of distraction. Its mental aerobics for me to keep focused on my devotion time. At least I have one exercise routine going well for me!
Hebrews 12:1 says “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily best us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”
The Way of Weight lifting
Spiritual discipline requires weight lifting. Not the body sculpting type (or maybe it does from the spiritual clay perspective). Before I can tune into the Word I have to tune out the sirens of the world. I have to lay aside those things that I cannot fix at 5 a.m. Family issues, youth ministry, ladies ministry, bills, the house, etc. that scream for my attention. Some days those things are so heavy on me it feels as if I have a literal weight on my shoulders. Satan waives flags and banners touting the fact that they’re there. I have to pray, God bind him! And He is faithful.
Ready to Run
I’m not a physical runner. Even in my healthier, fit days, I saw no purpose in running. Walking yes, running no, too sweaty! Paul said we needed to run this race with patience. How does one run with patience? To me if you’re running there seems to be a sense of urgency. As a *Mango I see words as images. Conversations are mental movies. To run with patience could possibly be to run “steady”. That is discipline. Not too fast, not to slow, just a constant pace until you’re finished. Spiritual discipline definitely requires a constant steady pace. Not ahead of God, but in time. I have to pray God bind me. Not in the sense as I prayed regarding Satan, which is to tie him up! But for me I need God to bind, or connect me to Him, so that when I run, I’m running in unison with the Holy Spirit.
The race is set before me and God has a plan, the discipline is up to me. Every day I set a course for Heaven, and every day Satan sets a course for me. It’s an exercise of faith, and you know as well as I if you’re on the same path that it’s not easy.
July 27th, 2011
And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. Bu he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
I find it odd that the disciples asked Jesus to send the woman away. These were not they of dead religion, they were the lively bunch! And yet when a stranger came into their midst creating a ruckus they wanted her gone. New people push us outside of our comfort zone, especially those that make noise. We want pretty people. The ones who come in and set down, but not in our seat; the ones who don’t need anything.
I was recently in a local store and a lady came up to me asking for hair color advice. Now why she came to me I have no idea! It may have been obvious that I was not a natural blond. I gave her what advice I could and went merrily down the aisle; when I heard the Lord say, “Talk to her about me.” “But Lord I don’t know her,” I argued. “But I do,” He said. So… I went back to her and invited her to church, spoke to her about the Lord and again continued my shopping excursion. This was not the end of our conversation. Aisle after aisle she followed me with idle banter. I really needed to get home… but my nature is such that I could not just walk away. When I checked out, there she was again. She pushed me out of my comfort zone. Before she left the store she came up to me and said, “Thank you for taking the time to talk to me.” Humbling, I thought. Sorry Lord…
I may find it odd that the disciples asked Jesus to send the woman away, but I understand; it’s human nature.
Jesus’ comment about the lost sheep of Israel referred to the Jews that He had come to minister to, but was rejected by. The lady who followed crying for help for her child was a Gentile, and willing to take anything He had left over. The crumbs on the floor if need be, just save my child. Most churches today are somewhere between unconcern and compassion. We want folks to come to church, but please, be saved when you get there, okay? And if you don’t mind, act like the rest of us!
I have a feeling the lady I met the other day was a crumb snatcher. She just wanted a little love, and would take it where ever she could find it. Even in the hair dye aisle. In that alone is a sermon… we don’t always show our true colors.
July 26th, 2011
Rest does not come easy for me. Sleep comes easy, rest; not so much. I fall asleep somewhere between pulling back the covers and laying my head down. Seriously! It is a rarity that sleep evades me, but I seldom rest. Not long after I fall asleep my eyes will jolt open thinking, did I pay the electric bill? Why is that person so mean? What would possess a person to do that? I love blue shoes. My thoughts are random and chaotic, just like me. At 4:30 a.m. I wake up and start the day anew. I am trying my best to learn to rest.
Psalms 37:1 says “Fret not thyself because of evildoers.”
For me this is the king of rest robbers. I don’t understand the mindset of anyone who can with total disregard hurt another individual. *Apple personalities have to be on constant guard of this. Because of their “matter of fact” nature they are quick to use cutting words to get their point across. My husband is a flaming red apple! Stupidity is a crime in his world and as we all know the world is full of stupidity. But the difference between he and I is, stupidity jolts me awake, he on the other hand sleeps like a baby. After all, he is right (in his world). My husband is not an evildoer! He is passionate about things getting done right, but his technique sometimes lacks finesse. I’m not telling you anything I’ve not told him. For 30 years I’ve loved him, for 30 years he’s driven me crazy! I constantly worry about people being unhappy. David, he figures they probably had it coming.
Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
The desires of my heart rob my rest. Why go to bed when there’s a perfectly good mandolin or fiddle that needs a little TLC, a book that needs read, a site that needs visited, a piece of cake that needs some lovin’. God is so good to me! But the desires of my heart can sometimes lead me astray. There are times that I should be tending to spiritual matters or home matters, and I’m tending to the desires of my heart. Then, when things get backed up I get overwhelmed and my eyes jolt open in the wee hours of the morning thinking… did I finish the laundry, put supper away, study my lesson. In this respect, I’m in serious need of discipline!
Psalm 37:7 “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”
Patience is not a character trait of a “*Mango.” It’s a “Lime and Banana” thing. For every current project I have going on, I have two in the waiting. I just finished the teen retreat, and the ladies retreat is next on the agenda. Before it starts I’ll have something else brewing. It frustrates my *Lime friend Glo, she’d rather I rest. It also frustrates me when I can’t seem to accomplish it all!
Psalm 37:40 “And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them because they trust in him.”
Therein lays my rest. When I get frustrated with people, a lack of time, a lack of self discipline or just in the madness of it all, I know that the Lord is my deliverer. He’ll take care of whatever causes my eyes to JOLT open. So that I can just as quickly fall back to sleep, resting in the arms of salvation. I hope you have rest today!
*Apples, Mangoes, Limes and Banana’s are personality traits from the studies of Lynne Schinella and Ripe Learning ® and are used in my workshop to help with harmony in life. Call or write today for more information!
July 25th, 2011
Jeremiah 4:3 ~ For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
Our first preaching session at camp this week was with Brother Steve Boggs. He preached an awesome message on how to grow in Christ. As we approached the open air theatre style preaching area, there Steve stood; in overalls, flannel shirt and work boots, tilling the land for demonstration purposes. That dedication to detail was impressive, but what made it all the more impressive was that it was something less than 105 degrees in the shade with HIGH humidity, and the short jaunt to this area of the park left us who were clad in summer apparel looking as drowned rats in sweat. Nice visual? Thus why I didn't take a picture of us.
Our goal for the youth this week is to break up fallow ground, the uncultivated parts of their lives that they have yet to turn over to God. We want to create in them a heart for the ways of God.
A C.A.M.P. Message
Concern for others
Broken people pass by us daily and we pay them no mind. To kick this camp off we watched the movie “To Save a Life,” that addressed teen suicide and multiple other issues that youth face. I’d love to tell you that every young person’s heart was moved, but it was not. However, many were moved. Two young ladies came forward afterward; one to rededicate and commit her life to godlier living, and the other completely broken that she had missed those who pass by. Church leadership was stirred. If nothing else happens this week, we've broken some ground.
Attitudes of Awe
The world is full of “Jetsonisms”(totally made up word referencing the Jetson cartoon) Youth have access to technology, travel and information that just blows me away when I think about it. I can’t imagine how they cope with life when they are bombarded with so much so young. But it’s nothing compared to what God offers. God gave the wisdom to those who created these marvelous inventions. They are a drop in the ocean compared to the limitless possibilities in God! I want the youth to understand that they’re seeing a drop in the ocean of what God can do for them, through them and in them.
Mercy for Others
Everyone wants mercy in their time of need, but few are willing to give it. And those who do find it hard to give it on a Christ level. Life gets busy, and mercy costs. It may cost you time and money, and usually always costs you humility. When someone messes life up, it humbling to forgive them, especially unconditionally. I want young people to have a mission for mercy.
Perseverance in hard times
Most likely the young people at our camp have already seen hard times, and there’s a good chance they’ll face more. The only way to persevere is to learn to find God in the fire. Life is not always perfect, but it does have a purpose.
Brother Steve’s hot day of hoeing did not bear any fruit of the earth, but it bore much fruit of the Spirit! Pray for us that we continue to cultivate the soil within the heart of our youth that they’ll plow the ground up for Christ as they return home.
July 20th, 2011
Whatever it is that is sweeter than the fellowship of the saints, I don’t know it. Malachi said in 3:16-17 “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and thought upon his name. And they shall be mine saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
In these troubling of times, I don’t know how folks survive without the fellowship of other Christians. My dear friend Gloria, (who is a jewel in my life) and I traveled down to our teen retreat location in Ona, West Virginia to prepare the building and our hearts for this retreat. We sat up camp; we laughed and talked, and talked and laughed. We picked and grinned for the glory of God, and we talked of His goodness in our lives and then we got down to business. We met the Lord at the altar and He met us back. We poured out our hearts for the cause of Christ, praying for the individual needs of the youth and leaders attending, our hearts then turned to home and for many who are broken, some who don’t even realize it. We prayed for the United States, our family and our church, our Pastor and church leaders. We prayed believing that God would hear.
I do not know if God got out a book in Heaven last night, and wrote down our names and requests, but I felt as if He might have. Not because Gloria and I are anything special in our own right, but we are Jewels for Jesus. Our desire is to serve Him and to train young people how they can to. We want them to understand the importance of Christian friendships and thinking upon His name before making life altering decisions. God is all about the relationships in life, between God and man, it was His design. He said He would spare us as a man spares his own son.
I don’t know about you, but in these troubling of times, I wouldn’t mind a little mercy.
The altar of God should alter your life. It did ours. I covet your prayers for our Teen retreat this week
July 19th, 2011
I have yet to watch the movie “Bucket List.” I’ve always told my children and husband, “I won’t pay to cry or be afraid.” If I’m going to pay them money, I want to laugh! And although this movie may not be sad, I’m not taking my chances!
Little known trivia: The word bucket doesn’t actually refer to a bucket at all, but to a sixteenth century word that comes from the French buque, meaning a yoke or similar piece of wood. It is said that the word was applied in particular to the beam from which a pig was hung in order to be slaughtered. Inevitably, the pig would struggle during the process, and would kick the buque. How disgusting is that!
Anyway… back to my bucket story. I don’t have issues with anyone having a bucket list; I personally just do not see the need to have a list of things like parasailing, mountain climbing, skydiving, etc. I don’t know if those things will be available in Heaven, but if not, something much better will be!
1 Thessalonians 4:13 says “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Praise God! And give Him glory, I have a hope. I wrote yesterday about growing up without a hope and how terrifying that was. That terror that Satan used against me was turned to triumph in a split second of time when I stepped toward the altar intent on knowing Jesus as my Savior. But following my own salvation was the awareness of the unsaved state of my friends and family and I began working on my own bucket list of sorts. It was not of things I wanted to accomplish, it became people I wanted to see in Heaven. Although the fear within me was gone, the thought of it in someone else became my driving force to share the gospel.
I have friends and family that cringe when they see me coming. I’m not an “in your face” kind of soul winner, although I confess I wish I was. But I do talk about God. A lot! This has a tendency to make people uneasy. If someone dies in the Lord, I talk about their hope. If someone died that I do not know the state of their soul, I talk about that too. If someone’s not living right, I talk about consequences and judgment. I talk more about forgiveness than anything. Which ironically frustrates many; everyone wants it, but they don’t think very many deserve it.
I love sharing answered prayer requests. Sometimes they’re off the wall. I recently prayed for a friend who had to cancel her nail appointment because of me, to get one by someone’s cancelation. When I met her later in the day, the first words out of her mouth were, “There was a cancelation at the salon, and my nail appointment is today!” God is funny like that I told her. “Silly” you say? Maybe, but its evidence to me that God cares about the little things.
There’s not enough room in my bucket for a list, but there’s enough room in Heaven for everyone. Are you going to be there? I hope so! All the wild and crazy things people do down here. I’ll just wait until I’m where I can’t get killed doing it!
July 18th, 2011
Psalm 145:4 ~ One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.
Victory Baptist Church Teen Retreat starts Wednesday, and I’m excited! Some might question my sanity as to why I would want to trek out into the woods with a passel of youth, running the risk of falling victim to their antics and maniacal ways. Quite frankly I question this too occasionally, until I think of the alternative: disobeying God.
1 Corinthians 7:17a
But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk…
And so I walk…considering it a privilege to be called of God.
At the age of 10 I lost a brother to a car accident. I grew up with the knowledge that regardless of age, we were not guaranteed tomorrow. I lived in constant fear of death, knowing within my little girl heart that something separated me from God, but not knowing what it was. I told no one of my fear. I grew up, got married, had children, and still within me was that little girl heart of fear. I attended church, I did all the right “things” in the eyes of my parents, and I participated in whatever task was requested of me. I worked hard to please God and man. It is my nature. But found no peace. Until one day when I heard of the unmerited favor of God.
Unmerited? I couldn’t wrap my brain around that thought. I had spent my entire life trying to please people. How could I not have to “do” something? But then one day at the altar; after struggling within myself for months and again telling no one, (can you see the pattern) the Spirit of God came over me and filled my heart with peace and I accepted His gift of salvation.
At that point, committed to serve God in whatever capacity He called, my heart was broken for youth. Not wanting any child to live in the fear that I had grown up with because I didn’t understand how to be saved.
Trekking into the woods with a group of teens is not scary. Walking alone, without God is terrifying! Don’t do it.
It is my intent to post daily of the antics at camp. It will require leaving camp and getting to civilization to connect to the internet once a day, but it is my intent. So stay posted this week and please….pray for us!
July 17th, 2011
Are We Ready?
Exodus 16:21-23 ~ And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
As I read this passage this morning I found it odd that the people got what the leadership did not.
In the verses prior to this, the Israelites had just gotten into trouble for hording manna. The Lord had warned them about taking more than they needed for a day’s provision. But as we are a rebellious lot, they did it anyway and it rotted and got nasty worms in it. Moses was not a happy camper! And they learned their lesson. But on the 6th day they gathered twice the provision. This was instructed to Moses by God, but not by Moses to them. So the tattletale leadership came to Moses questioning their act.
The congregation without being told got what the leadership did not. We are to prepare for the Sabbath.
I can so identify that these are busy times. It seems as though I get one thing done only to realize I have ten more waiting and the days pass by in rapid procession like a parade of sorts in my mind. And at the day’s end I feel overwhelmed as if I’ve marched around the same block again and again. Possibly like the children of Israel felt in the dessert! But as leadership I get the preparation for the Holy day. I won’t, in pious indignation, tell you I am above slacking into being ill prepared on occasion, because I do. But I get it. So when I read that the rulers of the congregation came to Moses questioning why, I was somewhat flabbergasted.
If leadership doesn’t get the need to be prepared how can we expect SMO’s (Sunday morning only) or those who don’t attend at all to get it?
There was a time when Saturday’s were spent physically preparing for Sunday. Sunday was a day of rest for the physical body, but a day of jubilation for the soul. The mind was set on the things of God. Stores were not open on Sunday, and if you went to the lake it was between the A.M. and P.M Service, not during it.
In todays too and fro world, we’re failing to slow down for the Holy Day. We’re letting the things of the world dictate to us rather than us setting time aside to prepare for worship. That is not just showing up and worshipping between the hours of 11and noon. As a church leader it is my responsibility to be prepared before I get into the service. How can I minister to the children of God if my heart is not ready? Unlike our television satellite the Holy Spirit is not HSOD (Holy Spirit on demand). He has to be warmed up a little.
Eons ago, there was time when you just didn’t flip the TV switch and have it instantaneously come on, it had to warm up a little.
Jeremiah 6:16 says - Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
If the new ways take you down a path away from God, you need to turn around.
July 16th, 2011
Since 1996, the year I began my journey in Christ, I’ve attended and sang at many, many churches. I love it. The opportunity to meet new people and to share what Jesus has done in my life always breathes new life into me. At every church, some greater in number than others, there are some dry bones in the midst of the valley. Not excluding my own home church. These are they that should the need arise for an ambulance at church; Emergency personnel might haul out several before they got the right one. My friend Tracy, who is a ball of fire for the Lord, says that her trick of the trade when singing to a valley of dry bones, is to find the head “nodder” and focus on them. They’re the one enjoying the service, raising their hand, shoutin’ Amen, just overall letting loose. Dry bones not only have no life in them, they’ll suck the life out of those around them.
I say loose them!
In the book of Ezekiel, he said that the Lord showed him dry bones in an open valley. They weren’t trapped; nothing was holding them in there. And yet, there they lay. Until the Lord passed by with a Preacher boy and said, “Tell’em to get up!” That of course is in the bible according to Shari; not the King James Version which says:
Ezekiel 37:1-5 ~ The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we arrived in the morning carried in by the Spirit with new life in us? What would the preacher do if the breath of life spread throughout the congregation? What if someone who never shouted let out a holy holler for the Lord and woke up their neighbor and they shouted too? What if the youth set on the front row on the edge of their seats in expectation of the moving of the Holy Spirit, and when the Spirit moved so did they? What would happen if when the Spirit came down, hands raised up to meet Him? Glory Halleluiah I’m on shoutin’ ground just thinking about it! There is no reason this cannot be the case. The valley’s open. We are free to head to the mountain top without restraint, so what’s preventing it? O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
I do not know the heart of anyone but myself. And I have to examine mine about every 10 minutes to see what I’ve put in it that needs to come out. For my own church I pray that it is full of life in the morning, I’m ready for revival in my heart. God told Ezekiel to tell the bones “Hear the Word of the LORD.” We need to listen to messengers in the morning. Psalms 85:6-8a says “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak:”
Listen and then get loose!
July 15th, 2011
Malachi 4:2 ~ But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Even after 16 years of salvation I often think of myself as a babe in Christ. Every time I open the Word of God I discover something new! I never grow tired of hearing the Word of God spoken and I certainly never grow tired of sharing it. I find it difficult to understand Christians who are not lead to serve or consider it someone else’s responsibility. The day the light went on inside my head of what Jesus did, I thought “I need to tell somebody!” And so I continue on the journey.
When I read Malachi 4:2 this morning, my mind read the word as the “Son” of righteousness instead of “Sun.” And then I woke up. Further studying of this verse gave light (no pun intended, although that’s kind of funny) that this is a reference to a “display of righteousness throughout the entire earth, as the sun sends forth its rays everywhere, in the coming millennial Kingdom… ref. from Ryrie notes.
It may be referring to the next life, but it’s just as true today. Life is eternal regardless of the saved or unsaved man. Everyone will live on, either in Heaven or Hell; it is the fear of the Lord that makes the difference. The day I got saved I felt like that little calf released from its stall. Somebody should have given me a birthday hat because I was starting over. It was a new day with a clean slate. Just as 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” All things were new and possible. I read it and I believed it.
The thing about living in a stall is you start wading in stuff. Stinky stuff. And it’s your own, you have no one else to blame. I was surrounded by my own stench and I couldn’t figure out how to get away from it. My stall was filled with sin, heartaches, and disappointments. Other people had shoveled some of their crap into my stall and I had claimed it for my own too. Feelings of inferiority were constant and I couldn’t get myself loose. Until the day….
The Son of Righteousness unlocked it. He set me free from the bondage of my man made stall and I was free indeed. I’m still playing in the field of the Father and I am not looking back at the barn.
What about you? Have you received your birthday hat?
Salvation is simple: Step 1 – Accept that you’re a sinner. (stinky stuff) Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Everybody has stink. Step 2: Understand that sin costs but the debt is paid: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
There’s your birthday hat! Jesus paid that debt and unlocked the stall. But you have to walk out of it. Step 3: Romans 10:9,10,13 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. – For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
That’s the streamers, confetti and all. Confession is to agree with God and believe that He died for you, that He is now in Heaven making intercession for you. Every time you step in stink, He gets out the water hose and says “what poop?” Okay, maybe that’s pushin’ it, but I hope you get the picture.
July 14th, 2011
As a young missionary stood before Victory Baptist Church yesterday evening and shared his experiences in China this past year, the tears were a constant stream down my face. He may or may not have known how much his words encouraged my soul, but they did. His zeal was contagious. I had traveled to church a short time before and I was so tired. In my very humanness I thought, I hope this kid keeps my attention, otherwise I fear I may just fall asleep in my seat. Well, he delivered! I scribbled countless notes and my mind ran a thousand different directions trying to keep up with him and me. At one point he said that China’s motto is “Just go with it,” because it would most likely change. Wow! The whole country’s *Mango, that sounds like my kind of place.
Something else that he said that struck a chord in my heart (and I’m sure this is nowhere near a direct quote) was “I was so worried about how I was going to share the gospel; but I ended up being a billboard for Christianity.” …wow… or in Chinese …wha….
Oh that I should live my life in such a manner that souls came to me saying, “Show me your God.” Story after story was shared about the Holy Spirit’s work in his life, his shattered illusions of culture and other denominations that had taken place during his journey and the answers that he found in scripture. I could only think, “To learn these things so young… I can’t imagine the countless ways that God can use you.” I mourned for lost years of my youth. But not for long; age is irrelevant in eternity.
We get so tangled up in who “we are” we forget to share who “He” is. Does my billboard say Baptist, or does it say “CHILD OF GOD.” I’ve been with my fair share of folks who want to spend their time telling you what’s wrong with someone else’s faith, rather than telling you what’s right with theirs. I’m not saying that church doctrine is not important; the Bible teaches that it is, but it shouldn’t be your billboard. I don’t want someone coming up to me and saying “show me your doctrine.” I want them to say “Show me your God!” I don’t want to argue about the spiritual gifts of God, I want to use the ones God gave me.
There are many things that “woh boo ger dow”. (English pronunciation of Chinese “I don’t know). But this one thing I know, Jesus saved me. God the Father, with a broken heart, turned His back on His only Son and allowed Him to suffer a crucified death and abuse that I can’t even fathom, so that I could have an eternal life. And while I’m on earth He placed within me the Holy Spirit that ministers to my soul, gives me joy and peace unspeakable, and a desire to know God deeper. This I know! And in the words of my missionary friend “That messes me up.” Why would God do that? Because He loves me that much. He loves you that much.
John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
In the Bible according to Shari it’s personal. It reads “For God so loved Shari, that He gave His only begotten Son, that Shari, who believed in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” It’s that personal for you too if you know Him and have accepted what He did for you. I hope you read that in me. I hope this blog is a billboard of sort for my life.Find out more about personality profiles at* http://www.thejesuschick.com/index.php?p=1_17_Hand-Designed-Personalities
July 13th, 2011
Proverbs 13:17 ~ A wicked messenger falleth into mischief: but a faithful ambassador is health.
People fascinate me; I believe that’s why I love doing the personality profiles. I love watching their faces light up when they’ve filled out the survey and you begin telling them how their characteristics define their reactions in life. It’s the same reaction I get every time I read and re-read the Mango characteristics. I love Mango me! I’m a fun gal to be around most of the time. Fun is not just a character trait of a Mango; all four fruits have the potential, just differently. But speaking as someone who is ¾ mango, I know what fun is and what fun is not.
Fun is not spending twenty minutes listening to someone rant about the state of depression in the world, or how it’s likely to never get any better. It’s not listening to the angst in a person’s life as they rehash again and again how they’ve been wronged, and they have a running tally sheet in their head of a number of people who have wronged them. And if you happen to mention one of them they bring out their list, ugh. Do you have a mental image of someone popping into your mind right now? I do.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, a wise preacher once said, “There are some folks you should walk away from, and there are some you should run away from!” I love that, mostly because I’ve done my share of running. Please don’t misunderstand; I have a heart of compassion that overflows with a desire to help folks who are hurting. But there are people who don’t want help, they enjoy misery and love company. There are only two things I can do for them. Pray and run! They are wicked messengers.
That may sound a bit harsh, but the role of a Christian is the edification of others, and if a person is continually tearing down the spirit of those around them, Christ is either not in them, or certainly not in a position of authority. And if you continue in their presence it is unhealthy, and the discouragement will consume your thoughts as well. Run!
Find yourself a faithful ambassador for they are health! They are those who when you are in their presence laughter rings out. They search for a way to lift your spirit. They seldom listen to the news and if they do they repeat the glass half full version. Everyone has times of discouragement. It is then that I call my ambassadors of comedy relief and good health. Friends that I know will not feed my disheartened attitude. Jesus is one such friend. When approached by a lost or hurting soul, you won’t find condemnation; you find healing and hope as in Luke 7:50a ~ “…go in peace.”His Words are always encouraging, unless of course you are of the wicked messenger persuasion, and then they’ll cut you like a knife.
What I have discovered in my life is this; I can be friendly to all people, but I cannot be friends with all people. I pray your life today is filled with Ambassador’s of Health!
July 12th, 2011
Under His Wings
And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by. And the angel of the LORD protested -unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
I remember in the beginning of my walk with Christ how eager I was to change. I wanted nothing to get between myself and the new found freedom I had found in Jesus Christ. For the first time in my life I felt my life had purpose and direction. Every day was filled with possibilities and potential for something to happen on a grand scale. I changed drastically in those times. I stopped listening to secular music, if the church doors were open, I was inside. If someone in the community was hurting, I was attempting to be salve to their wound; my mind was constant on the things of Christ. But as time progressed Satan would slide small things back onto my path, temptations that to the world seemed nothing, but to me would be a stumbling block. Discouragement would come and I would fail the Lord greater. Change became smaller but harder. As I grew closer to Christ, Satan also became closer. I felt sometimes that I could feel his nasty breath on my neck, especially in times when spiritual responsibilities were upon me.
The more I grew in Christ the greater the spiritual blessings as well as responsibilities. Leadership scared me to death! It required change within, the hardest of all. It required a change in attitude, my lack of self confidence and feelings of inferiority were a constant hindrance. I kept them concealed for the most part, but Satan knew, and used it steadily. The Holy Spirit began to minister to my heart through a song I’m often asked to sing, “Child of the King”. The lyrics are “Once I was clothed in the rags of my sin, wretched and poor, lost and lonely within, but with wondrous compassion the King of all Kings, in pity and love took me under His wings.”
As Joshua began his journey for the Lord, it started with change. As the change happened the Lord opened doors and opportunities and added responsibilities. As he was walking, people were watching. He needed to understand the great liability of leadership. Being a child of the King comes with expectation, by God and man. To be successful you must walk in His ways, you must keep His charge, you must keep His courts to receive His blessings.
The Lord has taken me under His wings, and that’s where I intend to stay. Join me there! There’s plenty of room.
July 11th, 2011
Summer is full of family reunions and gatherings that always create a need to reminisce about days gone by. One such fond memory is of my summers spent with the Ramsey cousins in Gassaway, WV. Their daddy happened to be a preacher, so Sunday and Wednesday services were not “optional.” And I really didn’t mind, because Uncle Bill was a source of entertainment for my “conservative” church going ways. He was conservative in beliefs but not in behavior! He was loud! He preached very animated sermons, with a few corny jokes thrown in for good measure; he preached Hell hot and more often than not shed tears of compassion before it was over. I liked it! Preachers like Uncle Bill are few and far between anymore. Churches across America have gone for what I’ll call “Goldilocks Religion.”
Not too hot, not too cold.
They’re mostly likely in every church in the world. Those folk who show up at 10:00 sharp and leave at 12:00 dull. I was one of them for many years. Loud services bother them. You won’t hear them shout Amen or raise a hand of praise (unless it’s a congregational thing). And only then is it a half up half down position, wishing it was over. They’re just not comfortable in that atmosphere. I speak from experience. The first time I met my Pastor he was loud by nature, he hasn’t change by the way. And he grated against my “conservative” skin. He boldly asked (it must have been obvious he irritated me), “Do you never get loud in your church?” And I in my pious way said, “We’re a conservative lot, we don’t get loud.” And he quickly punched back, “Well maybe ya ought too!”
In my mind I thought, “I would never go to your church.” God has such a sense of humor! Scroll forward a few months and my “non attending” church husband says, I met this preacher and I’d really like to hear him preach. Wow! This guy must have been something if he got David’s attention. Guess whose church? God’s funny like that!
Jesus said in Revelation 3:16 “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” – God puke. Not a pretty sight.
Goldilocks religion is not too hard or not too soft
It’s okay to talk about sin. The really bad one’s; murder, adultery (but only occasionally), and as long as you don’t talk about them too long, or in the context of “drinking leads to…” Goldilocker’s especially don’t mind if it’s someone else’s sin. Mentioning Hell is okay, so long as you don’t scare anyone with the reality that failing to accept Christ will take you there. Preach to them sermons that make them feel good about themselves and the world around them and they are happy campers.
2 Timothy 4:3 sums it up “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”
Goldilocks religion is always just right. It makes everyone happy and comfortable and lets them fall asleep cradled in the arms of deception. Contrary to what they believe everyone does not live happily ever after. It will leave you burnt, broken and alone.
My Uncle Bill scared me a time or two with his preaching style and I’m glad he did. It was likely because of some of the seeds he sowed within my little girl heart, that I one day realized, “I’m lost and I’d better get found!” Goldilocks didn’t realize the dangerous ground she was on, until the bears came back. Jesus is coming back too! Any day now. Amen!
July 10th, 2011
In most everyone’s life there are people that we would love change, and perhaps it’s for all the right reasons; but those we desire to be different, think they are just fine. And so the frustration begins, or possibly not…
And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.
How frustrating must it have been to have been the son-in-law of Laban. Tricked into marrying Leah following 7 years of committed labor, which he had believed was for Rachel; only to wake up the morning after his marriage in bed with the wrong gal. Yikes! Then, forced to serve another seven years so that he might be given the hand of Rachel, who he finally marries, but now he is married to sisters. Awkward? Possibly not because of the culture of the day, but I’ll bet it was challenging! How many times must he have wanted to have laid hands on his father-in-law! But he did not, he continued in obedience until his debt of labor, which changed again and again, was paid and God blessed him through it all.
Life’s relationships are challenging. Seldom do personalities co-exist in perfect harmony, causing a necessity of give and take on both parts. So what happens when one decides there is no give? Either something else gives or something breaks.
I ran across a recent Facebook post on a young girl’s page that had great depth of understanding with regard to a relationship:
- I will learn to let go of what I cannot change
- I will learn to forgive what I cannot change
- I will learn to love what I cannot change
- I will change.
- I will change whatever and whenever I can
- The rest is out of my hands
From the beginning of time God has not changed. But mankind, in order for a closer relationship with God and men must be in a constant state of change toward a more Christ like state of being. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
As Christians we constantly have the presence of God within us working to change our image into His. More often than not in my own life, He must battle the self will within me. However, 31 years of marriage and the grace of God has taught me the necessity of change on my part or acceptance of un-change on the part of my spouse and others in my life. And just as was the case with Jacob, God provides and protects.
What we can change within the boundaries of the will and way of God for the sake of harmony will be rewarded. When I think of the patience that God has had to have with me, waiting for me to comply with His will it humbles me greatly. How can I not change for the sake of peace and harmony in life’s relationships? If you’re struggling today with someone unwilling to change, pray for God’s desire. Change them or change me!
July 9th, 2011
In the midst of a life battle, that last thing that Satan wants you to feel is hope; he’ll place every stumbling block available in your path to prevent you from finding it. Missionary James Hudson Taylor once wrote, “I am so weak that I can hardly write, I cannot read my Bible, I cannot even pray, I can only lie still in God's arms like a little child, and trust.”
James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China. He spent 51 years in China. He was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces. No doubt there were times, so far from home, so far from family and friends that he felt he could not (within himself) go on. But he knew God had a plan.
You don’t have to be on a Christian mission field to feel alone. You can feel alone anywhere you are, even in your own hometown, surrounded by friends and family. The irony is loneliness doesn’t come alone, it usually brings the companionship of doubt, depression and discouragement. All tools of Satan to keep you from acquiring the happiness and contentment God desires for you. He wants to thwart your plans. I have weathered that storm!
Ephesians 3:20 says “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”
Three things in this verse bring me great hope that God has a plan!
He is able!
Taylor said “I cannot, but God can!” He trusted in the ability of God to bring him through the adversity of the day. Sometimes all we can do is lie in the arms of God and pray, “Father take if from here, I can’t go on.” Sometimes I’ve had to pray, “Lord, I really messed this up, please fix it back.” I’ve prayed it, and He’s done it, but the darkest time was usually right before He fixed it. I had to get to the point where there was no hope in this world, before I could see the hope in Glory!
He is abundant!
I had to become as that little child to my Heavenly Father, with faith believing that He was not only able, but able to do all I ask and to do it abundantly! That puts an air of excitement into the story doesn’t it! Whatever it is that we stand in need of; God can supply in abundance the physical and spiritual needs of His children.
But it is according to what is within me.
God’s not into loneliness. He’s not going to pick us up out of the miry clay and wash us off. He’s going to say, while you’re down there, let’s pick up that mud and make something beautiful out of it. God generally won’t walk into a situation and turn it from sad to glad with the wave of His hand. He want action on our behalf. At some point, James Hudson Taylor had to get up and start moving. 18,000 souls did not get saved while he lay still in the arms of God. When he was down and discouraged God comforted his soul by allowing him a time of rest, where he need not do anything but lie there and be comforted, but there had to have come a day when God said, now let’s get back to plan!
I have wonderful Christian friends who are discouraged. Satan has launched attacks and I know they are feeling defeated and in need of direction, they need to know the plan. I believe He’s got one, and it’s good one! It’s the same one He’s always had, His mind did not change. For now He says lie still and trust, but He’s not going to leave you there long before He says, “Now, let’s get back to plan!”
July 7th, 2011
In the work of the ministry, I doubt there is a day that goes by that I’m not shaking my head at the lack of priorities in spiritual matters among Christians and non-Christians alike.
I love the verse in Matthew 23:24 where Christ said, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” Just the image alone is hysterical… the result, not so much.
Priorities are so messed up. People think nothing of spending thousands of dollars to make sure that their child has the best of everything in order to fit into societal standards; they’ll drive at break neck speeds and dead tired to get home in time to make the ballgame, they’ll insure their child is invited to the trendiest of events and spend time and money with disregard for their family’s financial security in hopes that their child will “make it big.” And yet… the one thing, the only thing that will matter when this world ends, is put off for another time, if ever.
Fear grips my heart when I think of unsaved family and friends. When asked of their salvation they’ll say, “Oh… I’m saved.” Yet there is no change in their life, they see no need to go to church. It is then that I say to myself “Help me show them how wonderful it is to be in fellowship with the Savior, let them see the joy and laughter in my heart when I’m in God’s house with God’s people. Let them desire to have that peace in their soul that if they would meet the Savior today they could say, “It is well!” It is easy for me to understand where they are, because I was there; living the lie that I could somehow be saved by association. However, they are not those who eat camels.
Now, for my camel swallowing friends. The camel swallowers are those in the house of God who attend every service, say all the right things, pray in eloquent speech and carry big Bibles! But they have no burden for the lost, no desire to seek a relationship with Christ or with sinners that they might show them the way to Christ. They may put a dollar in the plate, but they make no investment of time (past what is required to look religious). Every Sunday they sit in the very presence of God and are fed the Word, and yet they almost choke on it. And lost souls look at their pious ways and unchanged lives outside the church and say, there is no difference. Their priorities are no more in line than the soul who doesn’t set foot in a church.
Salvation is about a personal relationship with Jesus. Our first priority should be coming to know Him, the second should be to tell everyone else! Then… the ballgames, the events, the affairs of life fall into place. Nothing lost, everything is gain! We live without regret or fear and we have the power to say “It is well! It is well with my soul!”
I pray that you and your family are in a Bible Preaching, Christ beleiving, soul stirring House of God this Sunday!
July 6th, 2011
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
God is a merciful God. Having been given a bountiful supply in my lifetime I sometimes feel like one of God’s favorites. It’s true. A friend once told me that he thought I was God’s pet. I hope you realize I’m joking; but I have, without merit received grace on a fairly grand scale.
That thought is on my heart often, but lately it seems to be constant. I recently met Anti-Grace. She’s was a very unattractive person, not outwardly, but inward. Her words were sharp and cutting, and happened to slice across a tender soul without regard for damage. If her words had been directed toward me I would have shrugged it off like a bad idea, but it wasn’t, it was toward a person who struggles daily. And self-righteous Shari went into a mode. Oh… I was livid. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And then I looked in the mirror and seen anti-grace looking back at me! (made me quiver!) God said, she may have been mean, but you’re angry, and this is not your battle.
I’m not apt to hurt people’s feelings. I’m not saying I’ve never done it, I’m just saying it’s not the *Mango way. Life is harsh, I am happy. Not so with Anti-Grace. I’m pretty sure she’s an *Apple-lime combo that’s gone bitter! But it’s the chicken/egg theory … is she bitter because life has treated her such, or is her life such because she is bitter? I don’t know, and God said I needed to let it go. And so I’m trying…
But my thought for you today is one of encouragement. Give grace and give it abundantly, so that God may return it, pressed down and running over.
*I love sharing what I’ve learned about the fruit bowl of life to help others blend their flavors and live in harmony, even if there are a few nuts in the bowl. If you’d like to learn more about my mango ways, invite me to speak to your group!
July 5th, 2011
2nd Samuel 6:14 - And David danced before the LORD with all his might;
David danced, but not before a 3 month hiatus on God.
History tells us in the book of 2nd Samuel, Chapter 6 that David and small group of friends (thirty thousand) gathered to bring the Ark of God (which symbolized His presence) back into the camp. The presence of God is not something to be taken lightly. We should remember that when we’re in a powerful service and the Holy Spirit is moving or we’re having our own private time with God with our attention elsewhere. God is in the details and He wants our full attention. I have such trouble with that, my thoughts are everywhere at any given moment. Even now, as I write this blog about the holiness of God and what it means to carry Him with us, my mind is straying to the things of day and the trouble of life. Why is it so easy to forget God?
The Presence of God is Heavy
Verse 2 says they “they set the ark of God upon a new cart.” No doubt this seemed like a good idea at the time. They had even furnished God with a new cart. The problem was, God didn’t want a new cart, He wanted the old ways. He had clearly defined how the Ark was to be carried, on the shoulders of the Priests. When the Philistines carried the Ark away, they were ignorant about the things of God; but God’s people should have known better. If you’ve ever carried the Word of God, meaning to carry your Bible, you know what I mean when I say it’s heavy. It is one thing to take it to church, that’s expected. Try carrying it to the office, or into a restaurant to read while you wait on your dinner. It’s heavy, but it’s needful. The world needs to see us carrying the Word of God with us and they need to see it carried with respect. Over the years the Word of God has been handled lightly. It’s been changed, watered down and often times not even found in the services of God. New ways are not always good ways.
The Presence of God is Powerful
David put his dancing on hold because he was upset with God.
In the process of carrying the Ark on the cart, it began to shake and in fear of it falling, Uzzah, one of two who drove the cart, put his hand on it to stop it. If it had been carried as God had asked, it wouldn’t have fallen. So God in His righteous wrath killed him. Wow, that’s harsh. God is in the details. Why the severity; perhaps to demonstrate His holiness, to make a point about the discipline of carrying the holy things of God, or to stop small sins from leading to greater? We don’t know, because our ways are not His ways. But we need to understand that the Presence of God brings power, and to handle the things of God with a “just another Sunday” attitude may very well bring judgment.
The Presence of God brings joy!
David finally stopped pouting and started dancing when he realized that someone else was getting his blessings. David had left the Ark in the house of Obededom when God struck Uzzah down. While it was there God poured his blessing down upon the house of Obededom, and David said, “Wait a minute, that’s mine!” He said that in the book according to Shari, not in the scripture.
If we’re going to receive the blessings of God, we’re going to have to go back to the old ways. When David brought the Ark back, the people rejoiced, David danced with all his might, some still weren’t happy (you’ll have that). But the point is God is serious about service. If you’ve been called to carry the Word of God, handle it carefully; and whatever you’ve been called to do, do it with all your might!
July 4, 2011
Part 2 (part 1 below)
Verse 4 of 2nd Samuel 9 says that Mephibosheth was living in a place called "Lodebar," a word that means "No Pasture." It was a place of poverty. Because he was a cripple, he could not work and was at the mercy of others for care; he was destitute. Until that day when the visitor came with the message of hope, and that evening he found himself sitting with his feet under the Master’s table, not settling for remnants of leftovers and crumbs, but eating until he was full. As he dined with the King he sat shoulder to shoulder with the King’s sons and daughters and was no longer an outsider looking in, but was a part of the celebration. He didn’t feel like a cripple, his feet were hidden beneath the table and to the Master he was as whole as anyone there. I could shout as I read that scripture!
2nd Samuel 9-13 ~ Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then said Ziba unto the king, According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his servant, so shall thy servant do. As for Mephibosheth, said the king, he shall eat at my table, as one of the king's sons. And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha. And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto Mephibosheth. So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king's table; and was lame on both his feet.
Mephibosheth was given the land of his grandfather, he would want for nothing from that point forward. He was given the land and the servants to care for it, who were instructed to tend the property, and bring the fruits to Mephibosheth. He had his own food; most likely the first time in his life that he was able to provide for his young son, Micha. In one day he had gone from disgrace to disbelief of the goodness of God. He still had the crippled feet, but he was in a position of honor. His servants brought the fruits from the field to him, but he was to dine with the Master each day, not alone. Scripture does not tell what happened to the fruit from his field, but I could just imagine that Mephibosheth may have started the first soup kitchen for the poor and destitute.
That is the same story that every child of God should have. The cast of characters and the debilitation may change but the story of marvelous grace remains. I lived in spiritual poverty; a field with no fruit, until the day that God sent a messenger my way. God used my crippled state to fuel my passion for people. I suddenly found a place that I belonged! That’s why I believe Mephibosheth may have put his new found fortune to work in helping others. When God takes the pressures off of everyday life, we can concentrate on living with purpose, using the gifts God has given us.
What are you doing with the fruit God has given you?
July 3, 2011
David reigned over all of Israel, but he had never forgotten his friend Jonathan, who was killed in battle with his father Saul. The same Saul who had wished David dead on multitudes of occasions. True friendships live on beyond family differences. David had witnessed firsthand the deep love Jonathan had for him in God, he had saved his life, and now he longed to honor that friendship by honoring his remaining family. And there in the tapestry of 2nd Samuel we see Mephibosheth woven into the story. A powerful story of grace and mercy, much like my own.
2 Samuel 9:3-9
And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. And the king said unto him, Where is he? And Ziba said unto the king, Behold, he is in the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, in Lodebar. Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?
Mephibosheth was made lame when, as a child, his caretaker fell with him as they fled following the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death. He was now a grown man having lived many years with the feet beneath him serving as a constant reminder of his family’s misfortune because of his grandfather’s disobedience to God.
There’s an old saying, “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” Although it’s sometimes used as the punch line on a joke, it true none the less. I was blessed to be born into a wonderful family, such is not the case for everyone. I have friends whose family abandoned them, abused them, and gave them every reason in the world to be bitter, but they are not. I have other friends who are bitter. The difference? In the heart of those who are not bitter, the King reigns.
Mephibosheth had lived many years in a state of brokenness, surely at times feeling forgotten and of little worth because of the condition of his body. But the day came, probably starting out like all the other days, when in a distance he sees a visitor. A messenger bearing the tidings, “You’ve been summoned by the King.” What must he have thought? “Why would the King want me? What have I done? I have nothing to bring him, no gifts, nothing, just me in all my brokenness.” He falls before the King who says “You’ll sit at my table from this point forward.” Wow! What that must have felt like? And when he sat at the Master’s table for his first official dinner, with his crippled feet beneath it, he was the same as everyone else. What must that have felt like!?
I understand how he felt when he said “why would you look at such a dead dog as I.” The lameness I had was not in my feet, it was in my heart. I knew how unworthy I was. But when the King, through the messenger of a Pastor, spoke to my heart and said “You are mine,” that alone was phenomenal, but when He said, from now on you will eat at my table, and be in My presence, servitude became my passion. It became my passion because my entire life I had felt as worthless as a dead dog. But that day God instilled in me an awareness of the purpose in the gifts I had taken for granted. Mephibosheth’s feet were lame, but he had so much more to give than that. There is so much more to this story; too much to tell in one blog. I’ve already gone 200 words over my 500 word strategy just building the porch. Tune in tomorrow when we go into the house, to the Master’s table.
July 2, 2011
Evenings in Calhoun County West Virginia are not likely akin to the cities many of my metropolitan brothers and sisters in Christ dwell in. Although time seems to be going no slower for me now, my short commute (7 minutes) home leaves me a little extra time some evenings to just relax. And such was the time yesterday evening when my grandson Luke wanted to start a campfire and roast marshmallows. I seem to be affixed on the notion of fire lately. I also came to the conclusion that if New Mexico would like that wildfire out, they need to invite me out to start one. Because I can assure you that it is the best way to put one out. Luke and I did finally get our fire going, much, much later than I would have desired, and after a few very gooey fingers later, I really didn’t mind that we were running out of time to roast!
Starting a fire obviously requires boy/girl scout knowledge that I do not have. My 75’ish year old Mother came over to weigh in on my fire starting conundrum, with the advice that I should use some fire starting fluid (aka) kerosene. Are you kidding? I am her child, she knows my *Mango ways. The thought of squirting flammable liquid onto a fire with my accident prone characteristics sent visions of news reports and community meetings scrolling through my mind. It might also cause my Assistant Fire Chief husband some serious ribbing from the guys at the fire station. So I continued on using my method of 400 hundred wooden matches and every piece of kindling I could find, and slowly but surely the fire began to ignite. But then it would die down again… arggg. I began to lightly blow down at the base of the fire and woohoo! We were cookin’ marshmallows! Just a little bit of breath… hmmmm.
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
The creation of great things usually requires people rolling up their shirt sleeves and getting dirty. It’s work! If the church is going to see new life breathed into itself it’s going to have to get busy and do so with the understanding that we do not need kerosene Christianity; the kind of fire that will blow up in your face. Man created “quick fixes” that seek to get a huge fire going, but have nothing substantial to keep it going when the fuel is gone. I love music and programs as much as the next chick, but music and programs without the Word of God, the breath of life, will not keep the fire going. It will become like the New Mexico wild fire and hop and skip about never knowing where to land or what to believe.
Christians need to be careful about “uniting”, rather you should be igniting!
I’m not about denominations. I’m about Jesus, His virgin birth, sin free life, crucified and risen again, repentance on the part of the sinner, and living a life that glorifies Christ, not man. Anything else is marshmallow Christianity; soft and sweet, but you can’t live on it.
*If you’re interested in learning about the roles of personalities in the church and how to create better harmony and team building, call me!
June 30, 2011
1 Samuel 3:1-4
And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
My new found friend Shona Neff lives in a community where a nearby wildfire rages out of control. The smoke billowing over her home, community meetings and news bulletins are constant reminders of the fire, not to mention the fact her life is packed into her car waiting for evacuation if needed. The fire is an ever present thought in her mind. She stands on guard of what is precious in her life.
If we (speaking as a Christian) truly understood the precious things in life, we’d be like Shona; we’d be packed up and prayed up, standing guard. I fear the church has become like the Priest Eli in the book of 1st Samuel. Our vision is dim, the light has gone out in the church, and the precious Word of God is rare. Our commitment to care for the things of God and the ways of God are hinged upon misguided priorities. Worshipping God takes a back seat to mall or fishing trips on sunny Sundays, and if the Pastor happens to be out of town that’s like a hall pass from church. “One Sunday won’t matter” turns into repetitious back sliding and the next generation of church leaders can’t even smell smoke, little else see fire.
In the beginning of the book of 1st Samuel we see a woman longing for a child, and so grateful upon the receipt of that child that she handed him over to the priest to be used by God. She understood the precious gift of God and the accountability of a parent. She obviously instilled in him the importance of a relationship with God, because we see him ministering to the LORD before Eli. He was setting the example! Not the Priest. Eli had allowed his sons to get out of control and had gotten so lacks in his own relationship with the Lord that God was now speaking to a child instead of the man of God.
I see smoke on the horizon in some youth within our church and I’m so thankful their fire is burning! But I’m not ready to lie down in my place, why should they have all the fun! I’m packed up and prayed up and ready for the next adventure. If we do not stand guard as church leaders and show our youth how precious a relationship with the Lord truly is, the fire will go out.
I hope the fire goes out quickly that is threatening Shona’s home, but I pray the fire within the church rages out of control and is an ever present thought in our minds that we need to be about the Father’s business!
Here am I!
June 29, 2011
Psalm 61:2 ~ From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Most likely all of us at one point or another have times of feeling overwhelmed. When the to do list cannot possibly get done, laundry has begun multiplying like rabbits, ministry demands are demanding and your “Calgone® take me away moment” has been taken off the table. My life is full of those days, most of which is because I am the queen of procrastination, some of which is because I can’t say, “No” except when it’s followed by, “No, I wouldn’t mind at all,” and some of it is just life.
I understood David’s need to get to the high rock; you have to rise above the issues. The demands of home, finances, family and careers can keep pushing you until you feel like you’re at the end of the earth. Don’t jump! Climb.
If you decide to jump you’ve let Satan have control and the only direction is down. And that is never good, because you still have to climb back up to the foot of despair where you currently stand. So start climbing now over one obstacle at a time. Ask for God’s guidance to lead you over the most pressing, ask Him to give you strength to push out of the way those things that are not needful, cast down on the top of Satan’s head some of the baggage he has saddled you with, like frustration, anger, resentment, or depression. God will provide ledges along the way that you can rest on, but don’t look down. Lie down maybe and rest, but only ever look up!
This message is as much for me as anyone else; I’ve been standing at the foot of the cliff on the edge of a pit. I need to start climbing. My Pastor often shares this poem that always encourages my soul, I hope it does yours too:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but do not quit
June 28, 2011
Mark 2:14. - 14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
I spoke yesterday of the purpose of life being within us at birth. A purpose that God intends to be used for his glory, and the sooner we begin using it and understanding God’s purpose for it, the happier we’ll be. Consider Matthew on this point. A tax collector by trade, but as soon as Jesus called him, he left. Without hesitation. Which fascinates me, knowing what I do about most book keepers or possibly “*Lime” personalities. They like order, and well thought out decisions. Not only do the books have to balance, but so does life. They’re list makers and labelers; they are the people that I drive crazy! If on the spur of the moment you decide to take a detour in life, I’m waiting for you in the car. I’m a *Mango. A Lime personality, would actually take the time to figure their check book, pay a few bills and if there were money left over, they would go. Me… I’d pay bills with what was left over after the adventure! That’s not always wise by the way.
But Matthew, a tax collector by trade, a man who loved bookwork, drops it all at Jesus’ invitation. So what was the difference? Purpose. I can just imagine that as a tax collector he may have loved the work, but hated the results. But then he met this man called Jesus, who made no sense at all on paper, but something within him stirred and it made all the sense in the world to leave everything he knew and follow. And because of that, he became one of the most famous record keepers of all times. He didn’t know that when he left the receipt of custom that God would give him the desires of his heart, but he did. God used Matthew’s attention to detail to record the greatest story ever told.
So what is it that you love to do? And how can you use it for God’s glory? Using it doesn’t mean you have to quit your day job. It just means you need to follow God’s guidance. And that “thing” that makes you happy, suddenly becomes that passion, and your whole thought process changes. You may be thinking “How could God possibly use this for His kingdom?” Why don’t you ask.
My mango personality is such that I jump off the building and wait for a net to appear. But coming to Jesus was probably not any easier for me, than it was for Matthew. Deciding to surrender to God’s will and trusting in His power brings the demons of Hell against you and every conceivable excuse is made ready for you as to why this is not a good idea. I know this from experience. But like Matthew, I also know from experience, that being in the will of God and using a gift for His glory is the grandest adventure I’ve ever been on. No regrets.
My prayer for you that are reading this today, is that you are used for His glory!.
*If you’d like to know more about the roles personalities play in the church, invite Mango me to speak!
June 27th, 2011.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
And then he went into the house, kicked back the recliner and began to ponder his purpose in life. No… that’s not how the story goes. Adam had a job clearly defined in verse 15. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Adam did not have to guess nor ponder what his career was.
I often wonder in the scheme of things what eternal difference have I made. I recently had this conversation with a family member who thought that she had wandered into the wrong garden. As a Nurse Practitioner she not only has the gift of healing, she has a wonderful heart of compassion to go with it. She can’t turn it off and on when she leaves or arrives at the office, it is with her continually. And because of that it sometimes becomes a great burden for her to bear. God created her with that compassion within; I believe that He did so at birth.
I did not decide a few years ago I wanted to be a writer. God penned that thought in my heart as a small child when I heard my first nursery rhyme and something within me clicked, I can do that! And before the age of ten I had the ability to connect words in rhyme and context. Nothing just happens. But along the way of life I let the world define who I am rather than God. In verse 25 scripture reads “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” God did not put Adam in the garden with muck boots and straw hat and declare him a farmer; I believe that from within Adam loved the work.
I love to write, but I want to write with purpose. I want to have that same healing touch with words that my aforementioned family has to heal the physical body, but I want to heal the spiritual side of lives. Please don’t misunderstand; Christ is the only One who has the ability to heal a wounded soul. But just like doctors, and nurse practitioners, I can give you a prescription; but you have to fill it.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when it comes to a desire to have “a purpose driven life.” There’s a very successful book author to prove that point. I’m also sure that I’m not the only one who lives in frustration that life isn’t working out the way I had envisioned it as a child when God breathed into me the desire to write, but I’m working on that. We have to start somewhere. So where are you? Are you wearing the hat God placed on your heart, or have you donned someone else’s idea and settled for something less.
I’m reading a book by Jon Acuff titled “Quitter.” If you’re pondering a career change it is recommended reading, especially if that change involves the ministry You may not want to bloom where you’re planted, but you still have to eat. So in the garden of life, grab your muck boots, and spend a little time in the garden. You just might find God wandering around ready to reveal His purpose.
Please let me know if I’ve made a thought grow in the garden of your life, I could use the encouragement!
If you’re interested in purchasing Quitter, follow this link.
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