Where is God in the Tragedy?

Making sense of nonsense

There’s no shortage of it. Turn on the evening news and from start to finish it’s full of heartache and sorrow with an occasional “feel good” story thrown in in a vain attempt at balancing it out.  Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, he too tried to figure it out and I was again blown away by the profoundness of his faith as I read his words this morning in Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3

Ecclesiastes 3:14

I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

This morning a dear family in the faith is on my heart. The most unthinkable of tragedies has struck their family and for them there is no sense in it. There is total innocence on one side and utter degradation of man on the other, so how do we find God in the middle of this mess… we remember that we are made for eternity.

life is a season

Ecclesiastes 3:1

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

As they say, “This too shall pass, right?” Though the words roll easily off the tongue, the season of “passing” is not the greatest of times, it alone sometimes feels like an eternity. I’ve had those moments in time when I wondered “How can ‘this’ possibly ever get better? ‘This’ doesn’t feel like a seasonal thing, it’s life altering. And when I read the second half of that verse… that there is “purpose;” it can make even less sense to me. How could God have a purpose in that? I don’t think the tragedies of life are the purpose. God is good (Mark 10:18). God’s not “in” the tragedy, He’s at the end of the tragedy. He’s the One that’s waiting for this to all be over; this mayhem that Satan set into motion in the Garden of Eden. He’s at the end waiting for us to get home, to the land He created where there is no night, no sorrow or sadness. Life is a season.

life is service

Ecclesiastes 3:13

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

From now until the day that God welcomes us home is our time of reasonable service. Romans 12:1  That reasonable service includes serving God through the times that make no sense to help everyone get to the land of perfect sense. We can’t make sense out of evil, but we can serve and trust in God who is nothing but good.

life is nothing without salvation2

Ecclesiastes 3:15-17

That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past. And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.

There have been so very many “why’s “in my life, until I get to a verse like this and then I realize that there is no righteousness in me. I’m going to stand before a righteous God knowing that I am there solely because Christ’s blood allowed it. In earth’s perspective I can view the wickedness of the day and think that I’m not as vile as they, but in the reality of God there is no degree of sin. It all separates us from Him and life on earth is nothing without the Salvation of Christ. It’s a fleeting fraction of time that’s gone before we can get turned around. And where is God? Waiting.

There is so much to do to get our friends and family prepared for eternity. Let’s get busy!

Say friend…

…Do you know Jesus? I’m just wondering. Because I know how harsh the world can be, I live there too. But let me tell you why you need to know Him. Because when all the world walks out on you, He does one better than stand beside you, He’s in you. He’s an un-explainable peace in your soul that you can’t describe, but it’s real. It’s like having a coat of armor wrapped around your heart that’s un-penetrable. They may dent it, but they can’t break it. So friend… do you need that peace? Check out my link on how to be saved... it’ll hook you up right now to that Man I call Master, Savior, Friend… Jesus.

Confessions of a Church Thief

It’s absolutely true.

I was perusing the aisles.

I eyed every single one until that one caught my eye. The one I didn’t have.

Before anyone at Victory Baptist Church begins to wonder if it happened at our church, it didn’t. It didn’t even happen at church. It happened on Facebook for cryin’ out loud. I’m so ashamed! Okay maybe that was a bit dramatic… I’m not really ashamed, just embarrassed for my Lord. You see… I was perusing the aisles of another church coveting their membership. It was a certain person that I love and I just thought to myself, “Wow, I wish they’d come to our church.” And then I happened to think about the cost of them coming to our church. They’d have to leave theirs, there would possibly be hurt feelings; I know how it’s been when someone has left our church who I loved. So in affect, I’d be wishing heartache on another congregation of believers. And then the harshest reality of all hit me… if every church in our community did what we were supposed to be doing, evangelizing the area, they’d be no need to wish for what another church had.

Mark 16:15

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

William Chadwick’s book Stealing Sheep sums up well when he said “Jesus did not say, ‘Go into all the world and shift the sheep’ He also said a very wise thing when he said modern day churches were less about church growth and a little more about rearranging the ecclesiastical furniture. I almost laughed out loud when I read that, and then I thought, wow… that’s sad and true. Most church growth that we see does not come from seeing new souls saved for the Kingdom of God, but more about disgruntled or unchallenged church members who leave one church for another. Truth?

So what do we do about it? Well for starters, I can stop creeping on Facebook pages and start creeping up the hills and hollers of my community in search of creatures. Creatures? Maybe I should paraphrase that for clarity by saying “Creations.” Those who God created with purpose, who’s not only not fulfilling their potential for the cause of Christ, but are heading to Hell and will never know Him because we were too busy shifting sheep. This thought zinged my heart this morning. What about you?

I’m sending this out as a word of warning today to people in my path. I’m on a super sheep search. (say that three times fast). I’m looking for wild sheep! The ones that have never made it into anyone’s fold. This is my prayer… that God help them cross my path, help me to recognize them and then give me the boldness to ask, “Do you know my friend Jesus?”

No more thievin’. I’m turning over a new leaf.

Smack Dab in the Middle!

alpha omega and me

Revelation 21:6

And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Right smack dab in the middle, that’s where I want to be. Yesterday was another crazy day in life of the Jesus Chick. Early morning rising and then off to a new mission work that’s going on in our community (Eagle Ranch Mission and Revival Training Center). We spent the day with youth who sat outside in the cool of October and soaked up the gospel desiring their part of the middle. I left in the late afternoon to go back to the church to pass out candy and gospel tracks to community children in hopes that I could plant more than a seed of candy corn in their home.

I loved this thought today. God created the beginning and the end, but the middle is ours. God set a plan in action from day one with a designed end in His sight. It’s not ours to know the day or the hour of the end, just that it’s a done deal for which we need to be prepared for. Before I finish this writing the trumpet could sound. There’s an end to this story, but the middle… that’s now. That’s the awesome part!

That’s why I get up early, 4:30 a.m. (ish) sometimes earlier, sometimes later. I don’t want to miss the middle, and for me the middle starts early. That’s why I gave my Saturday to a new mission work, because being in the middle of something that could be life altering for someone is exciting stuff. It’s why Sunday mornings are a treat and I can’t wait to get to the house of the Lord. I’m hoping that in the middle of the message someone there will discover that fountain of the water of life, and I’ll get to watch them take their first drink.

Satan’s lie that serving Jesus is a chore has deprived so many Christians of their piece of the middle. It’s like eating the crust of an apple pie and leaving the gooey delicious cinnamon and sugar filled fruit in the bowl. How crazy is that? But that’s what Christians do when they fail to be in the middle of an active church.

It’s another crazy day in the life of the Jesus Chick. I’m up early, and preparing my heart for the services in the house of the Lord, afterwards I’m taking a group of youth to another service out of town called the Judgment House. I don’t say this to boast “look what I’m doing for Jesus!” I say this because I want you to understand how exciting it is to be in the middle and that you need to take every opportunity to be there.

The middle, it’s the awesome part. The end… woah baby! It’s going to be beyond awesome. Don’t miss out.

The Overcomer’s Club

Let me premise this blog by stating that I’m not a psychologist, or expert in mental health. I did however stay at the Stonewall Jackson Resort this week, which may qualify me in some manner as much as some of those “experts” that I’ve heard speak. I understand depression from the victim’s point of view, being one who has struggled with it for years and since salvation in 1996 have not mastered, but managed my own through relying on God’s grace to pull me through. That sounds all pious and religious, but in truth just means that I quit trying to fix it on my own and began asking God to help me through it. Each time was different, sometimes were darker than others. It varied from a nightlight of hope to a dimly lit room, it was never utter darkness for me, because in Christ I truly did have light, even though it was sometime shrouded by the trouble of the day.

If you struggle with depression this blog will not fix you, its 710 word after all. How far can that take you? What I hope it does is to “turn up the light” a little in your life today. J

.B. Phillips, author of Your God is Too Small, dealt with depression all of this life. In one of his many letters he offered this comment to someone struggling with depression. “As far as you can, and God knows how difficult this is, try to relax in and upon Him. As far as my experience goes, to get to even a breath of God’s peace in the midst of pain is infinitely worth having.”

For me that “breath of God’s peace” was my nightlight in dark times. In my heart I knew that “God had this.”, my head however would sometimes join the liars club and berate me with thoughts of defeat and discouragement. That’s Satan at his finest isn’t it? If you’re a Christian he can’t get into your heart, because Christ dwells there. So in the very core of you there is always a light. But in your mind, where the world can seep in, Satan has free reign to beat his drum and loud and long he will until you’re spiraling into the direction of depression.

So how do you spiral out?

Again… I’m not an expert. This is what works for me. I place myself in the winner’s circle with those who God’s shown me battled depression.

  1. The woman of Samaria in John 4 who came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the judgmental eyes of society and met the one true Judge, who didn’t condemn her but loved her out of the lifestyle she as in.
  2. Moses wanted to die in Exodus 32:32, asking God to blot his name out of the book because of what the children of Israel had done with the golden calf – yet, he was the greatest leader ever known.
  3. 3.      Elijah sat down under a juniper tree in I Kings 19:4 and told God “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life.”  The same Elijah who had brought fire down from Heaven.
  4. 4.      King David, my hero in the faith in Psalm 6:6 said I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
  5. 5.      The widow in I Kings 17:12 who had come to the end of her finances and was prepared to die a death of starvation with her child, when God sent an endless supply of provision.

The overcomers club! There were times that they had self-inflicted depression and other times it came from the outside, just like mine. But God brought them through! None of them were perfect, their sins rivaled the worst, and yet God’s mercy and grace is shown all over them. It is in those stories that I come to the “Why not me?” phase of healing. If God did it for them, why not me? They were just ordinary, messed up people, just like me.

I’m not an expert at much, but I may be nearing the benchmark of an expert in failures. But… God’s got me covered. Amen!

The Part of Salvation that I Didn’t Ask For

Galatians 6:12-14

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Few battles have been harder and more sorrowful fought by me than those with “religious” people. Religion is so easy, but faith… woah baby! There’s nothing easy about it, although it should be the other way around. The Abrahamic Covenant of circumcision was commanded in Genesis 17:7-14 as an outward sign of a man’s participation in Israel’s covenant with God.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

The covenant still stands, but no longer by an outward observance, but by an inward commitment. And yet, the world is constantly in need of an outward sign that we have an inward Savior. Something, anything that they can do. They want the law because that makes good sense to them; but when you think back about the road leading to that Abrahamic Covenant, are they willing to follow through? The point of the whole Abrahamic Covenant was that Abraham was willing to kill his own son, his only son because God had ask it. And because of his faith that God would take care of him, God covenanted with Abraham to insure that his descendants would forever be provided for. I’ll take faith any day!

Faith is not hard for me when I look back through history and see that God has indeed done everything He promised for Israel. Jesus didn’t come to break the covenant, He came to fulfil it! And because of His sacrifice, Shari Johnson, the non-Jewish girl has been grafted into the family of God. Mercy and Grace, that’s what I call it!

So, regarding my comment on battling the religious… The religious I’ve battled have been those who look at me in the flesh, the sinful, mistaken ridden Shari who fails God daily. They criticize my zeal and mock my stand for separation from the world. They cannot see inside my heart is a passion for their soul regardless of whether or not they love me. It is only there because of what Christ did on the cross for me. It came with salvation. What they don’t understand is , I didn’t ask for that part of salvation; the “unconditional love for others part” that sometimes I’d like to give back. But it was a package deal. And I’m glad, because I too need it.

Because I’m an utter failure there are often things in my life that don’t point to the cross, except one – the covenant of love for God’s people that makes me want to see every one of them heading towards that land… the Promised Land.

The New Heroes

In a conference class yesterday the story is told of a young couple, who at the age of 18 decide to marry. Not long afterwards it’s discovered that they’re expecting their first child. And then he loses his job; he can’t make his car payment so he loses their car. He struggles to get a job because transportation is now an issue. But they fight back. They buckle down and make it through. He gets another job and they barely make ends meet, but they make it. It’s the modern day hero. No superman cape flying in the wind. No rescuing the damsel in distress. Just the reality of living and trying to keep food on the table.

And such was the case in the story of the widow of Zarephath in 1st Kings 17:11-16

And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.

She’d all but given up on life and then a man of God stops by and things change. She didn’t win the lottery, she’s not now dining on steak and potatoes; just the meal and oil. Elijah didn’t come with a cape and whisk her off her feet, he came with provision of the Word of God and survival followed.

My new heroes.

I look around my church and I see them. Snotty nosed babies, Momma’s with disheveled clothes from her baby’s constant tugging. A daddy, slightly slumped in his seat, eyes glazed over from too few hours of sleep, and the strain of “just surviving” written all over his face. There’s not a prophet on their porch with an endless supply of meal and oil. Just the mail man with a late payment notice on their car loan. And as the collection plate is passed down the row, the closer it gets the greater the temptation to just leave their tithe out, because a few more groceries would be nice this week, and it’s not much anyway. Surely their tithe won’t break the church bank. But he drops it in, and believes… God’s got this.

They’re my new heroes.

It’s the grandmother who thought she was done raising children, but life began anew. And so did the expenses. It’s the widow who eats peanut butter and toast all week, so she can save for a ham on Sunday to share with her family. It’s the widower who has no financial issues, because there’s no one to buy for. What I’ve come to realize is that it’s not always a prophet that God sends to stretch the meal and oil. I’m not rich, Elijah wasn’t either. He had faith, the widow had faith and together God made heroes… Survivors. Look for them along your path today, they’re plentiful! Perhaps you can help them multiply the meal and oil.

Make Believe Church

Non-church Christians is about like a non-medical school physician. They do far more damage than good and no one wants to hear their opinion. I meet them most every day; those who for some reason or another have given up on church or have never gone, and yet if you asked them if today they knew for certain they were going to Heaven when they die, the answer is usually “Of course!” Some are honest and will just flat tell you “No, I don’t know.” I LOVE THOSE PEOPLE. Those people I can work with, they are real. But the “non-practicing Christian scares me. I know… I’m judging again, right? No, I’m reading the Bible.

James 2:19-20 ~Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

The devils tremble because they know Jesus. Satan’s not an atheist. Satanists are not atheists because by worshiping Satan they have just confessed the living God who created Lucifer. But let’s get back to the “non-practicing Christian.” I doubt the Satanists are reading my blog post today, but the title very well may have caught the eye of someone who thinks they know they’re okay, and will say they are when ask, but deep within… they tremble. It is you who my heart breaks for today. I love you too. I was you 17 years ago.

In Luke 10:17-20 Jesus had sent out seventy disciples into a world that He knew many would reject. He gave them the rules of engagement, the weapon of warfare, the special powers within and His final advice, “knock the dust off your shoes and move on down the road when they won’t listen.” (paraphrased by me) So the seventy go out and even they are shocked at what power they now possess. They can do as He has done. Woah baby! Who knew? Jesus did.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Jesus responded by saying (again paraphrased by me) “I gave you all those great and mighty gifts, but the greatest gift you have is the knowledge that your name is written down in Heaven.” I know for a fact it was the greatest gift I’ve ever received.  And I know I’ve received it because like the seventy, I have that desire to go into the world and tell them about Jesus, whether or not they accept it. But about that “knocking the dust off my feet.” It’s biblical, and I’ve done it. But when it’s your own soul, it won’t leave the tread in my shoe sole and it sure enough won’t leave the desires of my soul.

I have friends and family who confess they know. But there is no desire to tell others about Jesus, and there is no evidence of faith in their lives on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. And I fear they’ll be left trembling, alone in this world if Jesus returns for His church. Cast into outer darkness, forever separated from those they love.

You may ask “Is church really that important?” Jesus died for it, you tell me.

This is not a scare tactic. This is reality. You wouldn’t go to a make believe doctor if you were sick. Please, don’t go to a make believe church.

In Need of Anointing

Psalm 52:8-9

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

It’s Sunday. I’m humbled and grateful that I can go into the house of Almighty God and be used by Him in the manner for which He chooses. The world doesn’t understand the grandeur of being in the presence of He Who created the earth, else the house would be full today. Like David, I too want to be like the olive tree in the house of God. A fruit bearing tree that God looks upon with favor, planted and rooted by the river’s edge and soaking up the Water of Life. As I read through scriptures this morning related to the olive tree, its importance in biblical history was evident and so was my need to reflect upon it.

The Oil of Anointing

In Leviticus, Chapter 8, Moses anointed the tabernacle, the vessels, and the people who were used of God in service. If this morning you are found in the service of God you need to understand the importance of having that fresh anointing that comes through the Holy Spirit; whether it’s the nursery, the music, the sound booth, the pianist, or the Pastor, each one needs the anointing of God upon their lives to reach the full potential and effect that God desires in a service. A church service is not an afterthought. Much preparation is needed to usher in the Holy Ghost. Preachers and teachers study, the people pray, those in service study their chosen field of service so that they may do it well and orchestrate the service in a manner that pleases God.  I fear that the excitement in many services today is only a fraction of what it could be because it was a fraction of time that was given in preparation. I know I speak truth, because I’ve seen the effect of my fraction of time in times past.

The Oil of Offering

In Leviticus Chapter 7, verses 11-12 the various offerings of Thanksgiving were “mingled with oil.” Whatever it is that you bring to the table this morning in the house of the Lord needs to be “mingled with oil,” an attitude of gratitude for what the Lord has done in your life. Thanksgiving can also mean confession (of sin, of faith in response to God’s goodness and mercy that He’s extended to you) of the blessings in abundance we take for granted. One thing certain to get the attention and presence of God in your life and in your service today is a humble thankful heart.

The Oil of Healing

Isaiah 1:6 says ~  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

Believe me when I say I understand the wounds of ministry. I’ve got a few battle scars of my own. But there is one thing for certain; if you do not apply the healing balm of the Word of God your wound will stay infected with the world. You see, I also understand that whether a wound is self-inflicted, saint inflicted or sinner inflicted, it hurts just the same. But in reading and hearing of the Word of God there is soothing that occurs and mends that brokenness in a supernatural way. I can’t explain it, I just know its truth because I’ve experienced it.

I hope you experience the fatness of the olive tree anointing in your life today. I pray that from the beginning to the end of your day your thankful heart will feel the Holy Spirit flooding your soul with His anointing. If there is pain in your life I pray that you feel the balm of Jesus healing that brokenness and that your servants heart will be restored. ~ Blessings! From the Jesus Chick.

When I Grow Up I want to be a Sonflower

Ephesians 4:11-15 ~ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

This morning when I was creeping on somebody’s Facebook page that I didn’t even know (a friend of a friend) I found the sunflower picture. My immediate thought was, “Wow, that’s love.” My second thought was a question. “Why isn’t the church in love like that?”

The reason I creep is godly (most of the time). I like to see what’s going on in the lives of other Christians and their images generally tell a story a bout what’s important to them. I run across lots of family pictures and plenty of comedy! I occasionally run across some off color image that shouldn’t oughta be there on a Christian’s page (just sayin’) But mostly I run across pictures of people they love. So it has me thinking today, if God took a snapshot of the American Church today what would it look like? The body of believers is so fractured into denominations and then sects within the denomination, then clicks within the sects and Jiminy Cricket, God Himself probably doesn’t have enough film to take as many pictures as necessary because we can’t be included in that group because they don’t believe like us.

In the beginning of the New Testament Church it had already begun; the need for Paul to reign them in. Paul was trying to put the unity back in their communities. He wanted them to know Christ’s ideas (knowledge of the Son of God); he wanted them to un-know man’s ideas (be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men). He wanted them to grow up into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Perfection doesn’t mean without sin, not until we come to Heaven will we know perfection. But we are made perfect through Christ in the unity of our faith in Him. Contrary to popular belief, when God pulls out His wallet of baby pictures, certain denominations are not on top, but there are some baby pictures. Crying, whimpering, selfish believers that don’t play well with others. Always tattling on the other believers to non-believers, telling them why they shouldn’t join so and so’s church rather than letting them see Jesus and deciding on their own. Paul tells them to grow up. Know what you believe and live it, stop creeping in other peoples churches, it’s messing up your own doctrine. I guess it was the Facebook of the day.

God has given us (in our church) where like believers are, our own preachers and teachers of the gospel for the work of the ministry. It’s time to get to work. That’s what people do when they grow up. They work. And we need to be edifying the body of Christ (that’s each other). I know it’s just an image, but when I look at the sunflowers faces I see the love of the artist that created it. It’s with that love that God created us to love one another. (But speaking the truth in love, may grow up). When I grow up I want to be a Sonflower and love people just like that.