Honey in the Morning

Honey has been a staple in my breakfast this week at the complimentary Holiday Inn Breakfast. Honey and butter on wheat toast just fits the bill for my taste buds. I seldom consider it at home even though there’s a tasty bottle of honey in the cupboard. It must have been a part of Solomon’s regular diet too. He mentions it multiple times and uses it as an illustration of blessing.

Proverbs 24:13-14

My son, eat thou honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to thy taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou has found it, then there shall be reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

CHOOSE IT

We don’t study by accident. And blessings don’t come that way either.

CHEW ON IT

Like the waxy comb, pondering the word of God and considering His message in every word, jot and tittle. Every verse is like a meal…

CHERISH IT

Nothing is so sweet is as the word of God, and it’s amazing how a word that’s been read by millions of people was written just for you.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH IT

Read it with the expectation that God going to show you something amazing. He always does!

Beach Combers

Beach Combers

I’ve watched them with their metal detectors; searching the sand in hopes of unearthing treasure. It’s how I read the word of God. Sifting a verse, just a few words, in hopes if discovering something that will sparkle in my soul.

A treasure to be desired…

Matthew 6:21 says For where your treasure is, there will heart be also.

Proverbs 4:23 says Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I have plenty of issues… believe me!

I search the scriptures for wisdom and I’m not always wise with what I find. Sometimes I’m like a beach comber, except when I find gold, I cast it aside and pick up a seashell. Enamored more by its beauty than the value of the gold. I warned you I had issues. I know it doesn’t have any value, but it’s pretty.

Matthew 6:20 says of treasure that we should lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven… I need to desire eternal rewards by focusing on the spiritual not the carnal. It’s not easy for me, this world is like a giant candy store and my carnal state is alive and well. I love all things shiny and tasty. I could say it’s how God created me, but I don’t think so. He created me with a desire to serve and a heart of compassion. But I choose to let the bling of this world blind me.

A verse that caught my attention this morning and pierced my heart was Proverbs 21:16

The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

It’s those who are not seeking at all. They’re just wandering around on the beach. Oblivious to eternity. They stay in dead churches because the Pastor’s preach pretty sermons without substance. Not gold. Just seashells.

Don’t get me wrong. God’s creation is to be marveled. But we’re to worship the Creator in spirit and truth. Those seashells are going by the wayside when this earth is destroyed by fire. But not the things that we’re laying up in Heaven. Today we should be combing the beach for souls that need saving. We should be encouraging ourselves with His word and looking for an opportunity to share what we’ve found.

I know I’m anointed, but deed… some days I don’t think I even uncap the bottle of oil God gives me.

An Ocean of Truth

Proverbs 20:5

Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.

I love the ocean… from a distance. But being up close, feeling the sand shift beneath my feet, watching the waves come closer and closer, higher and higher, lower then higher again. The uncertainty of it all creates a fear in me. I don’t panic; I just walk away.

So when reading Proverbs 20:5 this morning I fully understood what God was saying to me… “You don’t want to understand Shari.”

Counsel, whether it is of man or God is not something I’m comfortable with. It’s not that I think I’m right, usually it’s the opposite. But with counsel comes a change of direction. A shifting of the sand so to speak. Or a deeper searching for God’s purpose. Waves of overwhelming emotions. I’d prefer staying on the balcony watching those who dare to drive than be the one with my head under the water.

There are many places that I look brave, but the shore of uncertainty isn’t one of them. I look brave in the concrete jungle which could typify the world. There are sharks there too but I don’t fear them. The god of this world may use them to make life difficult, but the God I serve can and will devour them before they destroy me.

It’s not even the sharks of the water that scare me, it’s the water itself. It’s deep! seemingly bottomless, much like the wisdom of God.

Searching it, seeking His counsel takes me into un-chartered waters. It also reveals things about myself that I don’t like – like the fact I’m pretty shallow. My attention span does not always go into the deep. Rather I read, write and stop the search short. I’m satisfied with a little wisdom. A little water, rather than delving deeper because I know it will reveal God’s truth that I need to hear.

It’s why I believe most Christians don’t read and study the word of God. It’s a powerful thing. It’s an ocean of truth…

Hebrews 4:12 ~ For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

He’s Still the Lion

Proverbs 19:12

The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.

This is the third day of journaling in the Holiday Inn Hotel dining room. Just as I’ve done in many, many places across my travels. Used to be my open bible was always an introduction to conversation with passer by’s. If for no other reason curiosity. But no more. Perhaps it’s our sense of privacy, but I don’t think so.

I don’t think the people around me fear the wrath of God or desire His blessing. But rather are believing in their own power, humblerise.com. Enjoying their own world. But whether or not they believe…

He’s still the Lion

Revelation 5:5

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

I’m not saying they’re not saved or that they’re not good people. I’m not judging. Just observing. No one bowed their heads to bless their food or took note that I studied the Word of God. They just went merrily on their way, enjoying their breakfast. But whether or not they took notice…

He’s still the Lion

I won’t judge. But Jesus will. He’s coming again. And this time He will not be meek as a Lamb; no, this time they’ll know and understand that He is the Messiah. They will know

He’s still the Lion

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the dew that falling on me this morning.

We Need to Take Care of Our Land

The Land of Less

It’s so easy to forget that we need to glorify God when things are going well. But let the well run dry for a while; and then be refilled, and suddenly praising God comes easy! When heartaches come it feels like we’re walking through a desert land. Creating a thirst for what once was and what we hope will be again. The land of less is relative to the life you live; for some it’s the land of nothing. A fact I often forget. What I deem as less would be a life of luxury for some in other parts of the world. True story…

We live in the land of the Blessed

When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh because my soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lustest after. ~ Deuteronomy 12:20

Our great and Almighty God enlarges our territory, he expands not only our physical places but our reach. He makes promises that we can hang onto believing it to already be true. But we have to be in a position and a mindset to receive them.

For me I struggle between frustration and guilt so often that I miss the places I’m already blessed. I fully believe that I’m not further along in my life’s work because I’ve failed to appreciate the place I’m in. God expects more from His people than I give Him. I know I’m chosen. I know I should be living like it, but I don’t always do it.

The Land of the Stressed, Depressed and sometimes Oppressed

Sound like America? It does to me. Are we not a Nation that appears to be one step from needing hospitalization? And I’m not speaking of physically. The behavior of our people is crazy. Even the blessed are stressed and depressed, and the oppressed are likely in better condition than the blessed; because they at least know on Whom they can depend.

Even those of us who are spiritually grounded can relate.

Times of separation from what we desire in our life leaves a thirst that only God can fill.

Satan however uses stress to separate us from peace. God is peace.

Satan uses depression to separate us from joy. God is joy.

Satan uses oppression to separate us from the feeling of belonging. God is ours and we are His. Glorrrraaaay!!!!

Psalm 63 1 ~ O God, thou art my God; early will I see thee: my soul thristeth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.

That is why

I know the Land of Refreshed

There is a built in desire of the people of God to be in fellowship with likeminded souls.

Psalm 84:2 ~ My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the Living God.

It refreshes my soul to be in the right congregation with the right people. That place is for you to decide, but this is a criteria you should consider.

  • First and foremost the Word of God must be your primary focus. A church that fails to stand on the word of God is nothing more than an organization of members. It is not the body of Christ. He has to be center.
  • The people should be encouragers, not discouragers. You should feel loved!
  • The people (especially leadership) should exhort, not distort. The truth of the Word refresh your soul and you should feel filled!
  • There should be affirmation not condemnation from the people.  You should feel as though you are a part of that body in Christ and that they too desire to be with you. You should feel accepted, not judged.

I’ve been in enough congregations to know that this is not always the case. It doesn’t mean they don’t have good people or they’re not doctrinally sound. It means that perhaps they need to examine their church the way we have to examine our lives. If we are not what God desires us to be, we know it and it causes us to thirst for what we need. We need to take care of our land. Personally, Physically. Spiritually.

Christ didn’t Focus on the Pretty People

When I finished this drawing (an idea that I totally stole from a Pinterest post) I didn’t like the way the words “gentle and quiet” ended up turning out. They were bold, and jagged and totally not gentle and quiet. And then I thought about me… and how I struggle with the concept of being gentle and quiet. I’m more apt to be loud and obnoxious. And so I left them as they are. For the struggle is very real.

I want to be that gentle and quiet spirit that sits posed in her pretty pink dress and matching jewelry but I’m much more comfortable in a pair of jeans or leggins and a sloppy tee. That’s me. I love the pretty stuff but I much prefer to be in comfort. In apparel and in life. As for the spirit of me, I wish she would sit quietly too, but she rises up like my Chihuahua Izadora and my Jackjuajau (half Jack Russel and half Chihuahua) Versace. Which is why I love them so. They get excited! And they need to be heard. So do I! and I don’t care if people don’t want to listen or particularly agree with what I say.

If you want to be something else or believe something else that’s fine. I don’t mind. But please don’t ask me to be something I’m not.

So spiritually speaking, what do I do with the verses in 1 Peter 3:3-4

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

As I understand it, Peter speaks to pride and vanity, a character trait that can also be found in the religious of this world. Now, before some religious naysayers write to me and tells me that I’m in the flesh (which probably won’t happen because they don’t read my stuff) , I need to speak to how I got here.

Matthew 23:27 ~ Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

There is no difference between the “whited sepulchres” and a shallow grave; they both house the dead. One is no more or less loved because of the investment someone made in it and what it looked like outwardly. It’s what you can afford. The substance of the matter comes from whether or not that soul was placed in the hands of Jesus before it was placed in the ground. It’s a matter of the heart.

I have no doubt that I have hypocrite tendencies. I get in the flesh on a pretty regular basis. Just today actually. But not when it comes to who I am in Christ. He knows me and accepts me for who I am. Do you realize you can’t be a hypocrite with Christ? He knows you inside and out. He desires and encourages me to be better, just as a good friend would. Knowing that living better means living with less guilt.

There’s a reason that the sinners felt at home with Christ and the religious didn’t. Because Christ wasn’t focusing on the pretty people. He was friends with the imperfect, the loud and obnoxious, as well as the gentle and quiet.

Give Everything to God – Early, Fully, Only

Just in case you haven’t figured out where I’m at in Bible reading, I’ve been in the book of Proverbs the last few days. And it’s good timing. I’m in need of wisdom. I’m trying very hard to stay spiritually focused on a matter of the heart, but there’s been an issue with my heart far longer than the issue that caused the heart attack.

Proverbs Proverbs 4:23 says Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

As I’ve told you before. I have issues. Lots of them! But that’s not the verse that caused me to ponder this morning and examine my issues. It was Proverbs 8:17 ~

SEEK ME EARLY

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

I do love the Lord, and I realize that in seeking His will through His word, it’s always best to try and discover His plan before you jump off the cliff, or open  your mouth, or volunteer, again. Or possibly choke the life out of someone. That’s why I don’t necessarily think that the word “early” always refers to the time of day. Perhaps it means “before disaster.”

The old adage “The early bird gets the worm,” is only good if you’re the bird. The worm really gets the short end of the stick. Perhaps if he’d prayed about direction before he came up out of the earth, he’d be having a picnic with friends today. But what I got more than anything out of this verse today is that God loves devoted children. He knows we don’t have all the answers. And where Siri falls short on answers, God never does!

SEEK ME FULLY

Jeremiah 29:13 ~ And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Far, far too often I not only fall short but I stop short of where God needs me to be. I search for His wisdom until I grow weary, or something shiny takes me away and then I lose the train of thought that brought me to His station. The process of finding the answer isn’t always as easy as just opening up the book. That’s where we start, but there’s prayer and conversations with God. In order to fully understand what it is that God wants us to understand He wants His children to be serious about it.

I have issues there too. I want answers but more often than not I want the Readers Digest condensed version with the answer key in the back.

True story.

SEEK ME ONLY

Deuteronomy 4:28-30 

28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;

Seeking the wisdom of men and using the ways of the world for guidance always fails in comparison to what can be obtained by speaking to the Savior. We forget that. It’s so easy to desire a conversation with people we can touch, or look at the examples of people who have succeeded in our area of need. And although there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, God is an exclusive God. He won’t be added to a list of possible solutions. He is the solution.

I had to remind myself of that today. I can’t fix stupid. Some things and some people are beyond my control. But what is within my control is my reaction to the world around me.

  • If someone is in need… seek God’s provision, perhaps you have it.
  • If someone’s in pain… seek God’s comfort, perhaps your words can bring it.
  • If someone’s in harms way… seek God’s protection, perhaps your request will summon the powers of Heaven.
  • If someone’s in need of answers… seek God’s wisdom, perhaps you’re the vessel.

The reality of it is, you may or may not be the means God uses to fix a situation. But He wants to hear from you. The problem may be your own,  He wants to hear from you. He is the Lord thy God.  100% yours. And 100% mine. He hears every word we speak (or think). Give everything to Him, early, fully, only. Thy God.

Mind Your own Business

You can color me guilty. I most always have an opinion. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and jerks a knot in my knickers when I begin to focus on the life or lifestyle of another person. When I begin to think that I need to do a running commentary. It’s usually just inside my head. It’s sometimes to those close to me. It’s seldom ever, if ever to the person for which I’m forming an opinion. I’m not that brazen, or stupid.

But it’s become quite obvious to me lately that not everyone has the ability to know when to keep their mouth shut. And no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. Just many, many, many people in general. It’s an epidemic! And because of social media, the world has a stage.

If you go to “The Jesus Chick” page or my own personal page for “Shari Hardway Johnson”, as well as my twitter feed and Instagram, you’ll note that it’s positive commentary and images. That’s not a holier than thou statement, it’s just truth. I don’t want to be in anyone’s drama, or a discouragement. So my posts are positive. I made that choice, and I’m pretty sure God agrees with me.

Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

I read that this morning and thought, “there it is. What I’d like to tell every nosy, ne’er do well in the world. Mind your own business!”

Who makes these people judge and jury of the lives of someone else and what skeletons would come crawling out of their closet if the door was open?

Although it is far worse in the political arena, or at least it far more outspoken, it’s just as bad in the church. And I speak collectively, not of any in particular.

I think of an incident many, many years ago in my own church where a young woman with several children had the audacity to come to church without a slip under her dress. Oh my stars! And as she exited the ladies room a ne’er do well woman said to me, “can you believe she forgot her slip.” To which I responded, “With all those kids, I just praise God she gets here on Sunday morning.”

Where on earth was this woman’s mind? And why did she think she had the right to tear down a young mother trying to do the right thing?

Now, that may seem trivial. But a comment like that is what will discourage someone, who’s struggling anyway, to decide to leave the church. And that could be devastating to a family and Hell bound someone because of it.

The longer I travel this road with Jesus, the more I realize the focus of the church is so off kilter.

I personally love pretty clothes. And God has gifted me with several. But I don’t love them because I think they’re holy, I just love girly stuff. God made me that way. I also have a personal conviction that when I go into a church I dress in their common attire. If they’re casual, so am I. If they’re fancy, I try to be a fancy Nancy too and I enjoy it. But I don’t look at anyone who’s not in the common attire and think about their heart toward Christ. Clothes do not make the man. The Spirit of God does. And I’ve known people who looked like ragamuffins that I was in awe with the depth of their relationship with God.

I’ll not tell you that I am above judging. It’s human nature. Or that I don’t have other issues in life. But it’s something that makes me so nauseous because I’ve seen the damage it’s done, especially in the circles I travel of the Independent Baptist realm. Trust me, they’re not all the same. That’s why we’re “independent.” I’d probably be kicked out of some.

My faith is not in the denomination. It’s in God. But I agree with the doctrine of my church and so I’m there and I love my people. Mainly because the vast majority are not judgers. They love all people. Even if their knees are showing. Insert smile here. Even if they’re a girl who wears britches. Or a fella that’s a t-shirt, blue jean, work boot kind of guy. We love them.

So does Jesus. And this morning I think I’m delivering His message when I say. Mind your own business.

Insert smile here.

The Struggle with Social Media

I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.

Psalm 119:113-114

The Struggle with Vanity

By human nature we are a selfish lot, are we not? I tuned into social media this morning and the heartaches of other people overwhelmed my soul. I felt helpless.

I can’t rebuild a life that was lost in a fire.

I can’t undo the bad decision of a young man that didn’t feel there was any other way than death.

I can’t control the fierceness of nature or the devastation it can leave in its path.

I can’t un-break a heart or protect people from destruction.

It’s life. And in this day and age it’s being lived out in a very, very public way that affects so many people with the stroke of a keyboard. Social media can be a blessing or a scourge. I have a love/hate relationship with it, as I’m sure most people do. But like it or not, despise it or not, it’s here to stay. But you and I need to be careful about the vanity of it all. If we are in the mindset of Christ… as we should be. We should shield ourselves from ourselves.

One of my many, many faults is counting. Now I know it got David in serious trouble in 2nd Samuel 24. So I try not to; but remember the struggle I spoke of. It really is a struggle on social media. How many people likes my post… how many people viewed my video… how many people liked a post, or loved a post. And who were they? Oh. I’m vain. For me it’s validation as to whether or not I was a success.

That a load of lies from Satan. But I buy it like a good flea market find.

Our lives will never be defined in eternity by how many people seen our posts. But it will be defined by what that post did for the cause of the Kingdom.

The Shield of Victory

For all my vain thoughts, and they are many; God put a heart of compassion within me. It’s what drives me to share the hope of Jesus Christ that I find in His word. It’s what creates images like the umbrella in my mind when I think of how many times the Lord has shielded me from the sun and rain. The good times and the bad times that would have had a negative result in my life.

It’s not only the bad times in our lives that cause damage. The good in life can bring more vanity, more self-reliance that can destroy the good things that God wants for us.

How many people do we know with great wealth and health that have no relationship with God? Or how many do we know that have “seemingly” never struggled as we have and are so ungrateful.

Some of the worst things in my life, I am certain, have protected me from forgetting where my hope lies.

I’m so thankful that we have God’s word! It is as if I’m sitting here in my office this morning with God, and I hear Him say… “That’s my girl. Keep writing. Keep drawing. Keep serving. And by the way, stop counting.”

Enjoy That You Are Wiser

Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

Job 39:13 was one of the many questions the Lord had for Job when it came to helping him to understand that regardless of what the world thought, God’s creation, design and planning was His and His alone. He didn’t need Job’s help in the beginning and He didn’t need it now.

As I read and thought about the magnificence of the peacock this morning and I surveyed my marker and colored pencil collection I was in awe once again at how very much thought God put into the earth and all that’s around us.  And as I considered Job’s “friends” and the arrogance of the fourth and final man, Elihu; who in his youth thought he could “teach Job a thing or two,” it brought to mind the arrogance of today’s modern and liberal thinking lot who think they too can tell God’s people a thing or two.

I want to ask them. Where were you when God gave the feathers to a peacock?

How can a person of any intelligence whatsoever look at creation and not see God? How can you look at the fabric of men inside and out and not see how God’s hand created them. An explosion? Give me a break. How does an explosion create love and how does it speak to the soul the way the Holy Spirit does.

The problem is, they don’t know God and they have no desire to. Because it would take them out of control. Which is so funny, because they’re not in control!

So this brief yet very deep and pondering thought is what I’ll leave you and I both with today. We will no more understand what God’s doing behind the scenes in our lives than we’ll understand how He put those “goodly wings” on the peacock.

But we can be rest assured of one thing. It will be beautiful. And the world will still be filled with idiots who think they know more than God.

Pray for them. And enjoy the fact that you are wiser.

I’ve Been Taken to the Woodshed

It’s true. As I wrote the outline for this blog, I arrogantly thought, “Oooo that’s good, I didn’t deserve that.”

And then I heard in my soul… “No. You didn’t.”

And I knew in my heart that this was going to be a teachable moment between me and the Lord. As a “Father and child. Go to your room and I’ll be in later.” Kind of moment.

And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is  wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. ~ Job 28:28

A Healthy Respect

I’d lost it. The (fear). I’d grown selfish in my walk with Christ as I grew weary from responsibilities. And not overwhelming responsibilities, just your ordinary, everyday life kind of duties. I’d finish doing what had to be done and I’d think, “I deserve a break.” And that break would consist of mindless television (Netflix) or a game on my phone rather than going to the word of God or simply having a conversation with Him.

This morning I came to my desk knowing what was on my heart and before me was a bluegrass song I’d been working on the chords for, and lo and behold I got out the guitar and figured them out. Knowing that the Bible was laying there beside me and the Lord wanted to talk.

So… when I finally decided that I could spare a few moments for Him, the conversation turned very serious. I had been disrespecting the Savior.

I don’t believe that God wants me to set with the Bible every second of the day, He knows that life happens and that I need to be with people, else, how will they see Jesus. But there comes a time that He and I should be conversing along the way.

When He speaks, regardless of what’s going on around me, I should pause to listen. Unfortunately the world was too loud in my ear because I had opened that door.

A Hallowed Reverence

Matthew 6:9

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Note that Hallowed is capitalized. It’s a part of God’s name, meaning Holy. Separate (depart) from the world.

There comes a time when God expects us to shut the door to the world and be separate from those things that draw our minds away from Him. Things that when we see them we know in our heart of hearts, this isn’t good for me. This takes my mind to places it should not be.

For example. Netflix.

I’m not talking R rated movies but just the average sitcom is filled with content not fit for the mind of a child of God.

I love to laugh. It allows me to forget about the cares of the world and escape reality for just a bit. But that bit can turn into hours on Netflix because it literally doesn’t stop. And I get wrapped up in it and ignore the calling of God. I forget that God said, Be ye holy; for I am Holy. ~ 1 Peter 1:16

To be holy is to separate ourselves from everything worldly. Including the mindset that “I deserve this.”

I don’t deserve anything more than God. That’s a hallowed reverence.

A Heavy Reliance

A reliance is a belief and dependence (understanding) on the Lord Jesus Christ for every breath of life. After all, He holds it all in His hand, does He not?

THAT IS WISDOM

Job was so much wiser than his friends who looked at life from a very human perspective. As if they could see inside the mind of Job and know who he was in the secret hours of the days and nights before that dreadful day when he lost it all.

To them, it was surely because of sin. But it was not. It was because God knew the inward strength and character of Job.

We’re not God to know the hearts of other men and women. It’s our own hearts that we have to be concerned about. I’m not Job. I doubt my character would stand the testing and trials he experienced. I don’t want to know if it would. I can’t even resist Netflix. How on earth would I submit to the level of testing that Job did?

This morning God needed me to understand that I was not submitting to Him as I should be. Not even close. I want Him to fix all of my life’s woes: take care of my family, fix my finances and make me healthy, wealthy and wise. And yet when He call on me, I turned a deaf ear.

Without fear.

Without reverence.

Without understanding.

Forgetting that He gave His all, so that I could have life and have it abundantly.

Father forgive me.

Draw me close Lord, This I pray,

Forgive this wicked soul that strays.

Remind me with each breath I take

That I am yours, I’m no mistake.

There is purpose in my soul

But I must give you full control.

Shari

Get Me a Water Gun! Satan’s out of control

A note I scribbled on a scrap piece of paper in my office said “More of an attack on my heart than the actual heart attack, has been the spiritual attack on me.” In recent months it’s been very, very real. The final icing on that well decorated cake was a hacker tearing down my web site on Tuesday. Years of labor disappeared into the oblivion of cyber space and I was a mess. I don’t understand the mentality of people who live to do something like that, but I understand their source of evil. Satan and his minions I’m sure had a huge laugh at my expense.

I don’t have a web designer or personal tech support. Everything I do is on my own through programs designed to make it easy, mainly by paying for godaddy.com hosting. I know just enough to be dangerous to my health when something like this happens. Three days, and a $120 poorer my site is back up but I am drained emotionally and physically.

It’s not been just the website issues. My overall health has been on the decline since the knee injury, another of those fiery darts meant to bring me down. Okay, I’m done whining, now onto lifting you and I up together!

Get me a Water Gun!

For the record, Satan only has the control that God allows him to have. An idiot tearing my website down did not catch God off guard. Satan never has one over on God. It’s why God has me in the book of Job right now. If He can bring Job through the heartache he went through, He as me covered too. I have no doubt.

There is Wisdom in the Water

I love Job’s response to his friends in Job 12:15

Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth. With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.

Water is one of those biblical words that has great spiritual meaning and depth. Just in saying that God is the Water of the Word is like drinking a cool glass of water on a hot day. It soothes the soul, just like it does the body. How wonderful to understand that it is God who control such an amazing substance. The substance that will put out the fire of Hell that try to heat up the life of a child of God.

Satan will never see us in Hell, but he can try to make our lives Hell here on earth. He and his minions can tear down websites, families and even bodies, but they cannot have the Spirit of man. God control them all. Glory to God, I just wrote myself happy again! I love when that happens. I hope you read yourself happy too!

The Water Gun is loaded. And the fire is about to go out!

There is Life in the Water

Job 26:5-7

Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof. Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

Verse number 7 is one of my all-time favorite verses. But the words of Job leading into it cause me to ponder greatly. And then from the depths of my soul I heard this response.

“Water creates life, and fire causes death. God is water, Satan is fire. Nothing is concealed from God, even those who believe their destruction is hidden in the world wide web. God knows them. Personally. And they should fear. If he can hang this ball of dirt in the midst of space and keep it there, one web hacker is nothing.”

My knee pain is not too hard for God to fix or to work through it. My heart is fixable. Both the physical and the spiritual. God is in charge.

There is No Water without God

Job 38:34

Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

God’s response to Job was a reminder to us all that we better understand Who it is that’s in charge of every aspect of our life. The good, the bad and the ugly is under God’s thumb.

I found a warped humor in verse 3 of Chapter 38, because I think I too have had this conversation with God.

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

It almost felt like I heard God say, “Put on your big girl pants and answer me Shari, who did you think was in control?

In my ignorance I gave credence to the destructor of my website and forgot who had destroyed this body by not taking care of the temple. We have the power of destruction, but through God we can have the power of life. But only through Him.

We can pray for rain, but the final decision is His.

God asks Job in chapter 41, verse 1:

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? Or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?

Leviathan was a sea creature, whale and even Satan is referred to it in the scriptures.  Something larger than life. We cannot control it on our own. It would literally be like fishing for a whale with a Walmart rod. How long would that last before we too were destroyed by the beast?

Satan and his minions are not to be taken lightly. They certainly have destruction powers. But not when God intervenes. The question is have we given God full control to hand the situation before us. Or are we still trying to catch a whale with a $2.00 hook? or shoot Satan with a water gun.

The BRANCH


“The BRANCH” is a Bible Lesson that I composed for the teens at Victory Baptist Church. There are questions within the lesson that, although it was written for teens, I consider them young adults and treat them as such. Feel free to read and enjoy or use it for your ministry if you so desire.

Spring branches are a visible reminder of the new life we celebrated on Easter Sunday. The same God that the Jews longed to meet in the Old Testament, but refused to submit to in the New Testament was the BRANCH. Listed in scripture in all capital letters, which for me is like God shouting His name! It makes me want to know more about why it was listed that way, and what information God wants me to know.

Zechariah 6:12

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

The BRANCH is what caught my attention, but the context of the scripture begins in verse 9:

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

Joshua. A name we’re very familiar with, and a named that is translated from Hebrew Joshua to the English, Jesus. Joshua is also the common alternative form of Yeshua.

So Zechariah is being told by God to tell Joshua the Priest that he is a figure of the one to come. Jesus, the Messiah, now being referred to as “The BRANCH.” And just like the branches of this season come to life, The BRANCH was going to be born (come to life) in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth. And just like the spring branches that we have in view now, Jesus was going to spring forth, full of life and glory for God.

There are two roles of Christ that we’re going to talk about by unpacking the scripture references in Zechariah and those two roles are Priest and King.

We too are referred to as priests and kings in Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So how does it make you feel to know you are considered a priest or king?

Is that a position you’re comfortable with now, or is it something that you think you’re going to grow into? At what age, or state of mind do you suppose you’ll arrive there?

Jesus grew up just like kids of today. He may not have had an iPhone, but He had family, friends, siblings, and all the common things of that day, and things that we’re used to having as a family unit.

When you think of growing up in biblical times, what do you think the cultural differences and likenesses of that day were in comparison to ours?

What would teens have done for fun?

What would church services have been like for teens?

The scripture says that Jesus was going to grow up out of that place, the place called Nazareth. That was His place. Nazareth or Netzer, means “The branch from a multitude of plants that grew there.” Another branch in our story

Our place is where we live now. Far from a kingdom view. But so was Nazareth during that day. It was said to be an “insignificant village.” Even the religious of the day said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Have you ever had that feeling about our small town?

While Nazareth wasn’t a big city of that day, it’s now the largest Arab city in the country of Israel. And clearly something Amazing did come from the Nazareth. So why can’t God do something amazing here?

Pastor John Powell of Wadsworth, Ohio was born and raised in Calhoun County, West Virginia. But like many of his era who were born in the 30’s, he left our area to find work. But before that he had a back story. He had a Nazareth village.

When he was just a few months old he got pneumonia and his mother had no money to buy medicine, so she went to her father to borrow it. But instead she had to give John to him at the age of 5 in exchange for the medicine. He was used for child labor and treated very poorly. But even in that state he rose above others as an athlete and in popularity. God called him into the ministry while in Akron, Ohio and it was there that he graduated Bible College and became a man of great means through investments. But the most important thing to know about John Powell was that he reached thousands for Christ and was known for his generosity and kindness all over the world.

The man from Calhoun County.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and didn’t travel very far in the lifetime of His ministry. One study said about 90-120 miles. In this day and age, that’s not many. But we have to consider His travels were by foot. But look at the impact He made in those 100 miles.

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled, and where do you desire to go?

Jesus’ time on earth was spent preaching the Kingdom, and building a temple not made of hands. What temple has Jesus built?

When Jesus prophesied of His resurrection He said in three days I’ll rebuild the temple, which made the religious of the day angry because they thought He spoke of a building. Which was not so.

We too are considered a temple, how?

There are three ways to build the temple we’re in charge of building

  1. We listen (preaching and teaching)
  2. We learn – (Study to show ourselves approved)
  3. We live (Sharing the word of God)

That is how we build the temple, ours and the body of Christ.

It’s the same thing that Christ did as a young person. When Christ disappeared from His parents and was found three days later it says in Luke 2:46

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions.

That’s how we grow in the Lord, we ask questions. If we want to grow and feel worthy of our royal positions of priests and kings, we need to do what Jesus did.

If a child never ate physically they would die. They’d also die of boredom if they ate the same thing over and over again. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

Eat. Work! Because as we grow we also need to build.

The new temple that Christ said He was going to build in three days wasn’t what they expected or wanted. They wanted it on this earth. That was not the plan. They wanted the royalty to be here. That was not the plan either. And that’s why it’s hard for us to comprehend that we are priests and kings. Because we live in red neck country. Not Jerusalem.

Just as Joshua was active in the building of the temple, Jesus was going to be the Master Builder of the Spiritual Temple that we call the church today.

Zechariah 6

13 Even he (The BRANCH) shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

All for the Glory of God.

So what are the responsibilities of priests and kings?

I view it as one governs and the other guides.

So, what do we govern, and what do we guide on this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Not everyone is a prophet, teacher, etc. but everyone has a purpose. And every one of us are a part of the body of Christ if we’re saved. So we are overseeing the business of the Lord until His return. We are in charge of guiding others. We truly are a part of the Royal Family. And not the one in England, but the one in Heaven.

Zechariah 6

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

There were earthly examples like Adam and Joshua that God put on earth as examples of Christ. We are to be the examples of the Lord set before the generation we’re now a part of.  We are the priests and kings of this generation, even if they don’t know it, or want it.

When someone is born into a royal family, only the head of that royal family can kick them out. God’s the head of this family, and He says that none shall be lost. (John 18:19)

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

So whether the world likes it or not, we are the royal family. The BRANCH’S government. Not a branch of the government. We will have our day of sitting with the royal family in person, but today we’re ambassadors in this foreign land.

So the question is, to who, where and how are you an ambassador? Pray and seek the Lord’s will for the land the Lord wants you to cover. And don’t ever think that He can’t take a kid from Calhoun County, and do something amazing for the Kingdom. Because you are children of the King.

Don’t forget …

Isaiah 62:3

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Just Give Me Jesus

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Job 13:16

It’s not that I don’t feel like a hypocrite on a relatively regular basis. But for years I have felt like this was my message for the world. Not in judgement, but rather in tender compassion and pleading to the soul playing church on earth, and missing Heaven in eternity.

There’s a vast difference between being in church and being in Christ. But for too long the religious crowd has preached (and I use the term liberally) that all the world is fine, so long as they’re in the building.

Iglesia ni Cristo

When I visited the Philippines several years ago there was a huge church that was the size of a small West Virginia city. It had pointed steeples and ornate architecture that gave it a castle appearance, but not in a good way. It just looked cold and evil. It was the Iglesia ni Cristo (meaning Church of Christ) but not as the American Church of Christ. They believe that they are the one and only true church called out of Isaiah 43:5. It’s a very formalized methodical religion. All who are not a part of their church are Hell bound. according to them. That doesn’t sound any crazier to me than those who preach what many churches are preaching today, which is just show up occasionally, continue living in sin throughout the week, and you’re fine. It causes me to wonder if even the Pastors are saved who preach a message that is anti-relational with Christ.

I can’t help but think that my message today will be viewed as judgmental. But I promise it’s not. My heart breaks for church leadership as well who don’t have a deep enough relationship with Christ to understand its importance and their purpose. They’ve been deceived by this world too.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

This is my friend Chuck McDonald’s life verse. Because when he got saved, he became a new creation. And anyone who knew him, seen the evidence in his life. That’s the key, and it’s the missing piece of many people in our own churches. Evidence. They walk out the door on Sunday morning and walk back into the world looking no different. There’s no evidence that church made a difference.

It’s not that the message doesn’t go out of many churches, because it does. There are many, many good preachers. So what makes the difference? Church leadership.

It’s not just the Pastor’s job. What made the difference in my friend Chuck McDonald’s life, and in my life is that there were people who stepped up and took me under their arm as a disciple of Christ. I keep saying it, but I’m not living it any better if I’m honest.

My formative years as a new Christian were spent in fellowship almost every day with people from our church. We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, we spoke on the phone, we were in constant church services of some sort, somewhere. It was amazing! If our church wasn’t holding a revival I was looking for someone else’s.

Does it have to be that extreme? I don’t know. It worked for me. And it worked in the days of the Bible.

Acts 2

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Steadfast, in doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread and praying! Glory to God if only we had that kind of time.

Well, in this modern day of technology, do we not? We can be across the globe, and still be in constant fellowship, and yet we don’t.

I joyously speak with my friend Dewey Moede from New Mexico most every day. He is who God sent into my life to follow up where others left off. You too are that person who is in need of a Dewey, or perhaps you are the Dewey.

My point being is this; we should be living our lives, wherever we are for Christ. So that people know we’re there for them and that a relationship with Him and them is an important part of our everyday.

I’m not about what denomination is over the door, I’m about what your relationship is with my Lord. Are you truly a brother or sister in Christ?  

Only those who are will be Heaven.

Just give me Jesus.

Be Someone’s Reason

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.

Job 2:9

What an odd scripture choice for Mother’s Day week, right?  Well, this is my thinking this morning as I ponder the upcoming weekend. Number one… I am blessed. My 83 year old Mother, who truthfully puts me to shame in her strength, ability and agility, lives next door. I watch as she meanders out at 8 a.m., fully dressed and make up donned and surveys her well-groomed lawn and flower beds. She cooks dinner for 30ish people every other weekend and not just a small meal. But multiple dishes and always amazing desserts. She is one of 8 children, 4 remaining. She has loved and lost family, including a son and husband she adored. She set the example before us; when I ask her how she did not blame God when she lost my brother Richard at the age of 19. Her response was “How can I blame the only One who will allow me to see him again.”

Yes… I’m blessed.

So now for what got me thinking about Job’s wife. Not everyone is so blessed.

Before I throw Mrs. Job under the bus, I have to acknowledge that she too had just lost ten children at once and her means for livelihood. She was no doubt fighting depression and anxiety as none of us could likely comprehend. But her response to Job was so bitter.

I’ve known bitter women. They have an ugliness inside that, regardless of their outward beauty, makes me cringe. I’ve known bitter men too, they ain’t handsome.  I’ve watched the damage they’ve done to their families, even though many are unaware that it’s an issue. It’s hard enough to face the battles of this world, without having a discouraging enemy living in your camp.

So Shari, again… how does this celebrate Mother’s Day?

We need to look at Job’s life and commit to ourselves that we will not be anyone’s Mrs. Job or Mr. Job’s friends, who added salt to his already open sores.

Learn to Respond

Proverbs 16:24

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

That sounds much better than having your friends and family hide from you as suggested in Psalm 64:2-3

Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.

That’s how I view the discouragement of people who without regard for what someone is going through, use their words to hurt rather than heal.

But I’ve experienced firsthand the healing words of family and friends who soothe my soul in times of trouble. I’m so grateful that God has put them in my life.

Be the reason someone is grateful.

Learn to Reason

While I know that nobody is perfect, and myself included can lose touch with logic and speak in frustration words of discouragement. But there are times when there’s no room for a lack of logic.

Someone needs you, and they need you now!

Be the reason someone never doubts your loyalty.

Learn Who to Rebuke

When Peter rebuked the Lord, which was not his finest hour, the Lord said in Matthew 16:23:

But he turned, and said unto  Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Jesus said to Peter that he was Satan! While I don’t profess to understand the theological depth of that conversation, I understand that Jesus didn’t truly think Peter was Satan, but that perhaps Satan was controlling the conversation.

Ya think that happens to us? Oh yea. If Satan can use us and others to discourage us and others, under the guise of our stupidity he’ll do it.

When the feeling of rebuke comes into your mind, and you may be on the verge of tearing someone you love down further than they already are, rebuke Satan. Not your loved ones.

Be the reason someone feels supported.

Learn to Rejoice

I’ve not always appreciated or understood my Mother. I’ve been far from the perfect daughter. But I rejoice in the fact that my Mother brought me up with manners, respect and accountability for behaviors. She taught me that love was unconditional for children, therefore I understood that love was unconditional with God.

Be the reason someone feels loved and rejoices for you.

Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

We all have a reason to rejoice!

Don’t Miss Your Shuttle

It was one of those words that caught me off guard; sent my mind pondering about what it was doing there.

Job 7:6

My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.

I’m just focusing on part “a” of the verse. Part “b” is a little too sad for my spirit this bright sunny morning. Even though I spent the night battling blood pressure and sleep deprivation. Perhaps the two coincide. But it all coincides with age and the thought process that suddenly changes.

Please don’t think that I’m considering myself ready for the grave, but it’s a part of the mindset when you have several days of feeling poorly. Now back to the verse…

The weavers “shuttle.”

I viewed the word shuttle as a modern word, not one from the oldest book in the Bible. And being that I’m not a weaver, although I might like to be, I had no concept of what that instrument might be. So I had to Youtube it. Isn’t that a great tool in the ministry?!

And there it was, the little shuttle boat that goes rhythmically through the threads of a loom; swish, swishing back and forth, carrying the bobbin of thread through and intricately weaving a beautiful pattern of art. Just like life.

The years have swished by to the count of 56 for me, though I’ve been telling people I’m 57. I’m a nut! For Job, though the years of his life had passed quickly, time had suddenly slowed painfully down and in his sorrow, and the discouragement of his friends he had lost hope.

It’s easy to do.

It’s why I’d rather focus on part “a.”

In the words of Jerry Reed’s country song, “I’ve got a long way to go and short time to get there,” I want to weave more into that pattern of life.

The little shuttle boat is a handcrafted vessel that carries the fabric of the tapestry. Is that not us? Every single person is a beautiful piece of the Master’s work that He uses to weave into the lives of others. And together we all makes this beautiful piece of work called life.

Job had no concept of the impact his words would be making thousands of years after that terrible day.

My live video feed yesterday was along this same path. “Why we go through what we go through.” There is always a reason, and one of my favorites is the Overcomer’s Club. It’s those people, who against all odds became a victor. They weren’t supposed too. Just ask Job’s friends and they’ll tell you what a terrible person they thought Job to be. They thought he was a sinner deserving of his woes for being non repentant. When in truth he was a vessel of God’s amazing grace. A little boat passing swiftly through time but leaving beautiful colors in the path. His words encouraged my soul because I know the end of Job’s story.

He wanted to die. But God gave him a new reason to live! It will take a few chapters before I get to read about his victory again, but it reminds me that I may have a few chapters of my own before I get to sing the Victory song too.

So where is your little shuttle going today, and how are you going to weave the Word of God and the purpose of God into your day. Don’t miss it. Blessings!!!!

What to do with Fools

What To Do With Foolish People

Three times in Job 1 it says “While he was yet speaking,” when the four servants of Job delivered the heart wrenching news of his losses. Three times he loses livestock and servants, and the fourth and final blow was the loss of His ten children. As parents, we can’t imagine a greater loss. God totally understands. It’s why it makes today’s tolerance of the liberal agenda so much harder to stomach.

I’ve stated in this blog on more than one occasion that I don’t “watch” the news. But it has a way of sneaking into my world through social media. So today I sought a way to deal with foolish people. There’s plenty of them out there to deal with and they seek to destroy every work of the Spirit.

They love tearing down ministries, and governments that bring glory to the Name of Jesus and discourage those that support them; convincing them all they are the victors. Part of the reason they are so successful is that we, as the children of God, are not stepping into our roles.

Silence the Fool

Easier said than done, right?

1 Peter 2:15

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

It’s the will of God! Glory!

So how do we do it? By doing well.

That’s not speaking of prosperity, as some would have you believe, but rather speaks of the character of God’s people. Arguing with a fool seldom creates silence. It usually just creates chaos. But silencing the fools with righteous living, honest conversation and good works is extremely satisfying to the soul.

Jesus told Paul in Acts 9:5 I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

Paul trembled at Christ’s words. Number 1, because it was God, but also because His words pricked, pierced Paul’s heart. That’s what the word of God does to the unsaved. It’s like a bee sting, or a slap in the face. It catches them off guard and it is for certain our greatest tool in our weapons of warfare. It’s why it send the liberal news agencies into a feeding frenzy when they hear someone in Washington quote scripture or mention the name of Jesus. There is power in those words. There is also power in His people when we’re doing His work. The Lord has an agenda too. It’s to get as many people to Heaven as we can. And it is so easy to lose sight of that with all the rhetoric we’re hearing in the world.

If you want to silence the masses, start by telling them how Jesus saves.

If that doesn’t work

Avoid the Fool

Titus 3:9

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

I so often just want to see the liberal losers put in their place. But God said that it is sometimes better just to avoid them all together. They’re just talking to hear themselves and sometimes so are we. Or so is “me.” I just need to say anything because I’m tired of everything.

We’d do much better if we’d just speak an appropriate scripture to the situation and then drop the mic. Sometimes that takes a little research, and sometimes the Holy Spirit will just speak it into your soul if you’re listening.

My third, final and most appropriate point for my own study is

Don’t forget, you were the fool

Titus 3:3

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Tell me it’s not true? I have to confess it was the case with me pre-salvation and I’ve been known to linger on a few of those issues even post salvation.

Satan has the liberal lot, and many who are caught somewhere between liberal and conservatives, deceived; because they don’t trust either side and with good reason. We do not always speak the words Jesus would have us speak. And we forget that we once were just as mislead.

While I want to silence, and in the worst kind of fleshly way, wipe the arrogant grins off CNN and the likes of news reporters, I need to remember who it is that I represent.

Jesus’ people ought to have more class than to get into a shouting match with the fools.

Just speak His word, walk away and then pray for the enemy. That too is a weapon of warfare that they can never have in the arsenal. They don’t have anyone to pray to.

Have You Sold Him Out?

Zechariah 11:12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Believe me when I say, that I could have gotten in the flesh so easy when I read this scripture this morning in Zechariah. There is no irony, it was deliberate, as is every word in the word of God. Nothing just happens, and nothing was just written for the sake of taking up space or embellishing the Book. It’s there on purpose.

Before I began reading, I asked God to speak to my soul through Zechariah. I about half believed He would. I’m just being honest. Sometimes the Old Testament prophets are either too meaty or too dark for me. They’re not about the ratings. They don’t care what I think. Zechariah was preaching the truth to Israel, they had not been in a good place with God. He’d taken them to the wood shed so many times the splinters had splinters. And at this point He’s telling them like it is, one final time “If you won’t listen, I’m giving you a serious time out.” (Yes that’s the Bible according to Shari) This is about 518 BC. Jesus doesn’t make the scene for greater than 500 years and Israel’s time out is long and silent.

My stomach just turned thinking about the times that God has been silent in my life and how hard it was. I didn’t hear from Him until I got into a place that had me wanting Him more than I wanted the world.

During Israel’s silent time, many people went on to the afterlife having never experienced God. Oh, how sad.

So, back to the scripture. It’s all too familiar to Matthew 26:15

And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

If you know much about the bible, you know that that was what Judas received for betraying Jesus.

Shari “in the flesh” wanted to write about Washington D.C.’s betrayal of the Lord. I wanted to name names, and parties. And I may or may not have been justified. I wanted to name news stations, and denominations. Yes, I was feeling very fleshly indeed. Until God brought up my own sell out. The times I could have spoken up, showed up and stepped up and did not.

Speak up

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ve failed on multiple occasions to speak up in the face of adversity when dealing with non-believers. But when a President, who clearly has not lived at the foot of the cross, does more for the cause of Christianity and speaks the name of Jesus in more sincerity than some backslidden politician  who refuses to speak up on behalf of Christians who elected them because of their stand on Christ, something’s wrong and they should be called out.

Show Up

It’s an odd thing to me that people will go to great lengths and expense to attend a secular event without regard for the day of the week, or the way they feel. But come Sunday church, or Heaven forbid a revival or Christian concert and suddenly they just don’t have the energy, money or time.

Stop lying to yourself and to the unsaved. Because you know better and so do the lost. Show up.

Step Up

The hardest one of three most likely because it requires commitment.

The saddest part of the story of Judas is the fact that Jesus would have gladly saved him. He repented of the money he took and gave it back, but couldn’t admit he was wrong about Christ and humble himself, but rather committed suicide.

He had weighed the price of his sin at 30 pieces of silver. That’s what he said the life of Christ was worth. Even though he had spent all that time in His presence.

The children of Israel had spent time in His presence too, but still failed.

I fall in that category too. Every time I fail to speak up, step up or show up I’m letting the world see how much I truly value Christ. Not nearly as much as I should.

Praise God for grace.

Before I throw anyone or any group under the bus I need to examine my agenda. Is it self-righteous Shari, self-promoting Shari or possibly even self-denial Shari who would rather bring attention to someone else’s issues than face my own head on.

Once that’s clear. I and you, need to speak up, show and step up into positions of authority that will give us a voice for Lord. And when others in authority weasel out and don’t defend Him, we need to call them out and set it right.

Real Life Struggles of the Jesus Chick

It seems so absolute petty, and so very vain. And as I told someone sarcastically this week “I’m sure it compares with the starving in Africa.” But today it is a struggle.

My knee accident and treatment continues to be a major issue in my life. Mainly because it’s so discouraging. I have so much I want and need to do in the ministry and in life and not being able to walk with grace, and sometimes at all, really throws a kink in that plan!

We had a very cold rainy weekend and it through my arthritic body into a tizzy. It threw a temper tantrum like a toddler. It wasn’t going anywhere! I made it to church Sunday morning (in flats!) Oh the horror! J And didn’t make it at all Sunday night. Actually didn’t make it off the couch. Monday morning came and my hopes of being better were greater until midafternoon and I derailed again with knee pain. I only lasted two innings into the tee ball game and had to come home.

My beautiful beige high heels that I longed to wear to church on Sunday morning taunt me from the corner while my “sensible flats” smirk with glee. I know it sounds so petty. But what it is, is discouraging. How did I get here and what am I going to do about it?

It isn’t so much about the heels, which I’m truly not that vain, I just like them, but it’s more about the fact that life is taking a toll on my ministry work. And though I know that it didn’t catch God off guard, and perhaps He truly is trying to slow me down before another heart attack, but I feel that it’s Satan trying to thwart my efforts. And I must fight back!

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” PHIL. 4:13

That’s the verse that was on my mind this morning as I thought about those sensible shoes. I don’t want to be sensible. I’ve never been sensible in my life, ask anyone who knows me!

I want to jump and watch the Holy Spirit’s net catch me from afar knowing that I walked in faith. In pretty shoes! I know it doesn’t compare to the problems in the lives of other people who are facing tragedies. I know it’s silly. But faith is faith. For silly shoes, or  surgery. I have to be able to trust my Lord.

Now He may say. “Shari, it’s just shoes, wear the flats.” And if He says that I’m fine and I’ll be grateful I can walk, there are people who cannot. But if He says, “those shoes look marvelous darling.” I’m going to be ready.

This is my point for you and me today. The Word of God is truth from the first word in Genesis to the last word in Revelation. And “all” means “all.”

But “through” also means “through.” I have to do it all through Christ. It’s from Him that I’m going to receive the strength, and that strength may or may not be in my knee, it may be in my Spirit.

When people quote Philippians 4:13 they’re often doing it through the flesh and not through the Spirit. Because they want something so bad, they believe it’s what Christ wants too, and that may or may not be the case.

So what I understand from my silly little drawing this morning is I can do ALL things that Christ wants me to do. Including wear shiny shoes if that be His desire.

Does Christ think about shiny shoes? Well He adorned the angels in shiny attire, I truly think it matters. But what matters most is that I keep priorities in check.

Shiny shoes mean nothing, if Christ isn’t in the story.

There it is, And it’s how I feel

Today is a gloomy Gus kind of day outside my window. Spring rains are in the day and I noted in my mind that there is a difference between a spring rain and a winter rain. While obviously the temperature difference is much easier on my arthritic bones, but the spring rain hydrates the land and suddenly overnight the trees are out and the flowers are blooming. I need my spirit to fall in line, it’s still in the winter mode.

I have projects that need done and a house that needs cleaning and repairs and all I want to do is set and space out which is not healthy for my mind set in so many ways! And it’s surely not healthy for the things that need done. So this morning I pushed past it and turned to another book in my reading through the Bible, the book of Zechariah.

One of the minor prophets who always have a major word.

Zechariah 4:6-10

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

His Spirit Not mine

Trying to do things in my own always leads to trouble, but I do it none the less. While I need to focus on my personal ministry work I have the collective work of the church on my heart as well. Which Zechariah spoke directly to this morning.

Chapter 4 begins speaking of a candlestick which represents the church. We are supposed to be a light to the world, but we seem more to be a flashlight under the bed looking for our lost socks. Wow… where did that analogy come from?

But there it is and its how I feel. There’s always something we’re looking to do and finish, like the other sock that never gets found. And rather than making progress, we’re looking for the lost sock while the laundry is stacking up and there’s plenty of other stuff to do, but the sock is important.

His Mountain, Not Mine

Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

Truthfully right now I don’t have a mountain of laundry, I have only a couple of loads, but what I have is a mountain of mayhem going through my brain. Bills that need paid, things that need done, people that need visited,  blogs that need written, lessons that need prepared, songs that need sung… each one of them seems to be a missing sock. I just can’t get it together. I need God to flatten this mess out. 

Grace, grace unto it!!! Please Jesus.

His Mercy, My Message

Have you ever been told, or told your children (probably both) “I’m going to straighten you out!”

Well, that’s what I feel like God needs to do to me. I’m out of line.

Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.

10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

The plummet was used to make sure everything was in line in the building of the house of God. Now, how that plays into the missing sock, I’m not sure. Other than God is in the details of house work. Be it, the House of God, or the house of Shari. God’s aware of everything that happens to and fro through the whole earth. Even the times that I sit in frustration and feel that the mountains are just too big to move, And God sends a guy like Zechariah to say that no matter the mountain, God’s work will be done in me. And you!

We just need to stay faithful

God knows where’s that sock is. And He knows every missing piece of our work in His name. Keep looking… we’ll find it.

Dreams of a Soul Winner

Daniel 12:3 ~ And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

I am a dreamer! I have goals and ambitions that likely far exceed possibility, but still I dream. Daniel was no ordinary dreamer and his dreams were not ordinary dreams, they were visions far into the distant future; likely a vision into our “now.” Much like the book of Revelation, the book of Daniel reads like a newspaper.

And while I must confess, without the assistance of theological commentaries I wouldn’t know beans about the majority of it, a verse like Daniel 12:3 stirred my soul this morning and so did the notes on the side of my bible page. It may have been a sermon outline, or it may have been my thoughts, I’m not sure of where it came from, but there it was… an outline in the waiting for me this morning as I finished out the last chapter of the book.

Know the Word of God!

The wise men did then, and so do the wise men and women of the day. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” it says in 2 Timothy 2:15.  

I’m always stressing the importance of bible reading to my students. Sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead horse. Sometimes I’m the dead horse. It’s so easy to get caught up in the world and not read the word of God. Believe me when I say, I get it.

It’s also easy to read it and not divide it. Trusting that what a preacher or commentary said is correct, which may or may not be the case. Also, when reading the word of God it is a living, breathing document designed to speak to you personally. The message never changes, but how you’re to apply it does and you need to be able to read and divide (understand) what God wants you to know.

Look for Evidence

When Daniel interpreted dreams, the interpretation was truth. If there had never been any evidence of what his interpretation was, nobody would have ever believed him.

When winning souls to Christ, and witnessing to our family and friends, they need to know that you know what you’re talking about. Not that you’re a bible scholar, but that you have a relationship with the Lord that means you can hear from Him and understand what He wants you to know. Just as I know people  need proof in the pudding of my relationship with Christ, I want proof in the lives of the people I touch. I want to know that I’ve encouraged them and made a difference. It’s the things my dreams are made of.

Act on It!

When the wise men of Jesus’ day heard that the Messiah had come, they didn’t stand around waiting for a news brief. They went to discover the truth themselves.

And when it comes to Messiah’s return for His church we don’t need to be standing around for a news brief either, that news hit the stands 2000 years ago. We need to be acting on.

The Apostle Paul shared that news in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The archangel… the same one that spoke with Daniel will blow the trumpet for the Lord Jesus Christ! His word does not change. The end result is still the same. Jesus is coming back and we need to ready and sharing that word with our family and friends.

It is the dream of this soul winner that no one I love is missing in Heaven. Please… be faithful child of God! Tell the world of Jesus.

A Steadfast Hope!

A few days of Fibromyalgia kicking my tail and I am so appreciative of the sun shining outside my windows today. It’s humbling how the feeling of hopelessness can kick in so quickly and that defeat can consume the mind. Oh did I feel the drama queen coming out of me during that time! It’s not something I let the world see, or anyone other than the hubs usually. But it’s a very real side of my personality. Or should I say “personalities.”

Praise God! for the steadfastness of Jesus Christ. From the Old Testament to the New Testament God is still God! Somehow or another as I read in Daniel this morning it lead me to the book of Hebrews.

Stick with me, I promise in my “drama mama” way, this road will lead to discovery, at least it did for me.

Daniel 6:26 ~ I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

King Darius made that decree after Daniel was delivered out of the Lion’s den. And Daniel wrote in the following chapter (7:14)“And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

The same steadfast God of Daniel is the same steadfast God of the writer of Hebrews who wrote in Hebrews 6:17-19 ~ Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Glory to God that stirs this girl’s soul this morning!

I made the mistake of tuning into a Fox newscast on Facebook this morning of the church bombing in Sri Lanka that killed 300 people on Easter Sunday. The day after I lay whining on the couch on Saturday.

It put my days into perspective.

What a wicked world we live in. Another thing that has not changed from the garden is the evil of Satan and his intention of destroying this world and taking as many souls with him as he can. He is the original drama king of this world. His focus is on destruction. But Halelujah! He cannot touch our world… you know… the one we’re headed to, not the one we live in. He’ll have his day down here, but not there.

Daniel knew and shared with Darius what I know and share with my readers. We serve a living God! That is reason to get dramatic on the side of good news!

Heirs of the Promise

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

The Pain won’t last forever! My fibro-weekend wasn’t fun, but today is Tuesday, and I’m feeling so much better. Can you imagine how much better I’ll feel in that Promised Land! Glory to God let’s get dramatic!

Lay hold of His Hope

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

For a split second, okay, maybe several hours I lost hold of that hope on Saturday. The pain over took my mind and I was not in the mindset that I should have been in. I have no doubt that it’s for a reason, and one such reason is, it gives me a greater understanding of those who suffer. If I didn’t suffer too, I could never say “I understand, and really understand.” But praise God, I can share the hope He provides and the promise of a better day.

That hope is what brought Daniel through the lion’s den, because he knew that one way or the other there was a day Darius didn’t control. And so it was with the faith of the writer of Hebrews.

That Hope was Anchored at the Cross

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

We just celebrated the splitting of that veil that day of the cross when our Savior died. We now have that anchor to the soul ready and waiting for us to come to Him, not through a priest but personally, and it’s not going anywhere! From here to eternity our Lord is Alive and so will we be with Him one glorious day.

I may have many “fibro days” ahead of me. Or not… I still pray and believe my Lord can heal. But if He chooses that I go through instead of out, I’ll live for Him because He died for me.

I hope these words encouraged you today, because they sure did me… Let the Son Shine!

According to the Promise

In this day and age where promises are so easily broken, I can certainly understand the hesitancy of the unsaved to believe anything Christians say. Many Christians don’t have any more of a testimony of honesty and purity than the unsaved.

That truth was an “ouch” moment for me. I certainly haven’t lived a life above reproach. There are no stones in my pocket. If anything I’m forever in a state of waiting for someone to hurl one at me.

So on this Holy weekend I’m ever conscious of what my Lord has done, as well as conscious of my ingratitude and lack of understanding of the depth of His love.

Last night was our Good Friday Communion Service at Victory Baptist church. Lifting that bread and cup to my lips is difficult. I’m never sure that I even should. That’s the depth of failure I feel. But Praise His Holy and wonderful name He does not intend for me to stay in that state.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:1

Not your typical Easter scripture. But for me it reminded me of what the cross meant…

The Promise of Life

That promises is only found in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Not Shari’s work, not the preacher’s or the deacon’s or anyone else in this world, but Christ alone.

It’s the life that the unsaved long for but they don’t even know it. It’s a life that can only be experienced by accepting what the blood of Jesus did that day on the cross.

Red Makes White

As an artist I’ve on more than one occasion mixed a strong pigmented color in with a lighter color and ended up with a gallon of paint trying to fix it. Yes that’s an exaggeration. Red into white would certain cause that effect. But not with Christ.

In reading this scripture this morning that’s what happened with me. All my failures and sin were covered with that promise Christ made at the cross. And it’s what gives me the strength to go on. I understand Paul when he said that “by the will of God, according to the promise.”

It is God’s will that we continue on serving even on the days that we don’t feel worthy. It is His will that His children continue His work. The work that He died for on the cross.

Stir it Up!

That was Paul’s advice to Timothy in verse 6 of Chapter 1:

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.

Paul had laid hands on Timothy and ordained his service for the Lord. And while that is a wonderful testimony and service of the church, it doesn’t mean that we who have not had the hands of man laid upon us are not ordained for a work in Christ Jesus. Start searching your heart for the truth of what it is God has called you to do and you will stir something inside of you that you may or may not have felt before. But it’s the work, and it’s a specific work that God has called you alone to perform. I believe that.

I don’t believe there is anyone else who can or should do what I’ve been called to do. But I also am painfully aware that I have taken on other people’s callings because I was too impatient to wait for them to step out in faith and do it.

Don’t let me or anyone else rob you of the blessing that comes from serving Christ. Let God stir that gift up in you as He did Paul and Timothy!

Paint the Town!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My tendency to fall into a vat of guilt keeps me from doing the work I’ve been called to do. It stops my productivity and creativity in the Lord. What a sad statement. But that’s Satan’s goal when he reminds us that we are unworthy. Which if it were only of ourselves would be a true statement; but not according to the promise of life which in in Christ Jesus!

In that promise we can paint the town red. By sharing what the blood of Christ has done in our life. But only if we ourselves believe it to be true, and live it like it is.

Renewed Like the Eagle’s

Most every day since the heart attack has been filled with a plethora of emotions. There are days I feel awesome! And I appreciate those days because they’ve been less than more. I ask not for pity. It’s just the process of aging and the result of having poured more junk into the vessel the Lord gave me rather than healthy fuels. The truth hurts… sometimes literally.  The same is true spiritually.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the book of Psalms lately. It’s my go to place when I’m in need of encouragement. Most likely because I can relate to many of them which were penned by David, who certainly experienced more than one lifetime of emotions through tribulations and celebrations.  Take Psalm 103… Just in the first 5 verses it describes my day to day:

That is my prayer this morning as I approach the Easter weekend and attempt to dry nigh to the Lord Jesus. It’s difficult when you’re in the flesh and throwing a pity party for your aching arthritic bones. I find myself saying “Oh my stars!” more than “Oh my soul!”

Which is exactly why I needed to fuel my body with His words instead of mine!

The Benefit Package

1Bless 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:

While insurance companies are paying less and less on the average health care bill, the benefits of serving the Lord have been multiplied. A fact I need to remember. As a matter of fact it’s a prescription dose we all need this week.

Because of the cross our benefit package is out of this world. There is nothing that our God cannot do so long as it’s His will. And His will is for certain that His children walk in truth and joy.

The Prescription Plan

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

In 2017 I took no medication. At the beginning of 2018 I took 2, by mid 2018 to now I’ve been on 9-13 daily meds to make this body of mine function. How ridiculous is that!

Well, I may not like it, but it’s what keeps me going. Missing anyone of those pills can make life difficult. The same holds true with my spirituality. Failure to take the prescribed daily dosage of God’s word and time in His presence takes its toll on me. I feel terrible. And not only that,  I miss the blessing of feeling clean and whole through His forgiveness. And for certain I lose sight of the fact that He has the power to heal this body and strengthen me for His service.

The Forgiveness Clause

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

This was an “oh my stars!” moment for me today. Only God has the power to take back the damage that I have inflicted to this soul and body. He created me, through sin and poor decisions I destroyed me, through doctors and medicine He restored me, but He can just as well heal me. He has that ability and His mercy may go there… or it may not. But either way He has given me so many opportunities I did not deserve. Yes Glory to God it is an Oh My Stars! Kind of day.

Open Enrollment

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Unlike the insurance world enrollment isn’t limited to a certain time. It’s any time. God’s ready and willing for us to use our benefits and renew our relationship with Him. This is a good week to think about that…

The Lord’s Cup and Mine

The Power of His Word

Those who are saved know there is power in the Word of God. But we sometimes forget that the power is literal, not figuratively speaking. Just by speaking it out loud, things can happen.

It’s not magic. It’s understanding that the Holy Ghost is within us and when we speak what He tells us to speak, there is power in those words. The key word there is what “He” tells us to speak. When people put the power in incantation (chanting or reciting something over and over in religious discipline) then they’re actually saying that they have the power. Examples are: Reciting the Lord’s prayer without thought of what those words mean, reciting the prayer of Jabez for the purpose of greed. Those scriptures are not evil, they’re the word of God. Us reading and studying and even reciting those prayers aren’t evil. They can stir the soul and cause you to draw nearer to God through the testimony of those writers. What’s wrong is putting the power in the word (little w) and not the Word. (big W!)

One of my favorite mental images is that of Christ blowing people down with His words. Wouldn’t that be a great ability for the child of God? J

What biblical super power would you like to have? (Elijah’s fire) (Moses’ staff)

We can’t blow people down, but sometimes the Word of God blows me away; especially when it reveals things to me and causes me to think about the Word like I hadn’t before; like Doug Rowe did in Sunday School class last week. It causes me to search deeper into the word of God to discover what God wants me to know during this Easter season that will help me appreciate Him more.

John 18:1-14

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

There’s not always safety in numbers, as Judas thought because God doesn’t control things from a human perspective. Judas knew somethings about Jesus, but he didn’t know Jesus.

What are some things we know about Jesus that the unsaved wouldn’t know or understand?

Where do you see people of the world thinking they’re in control?

When searching your life during this special week before Easter, where do you see places in your life that you “think” you have control or you’re taking control when you shouldn’t?

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The Power of His Ways

Even Peter who had seen the Power of God at work and believed that He was the Messiah, missed the mark as a child of God on several occasions. This was one of them. He attempted to “fix” the problem.

Peter missed God’s directive.

Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. 10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

How many of us are guilty of that?

Some of us have that personality. I’m a fixer. I want to fix everyone’s problems. But sometimes that makes me the problem. There are some things that from the surface look bad, but the end result is a great victory. That was this circumstance. Peter was trying to remove the cup from the Lord, and which one of us wouldn’t want to do that from a human perspective, but from God’s perspective, all of these circumstances lead to the end result of eternal security for us.

Jesus had just said, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

He wasn’t going to lose any in the garden by the battle, and He’s not going to lose any out of Heaven because of the cross.

What was Peter focusing on?

Jesus had Heaven in view, while Peter had this earth in view.

Isaiah 55:8 reminds us

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Peter didn’t always have his focus on the wrong thing. When Jesus asked in Matthew 16:15 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

Verse 16 says And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

He knew God like Judas did not. Simon proves again and again that he’s not perfect. Why do you think God may have put someone like Simon in so many places of prominence in the Bible? What is there about his character that God wants us to understand?

I personally relate to Peter on many levels. His jump and the net will appear attitude is who I’ve been all my life. When looking at the Apostles, do you see yourself in any one of the characters and why? (back page list)

The Power of His Blood

That’s what Peter didn’t understand at that time.

11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? 12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, 13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Caiaphas didn’t understand the truth of those words the way that we understand them today.

Only one Man could die for the people. All the people. And that Man was Jesus.


Jesus had to drink from that cup, because He was the only One that could have. Without the sacrifice that He made there would have been no hope for mankind. That part Peter didn’t understand, but there would come a time that he would.

What About My Cup Lord

There came a time that Peter would understand the cup of Christ, and the fact that he too would have a cup. He would also learn, not to worry about what someone else’s cup is filled with.

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. 20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Peter would be crucified like the Lord, although it is said that he was crucified upside down by his own choice. John wasn’t crucified, but his life wasn’t a piece of cake either; he was boiled in oil and banished to the isle of Patmos where he wrote the final book in the Bible.

Peter’s conversation with Christ helps us to understand that we’re to look at no other persons walk with Christ and judge it, or compare it to ours. We each have our cup to bear if we’re doing anything for the cause of Christ.

Examine your life this week. Draw and Write inside your cup the things (both good and bad) that God has allowed you to go through because it made you a better child of God.

The Apostle personalities:

  1. Peter – quick to speak and act, crucified upside down
  2. Andrew – Soul winner (Peter) Often in the background.
  3. James – Inner circle, one of the Sons of Thunder, First martyred. Brother to John
  4. John – Loyal, fiery temperament, leader, last of the apostles to die. Brother to James, the other of the Sons of Thunder
  5. Philip – quick soul winner (Nathanael) died a martyr.
  6. Nathanael – skeptic but loyal
  7. Matthew –Left everything and devoted himself to Christ.
  8. Thomas – doubter, risk taker and prone to extremes.
  9. James the less – little known
  10. Simon the Zealot – mentioned only 3 times
  11. Jude – tenderhearted
  12. Judas – betrayer

But Until Then, Jesus

Let’s Get Real, the Flesh Rises

Boy does it! I’ve been thinking a lot about my fleshly ways. You know… trying to justify it. One such occasion is my frequent trips to our little town of Grantsville, West Virginia for which I always seem to be in a hurry. And somebody else doesn’t. On multiple occasions over the past few weeks I’ve been behind a Sunday driver in the middle of the week. Our speed limit is 55 mph. Although people unfamiliar with West Virginia roads would say that is likely too fast! And obviously some of our locals who are content at driving 40 mph. And I truthfully have a freeway brain. I would like to go 70 mph. I have places to be!

Let’s get real. Nowhere that couldn’t wait a few minutes. But the problem with my freeway brain is; our West Virginia roads have very few passing zones. So if you’re behind a Sunday Driver on a Friday. It really does feel like it may be Sunday before you get to town, which sometimes causes my flesh to kick into a higher gear. One such occasion happened last week.

I had followed this guy until my head was about to explode. At least a couple of miles. But the passing zone was coming up and I was praying, (I’m godly you know?) Lord please let the zone be clear. As I come around the turn I think it’s okay, until I see a mail lady stopped half in the passing lane and half out, delivering mail. She’s in the middle of the zone! so now I have to wait again.

I wait and as soon as I’m past her I dart out into the passing lane and low and behold another truck is coming around the turn in my lane. So I gun it! And my little Kia Soul almost sounds like it’s rubber band is going to break but it’s got the power when I need it. Praise God! And then I think about the lettering on the back of my car.

“Soul Seeker”

www.theJesusChick.com.

And I’m not quite so impressed with my car or myself anymore. I wonder if the guy I just gunned it passed seen my decals and thought… such a godly woman. Umm. Probably not.

So yesterday I had another rising of the flesh but I managed to keep this one internal. I was invited to a new place to sing and I met some people who didn’t know me from Adam. Certainly they didn’t know I was the Jesus Chick. Two minutes into meeting them, they’re trash talking everyone around them and I’m nauseous. “Why did I come here?” I thought. And then I remembered, because my idea of saying no is “no, I wouldn’t mind.” And then I remembered why I do what I do. So people can see Jesus. And so I did just that… I changed the conversation. Woohoo! This was a win. Well partly… they still had the occasion to trash talk.

Incident number three, I was home alone scrolling social media. Which can so easily get me in trouble. After about the fiftieth social media jab by liberals about everything from abortion to the President my head was about to explode again. It’s very well my biggest pet peeve. I’m so tired of this liberal agenda and the inability to defend our rights as a nation and more importantly the agenda of Almighty God without being attacked. So I say nothing. I just don’t want the negativity on my social media pages.

I delete who I must (anyone who speaks filth) and I scroll past who I can (those who I hope will see my post and want Jesus.)

So this morning when I read 2 Peter 2:9-10. I praised God that He delivers people like me. And that He forgives people like me.

Peter spoke of Lot a few verses before when he said, “And delivered Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.  (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;” ~verses 7-8

Oh be careful little eyes what you see… you probably know the song.

The word of God was a reminder for me that I need to sing that song to myself. I need to watch what I do for certain. I need to shut some people out… yes indeed! And I need to be grateful that God will deliver my soul some day from this wicked, wicked world. And then the judgement.

But until then. Jesus.

This is Just the Appetizer

How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Psalm 119:103

This verse keeps popping up in various places. In my mind, social media posts, again and again. I don’t believe that things like that just happen. I think that God needed me to focus on the sweetness of His words for a reason.

This brought to mind somethings that have left a “bad taste in my mouth” as the old adage says. Words that were spoken in anger, pride, or without regard for the feelings of others. Some by me, some by others; but that is not the case with the word of God. There is not one word that was written without the intent of doing good. Isn’t that an awesome thought? It’s why the Bible is such an encouragement to the child of God and such a missing link to their successful walk if we’re not reading it.

I believe the writer was describing how the word of God brings enjoyment to the senses. In every form, be it written or spoken, sung or quoted, it brings joy the person who has the Spirit of God within their heart. It can also cause alarm like a spicy dish or like the savoryness of a good plate of food it can satisfy the bones. I do not know how that works. But like the writer of Psalm, I know it’s true.

Jeremiah knew it too when he wrote Jeremiah 15:16

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.

Not only does the word have the ability to nourish and it can bring refreshing like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day.

Proverbs 25:25

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Oh my stars how awesome and true! Just as the spring rains replenish the earth and cause our spring flowers to bud forth, so does the word of God. We soak it up, we bloom where we’re planted and all who pass can see the beauty of God in our lives. It’s a miracle that no other book can boast. Another book may entertain, but the word of God nourishes and satisfies. It builds physical strength for the day ahead.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog post today. But it was just the appetizer. The meal comes when you read what God has specifically for you!

3 Reasons I think People Don’t Feel Saved

For  many years if you’d have ask me if I was saved I’d have said yes. Largely because of shame and because I couldn’t admit that I didn’t even understand that concept. Most people who knew me assumed I was saved for no other reason than because I went to church. That was it. That was all it took.  Not because there was any evidence of it in my personal walk with Christ. Which I didn’t have.

So yesterday, as I was blessed to sit in church and hear a convicting message of the gospel; and by convicting I don’t mean I felt like a dirt dog, because I’ve been in those sermons too. But by convicted I knew there were areas in my life that needed more commitment.  And one of those areas was my Monday morning video “Not Another Manic Monday.” I had lost sight of what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to draw people closer in their walk with Christ.

So today’s topic is one that I believe every child of God has an occasional if not consistent struggle with. The assurance that you’re saved, and three possible reasons that I think will help in winning that battle.

People Don’t Read Beyond the Norm

So what’s the norm? Unfortunately, I think people rarely, if ever read the word. I think that because that’s who I was in my previous church life.

Hebrews 10:22 ~ Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

A preacher friend of mine (and I’ve used this illustration so many times) said that the Word of God was like a spiritual “warsh” cloth. I know it’s wash cloth, but that’s how he said, and I love that memory.

It’s a phrase that has stuck in my head because I know it to be true. And it’s one of the primary reasons people lose their assurance of salvation. Because they don’t understand the importance of reading the word of God.

Prior to salvation, my idea of reading the word of God was, #1~ it was the preacher’s job. # 2 ~ it was there if I felt troubled. But the problem with the second notion, is at that time I wasn’t saved. So it was like reading the owner’s manual of a product I didn’t have. It made no sense what so ever. 

But once I became saved, and the Spirit of God came into my heart that changed and I was blessed with an immediate desire to soak in the word of God in every form. Spoken, written and recorded. I know I’m not the norm and many people may not have the time that I spend in His word. But the writer of Hebrew spoke a great truth when he said

…  having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

That evil conscience (that causes us to doubt our salvation) is covered by the blood. But without the reading of the word to remind us of that, we lose the feeling of being clean.

There is one thing I can tell you with bold assurance because I’ve lived it and I’ve failed at it; without the reading of the word of God, you will forever battle the assurance of salvation.

When the writer of Hebrews wrote 10:22, and when my preacher friend was inspired to say “warsh cloth” it was because both of those men had a relationship with the Lord beyond the norm.

People Don’t Live Beyond the Norm

1 Thessalonians 1:5 ~ For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

God has blessed me with some amazing Spirit filled saints in my life. People who live out the faith. They’re not perfect, but they’re living in the perfection of Christ.

By Spirit filled I don’t mean that they have more of God in them than the average saved person. When we get saved we all get all of God. 

Ephesians 3:19 says And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

When I think of the fullness of God I think of it like shaking a soda pop. When you do the carbonated bubbles explode to the surface. Well that’s what it’s like when you’re filled with the Spirit. It’s not that you have any more of God that anyone else. But rather the Spirit in you begins to bubble up with excitement because of the work God is doing in your life. And when it bubbles up and out, it’s evident to not only you, but the people around you.

At those times, nobody can tell you you’re not saved. Because you’re living it. And while we can’t live on the mountain all the time, if we’re serving God enough, those experiences will leave very little room for doubt in your eternal state. Not for you. Or for the people around you.

I was successful in my early walk with Christ because the people around me bubbled with excitement. And I wanted it too.

People Don’t Attend Church Beyond the Norm

Colossians 2:2 ~  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Growing up I thought that faith was a Sunday morning thing. Sunday night and Wednesday Night Bible Study was for the blue hairs and old men. And most churches are still like that today, if they even have a Sunday night or Wednesday night service.

Right after I got saved our church began a Wednesday Night Study called “Journey to the Heavenlies.” It was a study on the book of Revelation. A pretty heavy topic for a new believer. And while I certainly didn’t understand all of it, I understood enough, because of an excellent teacher. I was fascinated about the prospect of Heaven and no longer feared the end times.

That understanding helped inspire me to read and live beyond the norm. And it gave me the desire to come back again and again to learn more. I was so thankful for the truth of God’s word being taught to me that I wanted to live and do more for my Lord.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians he hadn’t been with them for a while. But they were holding on to each other and it multiplied their assurance.

That’s what attending a church does and why it’s crucial to your assurance.

When I got saved I was attending every revival around me. I couldn’t get enough church, be it mine or someone else’s. I just wanted to be with God’s people. I still do.

I know that in being with God’s people, I’ll not only be encouraged, I’ll be accountable. We need people in our lives that will keep us from slipping in our faith which causes doubt.

Last night the preacher told the story of some old time saints in a remote village. They didn’t have a closet to get into for prayer, but realizing the importance of spending time alone with God they would carve out a path in the woods. Each would have their own.

But if someone’s path started having grass grow on it, it would be evidence that they weren’t spending time alone with God. And one of their friends, in a nice tone would say, “Friend, your path has grass on it.”

They were letting them know that they were concerned that their friend wasn’t spending enough time with God.

So that’s my question for you.    Friend, does your path have grass on it? I hope not. And I don’t stand in judgement. Because my path any day could start growing grass because I’m just flesh and blood.

That’s why I go to church, read the word and live beyond the norm. Because I’m not normal.

That should get a big amen!

It’s Not about Us this Morning

A quick drawing and a quick thought this morning as I prepared my heart for church. I needed to remember, and perhaps you do as well, that God’s idea of mercy and mine are two entirely different notions. Mine has limitations, His goes higher than my mind can fathom.

As I prepare my heart for worship, Satan loves nothing better than to bring my failures into view in hopes that rather than glorifying God, I’ll remember me. But the fact of the matter God has thrown them as far as the east is from the west.

Now let’s go to church and praise Him for it.

Rain On Me Lord!

April showers bring May flowers, provided they’re properly cared for by the gardener. And while wild flowers can grow with seemingly no care whatsoever, my sometimes, confessedly neglected flower beds begin to dry up within hours of me forgetting to water them. My spiritual life is much the same. Left unattended, without the water of the Word and I’m as shriveled and parched as a raisin in the sun. It’s also true if I don’t spend time nurturing my relationship with the Lord. I cannot do it for the Jesus Chick, not for my Sunday morning class or my Wednesday night class, but for me alone. It’s personal.

Isaiah 45:8-12

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

Getting in the word is just like my spring time flower beds; digging around always unearths something. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. The word is always good, but sometimes there’s some bad in me that needs rooted out cast out. If I spend all my time focusing on ministering to other people, I miss the ministering I need. And the weeds of this world will prevent my own spiritual growth. We need to take time for us.

Isaiah understood that concept when he received the word of God. Isaiah was a vessel, filled with the seeds that God had given him and a relationship that allowed him to be used mightily by God. We too are that vessel!

Stop Striving with God

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Striving against God? Who would be that stupid, right? Me. That’s what I do every time I feel the coercing of the Holy Spirit to spend time alone with God and I spend it in the world. When I read verse nine I could hear God say, “That is not what I created you for. I didn’t create you to be exhausted with things of no eternal value. Stop striving.”

Stop Doubting God

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

Why do we question why we were created as we were? Boy, oh boy does that question hit me hard. I’ve never made any bones about it when it comes to my always questioning God’s direction in my life. Even though I know. Even though it’s as obvious as the nose on my face. But even with the knowledge of what I’m supposed to do, I’m always playing the comparison game with other writer, artists, and singers. Basically telling God that what He did in me, isn’t enough.

Stop Bossing God

11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. 12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

When I read these verses I immediately knew that God wanted me to know. To Shari quote it in the manner I heard it inside of my head, I heard God say “Why don’t you ask Me and My Son what we have planned for you instead of telling Us what you have planned. I’ve created the universe and the host of all of Heaven. What have you created by comparison?”

Wow. That is so true.

I’m learning at a snail’s pace to love myself and my work. But it’s hard. I criticize myself until I feel like a dirt dog unworthy to eat from the scrapyard. True story. But the reality is, who created strife and doubt? and Who created confidence and love? We know the answer and yet we buy the lies of Satan every day.

Stop Striving. Stop Doubting. Stop Bossing. Start enjoying the gifts God has given you.

It is the Power of God

I feel foolish a lot. There are days that every dream and imagination I’ve had seems like the dumbest ideas ever. True story. Not an exaggeration. But the one solid foundational belief within me is that the cross made all the difference in my life, and when the rest of my world falls apart the cross still stands.

This morning I needed that truth. I guess I need it every day, but today more than ever. I don’t want to give credit where it’s not due; and there are times that I’m pretty sure it’s me attacking my mind and not Satan. My self-doubt is running haywire today. So I turn to the one sure thing in my life. The cross.

The world may view it as foolishness but my work in the ministry I’ve never doubted. I’ve never doubted my purpose in that place because I always stand in amazement at what God has done in my life and it’s all because of the cross.

The Cross brought Communication

I love the image of the veil being rent from top to bottom (Luke 23:45)

And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

 As Jesus “gave up the ghost” and the work was finished on the cross, the final price was paid so that we could have a relationship with God. So that I could talk to the Creator. I have no need to go through a priest. The High Priest is at the right hand of God saying “that child is mine, she can approach the throne any time she needs.”

I have never been turned away.

The Cross brought Comfort

John 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

When the world says I’m foolish, the Holy Spirit say, “You’re fine.”

That comfort that comes from within cannot be explained, it can only be experienced. It’s heartbreaking to think of the world who does not have it because I know what it’s meant for me to have the indwelling of God. Especially on days like today.

Please don’t think that I’m asking for sympathy or a pat on the back for what I do. I’m just sharing with you what you too have probably experienced. Doubt is a powerful tool. It’s the avenue of quitters and I have a hard time not traveling down that road.

The Cross Brought Compassion

It’s what keeps me going. I know the world needs to see more of it. It’s the reason I can kick doubt out of the way and keep on keeping on; because I have compassion for the people of God who need words and images of encouragement. I don’t know what the future holds for the Jesus Chick, but as the song says “I know Who Holds” it.

With the Easter season upon us and the many worldly images of the season, it’s good to have a reminder set before us. God created the bunnies and the chicks, but He communes with this chick, and I am so grateful for the cross that made it possible.

The Danger of Walking on the Wild Side

I’ve recently watched a few Christian friends, and by watching I don’t mean “watching” in the sense of waiting for them to fall or judging their walk. I watch because they’re drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are drawn to the wild side. To my knowledge, they’re not actively participating in a bad lifestyle, but they’re fascination of it brings me to the realization that I too, and likely every child of God, can be drawn into a desire to walk on the wild side. And there is a danger.

Romans 11:24-26

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, untill the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungoliness from Jacob.

Apostle Paul is speaking to the Jews about the wild side of the Gentiles. They didn’t appreciate it. They’d always steered clear of the Gentiles; and now, this Gentile loving Jew was telling them that they should embrace them and call them brothers and sisters. What? That rebel nation is now God’s people too. Yes! Hallelujah. Because we were made new. We were not a heathen branch grafted into a healthy tree that would have weakened it. But rather we were a newly formed branch, not formed by nature which grows wild, but rather formed by the Creator with purpose. I just wrote myself happy!

The Jews were represented by the olive tree, a valuable, fruit bearing tree. But their focus wasn’t on the fruit, it was on their status as the original tree. Apostle Paul was trying to reintroduce them to the Fruit Bearer. Christ. The long awaited Messiah that they had rejected because they didn’t understand the mystery of the work that God had done. They didn’t want to understand. That would be key.

And sometimes we don’t want to understand the price God paid to turn us from that wild branch, into a Holy Nation. You see, there’s a side of me that can look back on the wild side of life and think “that was fun.” But then I remember what life was really like outside the True Branch. And nothing on the backside of where I am now, seems appealing. I don’t want to mar the beautiful Branch that I have been allowed to become a part of.

That’s what scares me about the friends of mine that find joy in reliving the wild side memories and walk dangerously close to marring the branch.

Glorifying Sin Mars the Branch

When someone speaks of the past life’s sin in a manner that makes it sound fun and exciting, it can cause the unsaved to think that we’re missing out on something by being saved. That’s a mark on the branch, because it is the furthest from the truth.

I lived unsaved 34 years. I had plenty of experiences in life that the world deems as fun. I also know the miserable state I was in at the time. That somehow gets forgotten by those glorifying those days.

But now… Glory to God I’m having more fun, and more excitement than I ever had pre-salvation. Hands down, it is not an exaggeration!

Glamorizing Sin Mocks the Branch

That thought makes me nauseous. But for me it’s what happens when I hear someone laughing and joking about sin. Whether it’s their sin from a previous life, or someone else living in sin. There’s nothing funny about it.

What someone views as a funny story about a drunk, reminds me of the lives I’ve seen ruined, absolutely destroyed because of alcohol. When a Christian speaks of alcohol as “not sinful,” when drank in moderation, I wonder who they’re trying to convince.

While few people joke about drugs, the legalization of marijuana reminds me of a night at 15 years of age, I almost died because someone laced mine with PCP.  You may say one has nothing to do with the other. I disagree. Because one is a gateway drug to the other. Just as beer is the gateway to a stronger fix for an alcoholic. And one time just may be the end to a life that wasn’t saved. It’s a game that is too dangerous to play, and certainly doesn’t need glamorized by God’s people.

Glossing over Sin Moves the Branch

Making light of any sin, or looking at the wild side of life as a fond memory causes an instability in the life of the believer not just the unsaved. I’ve watched it play out too many times.

I heard a preacher mock the “Baptist” about not being drinkers for months and months, and then I watched him fall to alcoholism. He did eventually win the victory over it, and I praise God for that, but he paid a high price.  

I watched as a woman made light of her indiscretions and almost destroyed her marriage.

I was broken hearted when a preacher friend fell to a sexual sin. I also remember his last sermon, the title of it was “Finishing Well.” He did not.

I didn’t get my 20 plus year badge of the Christian faith without being broken hearted, hurt, and yes, I too have fallen because I’ve walked too close to the wild side. It’s too dangerous to make light of and Satan loves it every time a Christian “fondly” remembers a day of sin. Don’t give him one drop of glory.

Remember what the price for that sin was. We are not heathen branches grafted into a healthy tree. We were made new! Let us act like it.

That Doggone Tree


Genesis 3:5

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

I don’t want to scare you but I have a 22 point message. And before you tune me out, they’re actually sub points of a __ point message and they’ll only briefly be mentioned, and in a manner I think you’ll come to appreciate regarding the tree of good and evil from Genesis 3.

I think often about that doggone tree in the garden that started it all when it comes to sin and mankind. If it hadn’t been for that tree, life would have been so much different for each one of us. And Then I think of who I’ve become because of many the evil things in my life, and it makes me ponder the tree a little deeper today.

The Fallacy of the Fruit

When God created the fruits of the tree, it says in Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

It doesn’t say there was any difference,  with the exception that in verses 16-17, God said And the Lord God commanded the man, saying of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

They were all good for food, but one was forbidden, and yet it wasn’t entirely evil. It was the tree of good and evil. That’s where some confusion on my part comes in. How can a tree be filled with both. And why was it even there? Why would God put something so tempting in the garden that He knew would reap such destruction for all of mankind?

If there’s one thing that I have figured out in my 56 years of life on this earth, it’s that “Nothing just happens.” God has purpose for every single thing on and in this earth. And while it was not ever God’s intention for man to sin; God still knew the story before it happened. He also knew Satan’s starring role in the story and how Satan twisted the words of the Lord to confuse Eve.

“Ye shall not surely die:” he said.

And so Eve ate of the tree and the rest, as they say, is history. But what Eve set in motion isn’t just history, its future as well. There are things that have happened and things that are going to happen that are horrible because of the circumstances of the original sin.

All the fruit of the garden was good, and Eve could have had any one of them and been satisfied. But it says that upon the temptation of the Serpent’s words, that eve

… saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Something happened when they discovered evil. They already knew good, but now they’d discovered the opposite of good, which is evil.

They knew they were naked.

For the first time they experienced fear, shame and guilt. They no longer had confidence in who they were. Where they had once looked forward to the arrival of the Lord in the garden, now they were hiding and covering their bodies up because of that doggone fruit of the garden. And we’re still doing it today, even though it’s no longer necessary.

I created the drawing and used all the words I could think of that began with “D.” But there’s a thousand others that start with many other letters that could fit on the branches as well. All things that cause our relationship with the Lord to suffer. That was Satan’s goal. He was jealous of Adam and Eve and what they had with the Lord. He was out to destroy it. And he’s still destroying it today. He hates our relationship with God. How many of us are suffering one of the afflictions I’ve listed on the tree, or multiple. And how many times do they drive us away from God because Satan convinces us that we’re unworthy of God’s love. That’s what Adam and Eve discovered that day. That they were unworthy. Shameful. They didn’t know that before they discovered evil. But from that one act of disobedience, look at how many problems came.

When I think about how many offshoots of sin came from the seeds of that one forbidden fruit I realize how very important it is to get to the Root of the matter. Pun totally intended.

The Foreknowledge of the Father

What happened in the garden did not catch God off guard.

Isaiah 46:9-10

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

“Why” God created the tree in the garden isn’t as important as the fact that He “created it.” He spoke it, and it came to be. We want to question everything, rather than acknowledge that God is just amazing! He knew everything that would happen and he allowed it to happen because everything has purpose.

For certain Satan is to blame and there will come a day that he’ll be taken care of. But what the fall of man proves is that man and woman need God. The very thing Satan didn’t want. Every single bitter fruit on the tree does one thing, it causes us to search for hope and hope is found at the root of the tree.

I’ve experienced every single thing on that tree. But I’ve also experienced everything at the root of that tree. And because Christ is, (and this is the final point)

The Foundation of our Faith

He is the Root of all we need in Life.

Isaiah 11:10

10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

We can find rest in His knowledge that is provided to us through the Holy Spirit because of His sacrifice.

All of the evil that Eve unleashed on that tree is covered by the blood of Jesus. Adam and Eve tried to use fig leaves to cover it up. Something else from a tree. But that wouldn’t do it, only the blood sacrifice would cover up what they’d done.

What I came to realize from this study, is that all of the things on the tree that I thought were evil, God used it for His good. That’s why I believe it’s called the tree of good and evil. Satan could only see the evil. The destruction, death, doubt, depravity of man. But God, who knew the ending would see what His Son would offer in its place. Devotion, deliverance, defense, our Daystar…

Too many other good things to count. But we have to take responsibility for our part of the evil. And then God’s shows us the goodness of His sacrifice.

We are the good fruit of someone. God handpicked us for a purpose.

I pray today you’ll remember that when Satan tries to show you the bad fruit in your life. And you’ll remind him of the good that’s come out of it. There is some.

And I pray you’ll never lose sight that we’re going to get to see that perfect garden someday when it’s redesigned by God.

Revelation 22:16

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

We live in an exciting time. Don’t let Satan rob you of any of the goodness of God.

All that and a Bag of Chips

I try my best to keep life in perspective. My friend Gloria has a saying about vain people that “They’re all that and a bag of chips.” I don’t know where the saying comes from, but I like it. Because it sums many of us, including myself, who sometimes need an attitude check on life.

Apostle Paul said it like this in Galatians 6:3

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The word “something” was on my mind when I woke up this morning. It was just there, lingering around, waiting to be searched out. I thought it odd that such a common word of today was only found eight times in scripture. But it only took one of those times to capture my mind.

The Perspective of Our Performance

Galatians 6:4

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another.

While our performance is not what gets us into Heaven, that is the acceptance of what Christ did and that alone, it is important to God. We just have to put our performance into perspective. Our performance should bring “rejoicing.”

That is so often not the case. Be it in the secular world or the spiritual world. Performance often brings with it a competition, frustration, or self-condemnation. My work isn’t as good as theirs? Why am I not where I want to be? It’s not good enough? I speak from experience, not judgement. Knowing that happiness (rejoicing) will not be found there.

Rejoicing only comes when we prove (demonstrate) our work for God. When it is done to please Him, not anyone, nor even ourselves. We don’t have to like it, although we should. We just need to do it for Him. That is the perspective of our performance, is it being done for Him?

The Perspective of Personal Accountability

Galatians 6:5

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Every single one of us have been given a role to play on this earth until God says we’re done. He did not say it would always be easy, but what we do for Him will be productive. While there is certainly teamwork within the church, we each carry a responsibility for the ministries of God. For some reason the church has lost that perspective. It’s the preacher, teacher, deacons or some other person’s job. Not the congregation. Their job is just to show up right?

Not according to scripture.

Galatians 6:6-8

Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The Apostle teaches that we’re to take care of those that teach and preach the gospel. The word “communicate” means to “provide.” This also brings reward. The word sowing has such a negative connotation in this modern day because of television preachers who have greedily used scripture for their own gain. Not the Lord’s.

My husband David fell asleep with the television on a few days ago and when I woke up I could hear a TV evangelist shouting for $100, $500, $1000 seeds that he assured the listener would come back 1000 fold. Are – you – serious! I was angry. I quickly turned that charlatan off.

God guarantees that we will never out give Him. But He didn’t say it would come back monetarily. And Jesus didn’t look like Mr. T with gold dripping from His neck. That’s a perspective we need to understand. But ministry work costs money. And for those who cannot go and do, God may have called them to provide. Some way, some how, every child of God is called to be a part of the ministry. Not just a pew sitter.

The Perspective of Perseverance

Galatians 6:9-10

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

It’s easy to lose sight of the goal. Again… I speak from experience. While I spend every day in some way in service for the cause of Christ, sometimes it’s me trying to survive and that’s not how God intended His children to live.

God’s plan for His kids is to do good; take care of ourselves, take care of each other and rejoice in it all. I must confess that somedays I’m not rejoicing. But when I think about how good God has been to place me in the place I’m in, with the people I’m with, I can rejoice on the worst of days.

I pray you have a blessed day, and that you understand that in and of ourselves, we are nothing, but in the Lord’s eyes you really are all that and a bag of chips!

The Appointment

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work.

Job 7:1-2

Not a soul on earth has likely ever felt the frustration of ministry work like Job. Here he was, a man who the scripture described as “Perfect and upright and one that feared God,” ~ Job 1:1, and because of that he was targeted by Satan and tested by God. There is a vast difference between Job and I. Yet it doesn’t stop the ministry frustrations at times and the feeling that my eternal difference making is sparse. The only difference, I’m not worthy of the right to complain. Still doesn’t stop me from doing it though.

This morning Job 7:1-2 gave me the kick in the pants that I needed.

The Appointed Time

I have not felt well lately. Mainly because I’m not taking care of myself. My friend Gloria has told me that she is having a difficult time raising me. This damaged knee of mine has me feeling like I’m a rebellious teen ager who has just been told they’re grounded. I’m sneaking out at every turn, but unfortunately I’m closer to being a senior citizen than a senior in high school, and sneaking out means that I’m walking and working more than I should around the house. That’s sad isn’t it?

But my ministry work suffers because my psyche suffers.  If I sit, I feel worthless. Imagine how Job felt. It literally makes me nauseous to think what that man went through. It’s why his words carries weight. He earned that right.

Job knew that there was an appointed time to die, and that unfortunately this wasn’t it for him. He was wishing for death.

I am wishing for life! If there is an appointed time to die (and there is) there is also an appointed time to live; and by live I mean serve. Until we draw our last breath there is work to be done. This is our appointed time. What are we going to do with it?

If you’re not dead, God’s not done!

The Appointed Work

Job’s work for that time in his life was to be a witness. He didn’t realize. He didn’t know we’d be writing, talking and preaching about him for thousands of years later. And we don’t know what our tough times will mean either on the other side of eternity. 

I think God has some reading for us to do when we get to Heaven.

Psalm 56:8 says “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

When we’re serving, they’re talking about us in Heaven. Our tears are in a bottle and there is a book of our story!  I don’t want my book covered in dust because it’s never written in. (not that they’ll be dust in heaven.” Maybe angel glitter. But I want my book to be a best seller!

The Appointed Reward

Revelation 22:12

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

We forget that God’s idea of quickly and ours is two separate notions. But “quickly” just might mean before this day is through, and the opportunity to collect those rewards are limited.

My rewards are those I love. I have a house full of kids today, I’m believing that they’re going to make my life easier. Yeah…. I didn’t believe that any more than you do. But, it’s an opportunity for them to see Noni serving God in hopes that they too will have that desire. And that will be reward enough!

Serving The God of Creativity

Or… why you should never stop coloring

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ~ Genesis 1:27

I find myself asking, at what point do kids stop considering themselves an artist. And then I also find myself asking, “At what point did some adults think they were?”

There was a social media video going around the other day about the child of an artist who at the ages of a two or three had his paintings selling for thousands. I rolled my eyes, curled my lips and determined in my heart I wouldn’t be bitter. It was just ridiculous to me. This kid was literally throwing paint on a canvas and they are in awe of his talent. He may grow into an amazing artist, I won’t begrudge him that. And I wouldn’t tell the little fellow his art was subpar. But I would gladly tell the people paying thousands for it that their brain was subpar.

I’ve never been drawn to too many abstract artist. Although some I have found very talented. I could tell by the way they created it wasn’t about throwing paint on the canvas, but there truly was a method to their madness. By color and design, it was good. At least that’s my opinion. If you like abstract art, glory to God! I just don’t get it.

I’m going from the prospective of the greatest of all imaginations. God. He just didn’t throw paint on the canvas and call it a sky. The colors worked together. When He created man, He sculpted Adam and Eve in magnificence! Look at everything else on earth. It’s beautiful. None of it looks like an afterthought.

So back to my original question. When do children stop considering themselves to be artists? I don’t know for certain, and I’m sure it differs, but I would wager a bet, if I wasn’t Baptist, because we’re not allowed to bet. But if I was, I would wager a bet that it’s after the first negative critical experience.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m an encourager. I don’t criticize. Even if I think it. I may offer a suggestion to help someone, but I know that when someone creates something, they’ve usually done their best. And I can guarantee if they gave it to God, He would put it on His refrigerator. But He may not hang it in a gallery.

It’s taken me 30 years to call myself an artist. Not because anyone has ever criticized me, because that is the furthest from the truth. I have great encouragement in my life. But I have no self-esteem. And of the few negative nellies that have critiqued me, and they’ve just been a few. That’s all it took to squelch me down.  It’s what has kept me from making a living at the gift God gave me.

I stopped taking coloring serious. I still did it, but I didn’t take it serious. Most people just stop doing it all together, although it has made a reprise in recent years with the new adult coloring books.

Going deeper into the realm of creativity causes me to explore why we are less apt to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit telling us to do something, to create something new. Perhaps its because we fear that same critique of the world that we experienced as children that caused us to no longer view ourselves as artist.

You might be an artist of words, works, numbers. There are too many talents to list. What is your gifting and is it something that you should be using for the Kingdom, either for a living, or for a ministry. And why aren’t you using it?

How do we know if it’s Refrigerator or Gallery worthy? All good questions. And worthy of looking into the scripture to see what God says about who we are.

In His Image

He created us in His image. With passions like Him.

Psalm 139:13

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

He controls us and creates specific desires within us. He created us to create. I personally don’t know of a child who doesn’t like to create “stuff.” It’s engrained in us as babies from making a mess to making what we think is the most amazing piece of art ever! All six of my grands love creating, even though they may not all grow up to be artist. Praise God, they don’t know that. They just want to create.

I believe that as we grow that creativity takes shape into different amazing things. But creating is not just an artistic endeavor. Creating is doing a new thing.

Isaiah 43:19 says Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

God didn’t stop creating, why should we. He went from creating things, to creating paths and then using us to complete His work so that He can get the glory. I think people and churches get stalemated when we lose our desire to create, or we just don’t know the direction we should go. We’re satisfied with just showing up.

The church should be an ongoing project of getting souls saved and that takes many shapes and creative ideas.

I’m a project driven person. I need a project to feel purposeful. And I believe that’s how God created us all. Like Him, we are made to create.

Isaiah 43:7

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

That verse makes me very happy! I (and you) were created by God for His glory. Meaning that when He created us, He created us to do something. Not just sit in a church pew.

For His Glory

Where ever we are in life, we are there to bring glory to God in that place. In our churches, in our work and in our passions.

Isaiah 45:12

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

God created all the earth and all of creation to glorify His name.

We have to have doctors, nurses, gas station owners, pharmacists and every other position in life to make the world go round and function. But all of those positions should point others to Christ.

Isaiah 45:8

You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.

All of Heaven and earth work in harmony.

This morning I picked up my fiddle that I had had to put a new “E” string on because I broke the old one tuning it. I hadn’t played it for a week or two and every string was out of tune. It sounded awful. But when I got the tuner out and put every string in tune, suddenly I felt like a musician again. That’s how life is. With artistry, with jobs and churches. We get out of tune. We lose our passion and purpose. We need tuned up. We need to find that creativity and desire to make something wonderful for the Lord. A new coloring page.

My grandson Logan was creating a Charizard. Which I don’t even know what is, other than it’s a Pokemon character. But it didn’t matter. It only mattered that his hand created it.

God wants to see some of your work, your best creative pieces. And there’s a reason that Christ said that we should come to Him like little children. Because it’s with that mindset that we feel free and welcome to create. Not judged.

Don’t squelch your creative spirit. God may just be getting ready to do something amazing with you.

Not By Accident

This was His word for me when I was ready to back out of His work again because I would be judged.  God told me this. He said “you’re past the age where you can throw stuff on a canvas and call it art. Be intentional. And do it.”

God doesn’t create things by accident.  He had purpose. So should we. Don’t ever stop coloring. There’s something about that child within that helps you to keep in check with Who’s really in control.

Stepping Into the Unknown

When I think of the Bible characters that stepped into the unknown at the instruction of the known, my heart is encouraged. When I get ready to take my first step, it’s always a flutter. It’s usually followed by nausea and fever blisters. Weird right? That’s what stress and nerves do to me. Once I get past the first step and start walking on the new ground I settle in pretty quickly. But those first steps often feel like a cliff.

When Abraham stepped out of the Ur of Chaldees he may or may not have felt a little apprehension. The Bible just says he went. But in the book of Shari it will say, see went… but she didn’t feel good.

When Moses was told to step into the leadership role of Israel, He argued with the Lord that he wasn’t very good with a bullhorn. So God gave him a mouth piece named Aaron. But it didn’t take him out of the role of leader.

When God made David King, he was in one of the lowest positions of the day, a shepherd boy. But God used all that position to make him a mighty defender and a man who could lead people with the same passion he lead sheep.

When Christ picked “Team Jesus” from the crowd, He picked a variety of twelve characters with a variety of talents. We know their names 2,000 years later because of the impact they had in their work.

I just wrote myself happy.

I’ve never really got to experience a comfort zone, because God is always doing something in my life. Sometimes it’s because He’s fixing what I broke, and that’s very uncomfortable! Today is no different. A new ministry direction is on the horizon with doing things I’ve had a passion to do for 20 years. But this time it’s on God’s terms. So it makes me feel a little better about taking the first step.

I hope that in sharing my thoughts on my zone, that maybe it will help you navigate yours a little better.

Please make the following a matter of prayer when it comes to the new Jesus Chick direction:

  • That God would open the doors (not Shari)
  • God provides a team of people with a passion for the work.

The work will focus on the following areas:

  • Promoting the Gospel (always first and foremost)
  • Youth programs
  • Adult programs
  • Women’s programs
  • Senior programs
  • Substance abuse educations programs

That would be why I need a team. There is a huge amount of work on my plate. But I want to reach as many people as I can with this ministry and give them the tools to reach more.

Big Step… but I’m ready.

It’s Time to Come to Myself

Sunday is not my only day of listening to sermons. I listen to a variety of preachers and pastors throughout the week, some might surprise you and some may not. I’m no respecter of denominations. I’m a respecter of those who biblically speak Jesus. Period. It’s why, when a preacher that I’m “Facebook friends” with, and I use that term very loosely, went on a trashing spree of preachers my blood boiled.

There were a few that I utterly disagree with too, but I leave them to God. Although if someone asked, I’d willingly tell them why I disagree.  But this guy went so far as to say they were lost! My first thought was “who made you God?” The only One who has the right to call a man or woman saved or lost is God. I cannot look on the soul and tell. Nor do I want that responsibility.

I’m not sure he mentioned Perry Noble, though he probably would have; but I’ve followed the ups and downs of Perry Noble for years. I’ve wept with him and for him. He broke my heart when he fell as Pastor of New Spring Church. I cheered him on when he fought his way back. Though he didn’t know, because he doesn’t really know me. See… we’re “friends” too.

I like Perry because he’s real. Sometimes too real for me, I’ll be honest. He says some things that goes against my good Baptist girl grain. And he says some things that make me laugh really hard that really shouldn’t. But most important he gives me a desire to have a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. And that is what a preacher is called to do. Not judge other preachers!

So this week on Perry’s new podcast for his new church “Second Chances” he preached on the prodigal son. Not an unknown sermon for even a lost person. But Perry preached it from the perspective of the brother who stayed home. Again not an unknown sermon topic. But what was new to me was the thought about the “good” son didn’t have enough of a relationship with his father to know that (1) how upset the father had been (2) that the son had come home and (3) why there was a need for the party.

The prodigal came to himself, the farm boy needed a come to Jesus moment with Dad. But that’s not what he got. The Father had mercy for both. That was the gist of Perry’s sermon. But much better. I just gave the highlights.

What drew my mind into this today was my own relationship with God. How much do I know about what God wants for my life? I know what I want, but do I know what He wants?

It’s time to come to myself.

I am often guilty (really often) of studying for the purpose of others, and not for myself. It’s not that I don’t receive and need the messages I write and the Word of God that He speaks into my soul as well. But many of those messages are about general life issues, not personal life issues. If you’ve studies scripture for yourself, you likely know the kind; when the word of God cuts you open and fillets your heart like a fish! Showing you all the nooks and crannies of it and draws you into a conversation with Him where you almost feel like you’re sitting in His office on a crystal stool like a princess as He gives you the “Dad” talk.

Oh…. I so need to draw that someday.

But more importantly I need to be there.

I don’t need to preach to anyone about “their” life, nor do I ever want to be guilty of judging the soul of another person. I don’t know who’s saved. I only know that we all need to come to the knowledge of Who Jesus is and then grow in His grace so that we can know Him in a way that a child should know their Dad.

My girls have a very special relationship with their Dad. They adore him and when he speaks, they trust in his wisdom. That’s how a child of the King should be. Adoring. Listening. Believing.

When I lay down at night, I should listen for His bedtime story. When I rise in the morning we should meet at the table for a game plan kind of day. It should never be about you. It should be about us.

When the prodigal son came home His dad cleaned him up and threw a party. The other son threw a temper tantrum, complained about the slavery he had invested in for his Father and missed out on all the fun. Don’t miss the party because you’re looking at other folks. I’ve been guilty of it.

Do You Care?

We love Him, because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

There are some people in our lives that are easy to love. My bestie Gloria is one such person, so are countless others. I am blessed with people. Lots of people that I call and mean it when I say they’re friends. And then there are people that I am acquaintances with via life or social media and of those I may or may not have a great depth of concern for.

I would certainly pull them out of the path of a truck. But I might not take them chicken soup if they were ill. That sounds very mean. But it’s not meant to be. It’s not that I don’t care about their health, it’s that they are not on my radar of cares of the day. Nor am I likely on their radar either. So how exactly did God intend for us to love one another?

What is our level of compassion for those outside our immediate family and friends?

For me I only had to think about 1 John 4:19 for a split second before I realized that before I knew God, before I realized what He did for me and when I was just floating around in the world like a bubble on a summer day without concern for my soul or anyone else’s… He loved me.

He loved me when I was out in sin and behaving in a manner that would have made a sailor blush. Yes, I was that kid. I grew up fast when I married and had children, but I still didn’t know Jesus and was as filthy rags, and yet He loved me. He maneuvered my life to get me into a position to hear the gospel in a miraculous way that has me in awe today. He uses me even yet today when I still fail Him miserably.

Now… I ask myself that question again about the people I don’t know. “Shari, do you care?”  I asked myself that question about the people I’m pretty sure I don’t even like. “Do you care?”

I ask, because at any moment God could have given up on me or never thought enough of me to waste His time and yet He did.

This morning I was convicted by this thought because there are so many hurting people that I know via ministry and social media that I don’t care enough about. Ministry isn’t just to the pretty, easy to love people. Its’ for all people. Even the sometimes ugly, grouchy, negative, arrogant,  drunk and drugged up people. The latter of which I have an easier time loving. The grouchy, negative, arrogant people not so much.

I’m wondering who might cross my path today that needs loved on? I’m wearing a new pair of white jeans… I wonder if I’m willing to get them dirty. Isn’t that how we decide?

I have a doctor’s appointment for my knee this morning at 10 a.m. Perhaps it’s there that I’ll answer that question. Maybe it will be on social media, or maybe on an unplanned adventure. Like the one that got me saved.

The Concept of God

It was a thought that seemed almost foreign to me this morning as I read John 3:16…

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It’s likely the most widely known and quoted verse in the bible. We say it without thinking. It just rolls off the tongue of most Christians regardless of how long they’ve been saved. The point being, even if you can’t quote it, you know it. But this morning, it just seemed brand new.

Not necessarily the verse, but rather the concept of the depth of God’s love and the vastness of His being, and the fact… I need to repeat… the fact that He did what He did for someone like me. A nobody. That this morning in my living room and in the home of my friend LuAnn, God spoke to us and said, I have a work for you to do.

I received a message from my friend Faye yesterday, and through her God said… there is a work to do.

My friend Dewey and I speak most every day. But lately God has given us a deeper love for the ministry and a desire to do more. There is work for us to do.

Why me…

Why does God put these awesome people in my life?

Because His concept is beyond what anyone of us can imagine. And the possibilities of what He can do with us are beyond what anyone of us can even think. And I know this because today John 3:16 was a brand new verse in this ol’ girls head.

The concept of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” three in one has often boggled my mind. How can three be one? It just doesn’t make sense to the earthly mindset. I’ve heard it explained by using the illustration of the egg which has three parts (the white, yolk and shell) yet it is one. It’s a great illustration. But it’s an egg… not God.

But lately as God deals with me, trying to get me to a better place spiritually to where He can use me, He speaks to my heart about understanding who He is, so I can better grasp who I am in Him.

He is Huge!

Isaiah 48:13

Mine hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.

Who did that? My God! He is in the details.

If God can measure Heaven with His hand, that means He’s a pretty big Fella. That means that these people who make light of our God, should really think twice. He can flip them off of the planet. I have to be honest, that image kind of made me giggle. And kind of made me want to watch! But then I remembered that He could flip me off the planet too, and that God died for the “whosever.” Not only Shari.

He Has Always Been

How can God have “always been, and how did God, “beget” Christ, His Only Son? I don’t know. But when I think about the Creator of the universe and His Son, who were from the beginning, which is what the Bible tells us in John 1:1, I am somewhat awestruck like a rock and roll fan at their favorite concert. I want to get close enough to hear One whisper to the Other, and close enough to know them as intimately as a bestie. But in order to do that, I have to get out of my little brain get into Heaven as the Bible tells us we are in Ephesians 2:6 that says “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

That’s present time, not futuristic. So if I’m sitting in Heavenly places, that means I should be able to overhear a few conversations of God and His Son. So can you.

In Jeremiah 1:5 it also says that God knew us before we were in the womb. So… exactly how long has our conversation been going? I don’t know. But what I do know is that as a child, before salvation, I had a desire to know God. So Jeremiah 1:5 is not hard for me to understand. And because of that it is getting easier to understand John 3:16.

He knew me, before I was me. He chose me before I even came out of my mother’s womb and He placed me like He placed the stars in Heaven on this piece of dirt in Calhoun County, West Virginia. And He connected the dots with North Carolina, New Mexico, the Philippine Islands  and so many other places, in a way that others may not understand, but I’ve experienced. So yes… I’m a fan of my Savior. Yes, I reverently respect and fear Him because of the enormity of Who He is. And today I feel so loved because of John 3:16.

There’s a story of a little orphaned boy who is found on the street and a man sends him to an address with the instruction to knock on the door and say “John 3:16.” When he gets there he taken in, bathed, fed and tucked into his bed where he for the first time in his life feels safe. He later says when he becomes a preacher that he didn’t understand John 3:16 at the time but it made a dirty boy clean, a hungry boy full and a scared boy feel safe.

Yes… yes it does. I don’t have to comprehend the vastness of God. I can feel it.

Crash Test Christianity

That’s the thought that came out of the teen class lesson yesterday as my co-teacher Doug taught our youth. My brain goes strange places sometimes and either like honey or mud, it’s stuck in that place until I dig around and find out what the Lord needs me to know about that word.

The word was “prove”. Meaning to demonstrate, show, give evidence or verify something.

It’s what most of us want on the everyday front of life; we want evidence that we’re going the right direction, that God is pleased, that we’re forgiven. And God tells us that’s okay. He wants us to prove Him.

But sometimes proving Him leaves me feeling a little like a crash test dummy. Not that God wants me to be that. He’d rather I be the evaluator. Not the demonstrator. But I hit the wall again and again. I’m no different than the original crash test dummies, they however were on camels not Kia souls.

Behavior Lessons

In Exodus 15:24-25 it says

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?

There third day into the trip and they’ve already found something to complain about with leadership. They’d arrived at Marah and couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. And that was Moses’ fault.

Yesterday, my grandsons Luke and Parker were wrestling in the floor and knocked something off the table. Within a second of the crash Parker yelled, “Luke did it!’

We’re always looking for someone to blame for our problems in life rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves. I’m not apt to throw someone under the bus, though I might, but more than likely I’ll blame circumstances for my errors. Knowing it was my fault.

But God gives Israel the bitter water to prove something about Himself.

Verse 25:

And he cried unto the Lord and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, and said, if thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth you.

Praise God for grace! We are not bound by the law. But that doesn’t make the law nonexistent. It’s still there. But now it proves that we cannot keep ourselves. We depend on that grace to clean us up when we crash and burn.

And He does. The name of Grace is Jesus.

Faith Lessons

In Exodus 16 we find the children of Israel complaining again, but this time its about the food.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

For some reason that scripture struck me funny. Although I don’t find it funny when my provision isn’t coming in like I wish it would. If you’ve ever lacked (and we all likely have), you can understand the children of Israel’s mindset. We often chalk them up to being a bunch of whiners, but if you’re a million strong in the wilderness and you’re not seeing a Walmart, you’re worried. But the Lord intervenes in the conversation:

Vs. 4

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

More evidence. More being tied to the law. Again… praise God for grace! Our provision is not tied to the law, it’s tied to faith.

Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your  need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:6 ~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Verse after verse we’re given about the provision of God. And yet ye all know that there have been times when we’ve been without. Is that a lack of faith? Perhaps it’s just another way God proves Himself to us. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Sometimes it’s about learning that we can survive without it.

One of my nephews crashed a motorcycle one time and once the downed bike stop sliding and he stopped rolling, he jumped up and said, “I’m fine.” No one was any more surprised than he was. He learned that sometimes we can crash and not burn.

The last place I want to talk about being a crash test dummy is in Exodus 20:20

Grace Lessons

 We just talked about it through Paul. So how does grace work with the laws of God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Moses had just given them the Lord’s Ten Commandments. They had seen God come down as lightening, thunder and the noise of a trumpet and they wanted no part of it. They wanted an intercessor. So do we.

Remember, this was before the days of sci-fi and special effects. This was the real deal and I probably would be afraid too. The only one not shaking in his shoes was Moses and that was because this wasn’t His first rodeo with God. He’d been in conversations with God before.

But now. Glory to God!!! We don’t need an intercessor. We have a more excellent way. There is no need to go through a priest. Christ took care of that on the cross.

Matthew 27:51 – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Ephesians 2:18 ~ For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Second to the Resurrection, which proved my Lord’s power over death, my favorite part of that story is the renting of the curtain in the temple. The very thing that kept the common man out of the Holy of Holies was gone. Torn in two from top to the bottom, and opening our way to have direct access to God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

God proves that every day to His children by showing them His presence in their lives.

While the children of Israel felt condemned by the law, there is no condemnation in Christ, only grace for those who come to Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There is no crash and burn for the child of God. Just like those crash test dummies, we my crash, but  we’ll be fine. Because the Lord is on our side!

A Hippy at Heart

I truly am a hippy at heart. And by hippy I don’t mean the stereotypical one’s that those of us who were raised in the 60’s and 70’s remember. Though I must confess I would have fit that mold at various times in my life too. But by hippy I mean, tie-dye lovin’, peace seeking, freedom speaking child of God. I think God like’s the hippy mindset so long as He is the center focus.

Perhaps you agree. Perhaps not. Either is okay. But it’s where my mind is at this morning. I actually drew two images (one above and one below for this blog) The first was the dove below but then the blog took on a whole other direction. And thus the hippy Shari showed up.

My verse this morning for focus was Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

So you may be wondering how I got from the dove to the hippy? It was a short trip. It started with my niece Holly. She’s a little hippy-ish too. And she’s been on my mind a lot lately. She’s a single mom of three and such a free spirit. I love her. I love all my nieces and nephews and my children because each one is so different. I mean really!!!!! different. Out of the 12 they have a few commonalities, but their personalities are nowhere close. Much like the church of God.

We have a common bond, Christ Jesus; but our personalities are what makes us who we are in Christ, and it’s what makes each one of us cope with difficult times in a different way.

I cope with life struggles by relying on the freedom of Christ. That’s the hippy mindset in me. It’s not that I want to go wherever the wind blows, that’s not God’s way; but I want to go in the direction the Spirit leads, and sometimes that’s down weird path that other people don’t understand.  

So on a day that I’m struggling with some issues in life I turned to this verse and found the freedom for living that I needed.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Perfect Peace?

What does that look like? Well, first of all you have to tune into the first word of that sentence. Thou. Thou is God. And it is in Him only that you’ll find perfect peace.

It’s not that life is perfect, it’s that we can rest in the knowledge that whatever we’re facing is in His control. If He chooses to take us through it, we’ll go. If He chooses to remove us from it, we’ll go out or around, but some way, somehow God’s got it taken care of.

That sounds so easy right? But we know it’s not always. Life sometimes stinks and it’s not any fun, and that’s where the hippy attitude of the flower children and God’s children parts. We’re not escaping reality, we’re living in the very real knowledge that we serve a God who can and does amazing things in the lives of those who serve and trust Him.

That’s where that free spirit takes me that is my happy place!!! I can trust in Him who I have served for 23 years and watched as He brought me through time and time again. I know that if I keep my mind focused on the direction God, the Holy Spirit is leading, I’m going to come out a winner. Because I’ve read the end of the book.

Just as my 12 nieces and nephews and 25 great nieces and nephews (yes there is a boatload of us) differ and have many talents, so does the church. Find yours, give it to God, and then walk in the freedom His peace affords knowing He’s guiding you.

That’s my advice to my kids and grand-kids, and it’s my advice for you…

Let Them Have It

Do you ever have those days when it feels like your entire self-worth was wasted effort? I get so excited about projects and life and then in a swift swoop, on a day when it feels that I can do nothing right, I find  myself falling into this pit of despair (I know dramatic right?), but it feels very, very real and it’s very heavy on my shoulders. And the end result is usually a total mind melt down, followed by God prying my mouth open like a rebellious sick child and giving me a dose of the word. And then, glory! Miraculous healing.

That’s this morning.

Quite often the prescribed dose for days like this is from the book of Psalms. I love the word of God from Genesis to Revelation, but the books of Psalms has a special place in my heart, because it’s so often my go to place for days like this.

Like today. When Psalm 138 was spoon fed to me by the Lord in just the right measurement…

They Can Have their god

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

What gods you may be asking? There is none but Jesus Christ our Lord, right? Right! But the world didn’t seem to get that memo. People themselves think that they are sometimes gods and deserve our undivided attention, even over the things of God.

Tears just flowed from my soul and out of my eyes because I’ve been there too often lately. Too many things, some of mine, some of others that have taken my mind off the Lord’s work. I haven’t been singing His praises like I should.

They Can Have Their king

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

In that final day of earth, no man will bow before another man. We will all bow before our King. The One with a capital “K”. The One who resides in the Holy Temple of Heaven, who is kind, and honest and does not speak to me in a the condescending tones of the earth that I despise and it breaks my heart and spirit. Especially when it’s done by another Christian.

That was my day yesterday. Don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m fine. But it’s those days that we all have that the world takes it’s toll. And our focus gets off Heaven and I forget where my headquarters is. And they forget Who’s Boss.

They Can Have Their work

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Glorrrraaaaaay! Those words stirred me this morning. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve said it myself that I serve the God who sits high and looks low. And there it is in the word of God! Psalm 138:6

Though I walk in trouble, and there is plenty of it in my world; it is God who will revive my soul. God will not only take care of my enemies, He will give me the energy to thrive in my purpose.

Verse 8 really spoke to me in a way that I needed so badly today.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

God will “perfect” (finish) that which concerns me.

There is a work He has called me to do and He’s going to get it finished through me. That is such good news! I’m pretty sure I’m into overtime with Him but it’s okay, it’s in His time, not mine.

He has a work in you as well! And He’s going to get it done. But we need to stay focused on the One True and Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the world have their gods, show them how awesome ours is! Let me have their kings, they only “think” they have power. Let them have their work, show them what great and mighty things we can accomplish through Him. I hope your day is blessed with great eternal accomplishments. ~ Shari

A New Direction

I’m beyond excited about the direction of my ministry. Thanks to a generous act on my sister Shelia’s part and the grace of Almighty God, I will soon be a 501c3 ministry which will open the doors for me to do more and create a team of ministry people, not just solo me. Who is sometimes (oftentimes) so tired.  So what does that have to do with the message today?

It has to do with the great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 ~ 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

As children of God that should be our primary focus. So today is a Recharge Monday. I needed it. Not that I’ve forgotten that it’s my responsibility as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, but that my battery sometimes runs low.

So How’s your Battery Doing?

Who doesn’t need a recharge? I need one multiple times a day. Burdens get on me like cat and dog hair on a black sweater. That should sum it up pretty good if you’ve been around critters. So how does my ministry, your battery and all this tie together?

By me doing what I’ve been called to do, which on Monday is to recharge your battery after I first recharge mine.

I did that today as I read 2 Chronicles 15, verses 1-15.

Asa is returning from battle and he’s met by a prophet who encourages him to go on with the work of the reformation of Israel by promising him that the presence and help of God will go with him.

Well, I’m not a prophet, but I can make that promise to you today because I have it too. It is freely given to anyone who seeks God. He is a very present help available to us without even speaking a word. He just knows.

Whether or not you’ve been in a battle, Monday’s always seem to bring on the feeling of too much work for one week. At least that’s how mine is starting. 

So… back to the story. Asa is returning from battle. And the word reads.

1And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God, and without a teaching priest, and without law.

One sure fire way to get into trouble is to not have the teaching of God. As a teacher, I need taught.  I don’t profess to know everything. But I know where to find it. And if I can’t find it, I have a Pastor who can help me find it. He may not have the answer off the top of his head either, because he’s not done learning. So point one for today is

Seek Him While You Can

Finding time in a day to get alone with God may not be easy, but it should be a priority. Israel had gotten themselves into trouble, into a battle because they’d been without three things. The Power of God, The Prophecy of God and the Practices of God.

If you’re a child of God, saved by the blood of Jesus, you can’t lose God, but you can lose His power by not renewing your relationship with Him on a daily basis. Not just on Sunday, but every day.

The Word of God is forever, because it’s settled in Heaven. It hasn’t been the most read book in the world without reason. God made it that way. But our failure to read it, the very prophecy of God will suck the life out of you like leaving the lights on in your car. The juice, the water of the word eventually drains out like the juice in a battery if we’re not renewing ourselves by reading His word.

And while we’re not under the law as the Israelites were, being away from God for very long will cause you to forget the practices of Christianity. The behaviors. It’s so easy to get drawn away from the things of God and into the things of the world without warning when we’re not in a good relationship with God Almighty.

So every day we need to be seeking the power of God, Reading the Prophecy of God and living in the practice of God.

Serve Him While You Can

But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them.

And in those times there was no peace to him that went out, nor to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries.

And nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city: for God did vex them with all adversity.

Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded.

It’s a privilege to go, teach and observe everything that God shows us in His word. I know that not everyone is a teacher, but you are an example. When the children of Israel got into trouble they sought God. That’s good advice! And it’s always the example we want to set for others.

Everyone messes up in life. We all fall. We haven’t come very far, if any, since the days of the Israelites battle. We still need God to clean up our messes. But after the fall, after the struggle, pick yourself up and start serving again. Don’t let Satan convince you to delay it, because it can cause you to stay out way too long.

Always remember that Satan is a liar. And the last thing he wants is for you to receive rewards of God. So, he can stop them, by stopping you.

Succeed While You Can

There will be days of defeat. We all have them. But start every week with an attitude of successful living. Encourage yourself in the Lord because great is that reward and it is the Matthew 28:19-20 Commission. 

Listen to what happened when Asa got recharged:

And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the Lord, that was before the porch of the Lord.

And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim and Manasseh, and out of Simeon: for they fell to him out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.

10 So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa.

11 And they offered unto the Lord the same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep.

12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.

14 And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets.

15 And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about.

They won mighty battles, they celebrated their victories and they had rest. Who wouldn’t want their week to end like that!?

Take Heart Child of God

He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Room to Breathe

Have you ever been trapped in a small space? Even sitting in a crowded theatre where people are shoulder to shoulder is not a feeling I enjoy. I’m not claustrophobic but I still don’t enjoy it. It’s the same feeling that I get when trouble happens in my life. I feel as though the walls are closing in on me, breathing is difficult and being a heart attack survivor, those times are not what I want to experience.

I need room to breathe. And Praise God! He provides that room through His word.

Psalm 18, another of David, who assuredly had enemies, was likely written in his old age. Perhaps a reflection of his previous enemies, maybe new ones. As a child of God we all have enemies, the greatest being Satan. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Heaping and heaping things upon myself, until I’m out of room.

This morning I imagined God swooping in , brushing my burdens away and telling Satan, not today. She’s got no time for that. And I could breathe.

That place… that awesome large place… is Heaven. Me seated in Heaven with the Father as spoken in Ephesians 2: 6

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

There is plenty of room to breathe in Heaven!

Removed from Battle

He delivered me. I did not fight the battle because I didn’t have the strength.  If David was in his final days upon writing this Psalm, he likely wasn’t able to physically fight the battles any longer.  Regardless of age, life’s battles takes its toll on your strength.  It weakens the spirit and with it weakens my hope that I’ll win.

I’m in that place this morning.

It’s why I turned to the word of God, looking for hope in the only place it is a surety. It’s there I found the freedom to breathe and the relief of not fighting the battle. Just to sit and watch God as He removed me from the battle.

Raised in Belief

Belief that I am a favored child of the King. Raised, meaning lifted up and strengthened in the knowledge that He who sits high and looks low, not only controls my world but the world of those that would seek to cause anxiety and stress in my life.

He loves us! He does not want us to fight these battles alone and He desires that we talk to Him about it and get out of the mindset of defeat. He delights in you!

I can’t help but think about my own children and how I delight in them. I can’t wait to see them and speak with them. I love hearing what’s going on in their life, it’s not a burden, it’s a blessing. I want God to do amazing things in their lives and for them to have Victory.

Is it any different for our Father?

 Take heart child of God. You are loved and adored by your Father above. You are with Him in Heaven and He is with you on earth.  The battle is over with Him because He goes before us. We have His word as a promise and a reason to believe. I hope this encourages you today! It sure did me

How Thirsty are You?

It’s a thought that’s been so heavy on my mind and heart lately. I’m not thirsty enough. Not when it comes to water in a bottle, or the water of the Bible. I just don’t want it bad enough, knowing that it is the quencher to the thirst within.

Why is that?

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind. There are people all across the earth that would literally give their right arm for what I have freely flowing in the tap. The same holds true for what’s lying beside me on the couch. The water of the word that is all over my house, on multiple tables, bookshelves, and electronic devices, and yet I don’t thirst enough. I read it. But I don’t thirst for it.

In Psalm 42 David writes as he’s being persecuted by Saul for doing nothing less than trying to be of help in a position that he knows is actually his. He is on the run, driven from his homeland where he longs to be. Away from family and friends, away from the house of God. All these things that I have surrounding me and yet I take them for granted.

This morning I have burdens on my soul. Ministry burdens. Life burdens. But I’m not on the run. Sunday morning, Lord willing, I’ll be in the sanctuary of Victory Baptist Church listening to the word of God without fear of being persecuted or killed because I’ve openly walked through the doors in the free country that I live and am protected by.

However, today I’m so parched by the world around me. I’m thirsting. I’m tired. Maybe you are too. Maybe you’ve had enough of bad news, wickedness abounding and world of hurting people. If you’re ready to sooth your weary soul. Read along with me and let’s unpack how David lived on the run…

Thirsting for His Presence

One of my favorite, fav-o-rite songs that I sing is “Your Presence is my Favorite Gift of All” by Claire Lynch. It blesses my soul! It causes me to remember that feeling that I have when I’m in the presence of the Almighty God. It causes me to long to be there again. Imagine David, on the run and unable to attend a worship service that He so loved being a part of. That’s where he is in the beginning of Psalm 42. He misses being in God’s presence. So do I.

1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

The living God! Oh my stars if we could get a hold of that thought and take it in with every breath. God is not dead, He is very much alive! And He longs to be found alive within His church today. Not dry and dusty Christianity, but praise singing, hand raising, shoutin’ time Christianity. The real deal that comes from being thirsty.

I can imagine the hart (deer) running to the brook after being high in the mountains away from the water for a long time. Needing to feel that moisture running across his tongue and down his throat into the depths of his belly. What a relief! that’s where my soul was this morning. I needed to feel the Spirit of God like a glass of water from a well spring. Can you feel it? Just in the reading of a few lines of scripture I feel my soul moistening, tender, ready to receive His word.

Thirsting for His People

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

There was a time when many, many churches were on fire for God. They are few and far between. I need a church that praises and preaches the joy of God. One that I can feel the love of God through. I have that. David had that, he missed that. I long for a revival both in my soul and in my church. I want a soul stirring meeting that doesn’t want to end. We experienced one such in our church in 2010 when a 5 day revival went for weeks. We were thirsty. We not only thirsted for God but for each other. We couldn’t get enough of the fellowship. You practically had to throw people off the lot. David got that. He loved His people like that.

Thirsting for His Power

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

The Hermonians lived on a high hill, Mizar means little hill. I have to wonder if David isn’t reminded of times when regardless of being in a high place or a low place he experienced God’s power.

Am I thirsting for that? Do I even believe it will happen? I’m ashamed to say that there are times when I just don’t believe. Not because of God, but because of the flesh that I allow to rise upon with me.

I went to the Orthopedic doc yesterday for my knee injury. His diagnosis without the MRI was vague. He said it could be that when I injured it I flared up some serious arthritis. Or it could be the original diagnosis of a torn meniscus. Following the appointment I went to my friend Tracy’s for a new hair doo and she is a power packed prayer warrior. So as we discussed my knee I said, I’d rather it be arthritis than the tear. Which is crazy because the tear can be surgically healed, arthritis not so much. But I can’t have the surgery due to the open heart surgery being to close. To which Tracy responded and loudly. “Why are you not praying for complete healing?” To which I said inside my head, because I don’t have enough faith.

David was using the water that was overflowing him, that would have drowned a lesser man, to ignite the revival in his soul and the power to give God glory for the victory, even in the face of little hope.

Can I get a witness that that has got to encourage your soul!!!

Thirsting for His Praise

David was distraught and downhearted in a way I cannot even imagine. But I can imagine it on my level.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

I have never felt that God forgot me, but I can tell you that I’ve felt that God was choosing to ignore me. I always knew it was my fault. I allowed myself to get there, but I couldn’t feel Him moving in my life. And I can tell you that I did not praise in that moment. But David did.

When the doc gave me the diagnosis yesterday I said, “Okay… this is what it is.” But what if God said… “It ain’t what you think.” I didn’t even leave room for the option.

I need to be a little thirstier for God’s side of this discussion…

That’s a Good Funeral

Proverbs 17:27

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

One might think (and often correctly) that me and the phrase “sparing words” would never be in the same sentence. It is however a family trait.  While I have no problem speaking what’s on my mind, there are times (sometimes days upon days) that I’d rather say nothing to anyone. The ringing of a telephone causes my stomach to go nauseous and even messages on social media overwhelm me. I like silence. Because I know that in those times is when I am most likely to hear God speak. And then there are other times, if I’m honest, that I am drawn to the noise of the earth around me because I know in the silence I’ll hear God speak, and that scares me too. It’s crazy, I know! But it’s me being real.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a sweet cousin who’s epitaph verse was Proverbs 17:27. He was a very well educated man with much to say, but seldom said it. His daughter said it best when she said “if he spoke you should listen, because his words were weighted.” What an awesome testimony he had.

As I sat there and watched his children work through their grief in front of an audience and do it so God glorifying; it did what a funeral should do, it caused me to reflect on my own life and the cause and effect of silence. Silence can be good, or silence can be bad, there must be balance as in everything in life. Even Cheesecake. I know that’s random… but it’s true.

The Racket

Three times in Psalm 46 the Psalmist says that “God is our refuge.” Refuge being a safe haven, sanctuary or shelter. As a child of God I understand that. I have run into that place to escape the sorrows of the day so very many times. I’m in that place right now. I needed this word this morning to send me to the feet of Jesus to speak to Him about the many burdens in my life. They accumulate so quickly. Too much, too often and I’m consumed by it.  They’re a racket in my mind. God understands. That’s why He spoke this Psalm into David. Not only for him, but for us.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Those roaring waters and trembling mountains that feel as though they’re going to bury us in defeat are exactly what runs us into the refuge. If it were not for that trouble, we’d think we didn’t need help. We’d be sure that it was us who could get us through the issues of the day. God doesn’t make the trouble, but He’ll get His glory in the midst of it!  I witnessed that yesterday.

My cousin’s death was not a death of God’s timing. But God knew the heart of the man and used the occasion of his memorial to quiet the noise in my life and probably many others. Death has a way of putting life in check.

  • This is important. √
  • This is not. √

The River

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

I sing a song titled “Tell Me One More Time About Jesus” and in that song there is a line that speaks of the Pastor’s words being like a “cool drink of water.” The Psalmist’s words are such. So were the words of the memorial, because they all point to Jesus. Jesus is that river, that makes glad the city of God! When a child of God comes home, whether timely or not, you better believe there is rejoicing in Heaven! Should there not be on earth.

I told my cousin Duke last night when he called to see how the funeral went, that “I love a good funeral!” We laughed, but he knew what I meant. Because we both know Jesus. And there is joy in knowing that a loved one’s struggle is over and they are sitting beside of Victory! Glorraaaaaay! That puts a shout in my soul.

The Refuge from the Rage

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

You can better believe that Satan was not a happy camper at Gassaway Baptist Church yesterday. He expected worlds to fall apart when he moved “his kingdom.” But this world is not our home, and this world was not what my cousin’s children had their eyes on.  They were standing in the refuge of the God of Jacob. The same God and Savior who gave Jacob a new name when he wrestled with God in Genesis 32.

Every battle of a child of God ends in Victory, even if it doesn’t always appear that way.

My cousin was described as a man of few words, yet he was a writer, a thinker, a ponderer… and he and I had many times talked about our ponderings of God. He left his testimony with us through his children when his daughter said, “Our dad was a humble man who wouldn’t want you to focus on his education, successes and the many things he did that no one knew. He would want us to tell you of the day he made Jesus his Savior.”

That’s a good funeral.

Stuff I Got to Remember Not to Forget

With every stroke of the brush, marker or pen my mind’s eye goes into critical mode. “That line’s not straight… that looks dumb…why did I put that there?” It’s likely the nature of the beast of an artist. A word I have always had issues with because I’ve never considered myself to be one. So today, 2 Corinthians 12:9 caught my eye and took me to a different place.

The place called grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Perhaps it’s a trip you needed to take today as well.

His Grace

The only grace that truly matters, because He is the only One Who is worthy to give it. I can extend grace to others and I should, because I need it as much as they do. I’m a sinner saved by grace, fully forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ. But often times there is no one harder on me than me. I’m sure Apostle Paul could identify. How many times did Satan remind him of his previous life? Countless no doubt. And for me, Satan may only have to remind me of fifteen minutes ago. But there’s something about pen to paper that makes my mistakes more permanent than just the ink.

His Strength

Seeing the mistake on the page weakens me. It reminds me of the fact that I often consider myself faux artist, much like the technique of faux art. I’m not real. It’s why I need His strength. I rely on it to get me through those times when Satan would tear me down and with me the ministry I long to build for the Kingdom of God. That’s why Satan does it.  Every time he can use self-criticism as a tool he can thwart the Kingdom’s work.

His Power

I don’t know how many times, far too many to count that I have walked off the platform feeling like a dirt dog because I had failed. Only to be greeted by a child of God who described a performance that was far above the one I experienced. That’s His power! Not mine. He can take a vessel, marred and broken like me and use me in spite of myself and my mistakes.

There was an illustration once at a retreat I attended where the ladies had taken a pitcher, broken it and glued it back together. In front of the audience they poured water into it only to have it pour through the cracks of the broken vessel. Hello! This is where we get happy. If we allow our brokenness, our mistakes to be seen by other people, the Holy Spirit can flow into and out of us blessing many and drawing them to the grace, the strength and the power we experience as His children.

Yes… this is what I have to remember.  My imperfections are made perfect by my Lord. His grace, His goodness, and His greatness dwell within me. I just have to let them leak through the cracks of my broken, messed up self.

Swamp Monsters and Other False Hoods

I am pretty sure that I am not alone when it comes to growing weary of the news media of today. There was a time in my life, when the news was on, it may not have been the gospel, but at least it was truth. There was a standard, this remarkable word called “ethics” that governed media. But today media is marketing and entertainment without accountability. But it is not however there is great repercussions.

I won’t call out call letters of media that I consider to be absolute liars. That’s not my purpose here. And I’m not so sure that any television news outlet of the day is to be considered truth. Their bias is obvious and they’re either sold to the highest bidder, or they’ve got their own agenda which clouds their objectivity.

So why am I here?

I guess to tell you where I stand and hopefully encourage you with some gospel truth about the world we live in.

My first Bible study as a new child of God was on the book of Revelation. Talk about a meaty subject for a milk drinker! Oh my goodness, it was. But what it did was solidify me in the truth of the gospel. Praise God I had a Pastor that was there to break it down and help me understand what I could, and skip past what I couldn’t for a day when I was weighted in the word and ready for it.

It is important for a Christian to read and study the word of God, not only for personal edification, but for prophetic wisdom for the day.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not privately interpreting the Bible. God is clear on that. But I’m here to tell you, if you read it, as religiously as the world watches the swamp we call news, you’ll see the prophetic words of old that read like a modern day newspaper.

A Light in the Dark

2 Peter 1:19-21

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

The world is a dark place. Television, the web, the movie screens, all cater to darkness and evil. And Americans pay top dollar for it. Parents allow their children to watch it as if it were no more dangerous than Tom and Jerry of our day. There is repercussions. I see it playing out in our locals schools in rural West Virginia. I can’t imagine the dark side of public schools in larger areas. But I know it’s there.

Peter said we’d do well to take heed to the light that shines in those dark places because there was darkness then, and it’s far worse now. The world around us seems oblivious to it and willing to buy into any lie the media feeds them.

2 Corinthians 4 says it best…

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We have the wisdom we need for the day within us. You don’t need me to tell you, but perhaps you needed me to remind you.

A Truth for Tomorrow

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

My words are not prophetic, but they’re truth as revealed to me by the Holy Ghost as I sat in my living room this morning wanting to hear from God. I didn’t turn on the news because there was nothing there that would encourage me. I tuned into the Word of God and this image of the swamp monster came into my head.

That’s how I see the media of the day. They’re a vile group of people working on the agenda of Satan himself to lure people into the darkness, not the light. They love creating dissention among people and groups because it makes news and keeps people talking about prejudices, politics and pathetic individuals seeking personal notoriety.

No Prejudice in the Gospel

The gospel will shine the light on every single one of those topics. There is no prejudice in God. All men are equal. Peter said it as God revealed it to him in Acts 10:34 ~ Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

God loves all people!!!

Colossians 3:11 

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

No Politics in the Gospel

It was politics that killed Jesus, God’s Only Son. People wanting to please people. This ought not to be.

Matthew 16:26

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

No Personal Agenda in the Gospel

Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

While life goes on around us, and there are things we have to do and conversations we have to have that have nothing really to do with the gospel, it’s just living. But all that we do should in some way glorify God.

God is only in the truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Friends in the Fire

Oh to have the boldness and fearless testimony of the three Hebrew boys… without the fire of course! Can that even happen? Can you have a testimony to that degree without the test? I don’t think so.

I have so many friends currently in fires of varying degrees. I stand by with helpless emotions wishing and praying that God will spare them this trial and await His answer. I guess that was the same prayer that many were praying for me in May of 2018 when I had the heart attacks and surgery that followed. But for some reason it felt different from my perspective of laying in that hospital bed with round the clock monitors, medical staff and drugs. I was too busy going through the battle to realize it was a fight. It was just a process. The real battle began when I came out of the hospital and continues today trying to get and stay healthy.

It began when I once again had control of the situation.

Maybe that’s how the boys felt when they answered King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:16

GOD IS ABLE

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

To West Virginia-nize it “Listen up Neb… we ain’t even got to think about it. Do your best. Because our God is able, either through the fire, or out of the fire. The decision is His!”

That’s the attitude I see in these guys. They’d fully relinquished this event to the Lord.

When I laid in the bed at Ruby Memorial for 4 days prior to surgery I had plenty of time to stress out. And I won’t lie to you and tell you that I didn’t occasionally have moments of fear. But they were truly rare. (No one was more shocked than me!) Mainly because I recognized that this was out of my scope of expertise. So likely the Hebrew boys recognized that they were not fire fighters.

But what about the unmentioned friends who watched? How was there faith? I don’t know, it doesn’t say. But I know how I am right now watching my friends go through their fire. I don’t like it, but Gloraaay! I have hope. I know my God can deliver! But I would not have so great of faith if I hadn’t spent a little time in the furnace myself.

The post surgery healing probably took more out of me than the actual surgery.

SATAN IS ANGRY

19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

When Satan seen that there was no fear in the boys, he turned the heat up via Nebuchadnezzar. He does that with us too. When he sees us in our bravest form he’ll often heap more on! I don’t know how many times the medical staff tried to “explain” to me how sick I was. Finally one very intelligent gal looked at me and ask, “Do you want to know the danger you’re in?” To which I replied, “No. That will serve no purpose other than to stress me out.” Ignorance may not be bliss, but it’s handy to calm the nerves.

Sometimes we just need to tell Satan, and some people to shut up. I know that’s not nice, and I was raised better.  But negative people will bring you down. We are aware in the battle we have an angry enemy, but don’t let that voice be louder than the voices of Victory.

THE SAVIOR IS ABIDING

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

At this point in biblical history, Christ was in the fire. Now He’s in us!

John 15:7 

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

That same faith that the Hebrew boys drew upon to save them from that fire, is the same faith that we draw upon today. The only difference is, He’s even closer. He’s in us! Ready and willing to get us through or bring us out!

THE RESULT IS ABSOLUTE

Even Nebuchadnezzar knew. He seen the power of the God of the Hebrew boys. The same God we serve today.  

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

As the wife of a fire fighter, I’ve smelled smoky clothing a lot! It’s nasty and it penetrates the fabric and everything around it.

So for that smell, to be nowhere on anything the boys wore speaks such Victory to me. It means that God brought them through the fire, and when they got out, there wasn’t any evidence they were ever even in it.

Gloraaaaay again!

God is able! Pray church and believe that God will bring us through and out and Satan won’t get one drop of recognition for his part in it.

Sweeter as the Days Go By

Sweeter as the days go by! That truly is how it is when you’re serving Christ and doing your best to stay in the center of His will. I had, what my friend Gloria and I call a “Cinderella” day yesterday. It’s when all the stars align, and things are going well. You’re just having a great day.

I taught on the Holy Spirit in my Teen Sunday School class and the kids were so gracious and interactive with the lesson. And as they walked out of the class they said to each other, “this was a good day.” And I thought, yes, yes it was! Not because of me but because the Prince had shown up.

We then went to worship and again the Spirit was moving in the service and it was so, so very good!

During and after church there were terrible wind storms and the trees began to break, tearing the power lines down and knocking out our electric. On a day that I had two grandbabies. So no tv, no internet, video games were dying and it could have gone down the tubes were it not for the kids who said, “can we make crafts?”

So we spent the afternoon making paper and craft stick projects and the it was a sweet time. That I would not have had, if the power hadn’t have gone out.

Well how true is that in life that we don’t realize how sweet some things are until they’re gone. Or, we’ll spend so much time focusing on the negative and ignore the positive.

I can tell you when the electric went off I was about to get frustrated. Had it not been for the kids, I would have. They just roll with the punches. So it started me thinking about how many times I’ll look at the painful events in my life and much like the honey bee’s of spring we’re about to experience, all I see is the stinger. I forget about the sweet honey that I love the flavor of.

Psalm 19

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Glory to God! Even a simpleton like me can have a Cinderella moment in the study of the Word of God because the Holy Spirit makes it possible.

While the law of the Lord is perfect, I am far from it. And I’m a rule breaker from a way back; so getting my flesh under control isn’t always easy and it’s seldom ever fun.

Most people do not like bees buzzing around the flowers of their house for fear of getting stung. The focus is not on the honey, it’s on the potential pain. And while the saying “no pain, no gain,” has its place in fitness, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so in life.

If we would focus less on what we can’t do and more on what we can do in Christ, the days certainly get sweeter. When the lights went off yesterday my first thought was, well, there goes wifi. The boys first thought was, let’s get some glue!

There are 10 “Thou Shalt nots”. But how many shalls are there?

I don’t know, but I know there’s a bunch.

The testimonies mentioned in verse seven is why we find great joy in verse eight.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

We know in our hearts that the advice of the Lord is always good. His word is always right and encouraging to our souls. And if we allow that word to really penetrate the heart to the point of rejoicing, God suddenly opens up the scriptures in ways that we’d never noticed before.

The more we testify, study and share the word of God with each other, the more we find ourselves focusing on the honey, not the sting.

We still fear the bee, but we’re not fretting over him. We’re happier if we can just let him do his thing and we’ll reap the reward later in the grocery aisle of a sweet jar of honey.

Two more verses and then we’ll be ready to get on with our day.

Fear is a healthy emotion if it’s kept in check.

We should have a healthy fear of bees, rock cliffs and fast driving. And the Lord!

Verse 9 days The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Fearing God isn’t something terrible. It’s a healthy respect for He Who controls the world. 

We almost missed Sunday evening services. But not quite. The electric came back on 45 minute before church was due to start. If I had gotten frustrated because of all the things I wanted to get done and didn’t yesterday afternoon, I could have ruined not only the afternoon but the evening as well.

I know from experience. Our  mindset is ¾ of the battle on any given day. So are you looking at the honey, or are you watchin’ the stinger?

It’s good to be reminded about Who is in control.

Verse 10:

 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

What’s to be desired more than gold? His judgements. His decisions on our behalf are sweeter than honey and the honey comb.

Just before Jesus disappeared into the sky after the Resurrection He shared something with His people.

Fish and honeycomb.

Luke 24

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Psalm 19, The Law of Moses and Luke 24, all work in perfect harmony. Just like our lives if we let God control the narrative.

They were standing in front of the risen Lord, feeding Him fish and honey. And He tells them, I’m the real deal.

And He’s still telling us that today.

Even in the hard times, and they were about to have some as the persecuted church. But God wanted them to remember a sweeter time.

I hope you have a sweet, sweet day today! And praise His name at days end.

Will My High Hopes Last?

Ethel

The sun is shining and it’s a balmy 52 degrees today in Calhoun County, West Virginia. It gives me high hopes that spring is just around the corner! High hopes because I can see the glorious sunshine and feel the warmth (well kind of) on my skin as I go out to feed the chickadees in the hen house.

But what about next week when the temperatures drop back into the twenties, snow is possibly in the forecast, and the chicks still need fed. Will I have high hopes that day that spring is just around the corner? Or will I bundle up and growl as my bones ache in protest to the chore? Not believing with any great confidence that spring will come?

I see and occasionally fall victim to the same faulty thinking as a child of God. Hope is fleeting in this fallen world, is it not?

2 Corinthians 4:18 says

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have only girls in my henhouse, because, it is after all, a henhouse. And boys are bossy. I speak in poultry language of course, not humanistic. I would never say that my husband is bossy.

Okay… that’s a lie.

But he will tell you that I listen about like the poultry dames. I love my chickens. I do not however love their hygiene. They’re pretty gross. But they provide breakfast and attribute to my baking; so, I’ll tolerate their stinky butts and shovel their poop if I can’t con the hubs into. Which is usually the case. But my point of my Bantam banner is this, those girls always have hope!

They’re expectantly awaiting me to come to the hen house and feed and water them and they graciously (with the exception of one Silkie) allow me to take their eggs. They don’t care what the weather is like, although they’re a little less productive on cold days, much like me. But they still have hope. They’re doing what chickens do.

Am I? Doing what I’m called to do? Every day? Or just on days when I feel like the Son is going to return?

Just like the ladies in the henhouse, God’s plan for me has been mapped out rain or shine. Cold or warm. Muddy or dry. I need to be productive for the cause of Christ which is to tell others of His return. That may come in the form of a blog, vlog, speaking engagement or a song I sing. But all should point other to Christ and tell them of His imminent return. That is hope.  That is what we have. It’s not up for debate. He’s coming back for the church!

Will it be this spring? Today? Tomorrow, next year or 2025? It doesn’t matter. He’s coming back! It only matters that I’m doing what needs to be done. So… I’ll feed my chickens, I’ll feed my family, I’ll feed the youth in the teen department with the word of God and I’ll feed my own faith with God’s word like 2 Corinthians 4:18.

I hope you found some nourishment in that word today too!

Lucy

The Offering

Some of the Old Testament is often difficult for me to relate to because it’s so different than how we relate to God today. We are so blessed by grace! A fact that is made all the more clearer as I read the worship experience in the days of Ezekiel.

Through the closing chapters of Ezekiel God is laying out prophesy and Christ like illustrations. Typification that is easily seen from this side of grace. It causes me to wonder what it was like to view it from God’s side of Heaven.

Ezekiel 45:20-25

And so thou shalt do the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye reconcile the house. In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering. And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. And he shall prepare a meat offering of an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and an hin of oil for an ephah. In the seventh month, in the fifteenth day of the month, shall he do the like in the feast of the seven days, according to the sin offering, according to the burnt offering, and according to the meat offering, and according to the oil.

There is no doubt in my mind that the formality and pomp of this event was amazing. Should not our worship experience of modern day be every bit as glorious? So why is it not? Likely because we don’t see the blood as we should. The blood of that day was likely not such a glamorous viewpoint but the reality that something died for your sin.

I must confess that blood makes me squeamish. Even that of hamburger or any other raw meat. I just don’t have the stomach for it. But I deal with it. So I praise God that our worship of today and the sacrifice that our Lord and Savior made on the cross over 2000 years ago, covers our sin; and I don’t have to deal with the blood of goats and cows! But the blood must still be recognized.

God’s View

When God looked over the balcony of Heaven as the children of Israel made their sacrifice He knew the rebellion of His people wasn’t over. He knew that that blood was a temporary atonement for continual problem. He could see the coming atonement that was a permanent solution to an ongoing problem.

As I read the details of the offerings and the feasts and it goes on and on and I get burdened in my mind from what seems like more information than I currently need. And then I think about my God. The God Who is in every detail of my life. All the piddley little things that are so unimportant in the scope of eternity and yet He cares. How can I not care about every little detail of a sacrifice that set the example of what His Son did for me so that I could have peace for the day and hope for eternity? God’s view then, is my view now, even though mine is from earth, I can see it just as clearly as God did from Heaven.

God’s Vow

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The final sacrifice. No more critters. No more pomp and circumstance over the blood of animals. No more separation from God! No more necessity of a man on earth to make our intercessions to God. We alone can approach the altar of grace from anywhere we are, in any state of condition that we’re in because Christ made the ultimate sacrifice and God make the ultimate promise. It was finished! He opened the door of the throne of grace for every child that accepted Him as Lord and Savior and the door would never again be closed.

God’s Victory

1 Corinthians 15:55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15:57

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having just lost another family member this week, these verses provide fresh hope. Not just victory over death, but victory over every day living. All the struggles I face. All the times I just don’t get it, and I fail God miserably. He is there for all of it. He has me covered. His offering was enough. “It is finished!” He said on the cross. And I am so grateful…

When the Monster Returns

Anxiety. Not for the good Christian girl and boy, right? Umm, wrong. Multiple people have recently come to me requesting prayer for their anxious spirit. And I’m ever so glad to lift them to the Lord, believing that He will remove their fears and anxiousness and restore to them the peace that comes from knowing Christ. And then, moments later, I’m in the same predicament. What is it about anxiety that can get such a hold on the believer?

I know my Lord is greater, but for the life of me I cannot convince that monster that is lurking behind me. He just won’t believe it. I read the word of God and the anxiety flees, only to return after I allow the cares of the world to creep back in.

Most days for me it’s manageable. I reiterate the fact again that I am not a super saint, but God has given me this ability to shut things out; almost like slamming the door in Satan’s face. It’s my coping mechanism and it serves me well, until it doesn’t. It can also allow me to shut out things that I should be managing.  That’s when the stress can get out of control and that monster lurking behind me almost feels like a physical presence on my shoulder.

When I had the heart attacks, it was the heaviest it had been in a long time. So now, I try to keep a handle on things. But like most everyone, I don’t always win my monster mayhem.

My imaginary conversations. Oh my stars, I am so glad you people are not inside my head. I have more conversations that never take place in reality than anyone should. I tell people off, I rescue the distraught, I line people up and line them out. It’s awesome! And then I come back to reality. Bury the thoughts, shut out the world and crawl into my pity pit that allows the anxiety to take hold over the peace my Lord wants for my life.

The street scene in Mark 5 wrangles my angst this morning.

22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. 24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. 25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. 35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Two characters who triumph over anxiety are Jarius and the woman with the issue of blood. Both had life altering issues. Jarius was at the point of losing his young daughter (12 years old). The woman with the issue of blood (for 12 years) is losing hope. I don’t think these two 12 year old stories are in the same part of scripture by happenstance. Jarius wants to keep alive his issue, the woman, wants her issue to go away. We all have issues. Some physical, some emotional, but all can be spirit breaking.

So what can we learn from the word and the characters of study this morning that will help us with our own issues? I think that there was a commonality to both of their victories.

W.E.P.T.

I can almost guarantee there was a lot of weeping prior to their coming to Christ. What parent cannot identify with tears both of joy and heartache when raising children? But the thought of losing one is beyond comprehension or acceptance. And the woman with the issue of blood had had the issue twelve years; preventing her from spending time with the people she loved, draining her physically and emotionally. But using the acronym of W.E.P.T  both

They Worshipped – Both fell down at His feet

Entreated – Both reached out to Him for a solution.

Prayed – Both prayed for God’s mercy

Trusted – Both trusted His answer.

And both received Victory. Jairus’ daughter lived, and the woman was healed. And the anxiety was stopped. Oh what power I the word of God! These were not my issues, my issues are far less. So how can I not trust Him?

Will the monster return… probably. But so will victory.

The Art of Conversation

The PDF version of this tool with instructions are free and ready to print at the end of this post

Monday morning I had two of the grandbabies and breakfast protocol at Noni’s house is pancakes, and with pancakes being messy I distributed napkins accordingly. And these were special “conversation starting” napkins that I purchased from our local grocery store, Foodland.

Each napkin had a question printed on it to get family conversations started, which I think is really cool. And it worked perfectly.

The first question was “You had a dream last night and it came true, what was it?” To which Noah (age 11) responded “school was canceled.”

His dream however did not come true.

But it did get me thinking about conversation starters. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner it got me thinking of Valentine’s Day conversation hearts, which I personally love the flavor of! But more importantly than the flavor I love the idea of using them to share Jesus by starting a conversation around the condition of a soul, or the topic of church.

I thought of a few…

  • Biggest Fear?
  • Got Faith?
  • Who do you Miss?
  • Dream Life?
  • Who loves you most?

I’d love if you posted in the comments some things you think would be a good conversation starting question. I’m going to make and print these conversation hearts for my youth class on Wednesday night. I’m going to make myself a set. Whether or not it’s Valentine’s day, it’s still a great soul winning tool.

Conversation Flavor

Philippians 1:27 

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

One of the reasons I like the flavors of conversation hearts is because they’re delicately sweet and not over powering. That’s how I like the Christians I meet. Just show me Jesus!

When Paul said “Whether I come to see you or not,” that causes me to think that perhaps there was dissention among the ranks. Maybe they weren’t happy he wasn’t there, or perhaps because he wasn’t there the leadership had gone awry. But whatever the reason for his comment, it brings attention to the fact that the world doesn’t need to see disgruntled Christians. There’s enough of that everywhere else.

And it leaves a bad flavor in the mouth of the unsaved. Why would they want to be a part of that?

Our main focus should be striving to share the gospel. That’s why I like this tool that the Lord gave me this morning. So I’m going to act on it. Our conversations need to lead to action.

Conversation Fun

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I’d like to add, let no man forget his or her youth.

Some of the conversation starters that might lead to a salvation conversation can be a fun topic. A question like “What does your dream life look like?”

Very few people don’t like to dream about the perfect life. Wouldn’t we all want it? So what would it look like? And how easy that can enter into a conversation about the perfect life we’ll have in eternity.

That’s a fun time!

Conversation Facts

2 Corinthians 1:12

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

Whether we’re talking to the saved or the lost we need to know the truth through the word of God. Not using our own wisdom, but what the Word of God says, because that’s going to speak the heart of those we’re having a conversation with.

A question like “What’s your biggest fear.” And the scripture to calm the fear such as 2 Timothy 1:7 will go a long way in starting a conversation.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I don’t know of a person who doesn’t have fear, and who’s not looking for peace. I have fears. I needed that scripture today. I needed it yesterday and every other day. What a great question to ask someone who’s lost. Because we know they likely have great fears.

What about the question, “Who do you miss?” For me it’s my Dad. Many, many others, but most him. And how wonderful that I have the scripture that tells me that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! And that Jesus has prepared a home for me that He talks about in John 14.

So what’s your conversation starting questions?

I’m serious about listing them below. Even if you think they’re too long for a piece of candy, maybe together we can shorten them. The printable link to the ones I’m using tonight are below! Enjoy and let me know if you use them and how it goes.

http://thejesuschick.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12-conversation-starting-hearts.pdf

http://thejesuschick.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12-conversation-starting-hearts-instructions.pdf

Not Because I’m a Saint

This is the table that is before the Lord.

Ezekiel 41:22b

It is one of my greatest heartaches and concerns of the American church today that the Sunday morning altars are empty. Pastors should not have to heap guilt upon the congregations to create movement and cause a begrudging child of God to kneel at the altar of grace. We should not ever do it out of vain repetition but rather with the knowledge that there is always a need, be it ours or someone else. For me… it’s me. I take others to the altar too, but I’m here to tell you, I go because I know what a wretched sinner I am and how I fail my Lord every day. I don’t go to prove my “sainthood” or that I am all that and a bag of chips in the house of the Lord. I’m not trying to impress anyone in any pew. I’m going because I need it!

I find three things at the altar (and more). But three very notable things.

I Find Quality

Ezekiel spoke of the altar as a table. The finest wheat, and sweetest bread is there waiting for me every time I kneel. Jesus said in John 6:35 I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

It is apparent from my waistline that I love to eat. But I pray that my soul is every bit as ravenous for the things of God. That is why I go. I don’t always feel hungry for the things of God. I’m ashamed of that. There are times I want worldly things that tickle my fancy. It’s a real struggle. I’m a vain, bling loving babe that likes techy things, music things and all things artsy craftsy. Those are the things that can so easily draw me away from God. I need reminded that those things are fine in their place, but that the true and finest filling of the soul comes from time with the Master.

I Find Quantity

God has not one time refused me time. Isn’t that a great thought? But what’s shameful for me again is I have refused Him time over and over. I need reminded on as I kneel at the altar that it is a privilege beyond comprehension that the Lord of Glory wants to talk to me. Wants to give me His precious time.

I Find it Quietly

While there is a time for praising and shouting the glory down, my time at the altar is in humble, silent awe. It’s the feeling of the Holy Spirit that dwells within, also coming from above like a mighty rushing wind and just settling there on top of me pouring Himself down into me and blessing me all over. Helping me to understand that in my greatest failures, I am loved. In my deepest pain, He understands it. And when I just don’t know what to say. He intercedes on my behalf, making groaning where there was no words.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ~ Romans 8:26

That is why at every opportunity you’ll find me at the altar. Not because I’m a saint… but because I ain’t.

God is in the Details

So, I’m back in Ezekiel again today, and I’m enjoying the Lord’s work in me through His word. Even the words I don’t understand.

Ezekiel 40, according to the commentary of John Gill, tells me that the Jews under the age of 30 were not allowed to read chapters 40-49 until they were of the age of 30 years old. And then they were to read it with the understanding that they wouldn’t understand. Finally, someone who gets me!

It speaks of a temple, of glorious grandeur and it speaks in great detail. I mean GREAT detail. As my eyes were glazing over while I read the cubit after cubit detail, the number of steps, the width of the rooms, the length of the porches, I begin to wonder why? Why does God give Ezekiel this information? So I looked closer. And began to try in my feeble brain to imagine what those images would have been. And I came across a few words that captured my attention for a minute and took me to a happy place. A pickin’ parlor.

In verse 44 of chapter 40 it says that “without the inner gate were the chambers of the singers in the inner court. ” That’s when I understood that God is all about the details. As He described this location to Ezekiel it didn’t really matter when it was, only that it was going to be, and when it was and where it is, we will be.

I don’t have to understand the future events, I only have to believe that God has got an amazing place for the believer and that it has been designed in great detail for us.

Don’t miss out on it by not knowing Jesus as your Savior. And if you’re saved, tell your family and friends so they don’t miss out!

Glory!!!! our God is Good!

What Matters Most

World arrogance. Oh… my… stars. It’s why I don’t watch the news and I avoid negative conversations around me. This world actually thinks that they can do whatever it is they desire, without repercussion and without accountability. Well, they thought the same thing in the days of Ezekiel. Which for me I found great solace in. Perhaps you need to hear this word today too.

Are you tired of seeing evil played out on an international, national and local level? Me too. It’s why I don’t miss my days of working in the courthouse of our not so fair county. I witnessed evil first hand, and grew weary and discouraged with each passing day in those halls. Not everyone was evil. But there was enough to suck the life out of me.

Ezekiel no doubt felt the same way. But when you’re a servant of God, which he is, and I am, it’s like being a fire fighter. You can’t just walk away. You have to do what the Lord tells you to do or there could be casualties on your watch. I don’t want casualties on my watch.

So as I read Ezekiel 38 this morning, determined to hear a word from the Lord that I could pass on to you, this is the word…

Names don’t matter, Positions don’t matter, and Numbers don’t matter. God’s promises matter. Just like the sparrow… God sees it all and He has us covered.

Ezekiel 38:1-3

1And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:

Gog and Magog. Interesting names and there is some debate as to who they even are. I won’t even attempt to guess. And truthfully, it’s irrelevant to me for the word that God has given me. Because God’s first point for me to ponder is

Names Don’t Matter

How many times do we hear people say that someone was trying to make a name for themselves in a certain sphere? While obviously God and Magog thought they were of great power in the days of Ezekiel, scholar’s debate who they even were. So how important were they in the scope of those days? And when all is said and done how will we remember those who are our adversaries today?

I love that my grandbabies associate me with Jesus. Glory! That’ll put a shout in my soul. Because I know if I’m doing something in His name, it matters. If it’s in the name of anything or anyone else, not so much. So when I apply that theory to the world around me that is filled with so much evil, what I’m doing is so much more important.

Positions Don’t Matter

Ezekiel was speaking to the chief prince. I’m sure he thought he was all that and a bag of chips. But when the dust settled, it did not.

While I do not ever glory in anyone falling, I can’t say that I may not inwardly smile when evil is defeated. Even if evil has a name and a position. I’m tired of the arrogance of elected officials who do not regard the position’s for which they were elected to as an opportunity to do good. Woah… I may have went right into preachin’.

Numbers Don’t Matter

Scroll forward in chapter 38 and Ezekiel’s still laying it on.

15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:

I’m sure those mighty armies came with great confidence. So does the world and the political rhetoric when they make decisions on behalf of our Nation that causes God to go red in the face.

I actually just discovered that God does.

Verse 18 says “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.”

I don’t think any of us wants to witness that. People who get red faced are usually about to explode. If God explodes, it’s going to get ugly quick! And no matter the number, you lose. So when I look at the odds that are against America on so many different fronts, it sometimes discourages my soul. But then I think about the fact that God hasn’t wiped us off the map yet and I believe it’s because He still has enough people who care. There are still a few Ezekiel’s out there willing to say what needs to be said. And that’s not our word, but rather the Word of God!

God’s Promises Matter

Ezekiel 38:19-23 sums up the matter. If God said it, it will come to pass.

19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. 22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.

Even in the face of today’s evil we can take heart that God will be glorified. So turn that frown upside down! God has us covered church! We are covered by the blood of Jesus and He will have victory, and through Him, so will we.

Broken Again

Whoever coined the phrase “getting old ain’t for sissies” was so in tune with my life right now. So by way of confession, I’ll let you in on a secret, 2018 was brutal on me and 2019 isn’t so great either!

I stopped going to cardiac rehab at the hospital because I’m a wimp with cold weather. It was just easier to stay home. But I didn’t want to lose the progress that I’d made so I was doing some exercises at home. Which included a step aerobic that I really enjoyed when it was pain free. I was having some knee issues but I was determined to fight my way through. So as I step step stepped on my little Gold Gym ® stepper I misplaced my foot and stepped backward really hard. I immediately knew I was in trouble when a blood curdling scream proceeded from my mouth that brought the critters running to my rescue. Except Callie the cat, she is way too important to worry about her handler.

I refused to go to the hospital because it was cold outside. I told you I’m a wimp. So I waited 24 hours, for which worked really well for me because the temperature outside dropped to the negatives. But after x-rays and exams it was determined (as best they could without an MRI) that I have a torn meniscus. So I’m “peg leg pete” as my daughter Whitney now calls me, and I’m feeling very feeble. And not just physically.

Psalm 38 was written by David as a Psalm of remembrance. Although there is debate whether the Psalm was written to remember his sin with Bathsheba or the distress of Israel, for me it matters not. I only know that it resonated with my heart today.

Physical pain, and the pain of sin and regret take its toll on the body. It weakens me spiritually and causes an angst in my soul.

David penned it well when in verse 8 he wrote “I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.”

Feeble Folk

Feebleness is a state of frailty, weakness or delicacy. None of which I care to be described as. But I doubt I’m alone. We all have times when we feel weak whether or not it’s physical or emotionally in times of life’s woes. It brings to mind our mortality and just how very little we are in control.

While my torn meniscus could have been remedied by using a little common sense when exercising on laminate floors, my sins can be remedied by using a little common sense in my brain. Neither of which I overly skilled at. Obviously a trait King David bore as well.

I recently have been following a couple of gals on Instagram that are just a tad too perfect. Their actually not, they’re very human, but they’re posts are “pretty”. Their homes are pretty, their lives are pretty, their spirituality is pretty. They make me nauseous. Yes. I’m sinning in thought. But it’s the truth. I can’t handle all the “pretty” stuff. I need some reality. They really do inspire me to be better. But I also tune into a preacher who has been an utter failure! But he’s fighting back and roaring through the hard times and allowing me to see into his life of blunders and mishaps and helping me to understand, I’m not alone.

When I fell off the step, I roared both in my soul and in my physical being. I let the puppies know, momma was hurt. I believe we need to do that spiritually as well to a world of perfectionistic attitudes that see only the “pretty” images on social media and in life. We come into church with our perfect attire and attitudes having just left the brokenness of life at home and the reality that all is not necessarily as well as it looks.

It’s why I appreciate people like my preacher friend who lets me see his realness. Then my realness doesn’t make me feel like a complete failure, just a recovering failure. Which is truthfully what I am.

If there was an F.A. meeting (Failures Anonymous) I’d go. But there’s not. And once you attend you’re no longer anonymous. Everyone knows! So I’ll just go to church, read the word, talk to God and share with you. My therapist. Thanks for not charging me an arm or a leg (for which I only have one left.)

Finding Our Super Powers

Below is the teen lesson I’ll use for tomorrows Sunday School program where I teach 9-12th grades. It’s certainly a suitable study for adults as well, after all, I teach these teens as the spiritually mature adults they are. On more than one occasion they’ve taught me.

Most days I feel like the underdog. I fail, I fall, I get up and try again. I leap in faith only to look more like a leap frog than leaping a building in a single bound. I venture a guess I’m not alone. I’ve yet to meet a saint of God (at least any I cared to be around) who thought they were an absolute success. Servitude brings a humility that allows us to remember who ­­the real super Hero is: The Lord Jesus Christ! But even the bible recognizes the making of a hero. We’re not super heroes, but yet we too have the potential to be a hero by using the power within us. We (or at least I) fail to remember that it’s never me who has the ability to make things happens when leading souls to Christ or serving God in any capacity. But rather the Holy Spirit.

The rollcall of heroes in the book of Hebrews gives me great hope that God can use someone like me. So what is our role on the roll and what is our superpower.

One of my Dad’s favorite verses was Hebrews 11:1 ~

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Superpower #1 – Seeing the Unseen

Other Christians see things in me that I don’t see. Or I don’t have the faith in my abilities to bring them to fruition. But if we view life through the vantage point of God what are the unseen things we’d see? And how do we see them?

Hebrews 1:3

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

What unseen things do you “see” in creation?

When I think of framing I think of an incomplete project. God created this world by speaking it into existence. “Framed by the word of God.” But there is still work to do. We are that work for which we do by stepping and leaping in faith to show others to Christ.

Why do you think that unsaved people, especially those in the field of science, struggle with believing in God’s creation?

Superpower # 2 – Willing to Kill

The first hero mentioned in the book of Hebrews 11 is Abel. His super power was a righteous kill.

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Abel killed in obedience. Cain on the other hand killed out of jealous and pride and the killing was of his own brother.

Why was Abel’s killing of the sacrifice righteous?

Is that hard for us to understand, especially if we are critter lovers?

Of course it is! But it may be a little less difficult for those of us who are not vegetarian. We can understand the sacrifice a critter makes for us to have a hamburger.

Abel’s refusal to sacrifice an animal was his unwillingness to recognize that sin required a blood covering. It still does. But Christ made that final sacrifice on the cross.

The death now is our own. We are dead to ourselves and alive in Christ!

Superpower # 3 – God Pleasers

Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

What can we do that would please God and allow the world to see this superpower?

One thing for certain, without faith we will not please God. Hebrews 11:6 says

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe00 th0at he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

If by seeking God, it pleases Him, how do we seek Him? And how does seeking Him show faith?

Superpower #4 – Boat Builders

Hebrews 11:7

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

In that day, that was more than a little bit crazy. From this side of it we know how wise he was, but at that point it had never rained one drop.

Sometimes if we want to be obedient to God’s calling we have to be a little bit crazy!

Have you, or do you know someone who’s been a little bit crazy?

Superpower #5 – Going to the unknown and believing the impossible

Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Stepping out in faith isn’t for the faint of heart. Abraham had no idea where God was sending him, but he was willing to go.

Where would you fear God’s calling on your life? Has He called you to do something you now fear?

What country(s) would you fear being called to?

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a  child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100 when Isaac was born. There is nothing that God cannot do?

Write down something that you struggle believing God will do in your life and then remember the principles of your superpowers!

Superpower #6 – Eternal Living

Hebrews 11:20-22

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

All these men knew that there was an eternity to live for. Until their dying breath they handed down that legacy. We should never stop believing that we need to tell people about Jesus.

How should an eternal mindset cause us to live?

Superpower #7 – Facing the Fire and Water

Hebrews 11:

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Moses stood before the fire when God called him out of the burning bush and he stood before the Red Sea believing through the power of God they’d get through it. Even as an infant he was placed in harms way. All this is evidence that even the chosen children of God are not immune to heart aches and danger. His own family rejected his wife and gossiped behind his back, but God took care of it all.

How does this encourage you in your everyday life?

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Superpower #8 – Girl power!

Hebrews 11:31

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

God doesn’t only use men for the higher powers. Rahab is listed as a “harlot” and yet she is in the lineage of Jesus Christ. What does that tell us about the people God will use for the Kingdom’s glory?

Rahab and her family’s life was spared because she believed in the God of Abraham and protected His people. She truly had girl power to face certain death if she was caught. She also proved that God can use people even with questionable pasts.

Paul went onto mention more heroes of the faith, but what we might find when we get to Heaven is that in a book of the things we’ve done for Christ we too are mentioned as heroes of the faith!

Beware of Dry Bones

A Nation of Dry Bones

Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14) came to him after God had directed him to prophesy the rebirth of Israel in chapter 36. God was using Ezekiel to restore Israel to her land of blessing. But it didn’t seem humanly possible. Israel was once again in captivity having fallen away from God’s grace through rebellion. In that state it would take a miracle to find hope! Something like dead men’s bones coming back to life.

When God told Ezekiel to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and come to life just as He had created Adam, Ezekiel obeyed. He’d been transported to the valley of dry bones already so no doubt he was in a mind to listen. When that body of bones resurrected with flesh and blood to stand as an army it symbolized the coming together of the Nation of Israel in end times.

As I read commentaries of the Ezekiel’s valley experience, I couldn’t help but see the implications against us. We’re  in captivity and aren’t even aware of it. At least Israel knew.

This morning’s breaking news with regards to New York Governor’s celebration of the abortion bill passing that would allow unborn children up until birth to be aborted made my eyes well with tears and my stomach roll over. It’s murder. Plain and simple and there will come a day of judgment that I wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity of. That smug look of self-righteous indignation on the faces of the “victors” will be removed by God Himself.

These and other acts of rebellion as a nation are dry bones to beware of. We will be held accountable for our votes and our attitudes of remiss when standing against those who support such atrocities.

A Church of Dry Bones

The only thing worse than government leaders being elected who stand for abortion is churches that stand with them or those who take no stand at all.

Edmund Burke said it well when he said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

How true that is. It’s what’s happening in our churches today when church leadership is refusing to take a stand against what the bible plainly lists as sin for fear of government repercussion or offending their congregations.

I thank God for churches who stand in the gap for these unborn children. They are children, they have names! God that in Jeremiah 1:5 that before we were in the womb He knew us. We have a name and a purpose long before we’re born.

The infants that the governor of New York celebrated their death may have been the doctor who cures cancer, Alzheimer of eradicates drug abuse through some revolutionary tactic, but it will never come to pass because they were murdered. They may have been the preacher that leads your grandchild to Christ, but your grandchild will never cross their path, because they were never born. Drama? No, reality.

A People of Dry Bones

We cannot change our nation and our churches until we’re ready to believe that God can resurrect the dead.

I will not give up on my nation and the churches across this great land because I know a lot of great people who are willing to take a stand for the cause of right. I believe that’s the only reason God hasn’t eradicated us.

But there’s not enough of us willing to make that stand known. Sometimes it’s because we don’t know where to start. Other times it’s because we don’t have enough support in our own troops.

Start by taking a stand on your own. In life, on social media, where ever the opportunity arises. Ask your church to get involved in awareness and then contact every political leader telling them your position and assure them that you’ll make their position known.

When Ezekiel made those bones dance, he did it through the power of God but it no doubt made him shake in his own shoes a little; mainly with excitement that God would revive His people again. He will. And He will revive us if those who say they stand for right do it.

We need to beware of dry bones but we need to be prepared for possibility that they just might come to life and bring this nation back in God’s grace once more!

Whether or not it happens only time will tell. But we will stand before God and answer for our efforts, or lack thereof.

Beware of Christians

It’s pouring the snow down in Calhoun County, West Virginia today, and the odds of me making it to our morning service are growing slimmer. Praise God, I was in church with the teens for fellowship last night, else I’d be even sadder.

I don’t know how people make it without a church family for encouragement.

The teens and I watched a film called “Beware of Christians.” It was documentary by four college boys who wanted to know what lies beyond “religion” who went by faith on a journey to Europe to witness for Christ.

As most movies it started out a little slow, and I’m sweating it because I want the kids to enjoy it and have a good time. Well let me tell you, when teens applaud at the end of a movie, with nobody to hear their applause but each other and God, you know the Spirit has moved and I’m not a failure as a youth leader J

When the title speaks of “Beware of Christians,” it’s not what you initially think. Or at least not what I thought. It’s speaking primarily of religious Christians which in the context of this film, I personally think most of us fit into. I’ve witnessed very few people in my life who live their lives to the extent of the disciples and by the instruction of Christ through the word.

These young men warn of the cause and effect of religious church goers who talk the talk but their walk doesn’t back it up. They interviewed people in the many cities they traveled, often times ending up in cities they never intended on going to. But God has His methods! They asked tough questions of young people regarding their sexual morality and spoke candidly about their own struggle. They delved into materialism and so many other topics that few Christians dare to ask themselves. Such as “Are you prepared to give up everything to serve Christ?” What does it mean to be a Christian? What things do you “need” and what things do you “need to get rid of?” Are you willing to walk away from some people because they’re unhealthy for you?

I’ll leave much of it for you to experience should you decide to watch the movie. You can rent it on YouTube for $1.99. This is not an endorsement, but rather an opportunity if you’re interested.

Link: https://youtu.be/ebEc73IYdyU

What I wanted to accomplish by this post this morning is to ask you what I had to ask myself last night? What good are you for the cause of Christ? How much of an impact are you making? What will you do differently this week because I ask you these questions?

Because I’m not going to make it to our services this morning, I’m going to spend some time pondering these questions myself. If you’d like to share your answers or your thoughts I’d love to hear from you!

Strange but much needed encouragement

This may be the strangest blog ever, but… if you read on you’ll be encouraged.

So yesterday, as my friend Gloria and I traveled to the big city, we had our usual babe banter going by trying to catch up on days and weeks’ worth of news in just a few hours. Somehow or another, (as only it could with us) we began a deep discussion of Mairzy Dotes and Dozey Dotes and Little Lambsy Divey.

I kid you not.

She was shocked that I didn’t know that that was a children’s pronunciation song exercise for  “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy, a kid will eat ivy too, wouldn’t you.

Who Knew! Well, I guess plenty of people besides me. So, this morning I’m kind of in that same mode, only with the word encouragement. En “courage” ment. My word for the year! How had I not noticed courage in the center of that word? I know… I’m a cheap date, it takes so little to entertain my mind. But on days like today when I’m struggling to stay encouraged, I’m looking for courage where ever I can find it. Maybe you are too.

Encouragment defined is:

en·cour·age·ment

/inˈkərijmənt,enˈkərijmənt/

noun

  1. the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.
  2. persuasion to do or to continue something.
  3. the act of trying to stimulate the development of an activity, state, or belief.

Every single definition is a piece of the soul winning plan!

The Help of Hope

1 Corinthians 15:19

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

How true! And a huge part of my testimony. I was of all people most miserable before knowing the Lord as my Savior. I knew there was a God, but I didn’t know God. I knew I feared Hell, but did not know how to keep from going. I needed peace, but didn’t know what it truly was until I experienced it post salvation.

It is these words of encouragement that I need to share with others to give them the courage to go on. To give me the courage to go on in the ministry. You probably have a like testimony, how can you use that today to encourage people in your life.

The Passion of Persuasion

Acts 26:28

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

What a sad statement by Agrippa. He was almost persuaded to be saved, but it wasn’t for the lack of Paul passion. The preceding verses stir my soul yet today!

Acts 26: 21-26

For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

Nor is it hidden today! God bears witness to every soul on earth. We know. And that is why God’s word will not return void, because within the heart of every girl and boy is the desire to know God.

Have courage! Share Him today.

The Beauty of Belief

Romans 10:15

And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

How beautiful! Nothing is more beautiful than seeing a soul come to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Words can attempt to capture it but will never do it justice like being in the presence of it happening. I have been privileged to see so many souls come to Christ, but never enough! I long to be used by God in such a manner. But I kid you not it takes courage.

It takes writing posts like this for myself. I need to see God’s word in action. How about you? I hope I gave you courage today. Tell somebody about Jesus. Post it on social media, call them on the phone, and tell them face to face. Get the word out in every way possible. It’s a beautiful thing!

The Power of Drama

dra·ma

/ˈdrämə (noun)

  • a play for theater, radio, or television.
  • an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.
  • A self-centered social media post for the purpose of inciting concern by others without basis, reasoning, logic or the realization that there are people with real problems.  – Definition added by the Jesus Chick

The Bible doesn’t say anything about social media, because it didn’t exist in those days, but if it had, Jezebel would have no doubt been an avid user and abuser of it. Her husband Ahab’s page, would have no doubt been filled with vile and self-promoting posts while Jezebel’s would have spewed hatred and slander towards God’s people, all of which would have been shared by her 850 followers (prophets which ate at her table). She would have no doubt intertwined those posts with her own drama and that of her sniveling man. #IneedNabothsVineyard #NabothWontGiveMeWhatIWant #JezebelsMyWoman #ImGoingToBedUntilIGetMyWay

That same nauseous feeling I get when I read the story of Ahab and Jezebel killing Naboth because he wouldn’t sell Ahab his garden (which was a family inheritance), is the same feeling I get when I scroll the drama on Facebook.

Now granted, no one is killing anyone for a plot of land. Or at least they’re not posting about it. But they’re still stirring dung for the purpose of inciting anxiety – be it in their friends or their enemies. And Christians are in the mix.

I read a post from a “friend” who was so traumatized because someone hurt her feelings that she felt compelled to post it on Facebook. It was one of those I’ve been hurt too many times to count, nobody loves me but my mom and even she doesn’t understand me posts. Insert rolled eyes here and tell me “What Would Jesus Do?”

This may not be the godliest of posts of my own. I’ve just really had it up to my eyeballs with Mr. and Mrs. Ahab’s drama. I need to know who told these people that their life would be without issue. I didn’t get that memo. And lest I get a stone back through my window, I can’t say that I’ve never vented on Facebook. But I can tell you those times are rare and regretful.

Drama is powerful

1 Kings 21:25 says of Ahab and Jezebel:

But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.

Ahab had basically sold his soul to the Devil and his wife stirred him with a big stick. That’s what drama does. It stirs people up and not in a good way. When Ahab threw his temper tantrum on the bed (1 Kings 21) his wife’s solution was to kill a man because he wouldn’t share his inheritance. That seems crazy right?

What’s crazy is that that mentality is still alive and well. But because we have laws that frown on murder, people kill each other with words. So here’s a thought for you and I to ponder today.

Matthew 12:36

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

That includes social media posts.

So perhaps my thinking is a little melodramatic. It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of such things. But I’m not bitter.

We’re really not killing people right? But we are killing the power of our testimony! If I see an unsaved person on a rant, I always try to remember that they are not privileged to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within to help them out. But the child of God is without excuse.

Our job is to edify the body of Christ and to point the lost to His saving grace. If we look back at our posts, how many qualify?

It’s a question I ask of myself today. How can I do more for the Kingdom, and less for the cause of Shari? And may I never be guilty of inciting anxiety in the world. There’s enough there already.

Brr…the Winter Time Blues

Solomon said that To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and whether it’s physically or metaphorically we all know it to be true. Life is full of seasons. This morning in the literal sense, winter has finally hit our area of West Virginia. Snow, ice and all its splendor lies on the cold, cold ground outside and I just want to hold up in the house until the first Sunny day in March.

Sometimes I feel that way spiritually as well. But, there are people depending on me and quite frankly I am depending on me to get out of this winter time slump that hits the day after Christmas. The “BRR season.”

Spiritually Barren

When I look out at the trees, with the exception of the evergreens, I see a dismal gray forest that discourages my spirit. I don’t why I’m like that, but I need color! There was a time in my life (pre-salvation) that I wanted every thing I owned, be it clothing or home décor in shades of brown. It was no wonder that I was struggling! But after I became a child of the King I needed color! Lots of color and the brighter the better. I love color! It makes me happy. And while I guess gray is technically a color, it doesn’t make me happy. It depresses me and sends me into a shell that I have to make myself come out of. Welcome to my January.

Spiritual Resignation

Oh, I know, I’m the Jesus Chick and I’m not allowed to resign my post, but there are days when I have moments of “wishing” that I was one of those people who didn’t feel compelled by Holy Spirit conviction and accountability to keep on keeping on. But wait… wouldn’t that mean I wasn’t saved? I don’t know. Ask all the people in the world who confess Christianity but don’t feel compelled to do anything for the Lord Jesus Christ Who was crucified for them. That may have sounded a little bitter.

I’m in that season.

I want to do more, I know I should be doing more, and yet my body and my aging bones say that I should climb upon my comfy couch with a my fuzzy blanket and just stay toasty and warm and watch the British Baking Show on Netflix.

Spiritually Reasoned

Praise God for His longsuffering and for somewhat of a spiritually mature me. I said somewhat because believe me when I tell you I have tantrums. But I also have been at this long enough to know that just like winter, this too will pass. I’ll be un-frustrated with life and find some color just waiting to be explored. I truthfully already have. I’m revamping my website this week to include some new features. They are filled with color! But this morning I was feeling a little BRR.

Spiritually cold. Until I began to read the word of God, and write the words of the Holy Spirit Who said, “Just bundle up and keep going. It’s cold outside but it’s warm inside of you! And the world needs to see the Lord at work.”

That message is no doubt for you too, else you’d not be here with me today. I love you and I pray that you are toasty warm, un-frustrated and ready to do some great things. If not… grab God’s word and let Him warm your soul!

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Finding Peace in the Trouble of Today

I really don’t understand the concept of preachers who preach that a child of God will not experience trouble, or can “speak” issues away. If that’s so, then I have some serious issues. Well, let’s face it, I’ve got issues. But my issues are issues with me, not God.

I have no power on my own, but I have a mighty God Who has the ability to remove or let me travel through any of the issues in my life. And I believe that His decision is for my good. Of that I am a firm believer, even if I sometimes don’t particularly like it. But if I could share an encouraging word with you today it would be the truth of Isaiah 26:3 ~

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

My bible journaling efforts this morning was drawn from a conversation that I had with my buddy Dewey Moede. And of a show I watched last night on Netflix. Dewey spoke of his concerns of the day, and the many battles from many directions we face as a Nation, and most importantly his reliance upon God. The Netflix show spoke of the future, and their reliance upon man. Two very different perspectives. It is unfortunate that there is likely followers of Netflix than Jesus.

Hollywood (or Hellywood) as a preacher friend of mine calls it has a tendency to jade life. As I watched that show last night the characters had the ability to come back in time and “fix” what was broken in people’s lives. But even they agreed that there were some things just beyond our control.

One of the main characters had the ability to know historical events. Including tragedies that had yet to happen in our time (his history, as he was from the future.) Those events burdened his heart, as they would us, which is why God doesn’t let us know the future. We couldn’t handle it. At least I couldn’t.

The trouble of day is enough.

Matthew 6:34 reminds us Take therefore no though for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

So what about today’s troubles. How do we handle those?

Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Perfect peace? How’s that working for you? Not so well for me every day.  But even if there are days when I have “issues” there are no issues with my Lord.

The reason I don’t have perfect peace is because I watch Netflix rather than reading the Word of God. True Story! If I “stay in the word, I have peace. If I watch Netlix or spend too much time on Social Media I allow the cares of the world to govern my thoughts.

Mark 4:19 says it best when it says And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

That’s exactly what happens!

Those things that garner our attention be it on the television, movie screen, books or computer are often lusts that choke the word of God out of our thought processes and prevent us from experiencing the true and perfect peace that God intends for His people. He didn’t’ say you wouldn’t have trouble, but He did say we could have peace in the midst.

Funny things about the heart attack and pending surgery between May 20th and May 25th. Netflix didn’t enter my mind. I wasn’t worried about not having the nicest house or being the best at anything. I wanted to survive the day. And oddly enough I had the ultimate peace. Peace that I now, 7 months later, don’t experience because I don’t have my mind “stayed.”

Remember what I said about encouraging you? Well… turns out I need encouraging too. And this little miniature study of the word of God reminds us all that peace is found in one place. The Word of God. Not in the chaos around us, not in other people, or a cup of coffee and a piece of cake with 7 minute frosting. We need to “stay” our minds and trust in the only trustworthy thing in the universe. God.

The Extent of Forgiveness

It’s not an original thought. I heard a preacher close his sermon out with it this morning, and then it was stuck in my head… which basically means that the preacher did his job!

If you’re a Christian you’ve likely heard the sermon, you know the salvation message and you understand the concept. But it is so easy to lose sight of the depth of God’s love and the extent of His forgiveness. Especially if you’re discouraged or have feelings of unworthiness.

So just what is the extent of God’s forgiveness, lest we forget?

As far as the east is from the west

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

That’s pretty far wouldn’t you say?  In God’s realm, I don’t think the east ever meets the west. God took (removed) our sins from us, and yet we so often take them back and fail to accept His gift of forgiveness. I am the worst at rehashing failures and staying in a mindset of defeat.

I need to remember what God chooses to forget. And that forgetting is a choice.

As deep as the ocean

Who is God unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

Satan would love us to view God as angry all the time. So would a few preachers I’ve heard preach. But God does not retain His anger. It doesn’t say He doesn’t get angry. I believe that with the worst, despicable sins out there, God gets angry. When a child is abused, or a heart broken by broken vows and abuse, God’s upset. But at the first sign of repentance of that sinner, God is ready and willing to forgive. The word says He delights in it! It brings God great joy for us to come to Him in search of a renewed relationship. It is then that He casts our sins in the depths of the sea. That’s not only a deep thought, that’s a deep location.

Never Void

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

This is a verse we often use to remind ourselves that anytime the word is preached, it always serves a purpose. But have you thought of yourself being the recipient of it? If God spoke it to you, it was spoken with purpose and its purpose will be fulfilled. So when we read these verses as personal, we understand that they are written to prosper us. To help us live a life of joy and abundance through the price Christ paid on the cross to cover our sins.

I wrote these verses down in the back of my bible under the title “The extent of Forgiveness.” I want them handy so I can show myself, my friends and for certain Satan. He seems to need reminded a lot.

Mary knew, Do you?

Luke 1:47

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

Three points for me to ponder from the word of God as spoken by Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus.

This thought began early this morning but has lingered throughout the day as I worked between one project or another all day, and couldn’t seem to get back to what was fresh on my mind at 6 a.m.

I love the character of Mary because I love her humility. Nobody was any more surprised than she was that she was chosen for such a God glorifying moment. She was carrying the Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe in her womb. Forget that the world was trying to strip her of her good reputation, they could not strip her of the fact that God chosen her. Nor can they strip us. We who have decided to follow Jesus and step into His plans for us like a toddler steps into the big shoes of their Dad. They don’t fit… yet. But we’ll grow into to them by and by!

Mary knew that the Rescuer Had Come!

She may not have understood all the plan as she gave birth in that stable, but she understood that however it was that God decided to work it out, it would work. It’s a good thing she didn’t know how. What a burden for a mom to carry to know that her child would be crucified for the sins of the world. Hers included. But the Rescuer had come, His name was Jesus and He had come to save the world!

Mary knew the Rejoicing had Cause!

The angels in Heaven rejoiced, the shepherds and wise men rejoiced. And Mary rejoiced. Angels had announced His birth. They filled the skies with noise, and the hearts of those who witnessed it with wonder. Is not that the feeling we have on the day of our own personal salvation when we discover what the Lord has done. It was with me. I knew there was a reason to rejoice in my life. Salvation had come and I and my world was changed.

Life for me wasn’t perfect, nor was it for Mary. She no doubt had moments where terror filled her heart as she was hunted down for her Son. Or maybe she was a far better woman of faith than me and she trusted God through it all. But whether or not she had faith 100% of the time didn’t change the heartaches that would come in her future. But it didn’t change the promise either. Glory to God!

Mary knew the Response had a Calling!

Mary knew when she had stepped into that role that God had given her that her life had new purpose. She wasn’t just Joseph’s bride, she was the carrier of the gospel. She would soon be a part of the ministry of her Son and with it all the miracles and the messes it created.

That’s the same calling we have upon us when we accept the Lord as our Savior. We too are called to carry the gospel and to be a part of the blesses and messes that come with service.

What’s your response? Are you standing in Daddy’s shoes waiting for your orders or are you still barefoot? Step in faith my friend! It’s an exciting adventure!

Blessings from me, the Jesus Chick.

Please like and share my site www.theJesusChick.com

God’s Protocol For Worship

Psalm 100

Below is my study of Psalm 100 that I’ll be using for the teen class tonight. Perhaps it will stir some thoughts in you to draw you into that spirit of worship our souls long for! It certainly did mine as I studied His word.

ENJOY!!!!

Protocol defined: the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.

Who set the protocol for worship? The word of God.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Protocol 1 is

Make Noise!

There are many types of noises in the world, what do you consider a bad noise? (painful, loud, extreme, unnecessary)

Who do you think uses these noises and why? Satan of course!

What are some good noises?

Psalm 100:1 says to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. What do you consider a joyful noise to sound like?

Who should be shouting?

John Gill’s commentary said:

all the inhabitants of the earth, who are called upon to shout unto him as their King; as the angels did at his birth, the disciples when he made his public entrance into Jerusalem, the apostles at his ascension to heaven, the saints when the marriage of him, the Lamb, will be come, and both men and angels when he shall descend from heaven to judge the world; and such a joyful noise or shout should be made unto him as to a triumphant conqueror, who has got the victory over sin, Satan, death, and the grave, and every enemy of his and his people, and made them more than conquerors through himself;

That reading should stir your heart when you think about the reasons we should make noise!

The 2nd Protocol in Psalm 100 for Worshipping the Lord is to

Serve Him

And to not just serve Him but to be happy about it.

Since serving God is a protocol, how do you want to serve Him?


Protocol Number 3 is to

Come before His presence

I think that speaks to our attendance as well as the recognition that while in attendance to church we expect God to be there and we treat the service accordingly.

How should we come into His presence?

Protocol Number 4 is

With singing

Everyone? Yes! Everyone on the platform? No!!!!!!

But there is not only safety in numbers there is also a blending of voices that covers a multitude of bad notes. Why do you think music is important to God?

How important is it to you?

Do you feel called into the music ministry?

Do you understand what a calling is?

Protocol number 5 is to

Know

Know what? Know that the Lord is God! That’s a must to understand the calling on your life. You have to frist be saved, and then get to know the Lord so that when He speaks, you understand it is Him.

Have you ever felt the Lord speaking to you?

How would you describe it?

Do you think people misunderstand the Lord’s calling on their life? Why?

Protocol Number 6

Enter with Thanksgiving

What are some reasons that we have to be thankful as we come into the building and worship service?

The final Protocol in Psalm 100 is number 7, we should

Bless His Name

We always ask the Lord to bless us, but do we ever think about blessing Him?

What are ways we can bless Him?

The final verse of Psalm 100 gives us 3 reasons we should worship the Lord and have an attitude of worship.

Because He is good

(even when the world around us isn’t)

Because He is merciful

(every day we stand in need of it)

Because He is truth

(The world may be filled with lies, but the word of God is filled with nothing but truth.)

A Study with Shari Johnson (The Jesus Chick)

www. the Jesus Chick.com (Please share my ministry page!)

A New Thing!

What better way to start off 2019 than thinking about new things on the horizon! I loved the illustration of a new year that my friend D.L. Kerby always used of “a fresh, new piece of paper.” Nothing there but room for ideas, and of course for me improvement!

Isaiah 43:19 is a great verse to ponder today…

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

Behold!

An announcement of worthy attention!

I think of new stuff every day. But much of it is not worthy of anyone’s attention. But when God announces that something new is on the horizon. Glory! It’s worthy of our notice. There is nothing stale or boring in God’s world and according to His word it is He who does the “new thing.” But how do we know it’s for us? Have you prayed for something new? That would be a great place to start. And if you’re praying for God to do something new in your life what is the purpose of it and what role does He play?

Too many people want God to do something new and amazing but then they’d rather He butt out and allow them to take over. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

Jeremiah 31:22 speaks of Israel when he writes “How long will you wander, unfaithful Daughter Israel? The LORD will create a new thing on earth – the woman will return to the man.”

That new thing was the Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no more new things to that magnitude, but there is certainly new opportunities to serve Him there for the asking. As a child of God we should be prepared to focus our minds on ways to glorify and serve our Lord in the coming year. God may provide new opportunities in the secular realm, but that shouldn’t be our focus and should still include God as center focus.

Be Watching!

Now it shall spring forth! As a budding branch springs forth out of the ground.

I start longing for spring about January 2nd. I’m done with the cold, dead looking trees and frigid temperatures of winter. I need to see some life in the hills of West Virginia. But it’s not in my time, it’s in the Lord’s and the same is true when it comes to the new things that God has planned for us. His timing is imperative. But if I’m not watching for it, I might miss it.

We need to stand with a watchful eye on the world around us for ways that we can serve and glorify God.

Last night I sat beside a man that I really wasn’t certain of his soul’s state until the subject of church came up. He let me know immediately that he didn’t want any part of the church and that he was a “believing agnostic.”  I told him I hated to hear that because I really cared for him. He seemed shocked that I thought he was going to Hell. I spoke to him in love for as long as he would tolerate me, and in a moment of awkwardness where the subject had gotten too deep, he left my side for a worldlier lot. And I went home. I felt I’d done as much work as I could there. The man didn’t get saved but I had been watching for an opportunity and God opened the door, for that I’m grateful.

Be Ready!

For anything. God’s ways are not our ways. We don’t expect ways in the wilderness and rivers in the dessert. If we’re preparing for such an excursion we’re packing weed whackers and bottled water. But God said no… I’ve already got the path cut and the water supplied! You just need to be ready.

Oh my goodness those words make my soul stir. I’m not really a prepared person. I jump and go. Which gets me in trouble… a lot. But God said if I’d be ready for His way, I’ll be okay. But before I jump and go, I need to wait for some instructions. And so do you!

Isaiah 43:19 may or may not be your verse for 2019. But the wisdom that can be gleaned from it is for everyone.

God does have a new work for us and we for certain should be watching and be ready for His announcement.

What’s He laid on your heart to do in 2019? I’d love nothing more than for you to share that with me so that I can make it a matter of prayer. Blessings!!!!!

The Plan’s in Place

I don’t know who it was that posted on social media last night that they were glad Christmas was over because it was highly overrated. But I remember they were a saved person, and I remember the frustration in my mind and the desire to get in the flesh and comment. Not in anger, but in God’s rebuke that it wasn’t a very good message to send the lost. But then I remembered… I wasn’t God. And I didn’t know the circumstances. And so I scrolled right on off Facebook and onto something else.

But this morning that post is still on my mind. And I found myself saying, I’m glad Christmas is over too. But not for the same reason. I’m glad it’s post-Christmas because I have I can refocus on the message of Christmas. “Redemption!”

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people;

Luke 1:68

I don’t know why it would surprise me when God’s people of today miss the message of Christmas. After all, God’s people of that day missed the first message! They’d been waiting for the Redeemer, but He didn’t come like they’d expected. They expected a King in all His royal pomp and circumstance! Not the baby of a lowly Jewish girl. Nor did many of them expect that He would die on a cross, crucified by their own. But He did.

When He died, I’m sure many believers thought, “What a letdown. We believed He was the Messiah…”

Christmas for many is just that, “a letdown.” We want the pomp and circumstance of the holiday, the tinsel and perfect family memories and they rarely ever measure up to our expectations. This year at our house was a little different than most years, we are all a little more grateful. I was grateful I had them, and they were grateful they had me. We laughed and carried on like a family that truly enjoyed the company, because we did. A heart attack and open heart will do that to you. But not every year has been like that.

Today, December 28, 2018 is three days past the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Post-Christmas. Just like it brings to mind the post-crucifixion after Jesus died. I’m ready to refocus on the message God sent me to speak! Jesus saves. He didn’t come to fix this world. That’s why Christmas gets messed up and that’s why families continue to be messed up. He came to give us eternal life and a perfect world to come. Glorrraaaaay that makes my heart happy.

In the corner of my living room I’ve redone the little pencil tree that was decorated for Christmas and made it a Valentine’s tree. L.O.V.E. My main focus in 2019 is to show the love of Christ to more people. I want to help them understand that there is hope in the name of Jesus and even when things don’t go to plan in this world, there is a world to come that we can anxiously anticipate without worry or regard as to whether or not it will measure up because the word of God says

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. ~ 1 Corinthians 2:9

All we have to do is love Him. And He is going to take us to a world where there is no such thing as disappointment. That’s an awesome message and reminder for us as we go into 2019 that God’s got a plan, and we need to make sure us and everyone we know is a part of it!

We’re Going to Have to Get Better

C.S. Lewis said “He (God) loved us not because we’re lovable, but because He is Love.”

Love has been a matter of my heart for a while. Mainly because I see the declining of it across our nation. Of course in the political arena, and even though it’s worse than ever, it’s still something we’ve come to expect with the nature of differing opinions. But when it comes to Christians, there should not be differing opinions. We can have separate church doctrines, but in the matter of Jesus, one way and one way only, and His love, it’s not up for debate. And yet, the evidence is lacking that the church fully believes the word of God.

Salvation’s Security

I will not argue why I believe in eternal security. I know what I believe and why I believe I, and if you believe otherwise, I probably won’t sway your mind. But when it comes to salvation, there is no argument. You either are, or are not saved. The scripture is clear:

1 John 4:15-21

15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

Romans 10:9-10 says  ~ 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.

You either believe that, or you’re not saved. So now that we have that matter cleared up, let’s assume that you have the security of salvation. You now have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, dwelling within you.  And as we continue on in 1 John 4 there’s an evidentiary fact that should be viewed in every Christian’s life. Love.

Salvations Sincerity

16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

It’s not hard for us to conceive that God would love us. I mean really, what’s not to love right? But what about others. The enemy and the downright wicked. Does He love them too? Oh yes, enough to die for them just as He died for us, and though we hate to confess it, we know that our sins were by comparison the same level of unworthiness. But Christ took the sins of all upon His back on that cross of Calvary. We conceive this knowledge, but do we convey it?

Salvation’s Sheriff

The Holy Spirit. It’s the very first gift we receive when we become saved. What a joy! But it’s a new day and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is evident. We know when something’s not right in our life. And the only way to get right, to be made perfect is to repent and accept that what Christ did on the cross is enough for me, and everyone else in the world.

Even those I have a hard time tolerating.

What should never be evident in my life as child of God is found in the closing verse of Chapter 4.

17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

There is no fear, nor hate in the child of God.

Fear is faithless

I’ve seen too many churches who rather than teaching the love of God, teach the fear of God first.

Romans 2:4 says OR despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the good of God leadeth thee to repentance?

It does not say that the fear of God will cause a man to repent. But rather the goodness of God. Perhaps we could say the “love of God” causes a man to repent.

Prior to my salvation I had enough conviction on my life to choke a horse. I felt the disconnection from God. And I believe if everyone’s honest, we’ve all felt it before we’re saved. We know we belong to Him, it’s rebellion that causes us to deny it. But when we experience His love as shown through the church, and a sense of belonging that can be found there, that’s when I felt the Holy Spirit move in my life in such a way that I said, “I need to be saved!” The preacher preached Hell, but the church showed love.

The word “hate” makes my stomach turn. Especially when I hear it used in the context of “I hate so and so.” And sometimes by Christian people. This ought not be. We need to remember that the person we’re hating needs to see Jesus. And there is no way under the sun they’ll ever see Him if we’re spewing words like that out of our mouth. There is also no way they’ll see Him if we using words that we know will cause hate in the heart of another person.

Christians should always take a stand for what’s right in the eyes of God. But in taking that stand we should do it in love and through the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I know I’ve been guilty of not doing that.

If we’re going to make a dent in the lost of this world, we’re going to have to get better at loving people.

Kiss the Cook

Proverbs 17:27-28

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.

I’m not the best cook in the world, and when it comes to my cooking my husband’s not too critical because usually he’s just happy to be fed! And when all of the food disappears from the pot, I don’t need a “That was awesome” comment because the lack of needing to rinse before putting it in the dishwasher speaks for itself. If only life could always have words and ways of encouragement. But that’s not the case is it?

If only it were the unsaved that had a critical spirit we could understand it. But often times it’s the exact opposite. The unsaved can be more encouraging than the saved.

Another random thought I’ve had is “why are their silent letters in words? What purpose do they serve?” And “does someone, somewhere, pronounce them?” It was then I realized that they served as much purpose as a critical spirit.

Spared Words

Why it is that some people are compelled to share the entirety of their opinions as if the world would fall off its axis if they did not, I do not know. I’ve been in their presence when they did; and before the words came out of their mouth my stomach would turn somersaults as if I had just eaten rotten food. There is not a fine line between criticism and constructive criticism. There is a canyon’s width.

Constructive criticism harbors no ill intent. A critical comment has several intents. It’s meant to prove that they’re wiser than the person being criticized. It’s meant to make the criticizer feel important. And it’s said without regard for the feelings of anyone concerned except the person offering their opinion. I’ve experienced it and I’ve probably been the one who had the critical spirit. But that would be rare. Not that I’m without faults, that just happens not to be one of mine because I’ve been the victim far too many times. It’s what happens when you do a lot. It offers more opportunity. It’s probably why many people do nothing.

Spirited Words

What is an excellent spirit? They are God’s gift to a troubled world. They’re people who speak wisdom and words that encourage and applaud someone who’s at least trying.

I have to be honest and tell you that there is a critical spirit within me that I have to squelch on a pretty regular basis. Whomever coined the phrase that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” may have been speaking about humanity or perhaps they were an art critic.

Last night I was watching a home improvement show and this “artist” with obviously more money than I, (perhaps I was jealous) was redoing their art studio. For which is my kitchen table. Anyway… they were an abstract artist, and not what I would have considered a good one. But they have a studio, and I have a table, so what do I know?

Another artist that I had recently seen on Etsy was selling art for huge prices that looked literally like some of the work my grandbabies do that I consider more valuable. They had thousands of followers and I’m like “are you serious?” I’m so glad that I don’t know that person personally. Yes, I too have a critical spirit. But I don’t feel compelled to post my feelings online or tell someone that they’re less than good.

Because if it’s not something that you’re paying money for, life really is subjective.

Spirit Led Words

What each of us should be is more Spirit led. Before opening our mouths we should ask ourselves “How would Jesus respond?”

Not critical. He has never one time criticized anything I’ve done for Him. But I have. Even the words that I speak over my own efforts should be examined for their intent. When I got finished with my video blog on Facebook yesterday I immediately tore into myself for a job poorly done. It’s why I refuse to watch them after I’ve posted them. I post them in faith believing God can use someone like me.

It’s also why I don’t have a critical spirit toward other people, because I understand how it tears you down and discourages you from your efforts.

I’m not sure why this thought was on my heart today, other than I needed to hear the last point myself. I hope it encourages you for the good!

God Bless!

Shari

www.theJesusChick.com

Who Says Water and Electricity Don’t Mix?

Well. Actually from an earthly standard they don’t. But from a spiritual vantage point, they not only mix, the experience is beyond amazing!

A few weeks ago Dr. Mickey Carter preached at our church, on the subject of the light that God shines before us; and how that light grows as we we grow, and the distance before us is further as we are obedient and able to handle what it’s shining on. Such a good message! This morning I find myself studying ligtht once more in the book of Psalm 36.Twelve little verses. So much wisdom.

This earth is filled with people searching for what the child of God has. They’re missing it and we’re not doing our do diligence to give evidence of what we have within us. Our bulbs are not burnt out, they simply have a loose connection and a little water.

The Dark Side

1The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.

The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good.

He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

The last part of verse 4 could sum up most of the people I know who don’t know God. Now, I certainly know my share of people who have wicked tongues and wicked ways. But the bulk of the unsaved people I know are people who are “in a way that is not good, he (they) aborreth not evil.”

They haven’t learned to hate the very thing that makes them miserable. Sin.     

I know this because it hasn’t been so long ago that I was one of them. I wasn’t a wicked person, devising evil plots for personal gain. I was a good person trying to make the world a better place. The problem was, I needed to start with myself before I tried to fix the world around me. Case in point. I was on every civic minded board I could be on. I was highly sought after to be on those boards because I was a worker! I thought that by serving my community I could fulfill that desire within me to help. There was indeed a little light shining within my heart that always gave me a desire to help people. But my yearning was never completely fulfilled because it wasn’t being filled with what the Creator intended it to be filled with.

I’m not saying that serving on civic minded boards is wrong. We need to be a part of our community, but our primary focus should always shine the light toward the Creator. Not the created. It’s when we glorify ourselves or others that the light short circuits. It’s not attached to the source of power.

In The Shadows

Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Jesus said in Luke 13:34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not.”

The Jews had completely missed their promised Messiah because they were not focusing the glory on the Lord, but rather through works, they sought to gain glory for themselves. All Jesus wanted to do was love and protect them, as a mother hen would her chicks, but they wanted to stay in the spotlight. And so they’re solution was to rid themselves of the Light that shone so much brighter.

Good people don’t always seek the glory. Many seek the thrill of helping, which in reality is seeking the glory. That adrenaline rush that comes from helping or “saving” someone is addictive. And it can overrule allowing God’s control or protection. I was that person. I was so focused on helping others, that I wouldn’t allow myself to realize I was the one who needed saving.

The Light!

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

10 O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

11 Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.

12 There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

When life got so miserable out from under the wings of Christ, and I could see nothing but my discontent and discouraging world, God sent a light to show me a pathway to the shadow of His wings. That light was a Preacher who used the water of the Word. And when that water, mixed with that light…. Glory!!!! Something amazing happened! Once I received the wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, by accepting the fact that I could save no one and that He could save everyone, there was more light, and more direction to what my God given purpose in life was. To shine the light so that someone else could see their way to the safety and peace of being under the shadow of His wings.

And just like brother Mickey said, when I start down a path for the Lord, He shine the light far into the distance and I see that there is amazing things ahead.

I hope you’ve experienced that light. If not, follow the link on my main page to “the plan of Salvation.” And please! Let me know if this has encouraged you. Comment in the comment section and share my post on social media. I love you, but more important than my love is the Love of Jesus Christ!

Be Thou my Vision

Bible Journaling Art by The Jesus Chick

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

One of the very familiar verses often quoted from the Bible, and quite often completely out of context. I have no doubt been guilty of the same. But this morning this verse caught my attention and gave me the desire to dig a little deeper into its meaning for my own personal application.

I consider myself quite the visionary when it comes to life. I love new and exciting adventures and I’m open to the Lord’s leading down unfamiliar paths without hesitation. The problem with me is that quite often it’s a Shari vision, not a God vision. So those paths have many times lead to disaster!

The Word of God is a book like no other in the world. It’s the living, breathing, Word of God that can speak life into its reader. Another book may excite you, and inspire you, but it can’t speak life. It’s also why we shouldn’t read the Bible in a haphazard manner as to take scripture out of context or apply our own definition to it.

When Proverbs 29:18 is quoted, the word “vision” is often thought of as a prophetic vision that renders itself to personal direction. But in this context vision is “an inspired revelation of wisdom from God.” Which may be personal direction, but in its full context, which people tend to ignore, it is followed by “keeping the law.” So… when you take someone like me who is apt to be a free spirit, the law has a connotation of control. And that doesn’t fit well with my application of the freedom of vision.

I’m somewhat telling on my rebellious heart. But it’s good to be real, because it will help you and me both. Nothing is worth doing unless it is the will of God. And the will of God will never be outside the Word of God. So if we want the reality of it, we can’t just say we have a vision without searching the Word of God for the truth of His will. Woah… that’s a pretty deep thought for me.

2019 is on the horizon, and I have big plans, as always. But are they God’s? Good question.

Three points for me to ponder, and perhaps you as well, from Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

No Instruction leads to Destruction

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

I received a call from my good friend Dewey last week, who asked if I minded some counsel. The Lord knew I was in need of it, and He even sent the messenger, so who am I to say no. And so I listened. But I’m not always that wise. Some of my greatest failures in life have been not seeking or heeding the counsel of others. It’s not that I feel I know best. It’s usually that I just don’t know and I’m too excited to slow down.

But not today. Today I’ve taken it slower and asked God for some insight into the vision He has given me for 2019. The year of our Lord 2018 has been quite difficult. For more than the obvious health reasons. I had an appointment with my cardiologist today and was discussing the frequent, steady chest pains that cause me concern. After listening to me, and running the appropriate tests, it was discovered that I’m under too much stress. Shocker! 2018 has been filled with stress, and I need a reprieve in the coming year. That will require some changes in the vision of The Jesus Chick Ministries.

First… I need to treat it like a ministry. Not a hobby.

Godly Instruction leads to Construction

Council can often be constructive criticism, and that’s okay with me too. So long as it leads to construction and things get built rather than being torn down. The problem with my ministry is I’ve been building it alone, and as God told Adam, it’s not good for man to be alone, or woman as the case may be. I’ve partnered with many others in their ministry work, but I’ve soloed my own, missing the counsel of Christ where He told the disciples to go two by two.

So I need to build my ministry so that it’s more productive. I need to expand my ministry reach, and believe God that my ministry work will be rewarded with financial provision; which has been most of the stress of 2018. I need focus. I need counsel. It’s why I appreciate ministry friends like Dewey who love me and feel comfortable to follow the leading of the Lord to say things like, “slow down.” Or encourage me to seek a 501c3 which would make the Jesus Chick a bonified ministry for contributors and provide me with counsel through a board of directors.

Vision is God’s Provision for the Journey

And so I search His word for direction.

Proverbs 12:28

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

There is but one job one pathway for me, and the way of righteousness is through Jesus Christ alone who will be my vision. There is a song written by Ian Lynn entitled “Be Thou My Vision.” It’s words stir my soul today.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

And so that’s my prayer today. “Be Thou my Vison Lord.” I seek not riches or man’s praise, I seek a pathway that will allow me to share Christ through the talents that God has given me.

I covet your prayers and would love the privilege of praying for you.

An Unusual Thanksgiving Message

Book of Wars Journal entry and Poetry by Shari L. Johnson

Although I know it was a word search that lead me to Numbers 21, I don’t remember what word I was searching for. I got so caught up in verse 14 and wondering just where is that book? And why do I not remember this scripture?

Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon.

I did a quick web search on the book and read that it was a “missing book,” a “canonical book” not included in the scriptures and a book spoken to a man by an angel just a few years ago! None of those intrigued me enough to search any further for the book, but rather I decided just to let the Holy Spirit speak to me this week of Thanksgiving on what that book meant to me. And why I was lead to the book of Numbers, chapter 21, and verse 14 this morning.

I imagined the wars that God had penned in that book for me. Penned much like I do in journaling, for the purpose of reminiscing and to look back on a time in my history that something amazing happened. Something worthy of documenting. And what will it be like when I get to Heaven and discover in that long, lost book, all the times God rescued me.

Ephesians 6:12  says

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Are those wars written in that book? I don’t know.

But I know this. I know God is worthy of far more gratitude than I give, Thanksgiving or otherwise. I’ve had to fight a lot of battles within and without lately, and everyone was won with the Word of God. I had to fight them again usually because I let the flesh take over and remind me not of the win, but of the battle.

Today I’m grateful, first and foremost for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who fought every battle for me on the cross of Calvary when He died for my sins, and yours. I’m thankful that He continues to sit on the right hand of the Father, and watch over me, comfort me and strengthen me through the Holy Spirit.

I do not know what battles have been written down, but I know that the battles above my head in the spiritual realm are real. And I know they’re not mine to fight, else they’d be lost.

Every time I write, draw, speak or sing for Him, I know there’s a battle above me to squelch the praises worthy to God’s name, a battle I must fight. Today, it’s a battle I’ll win on my Lord’s behalf.

THANK YOU JESUS. Thank You for that sacrifice on the Cross and thank You for speaking to God on my behalf. I’m sorry it’s necessary. But I’m grateful You are there.

THANK YOU GOD. For listening. For allowing Your Son to make that sacrifice on the cross. I can’t, nor do I want to, imagine the pain You experienced that day.  But I’m grateful that You had a plan to save my soul so that I could thank You in person someday.

THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT. Thank You for being with me every single day. Guiding me. Strengthening me and encouraging me. Without You I know my creativity would be naught. Without You I know I’d be so overwhelmed. Thank You.

Win your battle, Thank Him today!!!!

The God Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know

For certain Satan doesn’t want you to know God because he’d prefer you stay in his custody. But once a soul has given their heart to Christ, Satan has to change his game plan to interfere with the Kingdom and the Kingdom’s work. There is nothing he can do to remove the seal of Salvation that God puts on His children.

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Glory! But he can certainly do a lot of damage to the spiritual walk of God’s children by binding them with lies. Or at least that’s the case with me. So today I search the truth and invite you along…

Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

We’re not to fool ourselves and believe that God is not a Holy and just God Who doesn’t get angry. Oh… I believe He gets angry and I believe He gets frustrated with me on a pretty regular basis. But the trouble with my thinking is, I get stuck there. There in that place of God’s frustration, long after He has moved on and sometimes may never have been, I’m still there. He moved on the second I repented, but I choose to stay in that place of bondage and allow Satan to convince me that God’s frustration lingers on. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.

It’s much easier in our less than merciful flesh to view God as a less than merciful God. If every day we would remember three words that God has attested to, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Forgiven

Micah 7:18 – God delights in mercy! The other day I watched as an adult was less than merciful with a child. The children happened not to be hers. Not that that is always the case, I know parents who are less than forgiving. But on this occasion the child had misbehaved and she separated herself from him as if to say “you are not worthy of my presence.” My heart broke. Praise God our Savior doesn’t treat us in that manner. He longs for the relationship to be restored as soon as it’s broken. But we delay, buying into Satan’s lies that God is forever upset. No… God is forever merciful.

Forgotten

Micah 7:19 – How deep is the sea? I personally don’t know, but I know it’s deep! And how far is the east from the west? Really far! You can’t get there from here. And that is the geographical location of our sins. Yet Satan wants us to believe that God has them attached to His refrigerator, so that every time He goes there, He is reminded of my sin.

That’s how our minds work. Not God’s. I have to work really hard not to rehash old hurts. Because they are not in the sea. They’re in the recesses of my mind waiting for a day that I can call them to mind and be frustrated and hurt again. And have to forgive… again. If I don’t bring them up, Satan will. And so when I’m in need of God forgetting something I’ve done or someway I’ve failed, I am reminded of how someone hurt or failed me, and I attach that theory of thinking to God too. What a lie!

God is not man!

Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Forever

Micah 7:20 – God’s plan nor word has ever changed, but man’s sure has. The recent election was proof of that. The political rhetoric coming from all sides made it impossible to know who was telling the truth. And even if someone had a video as evidence, we still couldn’t trust that it hadn’t been manipulated in some way and voting was a very serious game of chance. And such is life sometimes. Marriages fail, friends forsake us and parents and children break our heart. So when we hear the word “forever” in the biblical sense, it’s sometimes hard to grasp.

I can’t help but think of Satan’s words to Eve… “ye shall not surely die.” So we have on one hand the thought that forever will never come, and on the other hand, that forever is subjective to the situation.  And both make it hard to fathom eternity.

But God’s word will stand true and Satan will forever by a liar! He would much prefer that we didn’t   know the truth and one way he can help that happen is to sabotage our relationship with the Lord. It’s not hard when fewer and fewer people keeping their relationship with the Lord first in priority. The more we put between us and God the easier it is for Satan to convince us that God is not desiring a relationship with us. And when we fail, we can’t feel God’s mercy because there’s too much distance. But guess who didn’t move?

God’s exactly where He’s always been. In eternity past, present and future. Loving us as much today as yesterday and wishing we’d just talk to Him, and skip Satan the middle man… he’s a liar anyway.

Do You?

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.  ~ Proverbs 1:33

The grey skies of November mess with my head even in the wake of the holiday season. Sometimes because of the holiday season. I seriously try to be honest with myself and struggle. Even though the truth is within me…the literal truth of Jesus Christ; I can still suppress the wisdom of God and allow depression, fear, anxiety to creep into my heart. Reading through Proverbs 1 this morning I found one of the countless nuggets of truth that surfaced and refused to let the clouds over power it. So I thought I’d share it with you. Perhaps you need it as well.

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Yes, that Christmas tune is now playing in my head, but it’s a worthy tune.

Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

The voice of God can thunder or it can be as still as a whisper, and most usually it’s the latter. What I hear is the voice of God asking “Who’s listening?”

Are you the ‘whoso?’ Am I? Am I genuinely listening for the wisdom of God or am I waiting until He says what I want to hear?  And so I ask myself, why am I not listening? Mainly because I fear. I don’t fear death, I fear life. Dying’s easy. I have no control over that with the exception of how I take care of my body. And because I know that I know that being absent from the body is to be present with God, it’s not something I fear. But life. I struggle with it. It can get so out of control and I’m the queen of roller coaster living. Finances. Responsibilities. Accountabilities. Deeds undone. Those things make those November clouds and cold rains feel like a cloak of evil around me.

Yes… I’m a tad dramatic. My grandchildren don’t get that drama from anyone strange.

Do You Feel What I feel?

Do you feel safe? I honestly do. I know that God will not leave me nor forsake me in my hour of need! But the people of the world will. Though I have the comfort of the Holy Spirit, I don’t always feel comforted by people. Sometimes I’d rather avoid them too. A friend of mine struggles with depression far greater than I, but depression isn’t fun for anyone no matter the level. We spoke the other day about times when we’d rather not leave the house for any reason, no matter how joyous. It’s much easier to retreat inside my head and pretend that all is right with the world than to go outside and prove it’s not.

I don’t consider myself akin to Job in struggles but I understand his words when he wrote, “I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.” Job 3:26. He no doubt felt very overwhelmed. King David, felt overwhelmed and shared that thought in Psalms on 7 occasions. It’s why I felt the need to share that the Jesus Chick struggles too. For Pete’s sake if David can confess that he struggle, why cannot I?

It’s not the struggle that I want to share though, I want to share the process of victory. It’s usually not an immediate response from God that gives me peace and removes the dark clouds. It’s a conversation… You can’t hear if you’re not listening, and you can’t listen unless someone is talking.

Do You Know What I Know?

Even on days like today, when I struggle to get out of my Pajama’s and I don’t really care if the bed’s made, because I’d like to retreat back to it, I still know what I know.

I know that there is quiet from the fear of evil and it’s found in (1) the Word of God. (2) The Wisdom of God through prayer. And (3) the Way of God by hearkening to what He says.

If I’m brutally and shamefaced honest I have to tell you that sometimes I still don’t listen and the clouds continue to hover. But if I search His word and speak what I find He is faithful…

Ephesians 3:17-20 King James Version (KJV)

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Lead Me On Lord!

Below are the notes from my “not another manic Monday” Facebook Live video feed. If you’d rather watch the video, scroll down to the bottom of the page and follow the Youtube Link.

I’m not sure what has got me in the Christmas spirit so early this year, I’m usually a November 25th kind of gal, but I’m blaming it on the heart attack. I blame a lot of things on the heart attack, but this one may be closest the truth. I think I come to realize how precious holidays and holy days are.

So somehow or another, I tend to relate all scripture to Christmas, which is true as well, because scripture all relates to Christ, and Christ is Christmas. But this Christmas verse is found in the book of Psalm Chapter 16 and although it doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas, it will help you out on your Monday manic if you happen to be in that mode. And I happen to be.

Psalm 16:11

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

I am

Always Looking for Direction

When it comes to life it doesn’t matter how old I am, I’m still directionally challenged. And as a directionally challenged person who takes a picture of her car before I go into a store, I need more help than most. So I appreciate how God took care of the wise men by giving them a sign that could not be missed.

The star…

That star lead the Wise men to the place where the Christ child lay and then it stopped.

Matthew 2:2 has the Kings asking:
“Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”

Matthew 2:9 reads … the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

That is my kind of signage!

And the bible is filled with historical information, but it’s also filled with today’s information.

I still rely on the word of God in some form or another, preacher, teacher and reading myself to finish this journey. I’ve found the Christ child and the Savior, now I’m trying to stay on the path until we meet face to face.

Part of that journey is that I’m

Always Looking for Joy

Psalm 16 tells us exactly where it’s at and to what extent we can achieve it. In His presence is the fullness of joy! But being in His presence doesn’t guarantee that result. After all, we have Him in our heart, and yet we’re not always happy if we’re honest. Sometimes, on the bad days we have to prepare for it. If we show up to a party with an attitude of dismay and discouragement, pretty soon the rest of the party is brought down with us. But if we show up anticipating the joy of the event, it’s a great day! Well, it’s a great day if we go into this week with an attitude of anticipation for what the Lord can do. One thing I’ve been learning myself lately is that the words we speak have more power than we understand.

If we say something like “I’m dreading this week, I have so much to do and it’s never going to get finished.”

Satan and his merry men will jump that band wagon and ride it all the way into Saturday. But if we speak the word of God over it, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

For thou Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour thou wilt compass him as with a shield.  – Psalm 5:12

Speaking those words causes my attitude to change and Satan to flee. The wise men knew the word of God was the way to Christ because within the word of God it was prophesied 700 years before the event. That proves the power in the word of God.

Micah 5:2

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting.

That prophesy foretold of the birth of Christ in that little city, long before the wise men were given directions.

God knows our destinations as well. Isn’t that great news! But it wouldn’t have been great news if the Kings had had the attitudes most of us have when God gives us directions. 

We doubt and fear because we don’t prove God’s words by stepping out in zones of discomfort. And we miss the joy of the adventure.

That’s what I want in November and December. I want to experience an adventure with Christ! And I can only do that by finding out what God’s word said and how it pertains to my manic Monday or terrible Tuesday, or wicked Wednesday that Satan would like me to experience.

I want victory over every day.

Always Looking for Pleasure

Who doesn’t want to please God? Pleasing God is following, worshipping and acknowledging Who His Son is and Where He is. The third part of our scripture said at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

1 Peter 3:22 tells us that Christ is on the right hand of God. But to understand that is to understand the symbolic gestures of Old Testament.

In Genesis 48, Joseph brought his sons to Jacob to be blessed,  but he got upset when he seen his father lay his right hand on the head of Ephraim because that was a blessing reserved for the oldest child and Ephraim was younger than Manasseh. So Joseph called it to his father’s attention, and his father replied, I know what I’m doing, leave me alone. Shari quoted bible.

So Jacob was basically saying that the younger son was going to be greater than the older. And as harsh as that seemed for Joseph to hear, it was prophetic. And He needed to hear it.

If we want the blessing of God, we have to trust that the Son on the right hand of God has our best interest at heart. But we’ll never understand that unless we get into a deeper relation with Him.

There was some serious relationship issues within the families of the bible. But if we want to experience the pleasures that God has for us in life, we cannot have relationship issues with Jesus Christ.

God didn’t send His Son to this world, to be taken for granted.

Before the heart attack I took a lot of things for granted. One of them was Christmas. That’s why, this year I’m starting early. I want to “experience” this season by having greater clarity and joy about my purpose in life. And I want a greater relationship with the Lord Jesus.

When I read the words in Psalm, it just leapt off the page at me like a Jack in the Box on Christmas morning. God’s verse to prepare my heart for this season.

It doesn’t matter if I’m talking about the Christmas season, or a season in your life that you’re going through. You and I both need the same thing. A deeper relationship with the Lord.

We can only have that if we’re prepared to invest some time.

We have to turn the television off, or the radio, or the computer. Whatever it is that is distracting us from this journey that God is taking us on in November and December!I’m excited about it! And I’m excited that you joined me today and I hope that you’ll let me follow you on your journey by messaging me and clueing me in on some of the things the Lord has been doing in your life. 

God Bless and I hope to see you next Monday at 10 am. on Facebook live. 

Oh How He Loves You and Me

Hosea 3:2

So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley and an half homer of barley:

Have you ever wondered why God puts up with you? I certainly do. Most every day I’m asking myself that question. I have a feeling that nobody asked that question any more than Gomer, the wife of the prophet Hosea.

The story of Hosea’s prostitute wife was not that of the ordinary man of God. God had instructed him to marry a prostitute. That is what I would all an extreme sermon illustration! Once they were married, Gomer’s infidelity and abandonment meant that Hosea had to buy her back out of prostitution, in a very public way and then tell the children of Israel how his wife’s infidelity was no different than theirs was to the Lord; which would bring great judgment upon themselves.  

Praise God for grace… but Gomer’s life story still rings my bell. I long for a relationship of deeper proportion with the Lord, but I stay so busy and scattered about with various things that the Lord more often than not, gets scooted over to make a seat for some vain desire. Thinking I’ll get back to Him later. What? Even writing that makes my stomach roll over to think that I would treat the Creator of all the earth in such a manner.

It’s why I can identify with Gomer. Hosea married her and made an honorable woman out of her, but she refused to stay away from the world from which she came out of. She had children, and she even abandoned them to go back.

Infidelity has a much broader meaning when it comes to our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

He’s not asking us to turn our backs on family, forget about hobbies or favorite pass times, He merely wants included. And yet, even I, who the world around me knows me as the Jesus Chick, will not bring Him into a conversation for fear of it being an unwanted conversation sometimes. Or I’ll get distracted by some worldly television show or social media and my day has dwindled away and I’m left wondering why I feel like a dirt dog at the end of the day.

It’s the equivalency of not showering! The Word of God is a spiritual wash cloth as one of my favorite preachers use to say.

My relationship with Christ cannot possibly get to a deeper place, if I’m not willing to wade out into the water where He is.

It reminds me of those times that He and the disciples would get away from the rest of the world for some ministry training and rest and it would be in a quiet place, or in the midst of the sea. It wasn’t in a crowded room, dusty street, or in front of a blaring television with idiotic commercials every 3 minutes.

So today in an attempt to understand why God tolerates me I looked into the eyes of Hosea through the eyes of Gomer. I realized it was for no other reason than He loves me. Thank God, I am redeemed. Bought back with the blood of Jesus Christ after I went astray.

He loves you too you know…

Heaven Help Us

In the book of Nahum we once again find Israel having been carried captives into Assyria. A common storyline in the lives of God’s people. Sin, become captive, repent, obtain freedom, repeat.  But before we cast any stones we, generally speaking, don’t have to look long into our own lives to find that we too are repeat offenders of captivity.  The world has a way of laying hold on us and doesn’t relinquish us to freedom easily. Our enemies are fierce, but our Father is the fiercest of all!

When a verse like Nahum 1:7-8 comes into my reading time, I take note, and need to delve further into the God of all comfort. He comforts me like the favorite blanket that I wrap up in on a cool fall morning.

Nahum 1:7-8

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies.

Heaven helps those who do

Jesus told the young ruler in Luke 18:19 Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.

A very quick and honest search of our own hearts and we realize that we are not good. Sin abounds inside the heart of every man and is only covered by the blood of Jesus when we ask Christ to save us. But it is forever a constant battle creating trouble in our lives. Either our sin or the sin of someone else. So what a joy and privilege and highlight worthy verse we find in the book of Nahum; because even though we’re not good, God is! And He’s a stronghold for those that know Him. A stronghold is a place of security and safety. For King David being sought by Saul, it was cave. For me this morning it’s a blanket on the couch that I’m wrapped up in studying God word. I love this time of the day when the busyness and stress of the day hasn’t quite kicked in and my heart is still tender and receptive to God’s guidance

It’s good seed sown in a dirty ground that grows beautiful things.

Come what may for the rest of the day (an our lives) we have to trust that God is good and He takes care of His own.

Heaven Help those who don’t!

Nahum described it as an “overrunning flood” for the enemies of God. And although most people who have not claimed Christ as their Savior, don’t view themselves as the enemies of God, they are. They are because they’ve allowed the world to rule their hearts and the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4 says as much when James wrote: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

That “should” strike fear in the heart of anyone who hasn’t been saved, but it doesn’t. They are blinded by this world into believing that there is another way out besides salvation. And the heartaches and troubles they face every day, that overwhelms their souls and very much feels like an overrunning flood could be traded for the strong hand of God that would remove it and replace it with His peace for the asking. But many will not.

And sadly many who know God and He knows them, live in defeat because they don’t take the time to get in His word where peace is found.

I’m ever so grateful that in all my errors and blunders in life, God’s grace is sufficient to pull me through the tough days and allow me to celebrate the good days with gladness! I pray you’re experiencing that peace today and that you’ll share it with someone along the pathway.

If you’d like to know more about sceduling the Jesus Chick to speak or sing, contact me at 304-377-6036 or find me on social media under “the Jesus Chick.”

Great Things!

Its confession time for me again. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. But although confession is good for the soul… it’s hard on my emotions. Confession can sometimes be a testimony of failure, guilt or pain, and depending upon the response post confession from the confessor and the confessee, determines the successful healing or purpose. So here’s my confession in a nut shell…

For the past couple of years God has placed on my heart to plan an event. I’ll give details on that later. My response was, “Okay. Later.” After all, I’ve told God “no” before, and I know how that turns out. So “later” seemed like a more viable option. Again and again, too many numerous times I heard this request from God.  And I always had a reason behind my answer.

The first one was the Moses response. “Who am I, Lord that You should use me?” I always followed that by, “Lord, who would even listen?” My self-doubt fed right into that answer. Coupled with the fact that there are those who really don’t take my ministry serious or feel that it is a worthwhile investment. So, I thought I should wait until I grew up, or a “God thing” happened that made me know for sure. Like possibly a heart attack.

My second response was, “They don’t want it. Lord, You and I have been here before and the people won’t come.” To which I would hear, “the ‘right’ people will come. Its’ all in the chapiters.” That response came from a sermon of Mickey Carter’s that he preached three years ago; and to this day I can’t get it out of my mind. On the top of the tall pillars in the temple were chapiters with the finest of detail that no man could see. But God could. Many people don’t see our efforts, but God does. And it’s He who will reward. And so I thought some more on the event God asked me to do…

I’ve been praying for directions, asking for God’s wisdom because I really don’t have the answer. I kept hearing “read Jonah.” And I planned to, but later. After 2 preachers and a lady who spoke at our Monday Women’s event used the story of Jonah as an illustration, I finally conceded that perhaps I should read the book of Jonah. I am a slow learner.

The Great Fish

God did a preparatory work for Jonah four times. He started with the biggest. The “Great Fish.”

But prior to the great fish, Jonah had some great people who encouraged him. The ship’s crew who cried unto their gods and threw the ships cargo over board in an attempt to save themselves and Jonah, knew that there was a difference in Jonah’s God. They knew He could save them. (Chapter 1 verse 6).

I’ve always had encouragement, even from the lost. Those who have faith in “my God” because they’ve seen His work in me. But I will allow the naysayers to overshadow those whom God sends to encourage.

Jonah finally confesses that it is he who’s caused the angry waves and tell the men to throw him over board. He’d rather die, than get right.

For the record… I would not rather die. But I still didn’t get right before my heart attack. I’m not saying that’s why it happened, but it certainly garnered my attention.

The Great Gourd

Even after Jonah survived being whale puke, and reluctantly but obediently preached the gospel to the Ninevites, he continued to be angry with God for saving the people of Ninevah. So God gave him a brief period of rest and created a gourd to grow above Jonah’s head and give shade in the heat of the day. (Chapter 4,verse 6)

Following my heart attack I wasn’t angry with God. I’ve never been angry with God, but rather angry with Shari and my feelings of inadequacy for life and on more than one occasion I was secretly angry with people who didn’t believe in me. But God gave me a rest from that and allowed me to regroup my thoughts. So I collectively put them all back together in the same place by telling the Lord I wasn’t fit for what He was calling me to do. I was a disobedient sinner, and He surely couldn’t use me.

The Great Worm

God allowed Jonah to rest for a little while and then He caused a worm to eat the gourd that provided the shade. And there Jonah was, exposed to the elements of life again. Still angry because the Lord wanted to see the people of Ninevah saved. (Chapter 4,verse 7)

Following my healing and rest after the heart surgery I began to find strength and purpose again. I began serving the Lord in my “safe zones” and all was right… except… the continual knowledge that I wasn’t fully obedient to God’s will for my life. That doggone worm ate my shade and I too was exposed to reality. The reality that not everyone in the world loved me but I was required to love them.

The Great Wind

God’s final preparatory work was the great wind. He drove the sun down upon Jonah’s head until he passed out! God asked him, “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” And Jonah answered in what I imagine to be a total eye roll, smart aleck attitude “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” (Chapter 4, verse 9)

God nailed Jonah to the wall by asking him why he was more concerned over a gourd dying than the 120,000 souls headed for Hell until he preached to them the gospel. Ouch.

And for me He asked why I was so much more concerned with those who reject my ministry’s effect, than those who would embrace the Lord’s purpose for me through what God has ask me to do. The world is full of hurting and exhausted ministers and people of God who need to be encouraged in the Lord.

So when God put it on my heart to lead and organize a conference for such a purpose, it scared me to death. I didn’t want to die, but I thought I might if I stepped out in this endeavor. But after prayer and counsel the decision’s been made with excited people on board for the spring of 2019.

I’m a Free Woman!

This video is a post from my weekly event “Not Another Manic Monday”. It may have been more manic than I thought because I start out sideways on the view. But hang on for a minute and I get myself straightened out! 

The Message is from Galatians Chapter 4 about what we recieve being the children of God! 

  1. The Freedom of the Father
  2. The Fringe Benefits of the Father 
  3. The Freewill of the Father

When Heaven Answers






Have you ever just wanted the day to stop? For the clock to stop winding down and allow things to get caught up and back in order. Life has a way of getting out of control, creating anxiety and feelings of unfinished business. Many of my mornings start out that way before I get out of bed! Mornings are my most productive time. This morning I prayed… “God, please bless my brain.” Lord have mercy, I needed Him to speak to my Spirit and give me words not just for the blog, but I needed a message for myself. I needed the sun to stop before it even finished rising. I wanted to feel God’s power working in my life and as always, He moved and I felt it. I believe that God was faithful to provide a message for us both from the book of Joshua.

Joshua 10:12-13

12 Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.

13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.

There was no day like it before, or will we see it in our time again, for it was written, this was one time deal that God took orders from a man.

A little back story is that an ally of Joshua’s was attacked by five other kings for being friends of Israel. By request Joshua and his army came to their aid and God promised victory, even killing more people by casting “great stones from heaven” upon the enemy than Israel killed with the sword. But as the day was finishing up, Joshua didn’t consider the job done. So, in front the witness of Israel, Joshua orders the sun and moon to stop… and it did.

Glory to God! I’ll bet that was a “mic drop moment” in Israel’s history.

I don’t believe God will be doing a repeat of that miracle today, but He is still in the miracle business.

A dear friend of mine who has long since gone to Heaven gave me a method of rest that has never failed me. I don’t abuse the privilege, but on nights when I need my rest, and the time has gotten away from me causing me to head to bed much later than I would have liked, I pray this prayer. “Lord, please give me a double portion of sleep.” I’m essentially asking for God to pack 8 hours into 4, or 10 into 5, whatever the case may be. And He does. Because that’s the God I serve. So Joshua’s request doesn’t take me by surprise or allow one doubt to enter my head that’s its true. It’s also backed up by scientific research!

On October 30th, 2017 Cambridge researchers announced that they had pinpointed the date of the biblical account of Joshua stopping the sun — which they claim is the day of the oldest eclipse ever recorded — to October 30, 1207 BCE, 3,224 years ago.

I didn’t need for Cambridge researchers to tell me it was true. God said it, therefore it was. But it’s nice to know they agree.

The story of Joshua gives me two points of pondering today:

  1. God heard Joshua and so did Israel.
  2. God helped Joshua and so did Israel.

In ear shot of Israel, Joshua stepped out on a limb and orders the sun and moon to stop, which can only be done by He who created them. I’m not that bold. But I can step out in faith in the things the Lord allows and so can you. But we first have to slow down and listen, which is why it’s so very important on Satan’s agenda to make my day and yours get crazy. I don’t need the Lord to stop the sun and moon… I need the Lord to stop me.

I need to listen to what the Lord has to say to me and speak that truth to others in the family of God. So that when it comes to fruition, God will be glorified!

I also need to enlist my brothers and sisters in Christ to become a part of the bigger picture that God allows to work in me so they too can experience the power of God at work in their lives as well.

Those days on the battlefield must have ended in the biggest celebration ever, or perhaps they ended it with a nap being that they had been up for 24 hours. But none the less it ended well and gloriously because Israel showed up and God showed out in a major way.

Today… I showed up at the key board. It wasn’t a battlefield, but it felt like one. I needed direction and God provided it for me. I pray that this scripture and these words encouraged you to understand that God has the victory already done, and whatever else needs accomplished, He’ll do that too. Slow down and listen, enlist your friends and let’s get some serious work done for the Kingdom’s glory!

A Just Weight and Balance

His Scale

Proverbs 11:1 says “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.

The world’s standards have skewed our idea of the scale. We do not weigh justly because we measure and weigh by a worldly standard. I have to wonder, when it comes to weighing the worth of what I’ve done on this earth, how much will even make it in the bag? and how much value will it have?

I want to speak of the worlds ideas and values, but I will not stand accountable for theirs; only mine. What has made it into my bag? If I weigh myself by comparison to many others of this world, I look good! Hey, I’m the Jesus Chick. I’m in church. I’m serving the Lord in multiple ares of life. But the very fact that I’ve attached the Lord’s name to my title should scare me to death! I will certainly stand before the Lord and answer for what I’m doing with it.

Its my greatest fear that much of what I view as valuable is being weighed by a false balance. A world view.

God wants it all weighed by His scale, which for us is the word of God. The only true way of weighing earthly value for heavenly reward.

His Satisfying

Will have I’ve done satisfy His intent for the purpose of this earthly vessel? After all, He created me for

His Service

I can tell you with an honest and ashamed heart that much of what I do is for the service of Shari. It makes me feel good. Not that God won’t appreciate part of it, but He would assuredly appreciate it greater if my heart had been purer, my mind gone deeper into His word and if my service had been bolder, quicker, sharper; making more of an impact and mark.

I need to be filling my bag with weightier matter…

A Breach in the Spirit

Proverbs 15:4

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.

What an indictment against the believer… that was my though when I read only 4 verses into Proverbs 15. The past few days I’ve seen it many times. A festival atmosphere brings out the best and the worst in people. Calhoun County Wood Festival 2019 was no different.

It was there that I sat in a booth and listened and watched the people. Not in a creepy or judgmental way; but rather in the midst of their moment. They didn’t care if I was there. Some may have relished in the notion that I could here their words.

People laughed together, children ran and played, old friends visited and all of that was awesome! And then life happened. Someone didn’t get their way, things didn’t go as planned and literally all of of Hades broke loose. Foul language, nasty, hateful attitudes, judgmental, negative people and Christians were among the lot!

A breach in the Spirit

Christ cannot be a part of sin. and while He will never leave us nor forsake us, the word of God said that perverseness caused a breach, a break in our relationship with Christ. We’re not lost, but we’re not in His presence, and that was our choice when we chose to make the breach.

That broke my heart.

To think that I could cause the Lord such heartache that He would not want to be in my presence.

  • Gossip
  • Anger
  • Pride
  • Vanity
  • Sin – body and mind

Forcing the Holy Spirit to be exposed to it because He chose to save my soul. I’ve been guilty.

The festival goers caused me to realize that I need a closer walk and the people need minsters of the gospel.

We need to leave this world a better place than we found it and we need to start by allowing them to see Jesus at work in our lives for the good.

I’ll be writing and broadcasting from the beach this week. Me and Jesus and my friend Glo. I hope you’ll join me as I see what Jesus has to say this week.