November 21st, 2011
Nehemiah Day 13 of 13
Remember Me O God for Good!
Nehemiah’s closing prayer was that God remember what he had done in Jerusalem. And God did, because 2500 years later, here I sit on a Monday morning in awe of Nehemiah as this part of the story closes out in Chapter 13. In awe that Nehemiah stood up in such a bold manner when I feel so weak in so many areas of my life. Although Nehemiah wasn’t super human or any such nonsense, I feel like he needs a cape and tights… probably not a good image for a man of the God though, but he’s a super hero of the faith in my book!
How quickly we forget…
Nehemiah left Jerusalem for a short time and returned to work for Artaxerxes king of Babylon as he had promised. But when he returned to Jerusalem he again found that many were not living according to the laws they had promised to obey. One such person was the Priest
There went the leadership…
The priest had allowed an enemy of Israel, Tobiah, to use the store room of the temple for storage of his personal household belongings. The storeroom that had been sanctified for the purpose of holding tithes and offerings to care for the Levites, singers and other servants of God, which was obviously not being done either. Nehemiah in a super hero kind of way (much like a new testament story) chucked Tobiah’s belongings out of the chamber and began to cleanse the temple again, restore the offerings and place faithful people in charge of overseeing it once more
Nehemiah followed this by taking on local heathen merchants that were selling in Jerusalem and to the Jews on the Sabbath day outside the gates of Jerusalem. He first testified against them and talked to the city nobles warning them that this disobedience was what got them in this mess to start with. He ordered the gates shut the evening before the Sabbath and warned the merchants to leave. For two nights they returned until Nehemiah warned he’d lay hands on them if they didn’t stay away. He was serious!
Nehemiah wasn’t finished. Many of the Jews had married other people from heathen nations, and had accepted their ways and language in their homes. Their children could not speak nor understand the Jews language. Enough was enough. This must have been a breaking point for Nehemiah for he says in verse 25, “And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.”
What is our breaking point? I’m not saying that we should lay hands on people, but we should be every bit as serious about getting the sin out of our lives and churches as Nehemiah was.
As I close out Nehemiah, my super hero of the faith, I am reminded of what a failure I am. I’m not nearly as holy as I should be. Three times in chapter 13 Nehemiah cries out to God, “Remember me.” And as I said, God did. I too cry out for God, but to forget, rather than remember. Please forget all my failures and forgive my sins. I don’t cast stones at the children of Israel because my glass house is highly visible. God is so faithful to His promises. I long for the day that He returns and we no longer live in this sin fallen world, but until then, I will continue to cleanse this temple I call Shari day by day, and try to rid myself of the “merchants” who have sold me a bill of goods. Amen.
November 18th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 12
Celebrating the Victories!
Nehemiah 12:27 – And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
As we begin the week of Thanksgiving I have too much to be thankful for, to whine about the things I struggle with; most of which were created by me anyway. Just in the past two days I have had a dear friend, Kyle, in a serious car accident and another friend, Jessica, lose her home to fire; both played out on the scanner within minutes of each other. In our community we rely on the scanner to keep us apprised of emergencies, both of an accident or weather related issues. And because we live in such a small area, if it’s an accident word travels fast through Facebook and phone as to who it was and the extent of injury. Although Kyle is still hospitalized with serious injuries, and Jessica’s home was a total loss, they’re families are intact, and they will have another day to Praise God!
I’m not sure how Nehemiah got the word out to the Levites who lived in other villages around Jerusalem as to the dedication of the wall, but it was a celebration of epic proportion and they needed to be there. The Levites were to lead the thanksgiving and singing at the dedication, also using various instruments of music. I love the Levites already; I’m pretty sure they are the original bluegrass lot. This event was important enough to dedicate an entire chapter listing the participants and the historic facts of the event. The celebration consisted of two groups, one lead by Ezra, and the other by Nehemiah, one group marching in one direction around the wall, the other group marching in the other direction. Singing and praising God, playing instruments, shouting… hallelujah what a day that must have been! The ceremonial march concluded with their families at the temple where the rejoicing continued and scripture says the joy of Jerusalem “was heard even afar off.” Loud people, I knew I loved them!
This week would be a good week to put some of their rejoicing methods into play in our lives. So…. You say, nobody’s having a celebration. Lead one, even if it’s in your home, you are a leader somewhere. Just as Jerusalem needed and celebrated the wall that was built to protect them from the enemy, we have a spiritual wall around our home through the work that God completed on the cross of Calvary. We have a great reason to celebrate. The Jerusalem celebration concluded with “great sacrifices,” ours celebration began with the final sacrifice.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to dedicate the wall! You could start by marching you and your family to church on Sunday morning and being loud! Not loud just for the sake of being loud, but in a God lead praise and worship kind of way.
It also says that they made some appointments of responsibilities to the business of God and the people rejoiced because of it. This would be a good time for you to accept some responsibilities to the business of God too! I’ve never regretted a second of my service for the Lord. It has brought me joy unspeakable from the smallest thing I’ve done to the greatest. The Israelites ceremony serves to remind us that God wants us to celebrate the victories in our lives. Sometimes the victory is of a monumental proportion; sometimes it may just be getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other. March!
November 17th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 11
Dwelling in Jerusalem
Nehemiah 11:2 ~ And the people blessed all the men, that willingly offered themselves to dwell at Jerusalem.
The wall was built, but the work was far from over. Nehemiah chapter 11 is somewhat of another role call. Other than the rulers of Jerusalem who lived in the city it was decided that one out of every ten of the remaining Israelites would also serve there while the other nine tenths dwelt in other cities in the land. This may have required them to leave their families, land and homes to begin again in that city, but it says that it was a sacrifice they willingly made. The Word says that lots were cast to decide who would stay in Jerusalem. An interesting note from this chapter is the same that were chosen and willingly offered themselves were many of the men listed in chapter nine praying and confessing sins. Coincidence? I think not, for we know that nothing “just” happens. God chooses who He uses, and it’s usually done so by those with a repentant heart and humble spirit for service.
The service of the Lord is a sacrificial work in one respect but the blessings far outweigh any sacrifice. Dwelling in Jerusalem would have been labor, but what joy would have been there!
God has allowed me to serve in a number of capacities of leadership. I’ve been a singer, teacher, speaker, artist and general jack of trades in our church. I’ve put in late nights and early mornings. I don’t say that to boast, for I have nothing to boast of, it’s a privilege to serve God! To understand the calling of God upon your life is to acknowledge the Creator of the Universe asked you to do something. Wow…
For those in the “Holy Head Count” of scripture who were chosen by God to stay in Jerusalem and begin working in that city, it may not have seemed like much at the time: but it may have been a bigger deal if they’d have realized that God was still talking about them 2500 years later! They’re sacrifice really did not go unnoticed!
In the scheme of things in the ministry while we’re building in the year 2011, soon to be 2012, we really have to keep our focus on the eternal. What we do may not seem like much, but if in so doing we meet someone on the streets of that City 2000 years from now who reminds us that they are there because we were here… Joy! Unspeakable Joy!
November 16th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 10
The Bondage Factor
The Israelites had entered into a covenant and curse with God on how they would rededicate their lives. It was a sealed document with signatures by leaders acknowledging their intentions to live by the Word of God and walk in His ways, and the penalties (curse) for failing to do so. It was a serious commitment written in detail of their separation from the world, financial commitment and sacrificial giving of the first fruits of the ground and the first born of their sons and herds. And their closing promise in Nehemiah 10:38 “…and we will not forsake the house of our God.”
How handy is that for me on a Wednesday! While many churches have altogether stopped having service on Wednesday night and others have a handful of attendees, it speaks volumes to where the heart of Christianity is and our dedication to things of God. Some would rather sacrifice monetarily as if it’s a holy payoff for not having to attend and others figure their presence on Sunday morning is sacrifice enough; it is the weekend after all. And Sunday evening? That’s for diehards. Yep, you guessed it, I’m a diehard.
As I sat in a revival meeting last night listening to Shad Martin, a young minister of the Word, pouring his heart out about the bondage he had come out of, and the gratitude he had to God and to the man of God who shared the gospel, I cannot help but liken him to Israel at this point. They’d come out of bondage, they’d had to rebuild their lives because of their mistakes and they were determined to right the wrong with God. They’d had enough of the world and they wanted the blessings that came from communion with God; and to do that they had to make some changes. They were not going to forsake the house of their God.
Shad said that if he could find a service seven nights a week he’d be there. I can identify. I love church. I think it comes from the bondage factor. When I discovered the peace of God after I had lived for 34 years in the bondage of heartache and sin, I wasn’t letting go of it! I’ve learned that the closer to God I am, the further away I am from bondage and I’m not planning on going back!
You may never have to go through what Shad or I went through. But if you’re forsaking the house of God, you’re in bondage. You are denying yourself the most precious gift of God and that is being in His presence. I was in it last night! Heaven came down in that little country church in Five Forks, West Virginia. All because 50 or so people decided they’d had enough of the world and sought revival. Tonight I’ll be with the youth of Victory Baptist Church. If you’re in the neighborhood, come on out! Or if you’re in the neighborhood of Five Forks, stop by and hear my friend Roger Carter preach; it’s bound to be good!
So, what’s your plan for this evening?
November 15th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 9
God Attention Getting Repentance!
Nehemiah 9:1-3 ~ Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
The wall was finished, the Word had been read, and a realization of how far they had come away from God, again, was being acknowledged. A right heart with God requires a discipline that the world has a hard time swallowing. Christians, especially Americans, have a hard time depriving themselves of anything. Mark me guilty as my sausage fries in the pan this morning and biscuits are in the oven.
But Israel got it! Regardless of stature, there was no fancy meal or beautiful apparel. They ate nothing, their clothing was crude and uncomfortable and they were dirty before almighty God, just as we truly are. We can pretty and polish ourselves ‘til the cows come home and it won’t fix anything. True repentance, the kind that gets God’s attention is raw and it’s emotional. I’d dare say it was loud! When they cried out to God, even though they were separated from strangers, I’d venture a guess the strangers heard them. They didn’t lie down; they stood and confessed, not only their own sins, but the sins of their fathers. For one quarter of the day they read the book and another quarter they spent confessing and worshipping God. I’ve heard folks whine because the preacher didn’t stop at exactly noon, and his message only began about 30 minutes prior. We’re in trouble! The only way you get folks to stay late for church is to feed them; and Israel was fasting, so that wouldn’t work. I’m told that if my blog gets read I have to keep it to 500 words or less, or people lose interest.
I’m at 360. So I’ve only got 140 more.
We’re brats, myself included.
God attention getting repentance requires deprived flesh, disciplined faith and devoted service. It means getting serious about Who God is, and who we are. It requires time.
What would happen if we showed up to church and a basket sat on the foyer table with a sign that read, “Put your time piece in here, and give God a piece your time?”
Let’s do it! Whew… 60 words to spare.
November 14th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 8
No Soggy Logs
Nehemiah 8:1-3 ~ And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
I came to Victory Baptist Church in 1996, not long after the church was completed. Never in my life had I met a people more desirous for the Word of God. It was as if the whole lot of them showed up to a picnic of epic proportion after having been fed bread and water their entire lives. That’s literally how I felt. For the first time in my life I felt as if I was hearing the Word of the Lord, and it was water to a dry thirsty soul. What made the difference?
Many of us had a lot in common with the congregation in Nehemiah’s day. We were in bondage. Not the bondage of slavery as Israel had been, but the bondage of dead religion, false religion or no religion. We would have gathered in the parking lot of Victory if that’s what it took to get the Word of God. We were that hungry. If you’ve never been that hungry, then you can’t possibly understand. But don’t stop reading! I have something to tell you.
The fire goes out on one lone log…
It’s hard to catch on fire when you layin’ in the midst of a bunch of soggy logs. I’ve sang in my share of dead churches, but always in the congregation (as my friend Tracy Miller reminds me) you’ll find a head “nodder;” that one person who enjoys the spirit of the service and worships in spite of those around them who just don’t get it. I’d always leave wishing that person’s fire would either spread, or they’d leave before someone doused them with sogginess. Just as the congregation stood before Nehemiah as one man, we need to be in a church where others desire to hear the Word of God as much as we do.
The congregation asked Ezra to bring the book and then they stood there in the streets of the city from morning until midday listening to him read it. It didn’t say he preached, there was no music, or anything other than the Word of God being read. Satan has lulled churches into the belief that there has to be a gimmick to keep the congregation entertained or they will not stay. That is a lie! I love the music at Victory, we have some of the greatest singers and musicians in the country, but I’m not there for them, and I sure hope no one is there for me. I’m there because my Pastor speaks the Word.
In verses 5 and 6 Ezra opens the book, and every one stands up. He blesses the LORD, the great God, and they answered Amen, Amen! They lifted their hands, they bowed their heads and the worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
When’s the last time you’ve been in a service like that?! If you say never… you may be among soggy logs.
November 13th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 7
The number of Completion! The wall was finished and now it is time for
A Holy Head Count
Nehemiah, at God’s direction, begins to number the children of Israel within the walls of Jerusalem. The chronological lists of family names and the number of them serve as a historic record and most important was the fact that God had promised that Christ would be a descendant of Abraham, David, etc. The nation of Israel continued and its lineage was kept, so this promise could yet be fulfilled. This relatively short list of people totaled about 50,000. Not too many, considering the number against them on the outside of the wall.
The verse that struck a chord in my heart this morning was verses 63-65 of the 7th Chapter.
And of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai, which took one of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite to wife, and was called after their name. These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim.
I am one who wants everyone included. As a child I was on the outside of the “in” circle on more than one occasion. So throughout my life I’ve strived to insure no one ever felt outside of my circle. But when it comes to the Holiness of God, His ways are not my ways. And although God assuredly wants everyone within the wall faith there are conditions of being in that number and God is NOT an all inclusive God. In the numbering of the Jews one had to be able to prove their blood line through family genealogy. The same is true in the Kingdom of Heaven. The churches who do not preach the blood are going to be in a heap of trouble on judgment day! The bloodline mattered then and it matters now.
The good news is, although the gentiles who could then lived within the wall were not considered children of God, we because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can live and be numbered in the Holy head count! Hallelujah! But we still have to come there by the blood. Churches who have linked hands with other religions and say we all serve the same God are preaching damnation to the souls of their congregations. God will not allow children who profess another father to live in His house.
So, are you numbered in the Holy head count this morning? If not, it would be a good day to right that wrong. Today’s the Lord’s Day and the house of God is open for business. But choose carefully! Make sure you choose a church who preaches that the blood of Jesus is the ONLY WAY to salvation.
Do you have to go to church to be saved? No. If you can’t get there for whatever reason, you can make that profession of faith where you are by believing that Jesus Christ was indeed of the lineage of Abraham, that He was truly God and man, that He died on the cross of Calvary and was risen again the third day. He then ascended back into Heaven where He now resides and stands at the right hand of God, that He might intercede on behalf of all those who call Him Lord, and forgive their sins.
If you believe that, then you are numbered among God’s children. But you still need a church to teach you in the way’s of God! Pick a good one! Amen.
November 12th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 6
52 Days in Faith ~ No Fear!
Nehemiah 6:9 ~ For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.
When victory was apparent the enemies of the Jews began to devise a plan to call Nehemiah out away from the work and destroy him, thus destroying the work. Shemaiah tried to convince him to shut himself up in the temple, but this too Nehemiah perceived as a plot to instill fear in him.
Boy, does that though resonate in me this morning. One of Satan’s greatest weapons with the believer is fear. Fear works to destroy not only us, but our witness to other believers and more importantly, the lost. If Nehemiah had run into the temple and cowered down in fear of Sanballat and his bullies what would the remaining Jews have done? If they’re leader abandoned the work of wall, what hope was there for them?
Nehemiah the mighty leader stands to the test in verse 11 when he says “And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
For 52 days Nehemiah and the Jews had rebuilt the wall to completion. The enemy was not happy! They tried to draw Nehemiah out, and that didn’t work. They tried to instill fear in him and that didn’t work so they moved on to threatening him. The same scheme Satan uses today. He draws people away from church for a number of reasons; he keeps them away from the Word of God and convinces them there is reason to fear; he continually hammers the mind with threats.
Man your post! Satan’s first tactic is to get you away from the wall of protection that is provided within the church. He’ll give you any number of reasons to leave, and believe me when I say, you are prey for the taking when he gets you outside. If he can’t get you outside, he’ll begin working on you with fear.
Fear will cost you your peace:
If Satan has began using the tactic of fear it is because you’re on the road to victory. Just as the bullies tried to draw Nehemiah away from his work to do him harm, that is Satan’s desire for you! He wants you away from living the life God desires for you and off the path you’re on. If he can get you to cower down in your faith, he’ll rob you of the joy of God’s abundance.
Secondly Fear will cause you to lose your perception
Live in fear for just a little while and you’ll lose sight of the path God had you on completely. If Nehemiah had gone in and hidden in the church he not only would have lost sight of the work he’d been doing, but those who were still there would have lost sight of their leader. The Church rises and falls on leadership!
Third - Fear will conceal the proof
There is a world seeking the peace of God and the only way they’ll find evidence of it is in us. If we abandon the work, we’re damning souls to Hell. Harsh? Yep, but its reality. If they don’t find the peace of God in us who are called to be His children and leaders in the Kingdom, where will they find it?
November 11th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 5
Foremen of the Followers or
Fellow Laborers of the Faith?
Nehemiah 5:9 ~ Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
To set the stage for today’s topic you need to understand the conditions that Nehemiah spoke of and to whom he spoke. The condition was such that the Jewish rulers had taken it upon themselves to make a living by exploiting their fellow Jews during hard times. They were charging interest on money that had been borrowed to buy food; when they couldn’t pay any more, they took their land; and when that was exhausted they took their children as slaves.
When Nehemiah heard of the plight of the very people who had sacrificed it all to rebuild the wall he was angry; a righteous anger. There is such a thing you know. But before he allowed the anger to get the best of him, he “consulted with himself” in verse 7. Meaning before he acted he took some time to think it over and pray about it. And then God turned him loose on the rulers! He went up one side and down the other about the dangers of what they were doing to the brethren, which ended with repentance on the part of the rulers and the all that was taken in err was restored
A lesson for leadership...
In the work of the church the heart of the servant is the same in the eyes of God, whether it is the heart of a leader or the heart of an ordinary member of the congregation. To think of the leadership as merely “foremen of the followers” is ridiculous! We are to lead by example. In verse 5 of chapter 3 Nehemiah mentioned the Tekoite nobles who “put not their necks to the work of the LORD.” This ought not to be.
I love my husband David for a multitude of reasons, but one such reason is his work ethic. He’s in the chief position of the company he works for, and yet, if there’s hard labor to be done, he’s in the thick of it beside of those who work for him. He leads by example. Those who work for him are without excuse if they choose not to labor. Hello leadership?
Nehemiah did not say that leadership should not prosper. But they for sure shouldn’t prosper at the expense of the brethren. And as church leadership the body of Christ should be working side by side, in unison for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God. Amen! Get me a mattock, I’ve got some ground to cover…
November 10th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 4
Build the W.A.L.L.
Nehemiah 4:1 ~ But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
The Madness of Mockers - I’ve never understood those that mock the faith of Christianity. Even unsaved I knew better. It’s a vile arrogance from the pits of Hell that would cause a person to ridicule and discourage Christians. And if they were honest, it’s their fear of the faithful that causes them to react in such a manner. People do not bother to oppose what they truly believe to be of no effect on them. They just laugh and go about their lives. The very fact they find us worth their time and effort to refute proves that they feel at least somewhat threatened by our work. And work it is.
The Jews were determined to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, but the desire alone was not enough. The fortitude necessary to finish the task came from their faithfulness to God and their loyalty to the leadership of Nehemiah. It was a failed leadership that had gotten the wall in that mess to begin with through the Jews captivity by Babylonia. And without a God focused leadership the wall would have stayed in ruin.
Sanballat’s bullies were not just mockers, they meant business, but so did Nehemiah. It is in the manner that Nehemiah dealt with this trial of faith that we can find strength to go on in ours
Build the W.A.L.L.
Watch – Day and night the Jews watched from the wall, guarding the breaches. For too long Christians have let their guard down allowing the world to sneak subtly into homes. If you could see me right now, I’m lifting my hand shouting “guilty.” As my girls grew up in my home I allowed garbage to come into via the internet, television and radio that I thought was “harmless.” Satan deceived Eve with a piece of fruit, it looks harmless, but that one piece stole the peace of mankind. One television show with a bad attitude can set your child in that frame of mind, one piece of music with a bad message can sow that seed in their heart, one opportunity on the internet unchecked can expose your child to world of harm. Watch!
Ask – Nehemiah began and ended the battle with prayer. He continually let his request be made known to God which is an essential part of our lives every day to build back the wall around Christians that will let us survive in a world full of spiritual bullies. I prayed for the youth at the school this morning that God would hedge them about from the bullies that seek to tear them down spiritually. I prayed that their light would shine so that together we could build a wall of faith inside their school. Good times…
Lean on Family – Nehemiah set the families together guarding their section of the wall. Whether its blood relative or the family of God we need to stand together. There is safety in numbers. If one falls, another can hold them up, if you’re standing back to back you’ve got all sides covered against Satan. What one may let slide, another can say no. Families may disagree, but for the good of the cause, they stand together in a unified body. Is there not a cause?
Live in Christ – To live in Christ is to Abide in the Lord, being held secure in a permanent relationship. Christ told us in John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Keep your relationship alive in Christ by staying connected to Him. If the fruit falls from a vine, it begins to die immediately and so do we spiritually.
November 9th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 3
My Part of the Wall
The book of Nehemiah chapter 3 is one of those chapters that I have to really strain my brain to read due to it being an historical account of those who rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem. And by historical account I mean it is a list of names and titles and positions and so on and so on and…. Well you get the picture. But I always like to give those chapters my best attention (which is sometimes limited when it’s not a tale of excitement) but warranted because God wanted us to know who these folks were! How awesome must it have been to have been named by God as a person of significant value in the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. So at zero dark thirty this morning I read each name and each title with great awareness that there was something that God wanted me to glean from this chapter.
And it was good!
Out of the fifty names or groups of people named in this chapter there was a multitude of talents, but it did not say that any of them were masons. There were priests, goldsmiths, rulers, merchants, women and others, but no professional brick layers, carpenters or construction aficionados. They were just ordinary people who showed up on scene and said, “Lord, use me.” The Lord made no mention of any in a greater respect than the other, only listing their contributed area of the wall.
I am the first to kick myself to the curb saying, God, I’m not worthy of being in a position of leadership. Daily it’s a struggle for me because Satan tells me I don’t belong. But each day as I meet with the teens at the Calhoun Middle High School, I have to keep telling myself, this is my part of the wall. And If I fail to do what the Lord has laid upon my heart to do, then there is a breech and we are vulnerable to attack. My fifteen minutes may not seem much to those who watch me walk into the school, down the corridor and into the gymnasium. I walk past multitudes of confessed Christian kids who often turn for fear that my gaze will see into their soul and I’ll know what they’ve been into. (By the way, that cracks me up every time!)
But waiting at the other end of the gym is a group of 15-20 young people who have picked up their tools and are working alongside the rest of us to rebuild the wall that has been torn down by my generation and those before. I’m so proud of them. I honestly believe that somewhere in Heaven is a book with their names written down beside their title and contributions; and when they get to Heaven, Jesus is going to show them the fortress that they cannot see now, but that they are building.
I pray today that you’ll pick up the trowel and help us repair the breech of Christian faith in America.
November 8th, 2011
Nehemiah Day 2
Putting Satan in his Place
Nehemiah 2:19-20 - But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
Day 2 of 13 in the book of Nehemiah
Yesterday my thought was on getting back to building and restoring a right relationship with God. A must for a successful life! That journey will begin on the first step, but to think that it will be smooth sailing and without opposition is far from realistic. When Nehemiah informed others of his intention to build back the wall of Jerusalem there was a select few (and that’s all it takes) that the Bible says “it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.” They were not happy about Nehemiah’s decision. In verse 19 it says “they laughed us to scorn.”
This same attitude holds true for a child of God who decides that today is the day that I’m going to build my relationship with God, I’m going to dedicate myself to His service and get serious leading others in the way of Christ. That statement just set the demons in Hell against you. It grieves Satan to see an on fire Christian. I think because even the words “on fire” remind him of the fate he has sealed for himself. But, in the words of my Lord, “FEAR NOT!”
Did you catch Nehemiah’s response in verse 20. Wootwoot! That should put you on shoutin’ ground! Nehemiah informed them that the God of Heaven would prosper his way. And He did. God allowed Nehemiah’s unsaved boss to give him the time off from work, send guards to protect him, and paid for the material to rebuild the gate! Hallelujah that’s my God! Nehemiah also told his adversaries of their position in the scheme of his life, “You have no portion, no rights, and we’re not even going to remember who you are in Jerusalem!”
When I read scripture like that I feel like I could fight a bear with a switch! No matter what you have going on in your life God can help you repair it. He can rebuild what you or someone else has torn down. He’ll build it back stronger and send folks into your life to encourage you along the way. Oh sure, Satan will send his minions in to try and wreak havoc. Hang on to Nehemiah’s words and repeat them to Satan “My God is in control, you have no portion of my life, no rights in my world and we are not even going to remember you in Heaven!”
November 7th, 2011
Let the Journey Begin... Nehemiah Day 1
Have you ever had one of those times in your life when you look at the mess that you’re in and ask yourself, “How did I get here?” It’s a somewhat rhetorical question, for we generally know the answer, and if not God will quickly remind us. And then we say, “Oh…. Yeah. I remember.” I’ve had too many of those times to count, I could possibly write a book titled “How I got here…. Again.” I may be the greatest slow learner of all times.
Regardless of our state of decay, God is faithful to hear our cries and bring us back into a state of redemption. The further away we are, the longer it takes to return, but the return begins with the first step we take toward Heaven.
In the book of Nehemiah, he took the first step for his country when in Chapter 1 verse 4 he said “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” How long was certain days? He began praying in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is November/December; the next scene takes place in the month of Nisan (2:1), when he asks the king for permission to return to Jerusalem. The Hebrew month of Nisan is March/April by our calendar; so Nehemiah had been praying day and night for four months! The further away, the longer it takes....
There is a certain number of days that God has for our return, and it depends on how far out we’ve gone from where God wanted us to be. I don’t believe when we begin the journey that God will give us a countdown, he might… but I doubt it. In faith we’re going to have to begin this journey by acknowledging the distance we’ve gone, the condition we’re in and our seriousness of return. The Hebrews of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, were exiled to Babylon 150 years before Nehemiah’s time. The Hebrews had been in captivity for seventy years when the Persians under King Cyrus overthrew the Babylonians in 539 B.C. The new king established a policy of letting foreigners return home, but upon their return they discovered it wasn’t like they’d left it. The walls were torn down the gates were burned with fire, their city was in ruin and the remnant that had returned were in great affliction. They were far from where God wanted. So Nehemiah prayed for 4 months before even beginning the journey home. That speaks volumes about the power in prayer and the need to hear from God before we begin trying to right a wrong.
Whether we speak of a nation, or a personal decision to get back in a right relationship with God, the journey is the same. It requires dedication, an open and tender heart to God’s guidance and a broken and contrite spirit acknowledging our part in where we are. Let the journey begin…
November 6th, 2011
It could possibly be the explanation as to why I’ve not graduated past the teen department of Victory Baptist Church.
Long ago and far away, in the early days of my salvation, I approached my Pastor as a young mother and said, “Pastor, I feel like God is calling me into working with the youth, but I want you to know that most days, I can’t even stand my own two.” Please forgive me and understand, at that time my daughters were teen and tween, and that “tween” had every button on me on speed dial, and she was really good at pushing them!
So at that point my Pastor said, “You can help in the preschool.”
What? This is so NOT what I had in mind. I didn’t say it, but I thought it. But none the less I was an on fire new convert and I took that responsibility serious. So every Sunday in the preschool class I met with my little mini missionaries and we sang songs and I told them about Jesus! And it was a great adventure. And so I was then promoted to the 2nd grade! A few years later I was moved to Junior High (much to the chagrin of my tween daughter. And when that same tween daughter graduated into her high school years she was saddened to know, that so did her mother! God’s funny like that.
But it is there where I have stayed for ten years. And until God moves me out, I have no intentions of graduating any further. I don’t mind growing up physically, although I could do without the aches and pains of it, but the mental aspects that I have seen in others has kept me from desiring to be in their age bracket. It’s as if there is an unwritten rule that with age you are required to accept an attitude of disgruntlement, critical spirit and whining.
Before any of my church folks get upset with me, please note that I speak collectively. There are MANY! Good people in adulthood, but there are just as MANY who discourage me with their constant complaints rather than compliance with what the Lord would like to do in their lives. So, rather than bang my head on a pew and ask God to take me home early, I have chosen to be weak and stay in the youth department (Insert smile here).
The scripture says in Psalm 103:1-5 ~ Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
There it is. Don’t grow up! Bless the Lord – give Him glory with everything that is within you. Remind yourself of the benefits of being a child of the King. Oh my stars… you should be on shouting ground when you think that because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you have an eternal home in Heaven where there is no sadness, no aches or pains, no separation… need I go on? In mercy He has redeemed you from Hell and given you the Holy Spirit to comfort you and guide you. Wow. He did all of that so that your youth could be renewed, not that you could grow old and complain. But that you could grow old with a young spirit!!!
Okay… Now I am ready to go to Church! How about you?
November 4th, 2011
The Price was too High to live like it never Happened
I seem to be stuck on church leadership topics; but I have to believe that God has put me in this ditch.
When I was called into church leadership by God, and was affirmed by the confidence of my Pastor, I knew there was an accountability factor. It didn’t catch me off guard. So why is it, that all across America, we seem to have a crisis in church leadership? Television preachers fall into immorality, singers believe that you can sing at the bar on Saturday night and worship Sunday morning (provided you’re out of bed), a nationally syndicated Pastor and author states publicly that because he didn’t go seminary he shouldn’t be expected to know that there is only one way to Heaven, and that he believes there may be alternate ways. Are you serious?
You may ask, “Shari are you judging these people?” No. They’ve confessed.
That’s what shocks me even more! They’ve blatantly said the Word of God was either of no effect on them, or untrue. And that terrifies me on so many levels. God judged Israel as a Nation, will He not do the same for us? My only hope is found in the story of Abraham and Lot.
Genesis 18:20-24 ~ And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
Abraham eventually bargained with God that if ten righteous would be found, would He spare them and God agreed, but not even ten could be found. I believe in America our only redeeming quality is that there are some good Christian people that have not bought the lies of the Satan that you can live a double standard and have a right relationship with God. And because of that we stand spared. But for how long?
I have young people that I meet with every day at the school for prayer, and they’re excited about their service for the Lord and they hold themselves accountable. They’ve got more sense than many of our nations leaders. They are my hope! I hope that someday I can attend a church they lead, and that when I get there, a Preacher will be standing in the Pulpit preaching that a “drinking, cussing Christian better either get right or get saved because judgment will come.” And a preacher who says there is another way to Heaven besides Jesus” is a preacher of Belial.
I’m a bit frazzled today. I’m hurt for Jesus. Because He deserves better than what the Church is giving Him today. Amen!
November 2nd, 2011
Matthew 14 27-31 “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Every day for me is a step of faith. There are days that faith comes easy, and days that faith comes hard. When I took the leap of faith to speak, write, and commit myself to the service of the Lord, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but knowing it, and living it is two entirely different things. I still believe that God called me, even more so that Satan continually buffets me with discouragement and doubt.
When Christ called for Peter to step out onto the water, it was an exciting time. They had just discovered Christ could walk on water! It’s pretty amazing when we see someone step out and do something new. I’m the first one to say “I want to do that!” Then I step out and think “Okay now what?” For Peter the thought of walking atop the water that he was familiar with as a fisherman had to be excitement times ten! “Okay now what?” He was out there, and although it appeared to be easy, it wasn’t. The water moved, it was a storm for cryin’ out loud. The wind didn’t cease until Christ got back in the boat.
Every school day morning I stand before a group of the greatest kids I know. And I too tell them “be of good cheer.” And they are! This morning I asked them to step out in faith and do something for the Lord inside their school; to tell their friends about Jesus. The wind picked up as soon as our prayer circle broke for classes. Stepping out for Jesus isn’t easy no matter what the age.
So what’s the answer? The one we’ve all likely heard every Preacher say in regards to this scripture. “Keep your eyes on Jesus.”
Jesus caught Peter even though he lacked faith. He didn’t let him perish. After Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, the storm ceased and the disciples worshiped Him. They said “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.” (vs. 33)
Lately, I’ve gone through several storms. Just small storms, the kind that almost have you thinking, “God’s got so much more to deal with, He doesn’t need me whining about this.”
Large or small, anything that takes my eyes off Jesus and the work that I have been called to do is a serious storm. Serious from the stand point that if my eyes are not on Him for guidance, then those that I am to connect with along the path are in jeopardy. If I’ve got my head down in discouragement, I’ve lost sight of the people that I am to minister to.
I feel the wind blowing. But because I took the time get in His Word, spend time with His people, and talk to you it’s not nearly as gusty! I pray likewise for you today.
October 31st, 2011
Is God in the Program?
One word that you won’t find in the Bible is Program. So how does it fit into our churches with a Biblical perspective? My Pastor is not a big fan of the word “program”. And I tend to agree. Churches have often times programmed God out of the service. Before any “Program leaders” get their knickers in a knot, let me clarify what I mean, and if we still disagree, so be it.
A program for the sake of mobilizing the church, stirring up the Spirit within the church, or catapulting it in a direction that will promote souls coming to the knowledge of Christ is great. If a program is a replacement for the Word of God, an entertainment venue set in hopes of drawing and keeping people, or has no foundation in the scriptures then it likely needs thrown away
Before you get frustrated with me and click the little “x” in the top corner, please hear me out, and let me encourage you where you are. If you take the time to read my blog, and if you are a leader in your church, I will boldly assume that you have a desire to help grow the Kingdom of God and I praise God for you! So, let’s study it together.
2nd Peter 1:3-4 says ~ According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
So, what does that have to do with programming?
In today’s high tech and entertainment saturated world, it’s easy to see how churches too could get sucked into thinking its necessary to have the latest and greatest gimmicks in order to attract folks in. Before you think I’m anti-technology, think again, I love how technology works “into” the service; I do not like how I’ve seen in used to replace the gospel and the “precious promises” that we have been given. As the scripture says, God has given “us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us.” Using modern technology and wisdom for the purpose of furthering the gospel is good. It is when we take out the precious promises of God that we are no longer escaping corruption, but have indeed
Programs that replace preaching and teaching with entertainment mess up the definition; which is to “plan an action that may be taken toward a goal.” The goal of showing others to Christ, and away from sin, cannot be compromised. If we replace the Word of God with a film or play or other such entertaining methods, we’ve removed the one thing that has regardless of the ages, changed lives.
My encouragement to you is this. Whatever it is that you use in your ministry to further the gospel, make FOR SURE the gospel is in it!
October 29th, 2011
In the book of I Chronicles, Chapter 21 is the story of David’s sinful census. Knowing that it was wrong to number the people of Israel, being warned again by Joab that it was a bad idea, David did it anyway. There’s something about church folks and numbers that get us into trouble.
I loved it in verse 3 when Joab told David “The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the King, are they not all my lords servants?”
The success of a church is not evaluated by God in numbers, but by hearts. I’ve seen BIG churches with little hearts and I’ve seen little churches with big HEARTS. Guess where I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit? The little churches of course. But before I throw stones, I’ve been guilty of counting too many times. I love a big teen class, because the more that’s there, the more interaction you have and it’s a grand time, but I’ve also had just a few sincere teens show up and in their midst was blessing galore, so I know it’s not about numbers, and yet I continue to count… argggg.
Read on over in verse 14 and you find David counting the decrease, not the increase. Because of David’s sin seventy thousand men lost their lives. God takes obedience to the Word seriously, especially for leadership. As a member of our church leadership team, I know that I am held to a higher accountability. I do not want to stand before an almighty God, looking over the ruins of my church and have God say, “You should have listened.”
When the count comes in I don’t want it to be short because I disobeyed the Word of the Lord. When the Joab’s of my life say “Shari, did God not say…?” I want to bow on my knees before the altar of God and thank Him for sending the Joab’s my way.
Out of the ruins of David’s poor decision a temple was built on property purchased from Ornan the Jebusite. Ornan wanted to donate the property to David, but David declined, saying “Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.”
Serving God costs. It cost time, money, and energy. David understood sacrifice; he knew that what he had done would need a personal sacrifice before God to make amends. It wouldn’t be over until he knelt at the altar before the Almighty God. So David built the altar as God had instructed, but he went one step further and began preparing a place to worship and charged his son Solomon to complete it.
The costly mistake was over.
As the body of Christ churches have made an error of numbering; not only people, but bricks, events, and anything that they can count as a measure of success. I am guilty. We need to say, “It’s over. I’m tired of counting; I just want to feel your presence Lord.” We need to be ready to labor, to build the body of Christ starting with time at the altar.
October 27th, 2011
The Undone Cabin Dweller
A story told to me a day or month or two ago… I’m not sure, but it’s one that keeps coming to my mind, so I’ll share it and my thoughts to it’s spiritual relevance.
There was once a man who moved into the deepest part of the woods, far from civilization, and the cares of the world. Although he missed a few of the amenities his home afforded, he loved the freedom of life having to answer to no man. He became accustomed to living alone and made friends with nature. Every day he traveled from high atop the hill where his crude dwelling was to bathe in the river below. He would remove his clothing and place them behind the same rock each time to be put back on once his bath was done. One warm spring day as he left the cool water, he felt the sun against his skin and decided he’d just leave the clothes behind the rock and return to his cabin. After all, he was alone, deep, deep in the woods, far from civilization, who would possibly mind? Day after day, he’d bathe in the river, and leave the clothes behind, enjoying the freedom of not being encumbered by buttons, zippers, belts and such. Month after month, went by until he no longer even thought about his clothes. His naked state was as natural now as it was the day he was born.
As you might have guessed, there were visitors one day…
Rafting down the river, a family of four, Father, Mother, son and daughter decided to have a picnic on the banks of the river, deep, deep in the woods. From a distance the cabin dweller heard their laughter; he had forgotten what civilization sounded like. He heard the children playing as the parents conversations on life were like melodies to his heart. He missed people. So elated to have the opportunity to fellowship with people once again he leapt from the woods to the gasps and screams of the family. The mother quickly turned her head and covered the eyes of her young daughter.
The cabin dweller continued to talk and they continued to shriek, until finally he stopped and said, “I mean you no harm why are you in such a state?” The father replied, “You’re naked.”
The cabin dweller turned ashen white as well as beet red and ran to the rock where his clothes were hidden. He apologized profusely and tried to explain about his solitude life style that had caused him to forget his lack of dress. The family accepted his apology and returned home…
The moral of the story is, we can continue in anything so long that it becomes the norm. Alone without anyone to answer to, the man became complacent exposing himself to a Mother and a young girl without thought. It’s a picture ofAmericaaway from the church. No longer in fellowship with the Lord and other believers, our own ways have become the norm. So much in fact that even the crudest of sins on television and in other media are just a way of life. And before us stands innocent children who have become exposed without any parent covering their eyes, and the damage is done.
Without the Word of God as a center post in our life, our moral compass goes so far off that there is no real direction.
Isaiah said it best when he said in Chapter 6 verse 5 ~ Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
Without the constant fellowship of God, we are an undone nation. And our young people will embrace as normal the depravity of man.
October 25th, 2011
The Fragrance of Fellowship...
Hosea 14:4-5 ~ I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
There is something about a sweet fragrant aroma that makes my heart leap for joy! I love walking in candle shops and stores that smell of potpourri so long as they aren’t overwhelming or clashing fragrances. So when I read scripture where God speaks of a fragrance that makes its way to Heaven, I just can’t help but smile and imagine that in the throne room of God, He sits and waits for the sweet aroma of the fellowship of saints to makes it way up. Perhaps it smells like coffee or tea as they sit and read His Word in the morning and pray. Maybe it’s the scent of a floral creation or the fragrant bloom of the trees. It may even be the scent of autumn, that rustic scent of the leaves as they fall to the ground as the tree branches sway in worship when the cool breeze blows through them.
There are a few home decor stores that I only get to visit on a rare occasion, but when I finally get around to it, I recognize the scents as soon as walk through the door and it’s like I’ve come to a home away from home. I love it. A thought that crossed my mind today is, God knows everything about us, even our scent.
When I read the verses in Hosea this morning of God longing for the restoration of Israel into fellowship I could almost smell the sweet fragrance myself that He longed for. A Father crying out for His children to come home, offering them love and compassion if they’d only return; where He would refresh their souls as dew and establish them deep in the foundation of Heaven. I could not help but weep at these words of Compassion that God wrote not only for Israel, but for me. And for you!
God deserves so much more than I give Him. He doesn’t want me to love Him with my back turned as I walk in the ways of the world, but He longs for me to sit in fellowship and sip my coffee slowly savoring not only the flavor but the aroma.
I spoke at a retreat over the weekend; so much of my time the past two weeks has been spent preparing for that event. And it was rewarded. But I’ve missed my daily time in the Word and my fellowship with you. I don’t even know who many of you are, but I know from the responses that I get, and the posts on my sight that together we’ve shared a moment in the Lord, and I’m always so grateful when you bless me by letting me know.
Thanks for stopping and smelling the coffee, tea, koolaid or whatever it was that we shared as you fellowshipped on my sight today! I’m so very humbled and grateful you stopped by.
October 15th, 2011
Teach us to number...
It’s Saturday morning and the house is still. Sammy the Jack Russell lays against my side in the chair, and the song “How Great Is Our God” keeps replaying itself in my head like a jukebox that’s stuck on one song, but it’s okay. I love that song, and it seems to be the mode I’m in today; one of worship. I should be in that mode every day, but I’m not. It’s so very easy to take life for granted.
Later this morning I’ll be heading to the church to run the sound system for a young girls wedding and I think that it seems like yesterday I was headed down the aisle with David, and now here we are as grandparents, loving every bit of it and wondering what happened to 30 years. I’m on the pinnacle of turning fifty and I’ve never been more excited about my ministry than now. Life has so many twists and turns and ups and downs and at every point there was a purpose. I understand that now looking back on it, I didn’t necessarily understand it in the midst of the storms. And sometimes even now I miss the point and God says… “You probably need to turn around and go back over that stretch of highway.” I call it dessert dwellin’. For forty years they wandered, (much like today’s writing).
Before I lose you, I do have a point…
Psalm 90:12-17 ~ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
We need to learn to remember so that we don’t have to repeat the same life lessons. I’m preachin’ to myself today I can assure you! I love it where David said “O satisfy us early with thy mercy.” Or to Shari quote it, “Lord let me get it before you have to beat me.” I want to praise God along the way so that as He establishes His work it will continue on until my grandchildren see the glory that I found in serving. That’s my reason to praise! There is no work, or suffering in vain if it is done for the glory of God. Hallelujah!
I hope you are in His will today and working for the Kingdom of Heaven regardless if you are 2 to 100, because God has a work to establish in you!
October 13th, 2011
Showers of Blessings!
Acts 2:46-4 ~ And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
God seems to have me focusing on the unity of believers lately. It’s like I’m having a theme week in my life.
I’m truly not about what is above door, however, what you believe and teach matters to me, so it’s certainly a two sided coin. If you are a member of the church of the oompa loompas that worship you know not what, I’m not likely going to fellowship with you. But… if you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, if you believe in His virgin birth, if you believe that He was crucified on the cross, risen again on the third day and is now in Heaven making intercession for us… come on over for coffee! Our souls will likely bear witness one to another that we are fellow believers, that’s how God works.
I got out of bed at 5 a.m. today, did my little exercise routine and then sat down to catch up on the overnight antics of insomniacs or those in other time zones. On my message board was a new friend from India that I just fell in Christian love with. Even through cyber space his soul witnessed to mine and I knew we were kindred spirits.
Yesterday evening a sister in Christ came into my youth class room in tears because she’d been so blessed that a convenience store worker had reached out to her for prayer, even though she did not frequent this particular store very often. The clerk said to her, “You’re on your way to church right? please pray for me…” and then began to tell of her situation. My friend was humbled that God had blessed her in such a manner, because just prior to this she was telling God of her exhaustion, but willingness to continue on to church. And God, as He so often does, opened the window of Heaven and poured a blessing on her. A soul was touched because of her faithfulness.
In the travels with my friend Gloria I cannot count the times we’ve had a similar experience. People just know!
At the prayer circle at school this morning I shared the verses in Acts with the youth, and encouraged them to stay strong in their Christian faith, and continue working together for the cause of Christ. If we continue in unity and love, if we treat others with kindness and reach out to them, we’ll gain their favor, and hopefully gain another brother or sister in Christ!
Keep on goin’ on for the cause! These are awesome times we're living in if we'll just let our light shine!
October 12th, 2011
The most interesting man I’ve met was not the one well read; But the one who listened closely to every word I said.
The Art of Listening
James 1:19~ “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
Listening is indeed a fine art, and if you’ve ever needed someone to listen; truly listen, you know what I speak of. I have been both the recipient and the dispatcher of that glazed over look of disinterest. I like to blame it on attention deficit disorder, but sometimes I’m really not interested. It’s not that I mean to be rude which is most certainly not my nature, but if whiny or frequently disgruntled people latch onto my ear and want to pour their heart into it, I fully believe I have a discouragement defense mechanism in me that may actually look like a shield over my eyes causing that glazed expression.
And at this point you’re thinking that I’m going to say, “Okay I was just kidding.” But I’m not.
Whiny and disgruntled people suck the life out of me and can cause me to be ineffective for the cause of Christ because I have then been discouraged. So I’m not kidding. But then there are folks who come to me in a condition of heartache and frustration, and it is then that I need to make sure my guard surrounds me and prevents distractions; allowing me to be tuned into the needs of a hurting soul.
Sometimes in a crowd of youth I like to just sit quietly and listen as they share their day to day struggles. The topics seldom vary, three usually cover it: parents, friends, or schoolwork. It’s no different with adults: children, friends, or work. The variation comes from the magnitude of frustration. We all have our breaking points.
James 1:19 serves to remind us that we need to (1) be ready and willing, swift to hear the angst of another’s person. It’s important to discern between whining and genuine struggles (2) Slow to speak. Our response will either serve to soothe or excite. We need to pray through any response to them, even stating that fact, so that they are aware that we’re seeking God’s guidance, and (3) Slow to wrath. We don’t necessarily need to pick up their plight which will often anger them further! Good listeners are calm and rational weighing all sides without prejudice.
In these days of troubled times, we need more listeners…
October 11th, 2011
2 Paths... 2 Directions
Just for the record, I’m a King James Version girl! It began as a young girl when I came home one Christmas with a gift from our church of The Living Bible that I was so proud of. I ran in to show my Christian father, I just knew he’d want to read it with me. His response deflated my enthusiasm like a stick pin on an overblown balloon.
“That’s a nice book Shari.” He replied.
His emphasis was quite clearly on book, and not the Good Book either. That stuck with me for life. My father knew there was a difference.
I will not argue translation with other people. I will stand firm on why I believe in the KJV. But to argue it with most people would be futile, because if they want to argue about it, they’ve probably made up their mind, and I’m not going to change it. If with an open mind, someone says, “Why do you stand on the KJV being the accurate translation and not the others?” I will respond.
This morning it hit me as I read another devotion which used the NIV translation of Proverbs 3:5-6. I didn’t finish the devotion because I got side tracked on my own…
The NIV reads “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).
The King James Version is stated as such “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
It may seem a minor difference to you, but the latter of that sentence reads two entirely different meanings to me. It’s assuredly subtle, but there is a difference between making your path straight, and directing your path. In my walk with Christ, I have to say that it has seldom been straight. God has directed it, but there are many twists and turns. Straight implies that it is a direct route. If only…
Perhaps right now you’re saying “why are you so hung up on such a minor detail?” The answer is this, God is all about the details. If in life we have a straight path to the will of God, (and someone may, but not me!) that’s wonderful. But if God takes you down paths that are narrow and sometimes unfriendly, some are painful and are anything but clear, changing that passage to straight may suggest that you’re on the wrong route. The NIV said God’s way was straight, so why can you not see what’s around the turn?
Again… I’m not going to argue, or tell you that good people don’t use other versions, because they do. But things that are different are not the same. There is a difference between translating the Bible, and changing the Word of God. And if in changing the Word of God they changed the direction God intended a person to go, that is dangerous ground.
October 10th, 2011
Colossians 1:21-23 ~ And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
I had long since forgotten about the “Un-Cola” promotion of 7-Up Sodas from the late 1960’s and early 70’s until I began to write today and those memories just came flooding back, God’s funny like that. I looked at some of the retromercials from the day with the little red dot that drained all the dark cola from the glass as it magically was replaced with the clear bubbly drink, then he hopped back into position on the 7-Up logo on the glass, just in time to refresh the recipient of the ice cold beverage. Ahhh… those were the days when we were so easily entertained. I still am. But that’s not the point.
The point I hope to make and encourage you with is to remember the day you became the un-me. I remember it like yesterday; the day when God changed me from darkness into light and I became unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. It also came from a little red dot. Although there was far more shed, but it only took one dot of the blood of Christ to gain my total forgiveness. All the wicked works that had kept me from the presence of God were gone and I was reconciled through Christ. It was exciting times, and I have lost my excitement yet! Every time I get in the presence of God I feel those bubbles of excitement welling up within my soul and I want to tell somebody about it, I want to sing about it, I want to play you a song to glorify Him, it has never gotten old, and I pray it never does.
But I’ve noticed in some of the folks I meet, that their bubble has burst, and they are not nearly as excited as they once were. Apostle Paul said to “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”
I don’t know how people lose their zeal to serve unless they’ve moved away from the hope. They’ve stopped attending church as they once did. They’re fellowship is not always the wisest of choices. Reading the Bible is not a disciplined part of their day, or when they do read it feels like discipline. They’ve taken their eyes off Jesus for certain. Because if you have your eyes on Jesus, and you are looking face to face with the God of creation, who chose you and has a specific purpose for you, now that’s exciting!
I hope today you discover your Un-me again! God Bless
October 3rd, 2011
When the dust settles, who will remain?
I Corinthians 11
Vs. 3 “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.”
And so it was that Paul opened up that can of worms in society. It wasn’t a can of worms then, it was how it was. God didn’t change, we did. Somewhere down the road of our self serving society we decided regardless of male or female, child or adult, animal or vegetable we knew more than God. I use “we” as a general term describing the state of society, not individuals. I know good godly men and women who have their homes in the order God desires. Are they perfect? Of course not! But they work. I know good godly people who are trying to get their homes in order, and they’re working at it. And then I know good people who just don’t talk about it. And that doesn’t work. Communication is key in every relationship in life. Just because you don’t discuss it, doesn’t make it not so. I know this from firsthand experience…
There’s an order in the home and in the church that God designed with purpose. Paul begins in Chapter eleven with praising the Corinthians for their concern for him and their desire to keep the ordinances. But this praise is followed by some stern discussion on the relationships of the home, and leads into a very stern conversation about the relationship of the church. To this regard, Paul says in verse 17, “I praise you not.”
Somebody had obviously messed up.
Vs. 18 “For first of all, when ye come together in the church I heard that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
Paul didn’t know if everything he’d heard was the truth, but there was enough smoke in the neighborhood to be assured of a fire somewhere.
Verse 19 was the biggy that caught my attention as Dr. Myron Guiler preached this yesterday evening. It wasn’t even his topic, but it grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. So I knew it was what God wanted me hear during my late night travels to Marietta, Ohio.
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.”
God allowed dissention in the church? Even wilder than that thought, He not only allowed it, it had a purpose. God allowed a division of church members to show in the end who was approved by God. In the words of Dr. Guiler. These are they left standing when the dust settled.
Wow. Every church goes through times of trials and testing if they’re a church that God is using. And when God is structuring the leadership of the church, placing people in positions of authority, He wants them to know who their allies are within, and oftentimes the only way that can be discovered is to see what everyone is made of when they’re confronted with issues that require choosing sides. God’s side, or the world.
When the dust settles, I want to be found standing on the side of the Lord!
October 1st, 2011
Get to stirrin!
This coming week is a busy one! And Satan has launched a mighty attack on my mind. This is our church’s Homecoming Sunday, always a big event for us with much to do. I’ll also be speaking in Buckhannon, West Virginia on Saturday, and I’m excited about the event! But Satan knows that a few distractions in my path can cause me to misstep and go plummeting over the bank. I truly covet your prayers.
When God called me into this ministry, I argued with Him. I wanted to do it, but I just knew I’d mess it up. So before any large event, Satan starts pointing out my inadequacies. And I have many! I’ll even open up the door for him to come in most of the time. I’m crazy like that!
This week I’m clinging to II Timothy 1:6-7 “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
God will not call me for anything He will not equip me for. The message is down for next Saturday and I’ve had a ball preparing it. So as I prepare my heart to deliver it I want to remember some things that might help you too.
A gift from God needs stirred. Anyone who bakes knows the importance of blending the ingredients. We don’t want to find any chalky unmixed batter in our baked goods. The same is true spiritually. God’s gift must be blended with the Holy Spirit which takes time and hands on preparation. The ministry is a gift, but it’s also a work. It doesn’t just magically appear one day on the door step in a ribboned box. It more so comes in a kit with the Holy Spirit as your instructions.
Just like an unopened gift, it’s exciting and somewhat scary before the paper comes off. Will I like it? Will it fit? Can I return it? Yes to all three, although I wouldn’t advise the third one. God’s gifts come from love alone. We don’t earn them and we can’t take someone else’s. Ours is unique to us. It’s had our name engraved on it before we were born, like a fine piece of silver. There’s no re-gifting it. It’s yours to either use or throw away.
The fear comes from Satan. But God has given me the power to overcome it, His love to give me confidence and a sound mind, ready to go the distance and have the ability to understand what God wants me to do.
I know I’m not the only one who has fears. I hope this message today encourages you to trust in the work of the Lord that He is doing in your life. Don’t give credence to Satan’s lies! Unwrap God’s gift to you and get you a big ol’ spoon and start stirrin’. Guaranteed sweetness.
September 29th, 2011
Stay off the Dunes Dude!
Dunes along the coastal region are there to protect the land against the ravages of storms like recently experienced in Hurricane Irene. They’re not the most attractive of beach property, but they’re very much needed. Visitors are warned to stay off them to protect erosion that places people and homes at risk. These are places you just ought not to go! I think the church could use a few such signs placed around the community.
Christians are standing on beach front property, getting ready to cross the shores of Jordan into Heaven, be it today or one hundred years, God knows. And standing in the distance, far from the shore is unsaved family and friends watching them climb all over the dunes of Christianity tearing down grain by grain what was placed there by Saints of God to protect their future family. My metaphor may have gone a little too far, but I think I can clear it up.
Following the crucifixion of Christ in the city of Antioch, saints were first called Christians because their lives so mimicked Christ. Persecution intended to stop the movement catapulted it into a thriving force that Satan could not reckon with. So Satan changed the game plan, he began a movement into the church to accept the little sins, and gradually they would embrace more and more, until now many churches are not even recognizable by Bible standards, so they changed the Bible. I’m a KJV chick all the way!
I have unsaved friends and family that if you asked them if it’s wrong for Christians to drink, they’ll tell you yes and not even bat an eye. If you ask a Christian who consumes alcohol if it’s wrong, they’ll tell you it’s a personal choice. If you asked the unsaved if Christians should cuss, they’ll unequivocally say no; ask the cussing Christian and their vague answer will rank the cuss words from one to ten on God’s acceptance. Give me a break! Christian liars are a dime a dozen, and cheaters about as equal. The dunes of Christianity are worn down and it gets harder and harder to explain to an unsaved person the need to be saved and separated when so many are living far from separate lives.
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.
Jeremiah 6:15-17 (in Context) Jeremiah 6 (Whole Chapter)
Jeremiah said to ask for the old paths and walk in them, it’s the good way. By continually excusing behaviors that the unsaved deem as un-Christian is tearing down the walls that have been built to protect us. God didn’t take sin away to suck the fun out of life, anyone who’s been saved knows that sin may be pleasurable for a season, but there is a payday some day, and it’s usually high. I’ve NEVER had as much fun in my life nor any better than the guilt free laughter and ridiculousness I’ve had in Christian fellowship!
Keep off the dunes!
September 28th, 2011
I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
When I think about the children of Israel being lead through the parted sea, I find hope in any situation. I know that I there is nothing that my God cannot do. What is it in my life that is more complicated that an ocean of water before me and an army of angry Egyptians behind me. I try to imagine what it would have been like when the water started to separate, the roar of the water pushing itself in reverse, going against its nature to flow freely. Hmmm, I guess I’m a little like water, but that topic’s for another day.
I met with the teens at the flagpole this morning with a seashell in hand to share what God had laid on my heart.
Don’t try to part the water
Every day we face challenges, temptations and downright scary events that we’re unsure of the end result. But there is One who knows. It’s not our job to part the water; our job is just to keep walking. We don’t have it within us to handle the big issues. Those are for God.
When God decided to rescue Israel from the hands of the Egyptians He laid everything out one step at a time. He didn’t ask them to fight; He asked them to be ready to move. I doubt that it made it any less daunting a task as they prepared, human nature being what it is, I’m sure fear was present. But when the plagues started rolling in, and the water started rolling back, the path was clear. They were leaving town!
I wonder if along with the twelve stones that were made into an altar, if there were a few sea shells in the hands of children that were picked up along the way as a way to remember their journey and the promise that God delivered. A seashell has a whole new meaning for me this morning.
Trust God! Don’t try to part the water, just keep walking and let Him handle the big stuff
September 27th, 2011
Spend a week with three families, who have four babies, in one house and you’ll see personalities clash and tempers flare, and mercy at times thrown out the window. Life just happens. But at day’s end when the family came back together at the dinner table, love was in the house again. Except between the four year olds, who haven’t quite mastered their skills of compassion, they really have no desire to learn compassion skills. For them, it’s all about them. They and the world have a lot in common. We have moments of compassion. When major catastrophic events take place we really step up. But in the day to day run of life forget it; it’s every man, woman and child for themselves.
My day to day interaction with people always finds me at the feet of Jesus asking “Lord, what can I do to fix this?” The answer is always the same, “Serve Me, serve them, and feed My sheep.” And so I do. But when I see grown adults acting like four year olds arguing over space, and stuff and attention, it just grieves my soul and makes me wish I had a timeout chair for the whole lot of them. I detest confrontation; it’s such an utter waste of precious time. So why is it that so many seek it out? I know people that I declare if they’re not mad they’re mad about it. It’s crazy!
In 1st Peter 3:8 we’re given five life directives as Christian standards to live by.
1 Peter 3:8
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Be ye all of one mind:
Somedays I think we are, we’re all crazy.
But Peter speaks of the one mind being the mind of Christ. If we truly lived with His mind, I don’t see us stomping our feet and yelling mine, mine, mine! If He’d have done that, we’d all be in Hell. That’s a sobering thought.
Having compassion one of another
What a concept! Having compassion in a state of non-crisis; Just because we’re human. How wonderful would it be at the office if instead of always looking for another’s faults, we decided to look for their fun and focus on what makes them smile. You may even find something new that now makes you smile.
Love as brethren.
That’s a strange concept for most people, because churches have become so detached from a brethren mentality. The song “I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,” should have “on Sundays” added to the end of that verse. Because that seems to be the only time it applies.
That doesn’t mean act pitiful! It means be merciful to everyone, not just the people you like.
Another oddity. It’s also known as manners. Words like please, thank you, excuse me, may I help you? Manners are a dying art I’ve discovered.
If you read The Jesus Chick, you’re probably a very nice person filled with goodness and love, who never needs a time out chair. That’s great! But the Jesus Chick can’t say that. I have my 4 year old mentality moments too. But I’m working on it.
Lamentations 3:22 reminds us “It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”
Praise God for His mercy!
September 26th, 2011
Let's Do it!
My one week hiatus was needful. It gave me the opportunity to refresh and renew my train of thought that was on the verge of jumping the track. I was slightly frustrated last week when we got to our beach house and discovered the internet was out on the island of Hatteras. Not the least bit frustrated that the television cable was out. But, I knew that God had other plans for me other than to write for the web. And it was good.
But this week… it’s time to get back in the groove of servitude! On the 20 hour trip home I began to roll the week’s schedule around in my head and the excitement began building. I stepped out of the car and gifts that I had ordered for the ladies retreat were on my porch, as well as this month’s USANA nutritional supplements which I was excited to see as well, because I’m going to need all the energy I can get. I returned to church last night and felt so loved that I wanted to leave again just so I could come back and experience it all over. Following church I bluegrassed with my friends Johnny and Gloria, and this morning I’m a little on the tired side but so glad to be back in my place!
The hiatus was good, but not permanent. Jesus told the disciples in Mark 6:31 to “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
On this occasion Jesus didn’t get the opportunity to rest. Those who were following him heard him say to his disciples where they were going and they ran ahead and met him there. So many in fact that He was moved with compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd and sheep without a shepherd would for certain be wolf bait. There is little rest in the ministry. And I’m okay with that. Because for the disciples sacrifice of time, God allowed them to see a miracle, the feeding of five thousand! Wow, that was certainly worth a little weariness. That’s why I keep going, I love the miracles.
It would be a miracle of the “feeding of 5,000” proportion to see the Church filled with a multitude desiring to be fed the Word of God and to spend time in the presence of God. The world is full of sheep without shepherds needing servants of compassion to lead them in. Let’s do it!
September 20th, 2011
Exodus 18:14-18 ~ And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of God: When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.
The hustle of the family just scooted off to a fishing cruise and shopping, and I alone sit on the rooftop of the beach house. The waves are pounding the shore and other than a few gulls Avon beach is pretty silent. It took me a few minutes to get the concept. I’m alone.
I don’t get alone time too often. And even when I do, my thoughts are scattered. Over the years I’ve accepted who I am; I am the A.D.D. servant of God who has so many ideas going through my head at any given moment in time it would look like the highway intersection of a large metropolitan city, and every bit as dangerous. I don’t adapt well to stillness, but I’m learning…. Slowly.
I’m not leading the multitudes that Moses did, and I’m not even professing to have the leadership skills, but he and I have one thing in common, we tried to do it all. My friends have been my Jethro’s (not the Beverly Hillbilly Clampett’s one either) for months, if not years. They’ve told me to stop trying to be all things for all people. But my problem with that is how do you determine who not to be the “all” for? I love them all. And how do I step out of positions when there is no one there to fill the void.
I wept this morning when I looked at the vastness of the ocean and likened it to the needs of the church. It just goes on forever. And today the Atlantic is just like the church, there’s no fishermen in sight. I can’t just turn the Church off on Sunday evening; too many people treat it like a light switch that they turn on Sunday morning and turn it off Sunday night. Not me. Even on the rooftop of a beach house in Avon, I’m in church. Because I am the church, the very tabernacle that God dwells in and I’m here to say we’ve had church this morning! On a Tuesday no less.
Moses’ father-in-law Jethro gave him wise advice in verse 19 and 20 ~ Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.
So… this is where I’m at today. I’m God-ward, praying that He will send us some walkers for the work because there is an abundant need
September 19th, 2011
Matthew 7: 24-29 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
My family of 10 is sitting on Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where we’ve traveled for some much needed R&R. Although when you travel with 2 four years, a 1 year old and an 8 month old, I’m not really sure you would call that R&R! But it’s needful. My girls are now grown women with families of their own and family vacations together are not something that we’ve done since they married. And even though my girls live near, we still get caught up in the daily drive of life and have little time to slow down and really enjoy each other’s company. So thanks be to God, this week is a blessing!
I haven’t written for a couple of days because of the travel preparation and settling in here, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it, or should I say you, until I sit down to fellowship with you and Lord this morning. It is sweet…
Yesterday afternoon our family made our first trek to the beach where my grandchildren got their first beach experience and got to witness the power of Almighty God; although at their tender age I doubt they’d describe it as such. But it didn’t take long standing in the choppy waters of the Atlantic until they realized that they couldn’t do alone. The current from the latest hurricane would crash the waves against the shore and take your feet out from beneath you before you knew what happened. As I stood holding their hands it took great strength to keep the three of us standing in the water as the sand beneath my feet just disappeared! And such is life…
This week we’re building the foundation of our home through time. Relationships are hard on a good day, add in the bills, the wear tear of careers and heartaches of the day, and it’s like standing on the sand. It’s not long until the ground beneath you shifts and you can lose it all if you’re not careful.
I’d be lacks if I didn’t write on Matthew 7 while on the sandy shores of the Carolinas. It came to my mind immediately when the first wave hit my legs. And as I looked at the family I love more than life, I am so grateful that God is giving us this time to work on our relationship, because I’d venture a guess that families are number one on Satan’s list of chores for the day. If he can mess that up, their effective for the cause of Christ takes a hard hit as well. If a family even finds Christ in the course of their day; Satan is very good at his job.
On the beach Luke and Noah held tightly to my hand in the water. They knew they were not strong enough, just as I’m holding tightly to my Lord, because I know it is on Him that I must build the foundation of this family to keep us standing in troubled times. We’re building on the Rock! this week. Please keep us and our travels in your prayers.
September 14th, 2011
A Simple Answer to the Complexity of Life
Micah 6:8-9 ~ He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? The LORD's voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.
The ways of the Lord are complex but His plan for man is simple. What else could it be really? At least in my case. I spend little time on the complexities of life, it is not my appointment. God did not give me a great scientific or mathematical mind. Without a calculator I’m doomed! But he did give me common sense, as He did most of us. Micah 6:8 sums up God’s expectation of our life in a verse. He certainly doesn’t ask too much. It doesn’t require money, a degree or a status; it just requires common sense. And yet it’s so difficult for so many.
To live impartially and honorably should be simple, but throw the personalities and selfishness of man into the mix and God’s simple plan goes to complexity. Satan has a simple plan too, mess God’s plan up. He does so with greed, envy and jealousy. Self reliance that we can obtain our desires without regard for what God had appointed. Dangerous ground!
Not just like it, but love it. And not only to receive it, but give it! Everyone wants it, and most agree it should be given; but faced with the opportunity to give grace to a wicked and perverse individual we don’t love it. We don’t even like it. If one of my grandbabies breaks something it’s forgiven before the first piece of glass hits the floor. That’s the same grace we’re expected to have for a repentant murderer. That’s a tough one.
To walk with humility is to be meek and unassuming before Almighty God. It is the nature of man to be proud. But if you think of the holiness of God; the fact that He spoke the world into existence and that He can speak it out of existence as well, it’s humbling. To try and understand what it meant when He sent His only Son to die on a cross being reviled, spit upon and beaten and He being sinless is unimaginable. It is to look at our children and imagine it, which we can’t. Why God would pay so great a price, and yet He did.
The simple answer to the complexity of it all is in verse nine. Hear the rod. God cries out to your soul to be saved. He then cries out for you to listen to His wisdom. He has a plan that a wise man or woman will see if they listen for God’s guidance. The rod of God is not only for chastening; if we allow it to point the way we can avoid the beating! He has shown us what is good and what is required, but the decision to listen is ours.
September 13th, 2011
Romans 9:20-21 ~ Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
I often wonder why it is that God chose to use me in such a manner as He has. Not that I’m anyone of great importance by the worlds standards, but in the sight of God I’m a vessel of honor. And although that may sound a bit boastful, it’s anything but, because I don’t understand it any more than you do. I only know that God set me apart for the Kingdom, giving me a purpose. I wonder, but I don’t question.
Questioning God is scary business for me. Who am I to stand before the Creator of all the earth and ask why He did it? As a child I had a healthy respect for my parents, I didn’t know disobedience was an option, at least until senior high, then I figured that one out. But I still didn’t stand before them in disobedience; I had sense enough to try to hide it! You can’t hide from God. If you’re going to argue with Him, He’s going to hear you. I’m always in utter shock at people who shake their fist at God or curse Him thinking that there will be no ramification. That’s ignorant! And I don’t want anywhere around them when God one day says “You went too far.”
I have a friend who’s blind. He handles it with such good humor. He doesn’t question God, He just makes himself available, and God has used him in great ways. He’s in full time ministry under one of the greatest preachers of all times in my mind. But one day the great preacher called the church staff out in a business meeting and (although I wasn’t there) I guess he was pretty upset about their dereliction of duties when he was out of town. As they exited the meeting my blind friend said to his neighbor “The big guy sure was upset today wasn’t he?” To which he heard the reply, and I’m sure it reverberated in his soul, “This is the big guy.”
You might have to know the people to know how funny that story is, but it’s comedy at its finest! But if God should ever decide to reply to some of those folks who shake their fist at Him, it won’t be funny.
I’m not suggesting that questioning God is on the same level as shaking your fist at Him, nor am I saying that I am above in a moments of weakness asking God why things happen. It’s human nature. But if God has called you out in the ministry you need not question why. He has a purpose. And I don’t want to be in a business meeting with the Lord and have Him ask me why I was derelict in my duties. Or hear from Heaven, “This is the Big Guy.”
God uses the same clay for everyone, which means He can use anyone. Even me. That’s a miracle of huge proportion!
September 12th, 2011
Sunday Strays… A message to the Sunday Stays
Sometimes the oddest thoughts come into my mind. Okay, it’s pretty often; but this one came during Sunday evening’s sermon. The Preacher’s message to encourage the faithful flock mentioned in passing those who stray in on Sunday morning. My attention deficit brain immediately ran away with that thought. I reined it back in pretty quickly, but not before I wrote down the acronym C.A.T.S.
I know a thing or two about stray cats, mostly those that are good get run over in the road and those that are bad, you can’t get rid of for love or money. But that has nothing to do with today’s thought.
Sunday Morning Worship Services at Victory Baptist are usually abuzz with activities beginning with the Sunday School hour and through the 11 a.m. service. Although we have plenty of room for more, every row is generally occupied with a family or two; some we know, some we think we know, and some we wish we knew, usually some new kids on the block. The Sunday strays. They are those who are not regulars by any stretch of the imagination, they just ‘show up’ on any given Sunday. They…
You never know when to expect them, but if you’re a regular you need to be prepared. Sunday strays are people who are searching. They know there’s something different about the house of God, something or Someone, draws them to it. Often times it’s a tragedy or struggle that brings them in. They just can’t put their finger on what it is that drew them there. The problem is, they usually won’t stay around long enough to find out what it is. They’re…
Stray cats and people have often been abused, or they’re on unfamiliar ground. They usually haven’t been brought up in church. What they need is a little tender love and care. They need someone to gently approach them and in kindness caress their soul with compassion. They need to know that the church cares about what they’re going through. They often need…
Stray cats haven’t usually been around a lot of people, especially church people. You can see the fear in their eyes as overzealous church folk approach them. They just may scare them back out of the building. Some of their wild nature comes from their travels; and because of multiple churches and various religions their concept of God may be misconstrued. A gentle hand is needed to guide them in the way of the Lord, not a leash. The Holy Spirit needs the opportunity to work in their hearts and He’ll get if they get comfortable around their new found friends. And then they just may….
If you’ve ever looked into the eyes of a hurting soul it’s not an image you forget. You can see brokenness. The world is full people who are struggling with the absence of peace. They need to know that there is a loving God who wants to adopt them into His family and the only way they’re ever going to get it is if His other children invite them in and encourage them. They don’t need brought in and turned loose! They need to stay up close the Master until their ready to go off on their own.
This is not my usual kind of thoughts for the day. But it was heavy on my heart. Every time there is a crisis in a community it’s the nature of people to seek God. The steady need to be ready.
1 Peter 2:25 says “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
We’ve all been strays at one point, I’m thankful that when I was I happen to stray into a congregation of compassion.
September 11th, 2011
The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
What must it have been like to have been that woman; the woman who had been married five times; the woman who now lived with a man that refused to give her his last name? She had come to the well at the hottest hour of the day to no doubt avoid the eyes of scrutiny that would meet her there at busier times. Is it any wonder she wanted water that would never require her to pass that way again? She had no idea when she prayed that He would give her that water, what was about to transpire!
I wonder if there is a Samaritan woman on her way to my church this morning. I wonder if she’s coming in late so that she doesn’t have to greet people and look them in the eyes, wondering if they’re judging her. I wonder if she doesn’t come at all for fear of that judgment. Those kinds of “wonders” bother me. I have a fear that souls will go to Hell because of the condemnation of church folk.
Please don’t miss understand, my church is one of the most acceptant loving churches of all times, but the church as a whole in America scares me.
The Samaritan woman is a well known Bible story, most likely because of her sins that Jesus called her out on in John 4:16-19
Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
Wow! Five husbands, she must have been a floozy. Or perhaps she was just a poor judge of character. Quite possibly she came from a home that didn’t know what true love was, and each of the five attempts at it left her broken worse than the one before. Six times to feel unworthy. So she travels to the water well alone, at a time of the day that insures her of little or no contact with others, especially the religious folk.
And there she met Redemption. She went to the well for water but came home with so much more. She came home with hope and a desire for her family and friends to know Christ.
I was at a community event yesterday sitting with friends when I saw a little girl that I had mentored in an afterschool program. She was 15 going on 30 if you know what I mean. She’s a child of brokenness who wants to be loved by anyone, but her idea of love is tainted by worldly notions and wisdom that should never be in the mind of a little girl. She needs a ‘well’ experience. She doesn’t need religion. She needs a healthy relationship with a loving Lord who can show her what unconditional love is. The kind of love that causes you to run home and tell your friends and family…
Vs. 29 ~ Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
She will never meet Christ at the well, unless she sees Him through His people. I pray this morning that she’s not avoiding us for fear of condemnation.
My prayer for the congregations of God this morning is that they are full of “well wishers”. With children of God who are waiting at the Well, ready to receive God’s broken children with open arms, and eyes of compassion!
September 10th, 2011
Quick, Somebody break the glass!
Unless you were a small child, I doubt any of us will forget where we were the day of 9-11. It was a day that seemed surreal. My oldest child was in her first year of college, and although she was only a few hours from home, it seemed like she was across the world. There was such a disconnect with her. She was 18 years old and oblivious as to why I would call concerned for her state of mind. You’d have to know her to understand that. She’s a very matter of fact person. Me, I’m a very “let’s imagine every conceivable possibility” kind of person. It was a tragic day and the images are forever burned in my mind. But worse than the images are the thoughts of a nation disconnected with God.
The weeks following that disaster churches filled with folks seeking to know God. But in the weeks following those weeks, they left off seeking and went back to their lives as if it had never happened. In the lives of many it appears that God is a tool for emergencies, and then discarded as used fire extinguisher.
I saw the same reaction momentarily when we experienced a small earthquake in our area a few weeks ago. In the minutes following the quake you heard, “This really puts life in perspective; the Bible said things like this would happen; I was prayin’!” Immediately their thoughts turned to God, but when the building stopped shaking their thoughts returned to the mundane of life. Disconnect.
I personally can’t function that way. If I have not heard from God each day, I’m as panicked as I was when I wanted to reach my daughter. It’s the same relationship, only reversed. He’s my Heavenly Father. There is no extinguisher behind glass that I reach for in emergencies, God is with me before, during and following a crisis. It’s humbling to be so dependent on Someone. It’s literally as if I am a little child holding my Father’s hand to cross the street, that is how He leads me.
“Humbled” is the axe that breaks the glass. II Chronicles 7:14 says “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
I remember that verse because it’s the number of perfection= 7, times two =14. I know in my heart it is the only way, the perfect way, for our nation to escape a massive fall.
Our West Virginia Congress lady, Shelley Moore Capito asked the question on Facebook a few days ago, “What would you like to hear the President say during his speech tonight.” Oh, you can imagine what responses she solicited! I had to respond as well, it was just too good an opportunity to pass on. I replied that I’d like to hear him say, “Father forgive our nation, and heal our sin. In the name of Jesus. Amen.”
We need to reconnect. Somebody, break the glass!
September 9th, 2011
Hello, this is a wrong number…
In the early hours of this morning my phone rang. Not uncommon in the Johnson household, our phone rings all night long, be it a child who wants company while she potty’s her dog in the darkness of night, or my husband’s crazy office computer that is programmed to call our home if the water system he operates gets low, which by the way is every night, several times; so strange calls in the night seldom surprise me.
But this call was from someone I didn’t know, who when I answered hello, said, “You called?” I quickly glanced at the odd name on the caller I.D. and replied “Nope?” He responded, “But you left a message.”
“I left you a message?” I questioned
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Shari,” I answered.
“I guess it wasn’t you. Sorry I bothered you at this hour.”
Too funny I thought! A wrong number called me back. And such is life. How many times has a mistake I’ve made called me back; forced me to relive an error of judgment, a fallacy of faith in the wrong thing or person? Jiminy Cricket I hate when that happens. Sometimes I believe it’s God, Who in a gentle nudge reminds me that I need not repeat that same mistake again. For those times I’m grateful. Other times it’s Satan, who as I often say, has my number on speed dial. Just when I feel like I’m making progress in my service for the Kingdom of God, Satan calls; and not just to say hello, but he wants to talk long and loud about my failures. And we have A LOT to talk about. He’s there this morning, on my fallacy phone. Telling me to stop writing, to stop speaking, just to stop!
I hung up on him. Enough already I said. I must be heading in the right direction or you wouldn’t keep calling me trying to get me off this path.
Has he called you today too? I certainly hope not. But if he did, disconnect and connect to the One Who has the power to encourage you. Get in the scriptures and hear what thus saith the Lord! Find a faithful friend who lifts you up, not one that drags you down.
I love it in Acts 13:15 where it says “And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”
I would have followed that by “And those of you who have words of discouragement, shut-up.” I guess that’s why God didn’t call on folks like me to write scripture. I hope today I have been a source of encouragement for you, and that you find countless others along the way!
September 8th, 2011
The story of Balaam stretches through three chapters of the Book of Numbers beginning in chapter twenty-two. Balaam was a semi-rebellious prophet, who although he refused to change the Word of God, didn’t mind taking wages on the side from those who would seek to harm God’s people. God is not mocked with half heartedness.
God had given Balaam the right message the first time, when he told him not to go with the Moabites or Midianites, nor have anything to do with these people that sought a curse on Israel. Balaam spoke what the Lord had him to speak each time he was asked, but each time he was asked he got a little closer to the enemy. He changed locations four times, God’s message never changed. His message came through loud and clear from the mouth of a donkey, and yet Balaam still changed locations. One would have thought that intellectual critters and an angel that clearly said, “had it not been for the donkey I’d have killed you,” would have had Balaam turning around without a second thought. But Balaam, like so many of us, had to see if that’s ‘really’ what God meant.
What caught my attention this morning as I read through this story was the final verse in chapter twenty four.
“And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.”
Israel was viewed from afar; they were a key point of the story, and yet this story was played out in the hills above them while they were seemingly unaware. But God knew. His plan never changed. Balaam tried to change it and so did Balak, to no avail. So Balaam returned home, and Balak went his way, and Israel was protected.
I wonder today how many times Satan sets into motion something against us and donkeys come along and foil his plans.
I am so quick to whine when minor setbacks prevent me from being where I desire to be, or cause me to postpone plans, never once thinking, could God have put a donkey in the path? As a child of God I don’t wonder if I have enemies, I know I do. So I now wonder how many times have they been thwarted and I may have never known.
I shared this thought with the teens at Calhoun Middle High School this morning. I wanted them to understand that though there may be people who intend to do them harm, their God is still on the throne watching every aspect of their lives. He is not mocked. Their friends may not believe but that doesn’t make God non-existent. I also praised them for having the courage to stand out in front of their school with their head bowed, because God sees that too. And just as He took care of Israel from behind the scenes with a donkey and an angel, He’ll take care of us too! Amen! that is good news.
September 7th, 2011
Grace. God’s unmerited favor.
I get it, yet I don’t understand it and I have doubts that I ever will. At least not until I get to Heaven and have a perfect mind, the only thing perfect about me on this side is imperfection; I’ve got that down to fine art. Well, maybe not, some day’s I mess that I up by doing something right. Even though I don’t understand it, I’ll take it. I guess that’s what grace is.
What I’ve determined about grace is those who get it, do so by turning themselves inside out. Isn’t that a disgusting image? But it truly is what God sees when He looks at us. He sees the blood of His Son, which covers our imperfections. Those who truly get grace leave a trail of blood, but not their own. They continually talk about Christ, what He’s done for them, what they plan to do with and for Him. Ministry is foremost on their mind, even when they don’t realize they have a ministry. It’s just what they do. They’re so grateful for having been saved from the pits of Hell, they can’t stop talking about it.
For years they gambled on life giving them another day. It is certainly a gamble, because there is no guarantee that any of us will breathe another breath. A family member of mine that has gone on to be with the Lord met up with grace in the latter years of his life. He had spent the first 60 or so years as a drunk and to my knowledge didn’t try to come out of that life style. Until an old buddy from the bar stool came by and shared the gospel with him, and he got saved. And he got grace. He knew what God had saved him from and he told everyone. He arose early in the morning and went to church every day of the week where they held an early morning broadcast. I seldom met up with him when he wasn’t pulling a hand scribbled piece of paper out of his shirt pocket with the lyrics to a gospel song he’d heard that he wanted me to sing. If you had ever known him, you knew he was a changed man.
Life is a gamble, and grace is the big win that the world seeks. Look at the people that you meet in the course of a day…they’re trying to one up someone; to make an extra dollar or two to buy that something that’s going to make them happy; to get that job that’s going to give them status; to earn his or her respect; to be loved; and the list goes on. The very thing they seek is waiting. Life is a gamble, grace is a guarantee. You can do nothing to earn it or keep it; you have but to accept it.
That’s why it’s so hard to “get” because we’re accustom to earning everything in life. That’s why the image of ourselves turned inside out is so hard for us to visualize. We don’t want to see the icky stuff; how can anyone love that? We want to see the pretty side. But to get grace you have to look at what God covered, and then you need to put it away. Don’t keep dragging it out and looking at it, it’s covered.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
A gift has no bragging rights.
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
September 5th, 2011
A much needed family vacation is just over the horizon for the Johnson clan. I scheduled it a few months ago for the week of September 17th, long before Hurricane Irene began brewing in the Atlantic. Can you see where this is going? Yep, you guessed it, I booked us for none other than the Outer Banks of North Carolina; more specifically the hardest hit Island of Cape Hatteras, which presently has yet to have the mandatory evacuation lifted for guests and according to the realty company that booked us, it won’t be lifted for our trip. So what are we to do? I don’t know, but God will work it out. Our vacation funds are tied up in this trip until the insurance determines whether or not we are worthy of reimbursement, but how can I complain. We’re still considerably better off than the folks of Hatteras Island. I have a house that is still standing, electric and phone and all the other blessed amenities of life.
The Island of Hatteras has multiple breaches created by the fury of the hurricane. The road looks like trampled crackers, broken into a million pieces. Large portions of it are just gone, swept away into the ocean like missing pieces to a puzzle that will never be found. The images are stomach turning at the force it must have taken to move that amount of earth. It serves to remind us of the power of our Almighty God, and how in a moments time life can be turned upside down.
When I awoke this morning the McKamey song “God on the Mountain” was playing in my mind. I even came into the living room and played a little of it on the fiddle. I won’t be expecting a call from the McKamey’s anytime soon. But that song is one of truth and one that stirs my heart; it’s been a staple in my life to get me through some hard times. If you’re not familiar, the chorus lyrics are:
For the God on the mountain
is still God in the valley
When things go wrong
He’ll make them right
And the God of the good times,
is still God of the bad times
And the God of the day
is still God of the night
That’ll put a shout on you! Hatteras Island is broken and separated from itself from the storms of life, a picture perfect image of our relationship with God pre-salvation. Before I knew Christ as my Savior, I too was an island without hope, disconnected from my Father with a life that resembled trampled crackers. But Hallelujah! there came a day when I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ from a loud preacher who could get the message out over the sounds of the storms crashing in my life. And where those breaches were, Christ built a bridge that no storm can take out.
I don’t’ know where we’re going for vacation. I’m still working on it. And even though the Johnson’s are a little weary from our labors and in serious need of some R&R, none of this caught God off guard.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 ~ “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Praise God I have rest in Christ my Lord. Do you?
Are there breaches in your life that are keeping you from a relationship with Him? It’s an easy fix.
You must first admit you need “fixed.” Without God we’re all broken and unworthy, we can do nothing to earn salvation of our selves. Believe me when I say, I tried. We must admit that we’re a sinner, Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” As a sinner we owe a debt. Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death…” But praise God that sentence doesn’t end there, it concludes with “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If you’ve come that far, don’t stop! Let Christ build that bridge for you. Romans 9:9,10 seals the deal with “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’re tired of being an island to yourself and your ready for Christ to mend that breach, pray this prayer. “Dear Jesus, I need You. I believe that You died on the cross, and that You rose again the 3rd day. I believe that You are now in Heaven, interceding with the Father for me. I need you to come into my heart and cleanse the sins that I have committed, and those that I’ll sin in the future. I know I’m not perfect, but today, the best I can, I’m going to live for you. I thank You for the Holy Spirit that now lives within my heart, for I am no longer alone. Amen!
If you prayed that prayer, PLEASE!!! let me rejoice with you. Let me know.
September 4th, 2011
King James Version (KJV)
Exodus 20:2-4 ~ I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Sunday morning is my favorite of the week. I happily anticipate this day the other six days of the week, although Wednesday evening is a close second. This is the day that David spoke of when he said in Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” This is a day like that of the children Israel’s when manna fell from Heaven. It’s a day not to be missed. So why are so many sitting at home this morning?
Because they’ve made themselves a god, or idol for which they can worship. You may have hung up the phone on me just now, but hear me out. If you’re not worshipping God on this day set aside to do so, what are you worshipping?
The Reverend Fun cartoon pokes fun at the human tendency to try and change God’s Word into our theory; and I’m sure Reverend Fun would agree that the truth in that cartoon is anything but amusing to God. Man’s ideas about religion are filled with self pleasing notions and handyisms. I know, that’s not a word, but it is a thought. It’s a religion of convenience that we desire. One that doesn’t require us to get out of bed early, makes all church services no longer than 20 minutes, and omits conviction; one that understands that we’ve been busy all week and could use Sunday off. Owch!
Here’s a thought that may catch some people off guard. It’s wild…
Church is truly an enjoyable experience! And if it’s not, then you need to do something. First examine yourself; because perhaps you’ve prescribed to the Book of Duaneism theories. You’ve forgotten that the very One who holds your life in the palm of His hand desires fellowship. How awesome is it that the Lord of all, the creator of the earth wants to spend some time with us today!? If (enter the name of your favorite group) were to come to your town this morning, you’d be up and dressed ready for the celebration. Does not God deserve better than that?
If you’ve examined yourself and you say, “But I want to be with God this morning. I know He is the creator of all the earth. But I just don’t feel the need to be in my church;” then examine your church. Not critically, but honestly. Always remember that the Pastor is “the man of God.” God’s chosen. And you’re on dangerous ground if don’t respect who God has placed in authority. Perhaps your Pastor needs some encouragement; an occasional Amen! when the Word is spoken. Church services are meant to be interactive with God. If He lays something on your heart to say or do, do it! When the music starts, Sing!!!! Don’t just turn to page 460 and go through ever stanza like your reading a company handbook. Sing the song like you wrote it. If it’s got echo parts (I love those) throw those in too. If it was worth saying the first time, say it again. O I’m ready for church!
A great church service usually lies in the attitude of the believers.
God’s really not happy about showing up to a service where they don’t even acknowledge His presence. I know, Owch again.
Enough said… I better get ready for church!
September 2nd, 2011
For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
Time is a precious commodity for me; therefore I don’t take it for granted. There are some day’s a few minutes are hard to find, there are other days that I waste hours! And then there are days that if I do get a few to spare I collapse in exhaustion. Such was not the case yesterday evening. I spent the evening hugging my fiddle (a term of endearment for practice); at least until my string broke. Maybe I hugged it too tight! But a trip out the road to my brother’s home where he put another string on for me and I was back in the saddle again, he’s handy like that. I said all that to say this, time is precious.
So much of our lives are spent either working for or caring for “stuff”, that we seldom get the time to enjoy it. It’s not only the “stuff” but the cares of this world are often so binding they sometimes feel as if they’re physically choking us as we were warned in Luke 8:14 “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”
Care and stuff take their toll on the ministry and the body. So how is it that we get footloose and fancy free from such constraints in life? We first have to deliberately set aside time to hug our fiddles, or whatever it is in your life that speaks peace to your soul, and then have confidence in the Lord that He’ll take care of the “stuff” in our life. Becoming consumed with worries and problems is a lack of faith (said she who is so often lacking). I’m somewhat of an expert on that topic. Being footloose and fancy free is to be without emotional or material ties to this world. That’s easier said than done, speaking as someone who is glued to an electronic device of some sort 24/7. But it’s necessary in the work of the Lord to have confidence that life can go on even if we step out of it for a while and get our bearings. Then we can step back into life renewed and refreshed with more clarity in the direction He would have us go.
Having confidence is evidence of faith. The prefix, “con” means “with” and the root “fid” means faith,” which I learned from “Girlfriend in God” Sharon Jaynes today. God said without it we cannot please Him. Hebrews 11:6.
And for certain without it, the cares of life will wear us down to being ineffective for the cause of Christ. So, go hug your fiddle, or your spouse or your child. Make it a point to get footloose and fancy free today in the name of Jesus!
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