From Fear to Faith with Apostle Paul

chick scaredy pants

Faith… We study it, share it, preach it and proclaim it over the hurdles we must jump, but every new predicament in life brings us back to the beginning of striving again to obtain that mustard seed of faith that will bring us through. After almost twenty years of salvation, one would think that I have would have obtained great faith… after all, I’m the Jesus Chick right? And yet it takes so little to get my knees knocking and heart trembling. But as He always does, God shows me that I’m in the good company of Apostle Paul who boldly preached in the face of death, yet he had his knee knocking moments as well. So this morning I’m looking to shore up my faith in the Word of God. If you’re needing a prop or two in your life I hope you’ll come along with me as I unpack  1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Mr. & Mrs. Smarty Pants

I am forever trying to plot out life in my own wisdom. In comparison to the wisdom of Paul I would still be in pre-school, and yet the Apostle Paul said that he was determined to know nothing but Christ. Regardless of the level of your intelligence, the letters behind your name or in front of your name, if you seek to know anything outside of the wisdom and will of God you’re in trouble. The first step to living in faith is stop thinking on your own and remember the price that God paid for you.

If God. The Creator and Knower of all designed you and your life, and then sent His Son to the cross of Calvary to pay for your life, will He not continue to care for it and put everything in your path to take you where He wants you to go. You and I are precious commodities in the Kingdom of God. We are the vessels that He pours Himself into and then places people and events in our path to bring glory to His Kingdom. Sometimes the paths are hard, but how much easier would it be if we just rode the wave rather than constantly fighting the current of the high waters about our neck. God’s got this.

Scaredy Pants

But I’m afraid! Paul was too! He said he was weak, afraid and trembling. That sounds pretty serious to me. Now granted… Paul was facing people who wanted him dead… What you and I usually face is far less, but God understands our fear. Paul, a learned scholar, didn’t rely on the wisdom that he had acquired through men, but allowed the Spirit of God to take over his faculties and bring the message to the people.

It’s hard to let loose of fear, because actually it’s the other way around, fear has a hold on us.  What bothers me this morning was lying in bed beside of me. (No, it wasn’t David) It was this ever present feeling of uncertainty. It was on my mind when I laid down and occupied my pillow throughout the night. So this morning I allowed God to lay hands on it. I don’t have that power! It is only through the Holy Spirit that I can be brave for today.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

If we are to stand in faith we cannot stand in the wisdom of man, because man just doesn’t get it. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen ~ Hebrews 11:1

Don’t Miss Out on the Blessing!

chick blessed

If there is one thing (and there are many) that our new Pastor teaches as he preaches, it is that the Word of God in part or in whole is the Word of God and not to be taken out of context. The world today loves to take a piece of God’s Word and twist it to fit their fancy or should I say their agenda. The Word of God offends those who are not right with God, it does not offend those who are but it can hurt like a swift kick in the pants. I say that with confidence. I didn’t say it wouldn’t offend saved people, because there are saved people who are not right with God. I’m sure there have been times that I’ve been one. But I do strive to understand and rightly divide the Word of God. Believing that I will stand before God for every stroke on the keyboard done in His name.

This morning as I sought to see through God’s eyes via a challenge from a man journeying through cancer, I landed in the book of Luke to see what God’s eyes saw. And I was amazed that He saw me.

Luke 6:20-23 ~ And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

He lifted His eyes on His Disciples

Hey! That’s me. Although I wasn’t there in the multitude that had seen the many miracles He performed, I’m in the multitude who has been the miracle. One that God chose to use in spite of all my imperfections. When Christ lifted His eyes it didn’t say He looked at the crowd, it said His eyes were on His disciples, His fellow servants and friends. And then He ran down the list of why they were blessed.

If you’re poor you’re blessed… because you realize that it’s not a cliché to say that God is everything. Any material possession that we strive to own (and I do) is going to pale in such comparison to the riches that wait for us in glory. I have no idea what musical instruments await me in Heaven, but compared to the ones I long for down here… well… I doubt they’ll compare.

If you’re hungry you’re blessed… I’m always hungry so I must be extra blessed! But God speaks not of food, although He knows it’s tasty; but rather He speaks of the Word of God that so offends the world but fills the soul of the hungry child of God. It can’t be explained it must be experienced. When you read the Word of God it is every bit as satisfying as supper at the end of a long day.

Blessed are they that weep…for ye shall laugh! That’s the Heaven I’m talking about. I cry because I’m sad, happy, blessed and concerned. I wear my tear bag on one sleeve and use the other sleeve to wipe the snot. Oh… I know that’s ugly, but you have no idea how often I cry! So what a wonderful thought that God says I’m blessed because I’m a bawlbaby and that God’s got a thousand corny jokes waiting for us in Heaven. The Pastor will be so pleased!!!!

Blessed are the hated. I don’t think too many people hate me, but it is for certain that I create a level of discomfort with all my Jesus chatter. And Satan and his cronies hate me. But even if they hate me, it’s okay! Because God said when they part company with me… we can dance! Leap for joy He said, that sounds like dancing to me.

Well, I hope I rightly divided the Word. And I hope today finds you blessed for all the right reasons. Father. Son. Holy Ghost. Child of God.

Sunshine for a Rainy Day

reagan's sunshine

I don’t think a day goes by that I have not heard the “C” word. Cancer. A word that can bring even the mightiest warrior to their knees asking for mercy. It is no respecter of age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Saint and Sinner… it has claimed both.

As I listened to a devotion on Periscope this morning from a sister in Christ Jesus in Pennsylvania, she always closes her broadcast with prayer requests and prayer. There too the “C” word popped up. And as I listened to her sweet prayer she said something that sent my mind here… this place I’m at today. She asked God to heal those who He had created the blueprint for. The Creator. We just don’t give Him His just dues do we?

1 Peter 4:19

 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Them that suffer

I cannot say that I have not questioned God’s divine wisdom when it comes to the diagnosis of someone I love. Even someone I don’t know! I see on social media post after post of heartache and my heart breaks. I see images that almost rip my heart out of my chest and I weep and pray and ask God to heal them and sometimes He does… and sometimes He takes them home and I’m left to pray for a heartbroken family; and again I ask God why? Why must these people suffer? It doesn’t seem right.

And then I am confronted with the truth that I am not the judge of what is right, only the Creator of all has that privilege. God’s plan was never that man would suffer. He created us in perfect health, in a perfect place with a perfect plan and then along came sin.

So rather than blame God for the suffering, which is what the world tends to do, we skip past the fact that Satan brought all of this into the world when he wanted to play God. And the human race is still allowing him to play god, the only problem is God is good, Satan is not. And this suffering that is in the world has an agent, Satan himself.

Suffering His Will

So why then is it the will of God that we now suffer? I do not know. Everyone’s blueprint for life is laid out differently, except for the fact that everyone is born with a sin nature, even the most innocent of child has been born into sin. That is why the bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. Everyone’s life is designed to point them and those around them to the Creator and that perfect life that He will afford His children one day in Heaven. A time when we will look back on this tidbit of life in the scope of eternity and think… wow… so that’s why it happened.

Committing the keeping of our souls to Him in well doing

How do you do well when life is not well? How do you sit beside someone who is suffering and tell them that God loves them? You commit them to Christ and then start looking for the work He’s doing through them.

The countless times that I have watched a child of God suffer, and yet still find the strength to praise God, I have also watched the blueprint unfold before my eyes. As hard as it was there was purpose.

I have many friends suffering right now, but there is one little girl on my mind especially who has suffered again and again because of Juvenile Arthritis. Last weekend she went into crisis having to have multiple surgeries and my heart ached as I watched for updates by her mom. She came through and so did Christ. Because she didn’t get to go outside a merciful nurse brought her some window paints and let her paint on her hospital window. The image above is her artistry. And there it was even in her darkest hours she was sharing the love of Jesus.

Her mom is a child of God. She has committed her child to Christ as they go through these hard times. I pray and believe in the Creator that holds her blueprint in Heaven, that He can guide the doctors to a cure for her disease. But until that day He continues to use her for His glory. And one day she’ll look back on these rough days and God will show her the souls that she touched for Him.

Just hold on… God is faithful.

Glory!!!!

Please pray for the sunshine girl. Her name is Reagan.

Weep Not for Me!

chick willow

One of my favorite trees of all times is the willow.  Those billowing, flowing branches that drape the ground are just beautiful! I should have known that those trees would have a purpose and spiritual significance in the Kingdom of God… I didn’t…. but I should have.

Psalm 137, believed to have been written by the weeping prophet himself (Jeremiah, he foretells of the coming destruction of the enemies of God. My mind likes to ponder that thought as I see the modern day enemies of God proclaim their victories in arrogance. After reading and studying this Psalm this morning I pray I’ll never view that tree the same again. What hope we have in that tree!

Psalm 137

1-4 ~ By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

Thus… the weeping willow!  I get his emotional outcry. It is hard to rejoice and sing psalms when we see the nonsense going on around us that has our country in an uproar, and seemingly captive to doing anything about it. The children of Israel were physically captive and being carried away into Babylon and their oppressors were wanting them to entertain them with their songs of Zion. “How can I rejoice?” Jeremiah asked. But then he encouraged himself to do just that in verses 5-6

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

 And this is where my soul begin to think itself happy. Just as the children of Israel were looking to Zion as that day when their captive souls would be free from bondage and in the arms of God, so should we. Our Lord will not always be mocked and the mockers will have their day of destruction.  Read on weary child of God.

Vs. 7-9

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

The word “rase” means to destroy! And our enemies, just like the daughter of Babylon who rejoiced in the misery that they inflicted upon God’s children, they’ll be rewarded by God, but not as they believe. They’ll be rewarded with the same treatment that they’re dishing out today. Their arrogance will be short lived on that day.

So as I pass by the weeping willow tree I’ll recall the words of Jeremiah in Psalm 137 and I will rejoice. For we are on our way to a city whose builder and maker is God and death and destruction will be no more. I’ll not hang my harp upon the willows, but I’ll fiddle the tune of Amazing Grace and thank God that I am heading there someday to be with Him.

The Ugly Side of the Church

chick pork

The Ugly side of Christianity. Why that was on my mind this morning I do not know. I actually haven’t dealt with it for a while. “There’s an ugly side to Christianity,” you ask? You likely didn’t because we all know it’s there, it’s just usually not the topic of conversation unless someone’s upset, and then it’s ugly! Well let’s just say up front, I’m not upset. I’m just tired…

I’m tired of the church focus being far left, far right and the ones in the middle make God and I both puke. I’m tired of Methodist, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals, and yes my own beloved Baptists. I’m tired of  Bapticostals,  Presbythodists and yes those are made up names, but let’s just call it like it is, the church of the living God didn’t have a name over the door when it came to be.  Acts 11:26 said “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

There are some very notable characters in the eleventh chapter of Acts.

The chapter begins with Peter witnessing the first Powerpoint presentation on earth. It’s true! Verse 5 says “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:” Clearly that was an automatic screen! And upon it was a sermon outline for Peter.

Vs. 6-9 ~ Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Point number 1 – It’s all good. Even bacon.

Point number 2 – Let’s argue about it.

Point number 3 – I said Shsssh. Eat more pork.

Okay… that might be a stretch, but it’s in there. Peter had been preaching and teaching Christ to the Jews. He loved his people, and there’s nothing wrong with that! I love my people… But God was about to take him outside of his comfort zone into the land of the Gentiles and those people eat bacon!  For us that argument sounds silly, but for a man brought up to have no communion with those outside of the Jewish faith, this was a huge deal and the church folk were upset and demanding answers. So Peter answered and not only that, he brought witnesses, those who had been saved as God had said they would. I won’t expound on that I just encourage you to read the book for yourself.

But here’s my point. Peter stopped labeling people and just viewed the people as sinners needing saved by grace. And through that preaching and acceptance that God’s grace belongs to all people, the word of God went further and the church grew.

Now… I’m not suggesting that we all link arms and sing Kumbaya. I’m not saying we ignore sin.  But it’s time to eat more pork, or chicken or just cut a slice of bread in two and agree that even though we may differ in some ways, those  of us who preach Jesus, crucified, risen the third day and the only way to Heaven can love on one another outside the church.

Let’s get rid of the ugly side of the church, it’s so unbecoming. Preach Jesus! Love one another… it really is a Great Commission!!!

10 things to Pray for on the 4th of July

chick eagle 2

Whether or not we agree with our Nation’s direction, and let me be clear… I don’t, we are still obligated as children of God and it is for our own benefit that we pray for our Nation and leaders. And by prayer I don’t mean that we pray for a pot fall from a window and take them out. Tomorrow is July 4; a day to celebrate independence. Because of current and past men and women serving our country and willing to risk their lives for our protection we continue today to have the freedom to pray openly and are given a biblical mandate to do so.

Paul, in his instruction to Timothy said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications,   prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;” – 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Paul understood what it was like to lose your freedom. The very people he was instructing the church to pray for had beat and imprisoned him. Although we are often beat down spiritually here in America, I’ve never been beaten and cast in prison physically. We are without excuse for not praying.

Here’s a few things on my prayer list today for our country:

I pray…

1.    That the leadership of our Nation, States and Communities feel the conviction of the Lord Jesus Christ to seek His wisdom.

2.    That the children of God in authority are bold to proclaim His Word and the Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ.

3.    I pray for a hedge of protection around our Country and that the power of Heaven would thwart any efforts to bring harm in our land by the enemy, especially on our Nation’s day of celebration.

4.    That church leadership who have lost the genuine Word of God, would find it again and call their people together and tell them they have found the book as they did in 2 Kings 22:8.

5.    I pray that our military, here and abroad would have the mighty hand of God shielding them from attack and that in so doing the enemy would fear our God as the other nations feared the God of Israel (our God) in 2 Chronicles 20:29 – And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries, when they had heard that the Lord fought against the enemies of Israel.

6.    I pray for humility. For all of the United States to acknowledge Who God is.

7.   That hearts tremble tomorrow in reverence of our Lord for how He has protected America.

8.   For our children who have never known a godly nation. I pray that there are those set before them who are godly showing them the way to Christ Jesus.

9.    I pray that the churches, especially my own will line the altar and pray for America this Sunday.

10.  I pray for me… and you should pray for you… that we are who God needs us to be for our people.

Gen. George Washington issued this decree on March 6, 1776, calling for a day of fasting and prayer as our country began its long and bloody battle for independence:

“Set apart … as a day of fasting, prayer and humiliation, to implore the Lord and Giver of all victory to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness, and that it would please Him to bless the Continental Arms with His divine favor and protection—all officers and soldiers are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence and attention on that day to the sacred duties due to the Lord of hosts for His mercies already received and for those blessings which our holiness and uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through His mercy to obtain.”

We are blessed to live in the land of the free, but as Christians we are blessed with a freedom far greater than that provided by our nation. The blood of Jesus Christ our Lord freed us from the bondage of sin, and gave us the opportunity to commune with the Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit. That freedom should never be taken for granted.

 

Summer’s Short… so is life

chick happy 2Summer Doldrums in the Church – Can I just talk about that a minute. I promise I won’t go too long… maybe 500 words…perhaps a few more but not much. Summer is such an exciting time! There’s family reunions, vacations, weekend outings and so much to captivate our attention. And then there’s church. That seems to be the way of the world. After all… Church will be there in September, right? Well… I hope so.

Mariners of ancient times feared the doldrums. If they were caught on the sea without wind for too long they could die of thirst or starvation. I don’t want to scare you but church folk are much the same. If they go too long without spiritual motivation they either dry up and blow away or when they start moving again they’re pretty lethargic and stiff. Usually by Christmas they have both oars in the water and they’re back in sync with spiritual life again. Why is it that folks think they need to take a vacation from God? Oh they’d never put it like that… they’d say it in a more culturally accepted phrase, like

“I work all week, I need the weekend to wind down…”

 “Summer’s the only time our family can spend time together…”

Three thoughts about that and then I’ll be still

Peace be still…

Mark 4:39

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Every storm in life we expect the Savior to come in and swoop us out of, or at least calm the waves, but we believe He understands our lack of commitment.

Let the Dead bury Their Dead

Luke 9:58-60

And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.

Friends and family go out into eternity and we’re sad and broken hearted and we cry out to God wondering if they were saved… and we’re left wondering. They didn’t even make church a priority in September or December. And the times that you were with them, Christ never came into the conversation. It was summer… we had other commitments.

These kids!

Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

School gets back in session in August and your child’s mouth gets back in session the day after. They’re attitude stinks, they have no respect for anyone and you begin crying out to the Lord to help your family. The public school is surely to blame. And God’s response goes unheard… ‘They never attended the school I established on Sunday… I really want to make a difference.”

Summers’s short… so is life.