Canaries and Crows: Natalie Grant and the Media

Crow and Canary, Street Art in Downtown Los Angeles

“We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”

 Natalie Grant tweeted those words and then the media sang… only not like canaries, more like the obnoxious sound a crow makes. (Cawl, cawl, cawl)… so I’m going to take their advice and “call” it like I see it. American media (for the most part) is a biased, one sided, self-promoting group of people in the hands of Satan. Harsh? Yea, I guess. But I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with Christians being bashed for taking a stand on the side of morality. In the nineteenth century, leading newspapers reported from a Christian perspective. Today, however, journalists increasingly take an anti-Christian stance while claiming to be neutral. I’m wondering how colleges and universities now define the word neutral. According to Merriam Webster it is defined as – :  not engaged on either side; specifically :  not aligned with a political or ideological grouping <a neutral nation>:

This doesn’t sound like any of the media I’ve heard recently. More arguably the new definition of neutral is Liberal neutrality, which is the idea that the liberal state should not promote any particular ‘conception of the good’. Meaning I assume in my simplistic mind that “everyone’s idea of good is right.”

Oh yea… that’ll work.

As a music lover, and believing that the origin of music was designed by God and for God, what many call music today I call noise. But I don’t begrudge them their right to listen to it, I just don’t get it. And I don’t have to, it’s their life. So when the Grammy’s decide to dole out awards for varying music styles, I expect there to be music that I don’t particularly like recognized. And that’s okay. I didn’t watch the Grammy’s by the way, but I was interested in a particular group who were in the running, Dailey and Vincent, so I got up Monday morning looking for results, only to find article after article bashing Natalie Grant for having the audacity to stand for what she believed in.

If you didn’t watch the Grammy’s and don’t know the controversy it included a gay wedding on stage officiated by Queen Latifah and  performances deemed “risqué” that were not “child appropriate” by Beyonce and her husband. So as a Christian artist, Natalie Grant walked out because she was offended. But according to our “neutral” media she’s not entitled to her opinion, only theirs. And the question music lovers on both sides of the argument should be asking the Grammy Association is “What did any of that nonsense have to do with the artistry of music?” All it served to do was take the attention away from what the Grammy’s are supposed to recognize which is talent. So please don’t try to tell anyone that someone there wasn’t promoting their own agenda, not music.

So… what does God think of all this?

Romans 1:22-32 ~  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Stand on Miss Natalie. God is watching.

Something Beautiful & Good: You!

I have about as much of a clue on why God tolerates my antics as I do on figuring out what makes the world tick. My attention span is that of a two year old (I kid you not). I’ll apologize ahead of time or behind time for a conversation in which my eyes glaze over. It’s not you, it’s that ol’ ADD, which can stand for Attention Deficit Disorder, or Adult Defiance Disorder which I have no medical diagnosis of either, but I’m pretty sure I have both; and they could be treated with a big stick.

I’ve been working on a guitar piece that was humming softly in my brain when I got up this morning. It’s a chorus by Bill Gaither titled “Something Beautiful.”

The lyrics are:

Something beautiful,

Something good;

All my confusion

He understood;

All I had to offer Him was

Brokenness and strife,

But He made something beautiful

Of my life.

I “get” that song, or better yet God “got” me when He inspired Bill Gaither to write it. My world has been filled with confusion since day one, it’s what makes me, me. And it’s what frustrates anyone who has to deal with me. Even in reading what I just wrote I can imagine your eyes glazing over! But please bear with me as I let you in on something God shared with me this morning in my confusion…

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11 ~ He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

In His Time

So, you’re not feeling beautiful today? Me either, inside or out. But God said He made every thing beautiful in His time… not mine. In Heaven when God created Shari, He created me just the way I am. His time is eternity past, present and future – and because I know (because scripture tells me) that He knew me before I was born I can be rest assured that my ADD behavior did not catch God off guard. ~

Jeremiah 1:5 ~ Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Somehow, someway, God has a plan for me. Not a new and improved version, this version. And in God’s time, where He is, where He can see yesterday, today and tomorrow He sees and loves me as He created me, as I am. In His time, age, size, hair color nor any other human elements matter. He sees us as He created us… beautiful. Who are we to argue?

In our Heart

God has set the world in their heart. He has placed within us a design, and inner working that allows us to know we are a part of His creation, but we must wait with patience (again… not my strong suit) to discover what that complex plan is from beginning to end. If we made a delectable baked dessert and took it out of the oven half way through it wouldn’t be eatable. But, wait until it’s done and it’s the delight the creator intended. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me… and that frustrates me to no end that He didn’t discuss it with me, but in truth He may have discussed it with me prior to my appearance on earth. The desires in my heart may have come from a conversation in eternity past, that’s why they’re my desires today. Interesting thought… But another truth is, that confusion comes from the fact that there is no good in me, except the goodness of God through the Holy Spirit. I have this old nature that continually battles with the new nature that came from Salvation. But in spite of it God gave me a job to do and it’s a gift. Listen to verses 12-13 ~ I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

The desires of my heart, the person God created me to be is a gift meant for enjoyment. So rather than living in discouragement we should remember that we came with a purpose instilled in our heart.

The Bible is your user manual… crack it open and get some direction for the day!

Consent to be Happy: Permission Required

 

If I asked if you had a desire to be blessed, I’m sure you’d say yes! I’d be concerned if you didn’t, but then if I followed that by asking what you’d be willing to do for the blessings of God, would you answer me? After all, we’ve listened to enough sermons to know that’s a trick question! It’s likely going to be followed by some “fun sucking, life altering, righteous living advice that requires way too much effort.” Or so Satan has told you.

I don’t believe that God places desires down in your heart without purpose. That is not to say that every desire is from the Lord. But…There is purpose in passion! Psalm 37 is a psalm of prophetic instruction. It does not say if you do this or that, you will live a life without sorrow or frustration; those who preach that have a lot of explaining to do to folks like David, Abraham, Paul and others who served the Lord with great sacrifice. But what it does promise is that there is a threefold provision to the Saints of God that is well worth every second you put in to service.

Promise 1: The Desires of your heart!

Psalm 37:4 ~ Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Who doesn’t want that? I have desires that I have yet to see fulfilled, but I believe they will be because they’re passions with purpose. They’re not fed by vanity or pride, thus they would be of the flesh and God’s not in that; they are instead fueled by a passion for people and to make a difference in lives. But even those could fail to come to fruition if I put even good intentions before God, which I’ve done many times in my life. But as I’ve grown spiritually I’ve realized that it’s all in God’s timing. Verse 7 instructsRest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:

Waiting… not something I’m very good at, but it’s a prerequisite to faith. Faith is the evidence of things unseen; that’s waiting! And it’s not waiting begrudgingly, but instead like a child on Christmas morning, who knows those packages they’ve been staring at for 24 days have within them the desires of their heart! Woohoo!!!! That’s the kind of God I serve. He knows what I want, and for His glory He’ll provide it, in His time.

Promise 2: An abundance of peace!

Psalm 37:11 ~ But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

I will never be convinced that the unsaved have peace. They may have a false peace or sense of security from earthly wealth, but deep within them their soul is unsettled with God and there can be no peace. But to us who are saved – oh goodness and glory, we are given an abundance of peace! Even in the worst of times, when the world is crashing down around you and debt is around your neck trying to choke the life out of you, there is peace to the saint of God that is more valuable than the gold in Fort Knox. How? From meekness; the submission and humility in the life of Christian that does not show themselves arrogant in their nobility as a child of the King, but humbled that they’ve been given such a great position.

This takes an understanding of who you are in Christ. He preached it Himself in His sermon on the mount in Matthew 5:5 ~ Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. He spoke it of Himself in Matthew 11:29 ~ Take my yoke upon and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. There is rest to your souls by allowing the God of the universe to handle the affairs of your life. It does indeed require humility to let loose of something you’re passionately concerned about, but it’s the only way to know if it’s a part of God’s plan.

Promise 3: Direction

Psalm 37:23 ~ The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.

The providence of God is a wonderful thing, if we allow it. Matthew Henry said it well when he said “By his grace and Holy Spirit he directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men. He has all hearts in his hand, but theirs by their own consent.” The Direction’s there, but only when we allow God to provide it. I won’t say it’s easy. I’ve had more battles with the flesh than I care to admit. But the truth is, and I know it to be, God’s ways are so much better than ours.

Are you struggling with something today? It fits in the bounds of Psalm 37… Give it to God, He’s way better at handling it than you are.

A Millisecond Between Redemption and Rejection

So this morning’s worship service attendance is two; myself and Sammy the Jack Russell. I opened up with a song (that is the Baptist way you know) on my guitar singing “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” I’m glad no one was here trying to sing with me as I stumbled through the chord changes, but I believe God appreciated my effort. On my mind not long after my eyes opened this morning was the scripture in Luke 21:28 ~  And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

I think a lot about the return of Jesus, mostly out of concern for family and friends who do not know Him and live each day as if they’re guaranteed another and we’re just not. The reality is there will be a millisecond of time between redemption and rejection. That sobering thought makes my stomach roll over.

When I gathered myself for worship this morning I asked God if the Holy Spirit would be my preacher today. I just wanted to hear from Him… not my thoughts. Being out of church on Sunday always messes with my day, it’s like skipping class in front of the teacher… it ain’t right, God knows where you’re at! And indeed He did know, and He’s teaching me well. Prior to this verse Jesus was teaching a few other people in the temple, mainly some smug religious folks that weren’t paying attention. There was a widow who came to church and as she put her two mites into the offering, Jesus pointed out to those in attendance that she had given her entire income, but they took no notice of her. Instead they began to discuss how good God was to give them such a great and awesome building made of beautiful stones. Jesus’ response to that was “As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

They began to question Him as to when that time would come and how would they know and His answer (as it still is today) wasn’t one they likely wanted to hear. They’ll be false teachers, wars, and rumors of wars, nation shall rise against nation, persecution of Christians and the weather will be crazy! (all of that of course is paraphrased Shari style); but if you read the entire chapter it sounds like today’s headlines. And then He caps it off with that statement “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

The religious people were so impressed with the building God had provided that they had forgotten the Builder, but not the widow. She gave all she had in faith believing that the God Who provided the temple, could certainly provide her dinner. What faith! That’s the faith that’s needed to make it through hard times. The world’s a scary place but God’s warnings were not to instill fear but to allow us to be prepared.

Luke 21:34-36 ~ And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, (indulgence or gluttony) and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Don’t be afraid, be ready. And share the word of God with friends and family.

Have someone you’re concerned about, I’m concerned about them too, share my page and hopefully they’ll follow this link and be saved!

http://thejesuschick.com/the-road-to-salvation/

Does religion cloud your relationships?

There was once a man named Ralph who had gotten saved one day before his death. Upon arrival in Heaven one of the angels was assigned to give him the grand tour, and Ralph was in awe at the sights, they were indeed beyond words. As they entered the City the mansions were so very unique, obviously made exclusively to the tastes of the one who dwelled there. But there seemed to be a similarity to groups of mansions so Ralph questioned the angel about it. To which the angel explained, “That group of mansions over there belongs to the Pentecostals, they’re loud and we had to put a little distance between them and the others. Now, this group over here is the Catholics, they insisted on all the gold trim, and when Jesus shows up it just about puts your eyes out. Now the group in the middle are Methodists, they wanted their lawns to butt up against everyone else’s; that way they could cross over to their side if they thought they weren’t right about something. Ralph noticed a group of mansions a great, great distance apart from the others, “Who are they,” he ask? The angel shushed him and said they’d talk about it later, but for now they had to be very quiet when they passed by, and they by no means could stop and visit on the way to Ralph’s place. They tiptoed past the mansions and made it to a large gate, once inside the angel told Ralph he was free to speak. “Why did we have to be so quiet,” asked Ralph? The angel rolled his eyes and said, “Because those were the Baptists, and they still believe they’re the only one’s here.”

Ralph smiled, he’d met several of them before getting saved. He understood. Now Ralph looked really confused. “What’s wrong,” the angel asked? Ralph said, “I just got saved yesterday, I hadn’t had a chance to join any church. Where am I going to live?!”

Don’t panic, nobody’s homeless in Heaven; and your mansion… well, because you haven’t had religion to cloud your relationships, you’ll be living right next door to Jesus.

Yes, I’m a Baptist, and praise God I’m a Baptist with a sense of humor. I don’t think we’ll be the only ones in Heaven. I do stand solid on the doctrine of my church, else I’d have no foundation or assurance that I’ll be in Heaven. I’m grateful for that. But because other denominations don’t believe like I do, doesn’t stop me from fellowshipping with them. I believe that was a lesson Peter learned in Acts 10:44-48 ~

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

There’s a few key points we all have to agree on

1.      Salvation in Jesus only – we are redeemed, bought back, by the blood of Jesus.

2.      Virgin Birth – Not up for debate, else He would not have been fully God.

3.      We serve a crucified, risen on the third day Lord, Who has victory over life and death.

4.      The Holy Spirit dwells “in” the believer. If you’re saved He’s in there, and there should be evidence.

5.      Baptism is key, not to salvation, but to Spiritual growth. There are no secret service Christians, if you’ve been saved you have the desire within you to outwardly prove that. You may squelch it, but it’s in there. I know because I fought that battle and won.

You may want to add more to the list, and that’s okay. I just awoke this morning with it heavy on my heart that we are so busy being Baptist’s or Methodists or whatever denomination you claim, that we forget we’re supposed to be telling people about Jesus. Don’t let religion cloud your relationships.

That was my first attempt at joke writing, or actually rewriting an original thought. So, how’d I do?

Me and my $4 Faith

$100

Postmaster Bob, in charge of undeliverable mail, received an envelope addressed to “God,” written in very shaky penmanship. Bob curiously opened the letter and read: “Dear God, its Ruth. As I’m sure you know I’m 84 years old and I recently lost my purse and any money that I had. Mother’s day is in a few weeks and I had already invited a few friends over for dinner after church on that Sunday. Without a miracle from you, I’m going to have to cancel. If it’s not too much to ask, could you please replace the $100.00 that I lost so that we can have our Mother’s day gathering as planned?”

Bob was so touched by the letter that he shared it with his coworkers and together they dug in their wallets and came up with $96.00 to send to Ruth. That entire day Bob’s heart overflowed, knowing God had used him to help Ruth out.

A few weeks passed by and another letter to “God” arrived. Bob now recognized Ruth’s shaking scribe and quickly opened it up. Bob read… “Dear God. Thank you so much for Your help with our Mother’s day party, it was a huge success! However… it was $4.00 short. Mostly likely those thieves that work in the post office have Your money.

God didn’t answer quite the way Ruth had intended. I’m sure her party lacked nothing, and if only she’d recognized the miracle that had taken place on her behalf, her celebration would have been that much greater!

A recent miracle of my own had me feeling a tad like Ruth. God answered my prayer, but I didn’t feel that I was “fully delivered” from my woes. I was in a “Thank You Jesus, but…” kind of mode. God had delivered me! If only I could get in the flesh without chastisement, I’d tell you. Please just take my word for it. But… because life wasn’t perfect, I was feeling a little short changed. I needed my $4.00. Oh… I feel nauseous to even say it. I mean God was soooooooooooooooooooooo Good to me. But I want to be honest, because perhaps you’ve been where I am, or you will be one day. And then today God spoke to me through His Word and I’m so grateful.

Isaiah 55:8-9 ~ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s vantage point on my life is incomprehensive to me. His ways are not my ways, and His ways are never $4.00 short. I don’t know why Ruth received a $96.00 miracle instead of a $100.00 one. I have a feeling the $4.00 came along, right on time because God is not a 96% God, is a 100% God!

All I can say is “I’m human.”Sometimes I get in the flesh and it’s never good. I’m so grateful for His forgiveness of my abundance of shortfalls including $4.00 faith. Amen.

The Power in the Puppet

Two of our youth surrendering to the Power of Puppetry and becoming the Hands of Jesus

For several years our church has had a puppet ministry. In the beginning it was a great opportunity for our church and well received by our congregation and other churches inviting us in. But as time went by the luster of puppet entertainment began to wane, both on leadership and youth commitment. So the puppets made their way into a closet and there they’ve stayed for a few years, occasionally making their way onto the scene of a Vacation Bible School or other youth event, but for the most part they set perched on their posts waiting for an opportunity to serve…. Hmmm… sound familiar?

I’ve watched many Christians do the same. They start out all gung ho and then little by little, their labor for the Lord becomes more burden than blessing and they begin to let one thing after another fall by the wayside until they find themselves sitting in the church, moving back one row, and then another, until they find themselves out in the vestibule (entryway) where they make the executive decision that it’s better to go home and stop taking up space.

As I walked past the puppet closet at our Church Sunday after Sunday, I could almost hear those little critters calling my name.. “Shari! We’re still waiting to tell someone about Jesus, but we can’t do it without your help!” Even as I type those words I tear up… I’m serious! I know I’m a sap! But the fact of the matter is these blessed tools of the ministry are just like us. If we’re not filled with the Spirit of God, and used in His service we stiffen up become less and less viable for the Kingdom’s use.

2 Chronicles 30:8 ~ Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.

The Stiffnecked Saint

We have a carnal nature within ourselves to become rigid (stiffnecked) when things don’t just flow along with ease and be rest assured they likely won’t in the ministry, especially when more than one person is involved. Seldom ever do two people agree about everything; throw 50-100 into the mix and you’ve got issues. If you’re not careful you’ll find yourself on a shelf in the closet and the ministry going on without you which is the equivalency of someone else getting your blessings. I’ve never handled that very well… I’m like Elisha… give me two blessin’s Lord!

A Surrendered Saint

Yielding to God is about as popular as popular as the brussel sprout line in the school cafeteria, because with yielding is the expectation of producing something. When a garden yields a good harvest it’s because the farmer put TLC into the production. A surrendered saint knows that when you allow the Holy Spirit to begin working in your life there’s going to be some yielding using both definitions. To yield, as in to stop doing things your way, and to yield as in to produce fruit for the Kingdom! The puppet is controlled completely by the puppeteer, imagine what a site a puppet show would be if the puppeteer was continually having to fight with the puppet to get it to move correctly. No one would want to see that show… well, I’ve seen Christians go kicking and screaming all the way into the will of God. It’s not a very good show either.

A Serving Saint

The puppets in the closet are useless unless they’re in the hands of the puppeteer, and it’s then that they become a sanctified minister of the gospel. It’s the same with us, we’re nothing without the Holy Spirit leading us and guiding us to say and do the right things. As sanctified (set apart) believers we have the ability to bring life to another human being by allowing the Holy Spirit to use us as the mouthpiece for the gospel. How we do that depends on our talents. Some do it in song, some do it in preaching and teaching, some do it in the silence of a prayer closet with just them and God, and crazy people like me do with critters and crazy antics. But to have the opportunity to be involved in an eternal purpose of the Lord requires a little loosening up. He may use you stiff, but you’ll probably break.

Be a Super Saint – Surrender to God’s Plan!

Have you accepted your invitation?

banquet table

A man and his wife were awakened at 3:00 am by a loud pounding on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push. “Not a chance,” says the husband, “it is 3:00 in the morning!” He slams the door and returns to bed.

“Who was that?” asked his wife.

“Just some drunk guy asking for a push,” he answers.

“Did you help him?” she asks.

“NO, I did NOT, it’s 3 am in the morning and it’s bloody pouring rain out there!”

“Well, you have a short memory,” says his wife. “Can’t you remember about three months ago when we broke down, and those two guys helped us? I think you should help him, and you should be ashamed of yourself!” “God loves drunk people too you know.”

The man does as he is told, gets dressed, and goes out into the pounding rain. He calls out into the dark, “Hello, are you still there?”
“Yes,” comes back the answer.
“Do you still need a push?” calls out the husband.
“Yes, please!” comes the reply from the dark.
“Where are you?” asks the husband. “Over here on the swing,” replied the drunk.

That story came to me by email; I have no idea of its origin, but it struck my heart funny this morning with a twinge of truth. Sometimes I feel that silly when trying to convince some people of their need of salvation. They’re playing games while I’m doing my best to help them out. They’re dangling over the pits of Hell on Satan’s swingset, giggling like a school child and I’m out in the cold exposed to the elements.

There was a similar story in the 22nd Book of Matthew.  Jesus spoke a parable (a story that illustrates a spiritual lesson) about a man whose son was about to get married. So he sent his servants out to invite his friends and family, but they wouldn’t come. He then sent his servants out a second time to extend the invitation with greater details about how awesome the event was going to be, but still they didn’t come. Some of them went so far as to kill his servants. Needless to say the king was angry and sent forth his military to destroy their city. The king then extended the invitation to people he didn’t even know, and the wedding party was on! Except for one guest, who came to the party but not for the Son.

Matthew 22:11-14 ~ And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.For many are called, but few are chosen.

Why was the King so concerned about his dress? Because the outward appearance reflected the inward man. He was playing games. He had not counted it a privilege and honor to come to the wedding, but had shown up expecting to enjoy the event as a spectator, not as a participant. And so it shall be with many on the day when Christ returns to take his church home. (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

That’s why it’s so heart wrenching when I share the Word of God with someone and they take it lightly. I am that servant that God has sent to invite them to the greatest event of their life, and yet I’ve been mocked and ignored (which is nothing in comparison to Christians in other areas of the world). But I do so without regret because of the few chosen.

Monday, during my lunch break, a friend and I stopped in at a Nursing Home in Glenville, WV. I hadn’t planned on stopping, it just kind of happened. I stopped by the rooms of a couple of our church members and encouraged them and loved on them a little… and then I made my way to the room of an unsaved man and invited him to the wedding. He didn’t have on his wedding garment yet. He was in bedclothes, disheveled from wrestling with life. But He accepted the invitation and his wedding garments are laid up for him in Heaven. God doesn’t care what we look like down here, but when we get to where He is, we better be wearing the robe of salvation.

If you’re not “churchy” let me help the rubber meet the road. Because of sin, man is separated from God who is 100% Holy. God’s only Son, was crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for sin, and open a door of communication between us and the Father. When this world ends… and it will, there’s a huge party in Heaven where we’ll be ushered in as the bride of Christ (because He loves us that much). But only those have accepted the invitations from God, who uses people like me (the servants of God) will be there. You can call me crazy, you can poke fun and refuse the invitation, but you’ve now been invited and are without excuse. Are you ready?

What is your perception?

Matthew 16:15 ~ He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

It was a great discussion in our teen class yesterday when we posed the question “When you think of Jesus, how do you envision Him?” My co-teacher and ex-Marine envisioned Him in dress blues, a real man’s Man; some of the teens thought of Him in a glorious white robe, another teen thought it might be a more humble attire, I envision the Lamb now Lion in royal array, tastefully “blinged out.” The truth of the matter is we don’t know exactly what He’ll be wearing other than what we read in Revelation 19:13-16 ~ And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

How He is dressed may not matter, but how we perceive Him personally matters a great deal. Modern day images today often paint Him as a small in stature man with beautiful eyes of compassion, long flowing hair and pastel garments. Well, I’m not even going to get into the hair argument because hairstyle just doesn’t make it or break it for me, I just love Jesus. But when it comes to stature, I’ll have to debate that one. The Revelation texts said He would smite the nations, and Jesus upsetting the tables in the temple and driving the religious thieves out with whips doesn’t strike me as a weak and small in stature Man. (John 2:15)

Our perception of God matters because how we approach Him matters. Matthew 11:29-30 ~ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Many mistake meekness for weakness. Meekness shows great restraint, weakness is giving yourself over. HUGE difference. Christ yoke and burden are light because He carries the greater share of it. As Dennis Legg preached in our Sunday sermon yesterday, all Christians must pick up the cross, but Christ carries the heavy end.

The forgiving nature of Christians is often considered weakness but rather it too is meekness. If you’ve forgiven someone a huge debt, you know it is truth that it takes great restraint. It would be far easier to lash out at that person than to love them and never mention it. On that same note, when we sin it is often far easier to think of Jesus as the small in stature God rather than the One who is the Holy and Righteous Judge.

I fully believe that God is all to all. He has arms of compassion that I may run into when I’m hurt or afraid, and He has stern hands of judgment when I treat His grace carelessly. He is my Prince who rescues me, my Father who defends me from evil.

Who is He to you today?

The Function of the Unction

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1 John 2:20 – But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like I know all things. Sometimes even the most basic of scriptures will seem foreign to my mind. I’ll sit in frustration trying to cypher out the meaning of the Word of God and it just will not come. And other times a seemingly hard verse to understand will just open itself to my understanding and I’ll be like, “Woah baby, you’re good!” And then I’ll get that knock on my head from the Holy Spirit that says, “Are you Serious Shari? You couldn’t even understand the meaning of the most simplistic verses a few minutes ago,why are you taking credit for the work of the Holy Spirit?

That’s the function of the unction. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that reveals the Word of God with a deeper understanding; and its provided to the children of God who diligently seek Him.

Because Bible Study tools are so readily available I often resort to them to help me better understand a verse; and its not that there is anything wrong with that, but I as I discovered through reading the Word this morning, in so doing that I just may be missing out on a huge blessing by denying the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do His job.

1 John 2:27 – But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

A commentary is the the word of man, and he may or may not have been anointed when he wrote it. But if the Holy Spirit speaks to you it’s absolute truth, so which is better? My lesson from God this morning was that I need to be more desperate for God. It’s the theme of a youth conference that I’m attending this weekend and I believe it is what’s lacking in many of our lives. We want to hear from God, but we want it quick, little effort and no cost. And God, Who wants to bless us in abundance, desires to do it through our abiding in Him (staying close, as in a deep intimate relationship with Him… maybe even desperate. Believing our very existence depends on staying close to Him… and it does.

God’s generally not a shouter, if we hope to hear His still, small voice, we need to stay close.
An example of God’s love would be likened to taking teens on this weekend adventure of our Youth Evangelism Conference. Even though its a Christian event, I still want my brood near me. If one of them gets up to go somewhere I want to know where they’re going and who they’ll be with. God wants that constant relationship with us too. It is great that we have Christian teachers, preachers and study tools to learn about God… but we need to be within whispering distance of the Holy Spirit… Protected by the absolute truth.