I was Glad!

Lord's day

 

It’s Sunday! I’m studied up for the teen class, I prayed for,the man of God preaching, the Sunday School teachers, the choir and Chris who has our special music today. I’m just like that crazy sheep inside because I “get” to go to the house of the Lord! Do you know what a privilege it is? Or will you wait until that privilege is gone before you experience it? It’s an exciting place to be. I love going in and listening as others come into the building, many are as excited as I am. It’s just been since Wednesday that we’ve been there, but a few days in this cold cruel world is enough to make you jump for joy when you get in a place that encourages your soul. I need it. I thrive on it!

Today’s blog is short and sweet because I’ve spent the morning preparing for church. This day defines my week in many ways. I encourage you where ever you are to find that place this morning and be in it. It’s yours. Christ died for it. Satan wants to destroy it.

Keep it Alive!!!

Finding Hope and Healing in Heartache

I have several friends who are going through or have gone through serious heartache. The kind that rips the heart out of the person who hears, one can’t imagine what it’s like to be the one who experiences it. And yet many of them if you didn’t know their story, you’d never know their heartache because by all appearances their life is “all that and a bag chips” as the saying goes. But in reality it’s filled with broken pieces of shattered dreams.  So how do they do it? We’ll get to that but first let me say that I also have friends who have experienced the worst of the worst and just can’t move past it. Day in and day out they relive the heartache, the pain consumes and yet it doesn’t; they’re still here, but every day is an uphill battle against depression, blame and angst. I don’t dare look upon them with judgment, ere it may be me tomorrow. But I look to the source. It’s not that both friends don’t walk in pain daily, they do; but there’s an obvious difference of effect.

It’s that peace of God, which passeth all understanding found in Philippians 4:7

So how did they find it? I believe one answer is found in 1 Peter 5:6-11 ~

Surrender to God

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

We think of surrender as if it’s a loss, but in the truth of this circumstance it’s a win! You’ve likely already came to the conclusion that you do not have the answer to the reason behind the tragic circumstance of your life. There are some questions that just will not be answered in this lifetime. So how can you go on? In the knowledge that the Creator of all the earth has a plan that allowed you a temporary heartache that will be followed by an eternal healing. In due time He’ll exalt (elevate) you to a position of understanding. But for now He needs you to trust Him.

Stand Guard of Satan

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

That heartache, anger, frustration you feel is Satan at his finest. He loves nothing more than to defeat you by undermining hope. He knows that if you experience hope, you’ll get past this tragedy and be stronger for it. He will no longer have the power of persuasion on your mind and you can continue on knowing that there’s a better day ahead.

Secure your Confidence

Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

There’s heartache in the lives of those who know Jesus, and those who don’t. But there’s a stark difference in their spirit. Those who know Jesus and have surrendered all to Him, know that when He was upon crucified on the cross of Calvary every sin and heartache in the world was placed upon Him. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that, but it helps somewhat to understand the pain you feel and then multiple it times every soul that’s been born since creation. Yea. He did that. So you wouldn’t have to bear it.

Settle the Matter

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Don’t take it back. The reality is we’re going to have heartache while we’re here, Satan’s going to make sure of it. But if you know Christ you have that hope settled in Heaven that one day this is going to be over, and then we’ll have an eternity of no pain, sorrow or heartache. Amen!

Struggling? I’d love to lift you to the Lord. Comment below or private message me at talk2shari@gmail.com.

A Philanthropist Heart without a Philanthropist Purse

Today, November 15th, is National Philanthropy Day. I find that ironic because yesterday I posted on Facebook that I was a Fantasizing Philanthropist waiting for God to provide the means. Having a desire to give generously to better the lives of God’s people.philanthropist And then it hit me, should not all of God’s people be philanthropists? I realize that not everyone can give monetarily, believe me when I say I get it; but it’s certainly not limited to the wealthy. The definition does not specify a dollar amount only that it’s given generously to promote the well being of someone. Generous (giving more than is expected.)

Proverbs 11:25  says that “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.”

Philanthropy in a nutshell. The problem with philanthropy is we must first understand Philippians 4:11~ Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. In order to give with a philanthropist heart when you are living without philanthropist purse, means putting yourself aside. And is that not how Christ told us to live? It’ doesn’t mean starving or not paying bills, but it just might mean that the little extra we go to make sure we are blessed, needs to bless someone else.

Luke 6:38 ~ Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

If we truly give what we can, we’ll never out give God.

Today as I go on my way I want to pray this prayer for you and I both. “Precious Lord, Savior and friend. Thou who taught us to love and to give. Give us eyes that we might see and ears that we might hear a need today. Let us put ourselves and our selfish desires aside. Send a soul across our path, place a thought within our heart, show us those who stand in need and give us understanding of Your desired action. Let us live with a servants heart that we were shown through Your Son. How will they ever see You, if not though us? I ask it in Jesus Name. Who gave it all that I might have it all. Amen.

God’s plan at the pumps…

As a retired police officer, correctional officer and administrator of both juvenile and adult criminal populations, my friend Ed is no stranger to confrontation, nor has he ever been shy of its approach. I don’t have space on this blog to tell you how the Lord has used this man in the ministry and not because he’s wonderful (although he is), not because he’s talented (although he is) but because he’s willing.

After leaving the adult prison facility for which he is now Chaplain, he pulled into a 7Eleven Convenience Store for fuel. And then it happened… he noticed the nicely dressed man and his children exiting the store. It was a Wednesday night and Ed figured that they were likely going to church. It was then that God spoke to his heart, “Talk to them.” It was a gentle nudge in the beginning but grew more demanding as Ed argued with God that surely this man would think he was nuts to stop him and his children on a cold winter evening when they were obviously on their way somewhere. But after a brief debate, Ed surrendered to the Lord’s desire…

“Hey are you a Preacher?” Ed asked.

“Why yes I am he replied…”

And then God unfolded the plan.

Ed had been tirelessly working as Chaplain to a new facility of inmates with groups arriving each week needing his attention. He studied, preached, provided counseling and handled the administrative duties of his position as well. His active farm took its toll physically on his body and the pressure was mounting. He knew he needed help but unfamiliar with the location of the prison, and very much understanding the accountability of ministering the gospel “correctly”, Ed wasn’t about to hand the reigns over to just anyone.

But God had a plan.

The Preacher who Ed spoke to at the 7Eleven was a part of ministry team looking for a mission field opportunity in their area. Within a few minutes Ed was invited to meet their team; a doctrinally sound group of believers who have now offered to take on his Prison Bible studies as their mission.

They were looking, Ed was asking and God set up the meeting.

But… if Ed had not being willing to hear the Holy Spirit when He said “Speak.” God’s business would have been undone and Ed would have continued on, worn and tired.

Listen…

God may be just about to bless you.

The truth about the lies – Media today

Fixty-six percent (56%) of all voters in a 2013 poll done by http://www.rasmussenreports.com regard the news reported by the media as at least somewhat trustworthy, but that includes just six percent who think it is very trustworthy. Forty-two percent don’t trust the news media with 12% who believe the news it reports is not at all trust worthy.

So what’s real and what’s not?

I was asked last night why I didn’t watch the news. I’m certainly of the 12% who’s jaded by the media’s drive to report news with a political spin, left or right, and the infighting of network staff reminded me too much of churches. I can get opinioned news on the street and as for the fighting it’s readily avaialbe as well. So I turned it off. My husband and coworkers watch the news and if anything is of interest to me generally they bring it up. Or someone in social media gets on a rant about it and I’ll follow it up by an even less trustworthy source, the internet. I do trust my friend Dewey Moede who reports for www.fggam.org, a Christian ministry out of New Mexico and if a major disaster is going on I’ll tune in to a local station, usually WSAZ. For which I received a wonderful email from one my favorite anchors about their relationship with Christ.

I’m not anti media, I’m anti “anti.” The hostility toward views not their own is a real turn off for me and so I turned the off. Their negative views do not change the facts that I know to be true. The Bible reads as a modern day newspaper.

Matthew 24

Vereses 3-5 ~ And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Have we not seen it?

Verses 7-9 ~ For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

It’s reported that greater than 100,000 Christians are killed each year for their faith.

Read on…

Verses 10-14 ~ And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

How many churches are across the world preaching false doctrine? Too many to count. How many denominations spend more time fighting with each other than spreading the gospel? Too many! And because of it people choose to believe nothing. But fear not. The truth is there and look how far it’s traveling. Scripture says it would be preached to all the world, and so we see that unfold today.

Read for yourself the entire chapter of 24 in Matthew and study it out and you’ll discover that it reads in great detail the headlines of today’s news.

So the answer as to why I don’t watch news? I do. It’s the Word of God. And it’s coming to life.

Jesus’s words in verse 33 sum it up quite well  ~ So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

He’s at the door. I’m not saying when, because the Bible is clear to say that no man knows, it’s also clear to say that we need to be ready. So, are you? Have questions or comments, ask them below or email talk2shari@gmail.com.

 

The Mess of Success. Its bull.

Every day I strive to be a better Shari. Every day I feel like an epic fail. I have the grandest of intentions (the road to Hell is not the only one paved with them). Whatever project that I’m involved with chaos quite often ensues, just ask my church family. My house and my car are organized clutter. Meaning I know it’s there, I just often have to dig for it. My husband says if I’m in an accident it won’t be what’s outside the car that will kill me. I’m blessed with family and friends of high tolerance, but why do they do it? I think their reason is because among the mess has been an occasional success.

Proverbs 14:4 says Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

This verse was pointed out to me through a sermon I listened to a few weeks ago and I’ve not been able to get it out of my head. Mainly because every time I get in my car or walk into my house I think “Oh yeah, I meant to take care of that.” But the flip side of that is when my feet hit the floor at 4:30 a.m. each day my mind is on the ministry. I’m not saying I’m a super saint, it’s just who I’ve been since salvation in 1996. And this verse summed it up for me… there’s a mess in the ministry.

Your mess is likely different. But I can almost guarantee if you’re serving God there’s a mess around you somewhere. Relationships get messy in the ministry, even though you’re supposed to have all the answers. If you have children they’re likely imperfect and highly visible to church critics. Your finances are not what they should be, even though you try to live life biblical. Perhaps your issue is a quick temper or lack of discipline in your life. The point is if you’re in the ministry there is likely a mess somewhere in your life that makes you wonder why God chooses to use you at all. Or am I the only one?

It’s not hard to imagine what the stall of an ox is filled with or what it smells like. It has to be shoveled out and even then it leaves a trail of nastiness behind. But the labor of the field wouldn’t be getting done if the ox wasn’t in the stall. So before you (or I) are too hard on ourselves for the messes in life, remember… that mess just might be what equals success. The world doesn’t need to see perfect people in the ministry (Hallelujah!!!!). They need to see real people working through their day.

So, shovel out the barn and head to the field. You know what the Lord says, “for they are white already to harvest.” – John 4:35

A Call for Prayer for my Sweet Friends…

Relief effort begins after Philippine typhoon

This is how God works. Country girl (me) who seldom traveled to neighboring states falls in love with God and then discovers the awesomeness of God’s people and their diversity. So God branches her out through a thriving Bible believing church and Bible College and introduces her to the President of Marietta Bible College and Pastor, Dr. Myron Guiler. Marietta Bible College is a mission based training college that brings foreign students to the United States, trains them and returns them to their country. Through their affiliates they receive support and are able to minister in their field with a little help from their friends in the U.S.A.

Because I’m tech savvy (just enough to be dangerous) I began working for the college to get students registered through the federal portal that brings them into the country. Through that relationship my love for the foreign students grew much deeper and I guess didn’t go un-noticed. Dr. Guiler at the end of class one year announced that I’d been invited to go with his ministry team to the Philippine Islands and see the work first hand. And what a humbling experience it was…

I watched as 5,000 Filipino’s gathered under a newly built outdoor revival stadium for two weeks, in the heat of the day through the calm of the night for 12 hours they sat and listened to the gospel every day. Unencumbered by the heat, or the sleeping conditions (concrete bungalows) they worshipped and the altar would be lined with literally thousands pouring their hearts out to Christ. I’ve never witnessed anything like it. I was treated like royalty and cried for days, and still cry thinking about those precious times. I was privileged to sing there and left a piece of my heart when I headed home. I’ll never forget them.

So… when I see the devastation of the typhoon, my heart is so very broken. I’d love to catch the next flight out of here and minister to them the way they ministered to me. But alas, it must be from afar.

Please join with me in prayer for not only the few listed below, but the thousands of hurting, displaced people in that land. I love them, and I love you. Thanks!

Pastor Fidel Racal’s brand new church building is gone, plus his own house and car. Praise God the people of his church were not harmed. Four or five other Independent Baptist Mission for Asia churches in that area were damaged and one church in Ormoc. These are friends through Marietta Bible College who were trained there and then returned home to minister. Please pray for God’s mercy and a quick healing of that land. Pray for comfort and most of all pray that even through this tragedy our Lord will be glorified by seeing souls saved. None of us are promised another breath. It can happen here as well.

When sorrow strikes a foreign land

And hearts are broken deep

Their images burn in my mind

And cause my soul to weep.

Yes the tears fall from my eyes

But deep in the well in they grow

For at the very core of me

Is God Who makes it so.

He placed within this heart of mine

a love for all His kin

Those who live great miles apart

And those in the town I’m in.

I long for the day when sorrows gone

No tears will be shed in that place

But God will soothe our trouble hearts

Until He we see Him face to face.

Shari L. Johnson (11/12/13)

Are You Among the Chosen?

If you are a child of God, then yes. But chosen for what?

As a child I was not the most athletically inclined child in the school. As a matter of fact I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a ball of any kind. I wanted to be; I just didn’t have it in me, nor did I have the willpower to work for it, I didn’t like it that much.  So needless to say when it came to picking teams it was a sad time. I wasn’t the last to be chosen, hallelujah there were a few kids worse than me, but I ranked among them.

I grew up with a few internal scars from having not been one of the “chosen” in many different peer groups. One of which I really wanted to be chosen for was singing. And to top it all off, God paired me with a best friend who could bring the house down when she opened her mouth. I on the other hand was at or below average so I was content at being a friend of the chosen. Batman’s Robin so to speak. If I couldn’t be the hero, the hero’s best friend would suffice.

And then I grew up thinking that no more would I be in constant competition for this role or that. I would be free to be me. The trouble with that, I’d spent so much of my life being a sidekick that I didn’t know who I was. So I resorted to the familiar and went the way the wind blew with little guidance or direction, while deep within me beat the heart of passion for venues yet explored for fear of failure or rejection.

I was the frozen chosen. Not cold… just immovable.

Then I met the Team Captain.

Tears still well up in my soul when I think back to the day Jesus dislodged my sidekick mentality. The idea that I could actually be one of the elect with purpose. No way! The idea was so foreign to me. I was the nobody. Now, all of a sudden out of nowhere, I found myself standing before hundreds of people, belting out songs, teaching the gospel, making people laugh and more importantly, love. Not love me… that wasn’t as important as getting them to know and love the One who loved me.

I wanted them to understand that they too were chosen.

Acts 9:15 speaks of Paul.

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

Paul probably was the cool kid in school. But there’s a vast difference between being chosen by the people, and chosen of God. The people will turn on you in heartbeat and their love is vane and fleeting. But when you’re chosen by God, it’s for a lifetime and with purpose unimaginable!

I fully believe, and quite often share it with youth, that there are talents that God refuses to allow the world to have.

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say as a boast, because believe me when I tell you I’m my own worst critic. But no one heard my voice as anything but at or below average until I got saved. And someone once said to me what I also thought when I opened up my mouth to sing for the Lord, “Where did that come from?” Nobody was as shocked as me when I discovered that I was a vessel of purpose.

It is why I now am so passionate to tell others that they too have been chosen. For what? I have a feeling you know.

Why I’m Excited That It’s Sunday

I see the confusion on their face or possibly it’s doubt. They wouldn’t dare call me a liar, but they might think that I’m slightly psychotic; at the very least I must be someone without a life or at best an overzealous religious nut that must have been spared a great disaster. I treat Sunday as game day like an NFL coach (not a fan) treats Superbowl Sunday. It’s that important. Our pregame show is way better and there’s little chance of a wardrobe malfunction. Let me tell you why Sunday is so important to me and why if it’s not in your life you really are missing out.

Hebrews 10:25

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

It’s “that” verse. The one they quote when they want to lay a guilt trip on you for having missed seven weeks in a row. Did you read that with a real sarcastic voice in your head, because that’s how I wrote it? I don’t use this verse very often when trying to guilt (I mean encourage) my family to go to church. They’ve likely heard it. But that doesn’t take any power away from it.

Lets you and I unpack it and then maybe by the time we get everything strung out on the bed, you’ll understand how great a trip church is.

Not forsaking…We’ve likely all been forsook. It’s that time when someone you loved stood you up. Can you remember it? That nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach that you didn’t rank high enough to be remembered. After everything you’d done to prepare! Are you kidding? Yeah, that’s God on Sunday morning. Scroll back to creation. The first forsaking.

Genesis 3:8

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

This was the first missed church service, and it’s gone downhill from there. God had created these two beautiful people, He’d loved them and was in fellowship with them every day. And then there was separation. It all happened because of a lie. Satan had convinced Eve there was something better. Really? Something better than the One Who spoke the world into existence?

That’s what you’re missing when you don’t attend Church. Everyone is constantly searching for answers when the “Answerer” is a few miles down the road. Maybe next door. You want to know why your life is falling apart…it’s there. You want to know why bad things happen to good people… it’s there. You want to know why the people you love let you down… the answer’s there. Maybe not in one visit, it may be a two part sermon, but I’ve had those questions answered. So I know. Let’s go on…

I’m going to have to quit being so chatty.

The assembling of ourselves together. That’s your very own support group.

As the manner of some is. That’s the crazy people. Who do it again and again every Sunday because it just keeps getting better! Every week they find an answer to a question they may or may not have asked. It’s what makes sense in the world.

but exhorting one another. Exhort is encouragement and who couldn’t use some of that! It’s to press on to go on. I’m not happy all the time. There’s 20 minutes a day that I may fall apart, or go into a puddle of tears. Just 20 minutes? No, it’s been more, but since salvation in 1996 God has been so very real to me, even on the worst of days there’s been few puddles and pieces. Because God, and His people keep me together. They encourage me to go on and give me hope because they too have puddles and pieces days and I see them win victory and know that I can too. They give me words of encouragement, or actions of exhortation because that’s what the people of God do if you’re in the right church.

Is there a wrong one? If you leave feeling worse than you did when you came. Maybe.

and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. That’s game day. That’s the one I go to church for on Sunday because we don’t know if this is going to be the day when Jesus splits those skies open and then the game is over. You’ve missed your opportunity to spend eternity with the Creator and your family. You’re doomed to eternal separation. That’s why I’m excited about Church and why it’s important. Because I want everyone who loves me (or not) to know that I believe the Word of God, and the Word of God says  in John 3:18 ~ He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

It’s real. That’s why I’m excited. I’ve got a home in Gloryland where my Dad, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Brother and people I’ve never met are waiting. It’s a home without a light bill… that’ll put a shout on you! A few more than my standard 500- 700 words, but not even a drop in the bucket for what I feel about Sunday mornings and going to church. Come and find out why…

If you’ve been to one that didn’t suit you,  pray… and try again. Ask God to show you the right one.

Now that I’ve unpacked, I hope you understand that life’s always a mess, but the final destination is perfection. That’s worth waiting for.

A Very Social Gospel

It was a rant on Facebook yesterday that absolutely made my stomach roll over from a woman that I don’t even know; an attack on God. Through profanity she spewed words of hatred provoked by words of gratitude for which her Facebook friends where posting for November. She isn’t one of my social media “friends”; I came by her post through someone else pointing it out to me, and my first reaction was to shut her down in my mind. She wasn’t someone I would likely have contact with. And I didn’t know if I would even have the words to say that could change her mind should we ever meet. And then as God so often does, she is there in my mind this morning and I’m not shutting her down I’m praying for her; that a friend of God will cross her path today. Or maybe perhaps through this post or face to face, I’ll have the chance to tell her why it is that I and others feel so blessed.

I don’t know why it should surprise me that people turn away from God, look at Israel.  God’s chosen nation, delivered out of Pharaoh’s hand, pillars of fire, manna from Heaven, water from the rock and yet still they murmured. Imagine if they’d have had the tool of Social Media!

SMH, Rather be DOA by the Lord, TISNF, Egypt rocked. BBL, walking in the wilderness S2D.

For you non “Facebookers” – Shaking my head, I’d rather be dead on arrival by the Lord, this is so not fair. Egypt was such fun. Be Back later, walking in the wilderness starving to death.

The Real version: Exodus 16:3 ~ 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.

These words came from people who had seen God up close and personal. So there should be no shock when they are spewed forth from someone who may or may not have been raised in a Christian home. Who may work with the murmur-ers, or perhaps is in the battle of a lifetime, and cannot understand why a merciful God would allow it. How do you explain that? How do you explain to someone in 140 characters or less (Twitters maximum post) Who God is, What He Does, and Why it happens?

You can’t. God is beyond what we can imagine, so how could you possible sum Him up in 140 characters? You can however be the link.

My blogs generally run from 500 to 700 words. Too many for a social media post. But with just a few words I can, through the power of social media, draw you into my blog where you’ll read the 500-700 words.  The same is true when dealing with a lost person. If I can just drop a few Words of interest, perhaps they’ll be drawn into a deeper desire to know the Christ of Who I speak. So what are those words? There is no magic conjunction, but there is a commonality.

Christ spoke:

Acceptance to the outcast.

Peace to the broken.

Healing to the sick.

Provision to those without.

His words were circumstance specific. And so must ours be.

To the woman who spewed venomous words I must have the antidote. She spoke hatred, I have to speak love. She questioned God, I must prove Him. That’s how it works. It won’t likely happen with one happenstance visit. But if over time, little by little she sees the love of God working in my life she just may be drawn in to know more about this man called Jesus.

So… would Jesus use social media? He was a very social Guy, so maybe – “BBL BFF. Really! Be ready!