Incarcerated by Life?

chick freedom

My friend Chief Eisley was about to preach the Word of God at a State Dept. of Corrections facility after I had sang and listened to the DOC Choir. My heart was full and overflowing. I love these guys because they love Jesus. It’s not jailhouse religion it’s an honest to goodness meeting with the Holy Ghost in a “controlled environment.” With God in control! As Chief began to preach I realized that my Bible (which is on the same iPad my soundtracks are on, was on the platform. One of the inmates who had ran the sound for me realized I didn’t have my bible and motioned for me to use his that was on the pew beside me. I can’t tell you how blessed I was to see its well-worn cover and pages. Regardless of whether you are in Dept. of Corrections facility or a beautiful house in the suburbs the walls can be that of a prison. I’ve known wonderful people on the outside of a prison who were bound to the world and didn’t have near the freedom that the fellas last night did. It really can’t be told and do it justice, it has to be experienced to see the gladness in their hearts and on their faces. As we traveled back to our car one of the inmates carried my guitar and spoke candidly about his gratitude for being in that place. Because it was in that place that he had returned to Jesus where he found true freedom. That freedom is found in the Word of God!

Why is it that nobody cares to argue what Buddhist’s, Islam’s, and New Age religion are spouting off? Because their words do not cut like a sword. They have no power. But let someone speak the Word of God and you’ll have a multitude up in arms because Satan and his band of demonic menaces will make sure of it. The Word of God transforms lives! Prior to my salvation I would read the Word and it might as well have been Greek. I could understand the basics but the vast majority of it just seemed over my head.  But then that Sunday came…. When I met Jesus and asked Him to come into my heart and fix my troubled soul. And all of sudden, what had formerly been Greek suddenly became the plainest English I could read and O Glory did it satisfy my thirsty soul!

Following the service inmate after inmate came up to me to shake my hand, talk to me about the music and encourage my soul. They handed me poems they had written and just thinking back on it causes me to weep. They’re like anybody’s sons, uncles, dads, and friends who are incarcerated. They’re paying for their crime but they are also Brothers in Christ. And they have a freedom that those who are not saved by the blood of Jesus do not have. The freedom in knowing “It is well with my soul!”

John 8:30-34

As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

One more day…

chick hope corrected

At 2:30 this morning I awoke to the thought… one more day. I couldn’t sleep and several prayer matters were heavy on my heart. I scrolled through Facebook on my phone to see if there had been any updates, and there were but it wasn’t good. Families facing critical reports, people hurting; the faces just kept pouring through my mind. And the realization that we’re all a phone call away from that kind of news on any given day. It’s just by God’s grace…

Then my mind turned to the weekend events. Easter! Resurrection Sunday. One more day. And that was my prayer for the people on my heart, “God grant them hope for one more day.” Sometimes we can’t think about days and weeks ahead, just one more day.

Matthew 27:59-63

And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

I would venture a guess that the day of Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples and Jesus’ followers were living minute to minute. They weren’t thinking about day 3. Jesus had told them, “I’ll rise again!” but they didn’t get it. They were scared for their own lives, they’d lost the best friend they’d ever known, and the world was shaken up! Literally. Earthquakes, the temple veil torn in two from the top to bottom, rocks falling, and the graves were opened up and the bodies of many saints were walking through the city. I’d say the city was shook! And those who crucified Jesus, they were definitely shook. The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate concerned that someone would “steal” Jesus’ body. Or perhaps after what they’d just witnessed they were more than a little concerned that He’d do what He said.

Pilate said in verse 64 ~ Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

So the last error shall be worse than the first… Their error was God’s design and what a difference a day made. The disciples were heartbroken but their grief was about to turn into great joy! In the book of John 20:20-22 we read the Victory speech of Christ for all believers.

 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

One day turned hopeless into a happening! And because of that great resurrection morning we have hope today and peace of mind through the Holy Spirit, so that when our world gets turned upside down we can hold onto hope one more day.

What Makes Good Friday Good?

CHICK GOOD  FRIDAY

The year was 1996, and it was my very first Easter as a baby Christian. Everything was new to me, even though I had likely heard it for 34 years. But the tradition of the nails in the cross during Good Friday communion was definitely a new experience. As I recall there were 100 or so folks attending the service and invited to take communion as a family or group of friends. But prior to their taking of the bread and drinking of the cup  each family member  would take a long heavy duty nail and pound it in to the old rugged cross on the platform of the church. Again and again the hammer hitting the nail echoed as soft music played in the background.

Clang…. Clang… Clang….

Each family or group that went forward was a testimony of what the Lord had done in their life. Sobs could be heard throughout the building as the heaviness of situation laid on hearts. Christ wasn’t on the cross, but every nail was a reminder that we each were accountable for the crucifixion of our Lord. He did that for me; it was my sins that nailed Him to the cross, and it was His love that brought Him down and His resurrection that allows me to live with the hope of victory over death and the grave.

Good Friday. Not a good day for Jesus that year, but a great day for Shari Johnson. The sacrifice of sin was too high for me to pay. What piddlely little sacrifices I make are nothing in the scope of eternity. Thousands of lambs were slaughtered in Old Testament days but were only a symbol of the worthy blood that would spill on the cross of Calvary.

The Price of Victory

Victory over death…

Corinthians 15:55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Victory over circumstances…

1 Corinthians 15:57

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Victory over the attacks of the world…

1 John 5:4

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

There is nothing that was not covered on the cross that day. Yes, it was our sin that caused the crucifixion, but it was His blood that fixed the sinner. If we are born of God, born again as Christ described to Nicodemus in

John 3 [Full Chapter]

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. …

Then we are to live in Victory! It’s us who live in defeat… and that’s not a worthy attitude for what Christ did. I pray today finds you with an attitude of Awesomeness! Because Christ believes you are. And that friend makes Good Friday Good!

He’s got you covered

chick covered

Oh  good  grief… my mind bounced from one subject matter to another this morning like a pinball in a pinball machine. I picked up the fiddle and glanced at the guitar, went for coffee, thoughts pinging between the Bible College and Victory Baptist Church, the teens and the women’s ministry, the upcoming speaking engagement then back to the guitar… perhaps breakfast, I wonder if that jacket fit the little girl at church, taxes, there’s a melon on the counter in the kitchen calling my name, Chloey’s wedding, Brad’s wedding, Arnoldsburg Elementary today at two p.m.… STOP!!!

Welcome to the life of Shari…

But just for a few minutes I want to slow down today, perhaps you need to as well. I wanted to focus on something that always brings me to a screeching halt. Those scars…

John 20:27 [Full Chapter]

Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

They had witnessed those scars being inflicted just a few days before. They’d run scared, sure that they would be next. They’d deserted Him and left the women minister to Him as He died on the cross. Those scars were a testimony of the very real death, burial and now resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I can only imagine Thomas’ reaction as his finger ran across the palms of Jesus’ hand and then suddenly dipped into the crevice where the nails had been driven. His knees weakened, stomach somersaulted, and tears welling in his eyes. Flesh that Jesus could have just as easily restored to new before returning, but chose to leave it as a reminder that those scars tell a story. The story that Christ died on the cross of Calvary so that our relationship with the Father would be restored and we could have the promise of eternal life with a Holy God, the Creator of all the earth… including me.

Me with all my scars…that will stop me in my tracks. I usually just hide my scars. For a couple of reasons and not ones that you might imagine. The first being that they’re not as deep as most. Yes, I’ve been hurt, I have had issues and made mistakes; but in the speaker realm… mine are miniscule compared to what causes most speakers to get up and share their story. My story is much like my morning thought process… pinging from one adventure to the next, never lighting on anything for long. I do a lot… and finish less. I’m an organized person’s worst night mare. I fly by the seat of my pants and appear to have a plan and although it would break my heart if my plan fell through and I let people down, I really don’t give it much thought as I’m following my pants… So what am I wearing? Just scars.

Not mine, but His. His scars have me covered. The other reason I don’t show my scars is because it makes me relive them. And for me that’s not healthy. By reliving those hurtful moments that formed those scars I get angry again at the scar maker. Sometimes that is someone else and sometimes that’s me.

When Christ showed Thomas His scars it wasn’t to make Thomas feel bad… although I’m sure it did. But it was rather to show him that those scars were proof that Christ’s life meant victory for everyone. Victory over every failure in life. Every time the ball didn’t go exactly where you intended and you lost the game, Christ won the tournament.

This morning I needed the reminder of my Savior’s scars. When I’m pinging through what feels like one failure after another, Christ is at the end of the day with palms up saying, “I’ve got you covered.” Today I needed to hear it at day break…

Be not faithless…I’ve got you covered