The Tough Subject of Ministry and Money

When I began ministering through music early on in my ministry, I felt so guilty when a church would offer me money. I wasn’t a professional, I was doing it for that purpose, I was just excited to serve the Lord. One night my Pastor came to me when I was about to reject an offering and said, “You’ll do this enough times for free, when money is offered, accept it and consider it a gift from God.” Well, he was right. I’ve done it for free many times, and for the record, I’ve never regretted it once. If you’re truly in the ministry, you know going in that it may or may not be a paying career, but it’s always a rewarding career. That being said… money is a necessity for survival in this world.

But when the subject is broached it’s almost taboo. So when the Lord laid this topic on my heart this morning I hesitated. Contemplated rejecting the notion. I’ve never been comfortable with regards to money and the ministry because I would never want anyone to feel that’s the reason I serve. But the word of God is clear on those in the service of God.

1 Timothy 5:17-18
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Preachers need paid. And the Word said if they serve worthy they’re worth a double portion! Why is it that folks don’t think twice about paying abundantly for services of skilled professionals but think a Pastor should work on fried beans and rice? Our spiritual needs fuel our fire and provide the strength to get done what we need to get done in life. Its value is immeasurable and without it all hope would go down the drain quickly. Preachers and Pastors are taken for granted until we stand in need and then they’re expected to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They earn their keep and then some.

But I’m not a preacher or a pastor. I’m the Jesus Chick. So where does that put me on the pay scale? It puts me in an awkward position when I’m ask what I do for a living. It puts me on my face before God when I’m trying meet my monthly expenses. It’s put some amazing people and opportunities in my life that fill in gaps and encourage my soul. And this morning it put me in 1 Timothy 5, verse 18.

Just like the un-muzzled ox that feasts on corn of the field it’s plowing; the rewards I reap from ministering the gospel fills my soul! I’ll not complain when the power and blessings of the Holy Spirit bring unexplainable and unspeakable joys in my life for my service. But through the coercing of others in the ministry, who see my work as worthy, and the coercing of the Holy Spirit Who says “Through His blood I am worthy,” I have added a ministry donation button to this site. If you do not have, or do not feel inclined to give, then please don’t feel obligated. But if I have encouraged you and the Spirit speaks, your gift of any amount would be appreciated and honored by God.

I do what I do because I’m gifted and afforded the opportunity by grace and feel that I am accountable for the ministry that God has given. This week God has been enlarging my territory. For that I am grateful. But for that, there is expenses. Thank you for reading my blog. It encourages my soul, I pray I’ve encouraged yours!

There’s some great things happening. Stay tuned for some awesome works of God!

3 Reasons People Don’t Go To Church

Paul and his letter to the Galatians is still stirring my soul this morning helping me to understand a few things about my own life. I’m hoping it will help you understand a few things too.  The lost and those who do not know the power of Jesus are on my heart heavy this morning. There are even some saved folk living in defeat because they do not understand the gospel. If I’m honest, I don’t always understand it either. It’s why I wrote the song “You Knew.” His grace is hard to understand, knowing what He knew when the nails went in. The law is easy to understand, hard to keep. We’re built with a conscience within us that says “that’s wrong.” Now we can ignore it and sear it until it no longer is heard, but we cannot deny it. But grace… grace isn’t easy to understand because we’re not swift to offer it ourselves.

We want it for ourselves. Christ wanted it for everyone who wasn’t worthy. And that included everyone. He lumped us all in the same category of sin. We tend to categorize sin. Christ didn’t. He died for all sin. The pretty ones and the ugly ones. The white ones and the black ones. They’re all the red ones. The ones covered by the blood of Jesus.

There’s a few reasons people don’t go to church.

  1. Because they don’t understand it.

I’m asking you as Timothy did in the book of 2nd Timothy 2:7 “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

  1. Because they’ve believed the lie of the world that the God is not real.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians on that very matter when he said “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:” The world darkens around a person away from God because they’re away from the Light, which is Jesus Christ. Satan knows this, that’s why he continues to feed you the lie that church is not for you, because if you’re not close the light, you’ll never see it. You can get saved outside of a church for certain… but it’s so much easier on the inside where that Light is shining at its brightest point.

  1. Because they’ll never measure up.

It’s true. Neither do I. Neither does any other saint in or outside the building we call church.

John wrote in 1 John 5:20 “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Once we’ve accepted that Jesus Christ paid the debt for our sin, because we were not ever going to be able to keep the laws of man, God’s is no longer looking at us, He’s looking at Christ. And Christ measures up! All the way to Heaven.

This morning I was very conscious of how I didn’t measure up. A quick trip through the scripture shows me that I’m not alone. Nor am I alone in the fact that God sent His Son to the cross to cover those indiscretions. I can either carry the guilt and live defeated, or, I can allow the grace of Christ to do what it does best and help me understand that I’m not perfect. I’m forgiven.

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the child of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:22-26

The Backslider’s Gospel

backsliderAs I read the opening of Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians this morning, I felt as if I should start this blog:

Shari, a servant of Christ (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:) and all the brethren (and sisters) who are with me, unto the churches of Calhoun County. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a regal introduction. We take, or should I say “I take, my calling of God for granted.” Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia because they were believing a polluted form of the gospel.  Paul marveled that they were “so soon removed from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”  (Galatians 1:6b) And as I read across those verses I thought back about the people that I have seen give their lives to Christ at an altar of grace and tsmhen were so soon removed. Those who I had watched walk and serve Christ. Not as those do who get saved and vanish. Which is often the issue with a soul will who comes searching for a temporary fix to a permanent problem rather than a permanent fix to a temporary problem. Whew! That a good word right there! But the folks I think on are those who I served with for years sometimes; and then one day they were just gone. Believing another gospel? They’d likely say no. Because they’re not serving in another church. They’re absent without leave, and believing a gospel for which they aren’t even aware.

The Backslider’s Gospel

A backslider’s gospel is perhaps what I would call it. For some reason or another they found their time could be better spent outside of the church. They occasionally come on Christmas and Easter. A funeral attendance will heap conviction upon their shoulders for a good thirty minutes after the service. But then they determine that Sunday is like any other day. And they can love God on Monday just as well. They have nothing to prove by being in church.

Just as I need to be reminded Who it is and why it is that I serve Christ, a backslidden Christian too needs a reminder. Paul said in verses 15-16 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to which were apostles before me ; but I went to Arabia, and retruned again unto Damascus.”

While Paul didn’t go to where the other Apostles were, he was still in the ministry. He was preaching and teaching the gospel as the Holy Spirit revealed it to Him. He wasn’t called to follow the church, or the leaders, he was called to follow God. So be it when someone leaves our church and moves on to serve in another, I’m not concerned for their soul. I miss them, I’m like a mother hen I want all my peeps in one place, but I’m spiritually mature enough to know that’s not always the way God sees it.

But when someone leaves church for the house… no… that’s not God’s plan. That’s a backslider’s gospel. That is the one that allows you to believe that you can be “be just as good at the house as you can in church.” No you can’t. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll read your bible and listen to the word of God. For a while maybe, then you won’t. You’ll tell yourself that you don’t need Christian fellowship. Yes you do. All these things serve a purpose in your life that you don’t want to live without. You can survive. But not nearly as well.

The gospel not only convicts the soul of sin, but it soothes the heart.

Sin may not be continuously on your door step after you leave the church, but Satan will be. He’ll place things in your life to assure you stay away from God’s house, because even Satan knows you’re better off in church.

The fellowship of believers may cause a disagreement now and then, but there is no truer friend than that of the body of Christ if you’re in the right church.

The Backslider’s gospel is the most deceiving of all. Because it tells you “You’re okay.” And you’ll be okay until you’re not and then you’ll be away from everything and everyone that can help you make it through the rough patches of life. And then Satan will convince you that nobody cares. What a liar!

If you’re away from God. Get your heart and mind set for Sunday morning. Be in your seat. If you’ve not yet left, but you’re contemplating it, hang on to the back of that pew with every ounce of strength you have and then hit the altar and ask God to help you through. Don’t go to church for the sake of other people. Go to church for you.

You Need To Hear This

isaiah 40

I certainly needed to hear it.

This is a somewhat vague story for the sole purpose of not telling tales. It’s one of those “the names have been changed stories to protect the not so innocent.” Actually there are no names, which much like the parables of the bible, may allow you to place yourself inside my day and encourage yourself in my discovery.

I was almost in shock, but not entirely. The evidence had been there before but not to this degree. It involved people I cared about as well as people I didn’t really care about if I’m honest. Both people had hurt me, one unknowingly, one intentionally. One I knew to be a Christian, one I wondered. How vague is that! Both events in one day and by days end I was left lifeless on the ground. Weary, oh so very weary of sin.

The sins were such that they would cut at the very core of a Christian testimony. One was the sin of prejudice and the other the sin of entitlement, arrogance and self-righteousness wrapped up in a package. To the unsaved looking at either of these lives with the notion of being drawn to Christ, was ludicrous. Neither of them would leave anyone feeling the need to be saved, being that their version of saved was very, very jaded.

Their behavior cut me. I fought back the tears thinking about the damage to the name of Christ in their behavior. I wanted to lash out, but I just couldn’t. It wasn’t the place to draw attention to someone else’s sins. And so I sat in silence, hurting. Hurting for Jesus. Hurting for someone who might hear and not understand that these people are “just human” with human flaws and all. Later in the day I talked to God, but to no avail. The knot in my stomach was still there. I spent a restless night and awoke with a feeling of despair and of nothing getting fixed. I can’t fix a brokenness in the spirit of other people, especially when they don’t acknowledge that it’s even an issue.

I complained to God and then I heard this:

“That feeling you have Shari… that’s the same feeling I have when I look at your sin. Hurt. Knowing what you know, how you could ever feel your behavior is acceptable or excusable because you are human. Remember that before you judge someone else.”

I needed to hear that. It was a stark reminder that my name is nameless too in the book of God when it comes to sin. But I still felt weary. Now I was not only weary of their condition but my own condition felt heavier still.  But God lured me into His word as He often does to seek strength for the moment.

His understanding

Isaiah 40 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

God’s ways are not my way nor are His thoughts my thoughts. How good to know that even when I am weary, and not from well doing but rather from evil doing, God understands. He sees human nature for what it is. It is what He died for. But in my human form I cannot search long enough to understand it, because I am not God. And unlike me, God is not weary. Not even weary of me. So I must rely on His understanding.

His Strength

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

He knows my utter human frailty. I have no might and He knows I will fall and faint. But through His Holy Spirit He encourages my soul. How awesome that gift is. So I must rely on His strength.

His Forgiveness

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

Probably the hardest of all to understand. The people in my story hurt me a few times. How many times have I hurt God? Countless. Multiply that times all His people. All the people for whom He died. Now imagine that pain. We can’t. Nor can I imagine how Almighty He assuredly is that He can take that hurt and love me anyway. So I must rely on His forgiveness.

His Wings

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Even with His wings, the word doesn’t say we’ll soar, it says we’ll walk. We won’t fly, but we won’t faint. That’s good news! I’ve heard the word “Wait” preached not as the meaning to delay, but rather to serve. As a waiter would wait (serve) a table, which puts a whole other perspective on that scripture. As we “serve” the Lord our strength is rekindled. So I must keep serving. Keeping God’s word in my heart so that I do not faint on days like that mentioned in this story. When people fail me, I can draw strength to forgive from the endless well of forgiveness that God has in supply for His children… for me.

The Truth About Saints

saint shariSaint Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural and religion celebration held annually on March 17 to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland. It’s become more so a day to celebrate Irish Culture than the religious aspect of it. Which is good I think, being that I don’t really put much stock in honoring saints. Not to belittle what St. Patrick did, being credited to have been instrumental in establishing the Christian faith in Ireland in the 5th Century, but in the eyes of God saint hood is not exclusive to one religion. For the record, I’m Saint Shari. I really don’t anticipate any statues being erected in my honor, and it is not the honor of men that I seek. But studying God’s ideology of saints differs considerably from the worlds view.

Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:7 ~ To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A saint is a child of God. Not a perfect child of God, not an overachieving child of God, not anyone necessarily of notable character. Many saints don’t deserve a statue.  (I am one). The Catholic church has sainted many folks throughout the years and claim Peter was the first Pope, which I don’t believe for many reasons, but top of my list for not believing it is, in knowing the character of Peter, he would have had nothing to do with a religion that focus’ on the mother of Christ rather than the Savior and believes salvation can be bought. But this blog is not about my differences with the Catholic Church, it’s about the prerequisites for being a Saint and the reward!

King David spoke much of the saints of God especially in the Psalms:

But I would call Psalm 149 a Psalm of the Saints

Each verse brings great hope to the child of God for

149:1

All Saints! The Congregation, not just a select few.

1Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.

All Creation! Not just a few

Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

All People! Who are saved

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.

All Saints have honor!

Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;

To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;

To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;

To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.

What a joy to know! As a believer in Christ Jesus, believing that He was the final sacrifice for mankind on the cross of Calvary, that He proved his Deity by His power over death, His resurrection and His ascension to Heaven where He makes intercession for us, allowing us access to a Holy God, even as unholy as we are, and because of all His work, we have honor.

There will be no statues of us in Heaven, I don’t know that they’ll be any statues in Heaven. I just know that Jesus is in Heaven and it is He Who I will give praise, honor and glory. And so will the saints who have been honored on earth, and those who haven’t even been recognized.

Feeling unappreciated today? Don’t. There is One Who appreciates you more than you can possibly know.

How To Make a Lemonade Life Out of Lemons

life

Solomon is said to be the wisest man to have ever lived, and I don’t doubt it. His words were salve to my troubled soul this morning. I don’t understand why God chooses to allow this world to continue in the state that it’s in. I’ve never seen so much evil. I’ve never felt the fierceness of sin trying to turn my own mind away from God such as I do right now. The closer I try to get to God the greater the oppression of the enemy on my soul and the vexation of my spirit. So to hear that even the wisest of men struggled with that understanding gives me some comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in my search for peace.

There is something about the tartness of a lemon that has always been a metaphor in life. Very few people would bite into that fruit and pleasure in the experience. It’s a jaw puckering, eye quivering, taste like no other. But squeeze the juice out of those babies into a pitcher, dilute it with water and add the sweetness of sugar and it’s a whole new day! The sour is overcome, the taste buds dance and the soul is made happy in a beverage. The lemon is no longer looked upon as a painfully sour fruit but rather something to be savored.

A bite out of life sometimes yields the same result. A piece of my day viewed from the perspective of just a brief period of time is bitter, and harsh. The pain sears my spirit. It’s too much to consume. Broken dreams are like an unsweetened lemon. I try to grab hold of faith, reign in my thoughts but the bitter, sour taste has my eyes closed and teeth clenched. I can’t see anything sweet, I only taste the lemon.

Ecclesiastes 5, the words of Solomon, had a lemonade making effect on my life today and wise advice:

Living the Dream!

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

We all long for the dreamlife; the one without heartache, sorrow and struggles. But that dream is almost always mingled with a few nightmares. Stay focused. Keep your footing in the house of God where the Word of God is preached, a support system is in place and an accountability program in effect. Listen more and talk less. Work harder and be idle less. Satan is full of ideas that he loves to share with busy people trying to make things happen. Be not hasty with decisions, it almost always leads to heartache. I have worn that shirt many times!

Leave the Lies

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

So, so many times I’ve dreamed dreams and said to God, “God, if only You’ll do this, I’ll do this.” God’s not in to empty promises.  Solomon words advise us to keep our dreamlife in perspective. Fear God more than fearing failure. Failing isn’t always the problem, refusing to admit you failed and moving on is often the problem. When God doesn’t allow a dream to come to pass, perhaps that was your dream not His. Or perhaps you didn’t work hard enough at the dream. “That” is life in perspective for me. Be honest with yourself. God already knows.

So what then? What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we anticipated?

Learning the Lesson

A brief and incomplete summary of verses 8-17 is that even when we do life as best we can, reality can still be harsh, heartaches can still come, and the dream may or may not be fulfilled. Money won’t buy happiness, life is brief, and we’ll take nothing with us when we die. But understand that God was there through it all and through it all there was a purpose.

The lesson to be learned is this, the dream is not the achievement, the dream is the process that leads to success.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ~ Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

The trouble with both of my marriages

lamentations

On August 16, 1980 I became the wife of David Wayne Johnson. And in the year 1996, when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I became a member of the bride of Christ, which is the church.

Revelation 19:7

Let us be glad and rejoice and give glory to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his bride has made herself ready.

On more than one occasion the church is referred to as the bride. It’s a depiction of union of the believers with God, and what a great picture! The marriage of a man and woman is a relational picture as well between we who are saved and God. It’s a covenant relationship which unfortunately on earth is marred, and often broken. But the relationship with God is not ever broken because He is perfect and aware of our every flaw; yet He loves us unconditionally any way. I am perfect! In Christ Jesus. I am ever so flawed in Shari Lynn Johnson.

Marriage may be easy for some, but it’s never been easy for me. There’s too much me involved in it. So as I read the scripture in 1 Peter 3:1-4 this morning about the behavioral expectation of the wife, my heart was pricked to say the least.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

So let’s go down my checklist of failing issues:

  • In subjection
  • Chaste conversation
  • Outward adorning
  • Wearing of gold
  • Putting on of apparel
  • Meek
  • Quiet

Wow. I highly doubt any of those would be on a list if you asked David to give adjectives that described his wife. I’m a rebellious spirited, loud mouth, make-up loving, sparkly clothes and jewelry wearing gal whose meek and quiet spirit is only revealed if the Holy Spirit is sitting on top of me. But… God loves me anyway. He also uses me anyway – which never shocks anyone as much as it does me. But the words this morning from this text drew me in when I read, “but let it be the hidden man of heart, in that which is not corruptible.”

No matter how hard I try being that perfect wife to David Johnson, I can’t. He would tell you that I try but fail miserably. But there is a hidden Shari that is perfect. It is the one that is hidden in Christ Jesus. That turned my thought process this morning in a 180° turn. When God looks at me, He does not look up on the loud, blingy babe that the world looks upon. He looks at the blood covered heart of a woman of God who believes she was redeemed on the cross of Calvary and walks and talks with Jesus on her way to the wedding supper of the Lamb.

In Christ Jesus there is no rebellion – Oh, I try. But He draws me back in and puts a desire in my heart to please Him and serve Him, as well as please and serve my husband David.

In Christ Jesus I am beautiful – with or without makeup Christ looks at me and sees the inward Shari. The one that is real. The one that is still a little girl at heart with dreams and passions that I still believe I’ll see come to fruition.

In Christ Jesus my fashion sense is irrelevant, because He’s placed a robe in glory that He’ll adorn me with when I get home that will top my most favorite outfit here on earth and it will be the perfect size that I’ll likely never achieve on earth.

I seldom view myself in the perspective of Christ Jesus, because this marred human nature of mine would rather I live in subjection to self, not Christ. And self is a failure. But today I begin again. Anew, just as the scripture says in Lamentations 3:22-23 ~ It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The trouble with both of my marriages is me. It is the mercy of the Lord that He does not consume me with fire each day! Praise God His mercy is new every morning and I can begin again. Great is His faithfulness!

Having trouble seeing yourself from Christ’s vantage point? Find that meek and gentle spirit within yourself and listen very closely to what God has to say… shhhhhhh.

Don’t be Caught off Guard… be caught up!!!

rapture readyCaught up in this thing called Faith

There will come a day that I will be caught up in the Rapture, but for today I am caught up in the faith that will carry me through until Jesus takes me home, be that by rapture or another design of His choosing. Let it be known, I am ready! Now, I’m not desiring a quickening away from my friends and family; oh contraire! But rather I long for the day when I shall see my Savior and I shall not see sin, death and the heartache of this side of glory.

Believing that I am here with divine purpose, I awoke this morning with the desire to follow His will where ever that may lead, and so it lead to me sitting in restaurant in Clarksburg, WV waiting on my car to be detailed. As I traveled the long stretch of highway this morning at 6 a.m. to get here, I had plenty of time to pray and listen to the Word of God. I prayed for my peeps, those related by blood and those that I serve with who are saved by the blood. I prayed that if the trumpet would sound today, those that I love would be ready!

Trumpet? Perhaps you haven’t heard. While it’s true that the word “rapture” isn’t in the bible, the word “rapture” simply means “caught up!” And those words you will find in the scripture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

That’s a pretty definitive scripture that requires little explanation as far as what will happen… now the when… that’s a whole other issue. But for now let’s talk about the preparedness for that day.

Any Minute!

Mark 13:32 says – But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

There will come a day that God will say, “Son, get your church. Gabriel, go blow your horn!” and when that trump sounds there will not be a time to get online and order tickets. It’s a done deal! That’s why I pray for my family and friends. That’s why I pray for God to send a soul across my path that I might help them pack their bags for glory! Perhaps you are at soul.

Do you have yours packed? Before we depart for Christian teen camp each year I give the kids a list of mandatory and recommended necessities to make their camp experience the best! So today I’ll give you a list to see if you’re prepared if the trump sounds and that quick ticket is called for.

Mandatory:

Your Ticket to Heaven

Just like our teen camp, it’s free to all who attend, but it for certain cost something. And Heaven, although it is as free as free can be, it still came with a mighty cost, which was the Son of God. He paid for your entrance into Heaven and eternal life by His death on the cross. He proved His power over death, Hell and the grave by His resurrection and ascension back into Heaven. He was, is and always will be the virgin born Son of God. You’re faith in that truth and belief that He died exclusively for you is your ticket.

Optional:

 5 Crowns

  • The Incorruptable Crown – (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) Anything from earth would certainly burn up on entry to Heaven. But an incorruptible crown is what we’ll receive for our faithful endurance and continuance in service as we go through the many trials and temptations of earth. It won’t be for the faint of heart. Tipping a waitress a little extra won’t do it, giving up the internet for lent won’t do it… running the race in a sacrificial way will push a Christian way outside of the average commitment zone, and that will obtain a special recognition from God.
  • The Crown of Rejoicing – (1 Thessalonians 2:19) The crown of rejoicing will be our reward for those who joy in the salvation of Christ and in so doing lead others to that same knowledge. There’s a party in Heaven each time a soul makes a confession of faith and there for certain will be joy when a soul winner makes it home. There used to be a day when we honored our veterans returning from the battled field with a parade and celebration. And although we neglect that responsibility now… God won’t neglect our return to glory when we’re home from the battlefield.
  • The Crown of Righteousness – (2 Timothy 4:8) Nothing that we have done on this earth would entitle us to any piece of Heaven; but Christ will reward those who not only talked the talk but walked the walk. There will be many in Heaven who will assume their saying of the sinner’s prayer was enough. And while it is enough for entrance, God had so much more in store for you if only you had continued growing and walking in Christ.
  • The Crown of Glory – (1 Peter 5:4) For all those who have been ask again and again and again to teach, and felt in their heart they should have, you’ll be missing a blessing in Heaven! The crown of glory is for all those who teach, preach and minister the gospel. What an honor it is to serve God in such a manner.
  • The Crown of Life – (James 1:5) This crown is also referred to as the Martyr’s crown. Those who receive it have paid the ultimate price for serving Christ

Those optional adornments won’t come easy. But they’ll be more than worth it when we stand face to beautiful face of Jesus our Lord and Savior.

A little longer blog than usual… but I need to know if you’re packed?

Nothing this side of glory with the exception of our soul will make it into Heaven. The crowns (if they are won) are waiting. Don’t be caught off guard. Be caught up!!!

What’s your ilities and what are you doing with them today?

ilitiesA quick message and words of encouragement from a friend last night brought to mind a much needed attitude of gratitude for the salvation I have in Jesus Christ and the peace He alone affords His children. Life is harsh, I have on every side of me friends and family suffering. I have issues of my own, we all do! And yet I have this responsibility that comes with accountability but praise God for the ability to use all those “ilities” in the ministry. Ilities is not a word… so if I drive you grammar checkers crazy I’m sorry. But Ilities should be word. The definition of “ilities” would be

Ilities: the enabling of a God given gift through the Holy Spirit, not to be ignored, and for the exclusive purpose of ministering and encouraging the children of God.

If you’re a child of God, you have ilities. You may not have discovered it, but you’ve got it! And just because you don’t know what it is doesn’t exclude you from the accountability factor because you should be looking for it and opportunities to use it. My friend did not have to message me and encourage me last night, but he chose to take the time out of his day to do so. He has discovered the many talents that God has given him in music and exhortation and he uses them.

I also received a message from a fellow who thanked me for the new song that I published this week “You Knew,” (see video below) because it had ministered to his soul on a hard day, and he returned that by encouraging me. Wow! An ility at work! For he and I both.

Apostle Paul, who was so much more eloquent of speech than The Jesus Chick wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

Believe me I’ve fainted a time or two, or a million. I’ve known that there were things I should have said and done and I chose to ignore the ilities that God had placed within me because I was fearful, uncertain, or just flat out lazy.

Paul continued in verses 7-8

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

That is why, even on my worst days, even on the worst days of other children of God, we can minister to one another. So…

You Knew

So any given day at my house you’ll see me with hands going back and forth from the guitar, to the fiddle, to the computer, to a sketch and pen, to the dishes in the sink as well as a truck load of laundry. My talents are varied and often not fully represented because they so broadly dispersed throughout my day and little focus on each individually. What i am is a willing vessel. I’ve always stood amazed when God chooses to use me, but I was first amazed that He chose to die for me. The video below is true to form for me, “rough.”

The words began as I drove home from church yesterday and later in the afternoon i penned them on a piece of paper and within 30 minutes “You Knew” was born. I hope you enjoy the video, forgive the mediocre playing but love the Lord I sing about!

“You Knew” (c) Shari Hardway Johnson

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