Oh My Stars!

In the book of Amos, the prophet Amos was hanging out with the cowboys of the day, the herdmen of Tekoa, when God began to create the book we know as Amos in his soul. It was a word of judgement again and again for Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah and Israel. God had had enough of their false idols, wicked sacrifices and jaded religion. It was a “come to Jesus” moment for them all and Amos was the bearer of the bad news. I sometimes feel like an Amos. My brokenness for the church leads me into a tirade on more than one occasion with the platform of this blog or the ear of friend who just happened to call on a bad day. I had one such day Saturday.

I want the world to see Jesus. I want them to see the Jesus that I know. He is a righteous judge that looks on the depravity of man with a willingness to love us anyway, forgive us and convict us of the errors of our ways, and then patiently wait while we slowly make our way in His direction. He is rejected over and over and yet at the first turn towards Him, His arms are open wide for us to fall into. Oh my goodness I stand in awe! Or I should say, “Oh my stars, I stand in awe!” Because that’s what Amos said.

Amos had just ran down a list of everyone who had turned their back to God. I had a list like that on Saturday at an event that wasn’t supported by our local churches. I was hurt for those who had set up the event, I was hurt for the little preacher that preached like he was preaching to 1,000, and I was most hurt for God who certainly deserved better. So this blog is for any servant of God who’s ever been let down. Amos went through his list as God instructed, he said… judgment’s coming. But then he turned his eyes to the skies in chapter 5, verse 8:

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:

Amos took his mind off the earth and the issue surrounding himself and turned his thoughts toward the Almighty God. He stood in awe of God! As a herdman he had stood beneath the stars and adored their Creator. Orion is a group of stars that appeared in the winter and is a sign of bad weather. Amos stood amazed at the wondrous works of God through the climate to make the rain come and go and the seasons change and the blessings that came from it all.

One of my favorite songs in my repertoire of music right now is an Elevation Worship song called, “There is a Cloud.” It’s from the book of Kings, chapter 18, verse 44 and speaks of a cloud the size of a man’s hand that turned into a massive rain. Amos had tuned out the of the trouble of the day and was tuned into the Maker of the sea and the controller of the clouds and he knew that if man would just turn to back to God, all the trials that were coming upon God’s people could be turned into a blessing. If only they’d realize and acknowledge Who God was. The Creator of all could take those storms and turn them into an abundant harvest.

How true that is for America? If only the churches of today, who’ve gotten so caught up in the world would fall back in love with God, and stand in awe of His ability, what would He do with us? If our priorities would get back in line, would He pour down the rain upon our churches that would draw a thirsty lost world into the doors of the church? I believe He would! And I’m seeking Him that made those seven stars, Jesus Christ, Lord of all, is His name.

Now… the church needs to show up.

There Are No Participation Awards in Heaven

I’d like to tell you that I have my walk with Christ figured out; that every day is a picnic in the park, but that ain’t so. My everyday conversations with God go something like this:

  • Lord,
  • YES, SHARI.
  • I’m hurt.
  • I KNOW. ME TOO.
  • But Lord, they’re Your people. Why do they not desire to serve you?
  • IT SEEMS YOU’VE CONFUSED SERVICE WITH PARTICIPATION.
  • What’s the difference?
  • SERVICE SUPPLIES A NEED, PARTICIPATION IS TAKING PART IN SOMETEHING. SERVING ME SHOWS A LEVEL OF NEED, PARTICIPATION IN CHURCH IS FEELING A PART OF SOMETHING. THEY WANT TO BE A PART OF ME… BUT THEY DON’T HAVE A NEED FOR ME.

And I wept.

Such is the state of our world. They go to church just enough to feel apart, but there’s no “need.” No desire or commitment to the cause. A warm pew for 60 minutes is enough to satisfy a soul who just wants a participation award. And so the Lord left me with these words to ponder.

WHY ARE YOU USING VALUABLE TIME TO CONCERN YOUR SELF WITH THE PARTICIPANTS? JUST SERVE AND UNDERSTAND THERE ARE NO “PARTICIPATION” AWARDS IN HEAVEN. IF YOU WANT THE PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING, YOU MUST PRESS ON.

And so today I press on with the understanding…

  1. It’ll leave a mark
  2. I’m called to do it
  3. I need to stay focused (thus minded)
  4. Mark (acknowledge) those who serve… leave the participants to God.

Philippians 3:13-17

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

A Good Day to Look Backward and See Forward

By far one of my favorite verses is 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.

Long before Gene Hardway and Violet Spencer , became Gene and Violet Hardway, God knew me. That alone blows my mind. But greater than that is the fact that He knew “me.” The bad, the good and the ugly. And actually Christ says there is none good but God (Luke 18:19); so that just leaves the bad and the ugly. And yet He still chose to save me, use and free me in this wicked world. Amazing.

You too can stand amazed, because He has an amazing message for us in those 31 words. One for each day of any month. There is not a day that goes by that God doesn’t haven a plan. We may choose to ignore it, or perhaps you’re not even in the place to discover it because you’ve never accepted Him as Savior and Lord. But regardless, He has plan.

In a few weeks I’ll turn the double nickel. Where did 55 years go? Much of it wasted, but much of it was in preparatory times for days like these. Even the bad and ugly days have created me to be who I am. The hurts of the past help me love the hurting. The mistakes of the past helped me forgive the mistaken. The brokenness of the past… well you get the picture. Everything has purpose. I won’t say it was all of God, because there were times I was doing anything but listening to God, but He used it. My mistakes didn’t catch God off guard. He did not say, “Oh my stars! She’s beyond anything I can do.” No, He knew me, He loved me anyway and He uses me any way.

He Knew Me

Somewhere in the portals of time, I was. I don’t have a clue as to what form I was, body or spirit. But I was. I was who God created me to me. The drawing I doodled last night that began this thought was a caricature of me as a child. Weird child that I was, speaking into hair brushes, pretending I had an audience of ten. I really didn’t have too big of dreams about it then. But God did. I wasn’t singing, like other little girls. I was speaking. I had important things to say that I was sure the whole world needed to hear. That experience had all but left my mind until a speaking engagement a few years ago when it flooded back into my soul and God said… this is what I created you to do. That’s amazing!

He Loves Me

Long after the hair brush in the mirror days, I had a lot of ugly times. I didn’t know God until I was 34 years old. So that left a lot of years of just me. And I messed up a lot of those years. From 34 to 55, I’ve walked with Christ, but many of those days I’ve walked ahead and had to retrace my steps back to Him and ask once again for Him to take the lead. Life is tricky. But even with all the mistakes, getting off track, feeling frustrated and failure upon failure… He loves me.

He Uses Me

That’s the most amazing thing of all! That I’m on staff for God. Have you ever thought of it like that? That’ll blow your mind away! We all like position in life and recognition, but we take the greatest position in life for granted. That we work for God. That we have a position, a job and goal in life that He instilled in us as a children, and many people just throw it away like it was yesterday’s newspaper. Perhaps you’ve not even discovered yours. Today would be a good day to look backward and see forward

 

Pancake Christianty

No automatic alt text available.Pancake Christianity. That was the title that came to my mind this morning as I read Galatians 5. My first thought was… that’s just goofy. My second thought was, “No, that’s just gospel.” Apostle Paul, for whom I read a lot, was speaking to a group of God’s children as to why they weren’t what they should be. Why had their service to the Lord been squelched? And I ask myself that question just about every day. And today I received an answer to one such piece of that puzzle.

Paul mentions three characters who play a role in the dilemma of the church of Galatia. The Judgers, the Judged and the Judge.

The Judgers

In verse 7 Paul asks the question “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” You can almost feel the frustration in Paul’s question. “You were doing great! Exciting church services, praising God, seeing souls saved, who stopped the glory spout!?” That who certainly implies that somebody had stopped the spout where the glory came out. Somebody had squelched the Spirit of God in the lives of the Galatians. But who? Paul made mention of it in the preceding verses when he spoke of the bondage of religion.

Why is it, that religion, is such a harsh word in my mouth? Because in the 21 years of my salvation, it’s what’s made my stomach turn. I came out of religion. The dead works of sitting in a pew and putting in time and calling it faith. When I came out of it, it was because there was a zeal, an excitement in salvation that created an uncomfortable buzz in the air of religion. Religion hates electricity. It would rather sit with the lights out than let someone see emotion and vulnerability to the Spirit of God, and so they judge all who create the buzz. It can be spoken, or unspoken; but when it hits the air of a church, that you have to be concerned about what someone thinks of your reaction to the Holy Spirit, the service is flatter than a pancake.

The Judged

Paul tells the judged that “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:8-9) To country quote it. “God ain’t in that, and it’s gonna make the whole church sick.” It won’t take long for that feeling of judgment to spread and the Spirit no longer feels welcome to move freely among the people of God, it’s bound up by the law that says all of God’s people must look and act like this. Whatever the “this” is in any particular body of believers that is a matter of human opinion.

The end result for the “judged” is that they no longer feel the freedom to obey the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is what should be leading the church. Paul said in verse 4  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Their service would fall flat. You can’t follow the laws of religion and teach the gift of grace.

The Judge

The final authority on this matter is not me, or anyone else in the church. God is the only One that has the right to cast judgement on the matter of the church.

Galatians 5:10

I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

Paul had confidence that the church would take heed to his words, because Paul had come out of religion. He knew every in and out of every word spoken by Jewish leadership. But the Lord had saved Paul, and brought him out of that dead religion and because of that he could preach that salvation was by faith, not of works. And there was but one Judge. And it wasn’t man. The man that stood in judgment of God’s people would bear God’s own judgment one day. But for now, our job as children of God is to obey the Spirit’s leading and beware of the rising of the flesh.

The Jury

There is no jury when it comes to the Word of God. God’s Word belongs to Him and the Holy Spirit will make known the wisdom of God to anyone who desires it. I had to pray my way through this blog today because it is a matter heavy on my heart; and under those circumstances the flesh can rise in a heartbeat. Paul warned in verse 13 of Galatians 5 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

The feeling of being judged is one of the worst feelings in the world. It makes it very easy to retaliate with your own form of judgement against those for whom you felt judged by and oftentimes that is other fellow servants in Christ. It’s not our job to be the jury of those who judge either. It’s our job to love and serve one another. That’s what the world needs to see. Not more contention and strife in the church. Amen.

I Have an Issue with the Church

I’ve had it for quite some time. I just didn’t know how to verbalize it. But this morning I got somewhat of a grasp on my issue. It’s the same issue I have with my life right now. It’s what happens between the coming out and going in. The a.m. to the p.m. of my day. What am I doing for the cause of Christ? The early church didn’t have that problem, they were too busy trying to keep their heads off the chopping block. They knew what their purpose in life was, TELL THE WORLD ABOUT JESUS. But somehow between the cross and the crazy we call life in modern times we lost the purpose as a church. The church has now become this resting place for children of God. And while Christ did indeed stress the importance of rest, the rest was meant to prepare for the next leg of the journey.

When Apostle Paul got saved he made some people very uncomfortable. After all, he had been the one calling for the Christians to be killed, and now he professed to be one of them. It was no wonder they had an issue with Paul. But that didn’t stop Paul from pursuing the purpose that he now understood to be his, TELL PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS.

Chapter 9 begins Paul’s life post conversion.

He Joined the Church

26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Paul knew that in order to grow in the grace of Christ and understand his new found faith, he needed to be with God’s people. So he joined the local church. That is step one following salvation. Find a local body of believers for whom you can serve with. That means, they too need to be serving, not just sitting.

He Joined the Movement

28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Paul didn’t know all there was to know about Christianity, but through the Holy Spirit he was able to speak boldly in the name of Christ and face people who desired him dead because of it. Paul was more than a church member, he was a part of the movement.

I personally don’t see much movement in the church today. I see people going in and out of the buildings but outside of the church, the movement stops. Few are telling others about Christ and the discipling of young saints has all but stopped. If there are any young saints. When Paul began his journey, Barnabas took him under his wing and introduced him to the church and defended him. Barnabas helped to fuel the fire that he had witnessed burning inside of Paul. That is a missing piece in the church, there’s no fuel in the tank. How are we ever going to see a movement if people are not getting fired up?!

He Joined the Multitude

31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Because of the work of the church, the church had rest. That seems kind of oxymoron-ish doesn’t it. To work for rest? We wonder why this world is so crazy and full of strife? It’s because the church (as a whole) has all but stopped working. Our work is to show people where to find rest, and that rest comes in Jesus Christ. Once the churches of Judaea, Galilee and Samaria heard the preaching of Paul and the others, they obviously didn’t just rest in the pew waiting for next Sunday, it says they began walking and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost were multiplied.

The churches are drying up across America. It seems that at every bend in the road there sits an empty church house with overgrown grass and broken windows and it breaks my heart. The church is no longer a saving station but rather a rest stop. The church has lost touch with its purpose.

So what’s the answer? Give up on the church? Heaven’s NO! The answer is to follow Paul’s example. If you’re not part of a body of believers, you need to be. Once you’re there you need to serve, not sit. And never lose sight of the Mission… Muliply.

The Rules Haven’t Changed Since the Cross

1 Corinthians 12:20 – Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular

Members in Particular

For 21 years I’ve been a card carrying member of the body of Christ. And although the rules haven’t changed since Jesus was on the cross, there are days that I feel that there have been some man made addendums to the rule book. Rules such as “Thou must look like this, talk like this, participate like this.” And yet, I’m not so sure that all those “this’s” are particularly addressed in the bible as they are written in man’s book of church ideology.

When I say I’m a card carrying member, I really don’t have a card, because (at least at our church) there are no cards. But what I mean by that is I am proud to be a member of the body of Christ at Victory Baptist Church in Grantsville, WV. I am there because I agree with the doctrines and bylaws of the church. There’s not one that I disagree with. So that is not the rule book to which I refer to. I refer to the rule books on the inside of man’s head. Or women’s heads, as the case may be. Maybe members of my own church or of another. But all members of those whom I consider fellow Christians and fellow laborers in Christ. I gave two fellows, because not all fellows labor for Christ… some just sit. So in my own mind I put them in another category, because they scare me. They tell me they’re saved, but they give me no evidence. So I’ll not say they’re lying… but if not serving Christ got you kicked out of the club… they’d be gone. However, it does not.

I’m usually referring to a “fellow laborer” as those who stipulate what a servant of God should look and act like outside the parameters of the bible and outside their particular church. Because pew sitters usually don’t say anything for fear someone will call them out. But those who are active in churches often wear me out with regards to the rules of worship. Worship is very personal.  Which is why I believe that you should worship with people of a like mind, else there is contention and confusion and we all know who loves to stir that. But, can we not come together outside of the sanctuary of our own church and worship and agree that we serve Jesus without having to agree on what color our hair is, if the music is too bouncy, or whether or not pants are an appropriate attire for women of God.

I once spoke at a church (in a larger city) for which their biggest claim to fame in the community was, they were known as the “church on the hill, where women don’t wear pants.” Hellllloooooo. That’s not what a church should be known for. How about the “church that loves people.” So when I read “members in particular this morning, I thought perhaps we’ve taken Paul’s word too far.

“Members in particular” means that you have a particular job in the church not that you are someone in particular in the church. Now… back to those people sitting on the pew and those who serve and feel that they’ve got a right to complain because they do.

I’m relatively sure that there is no “member in particular” that Christ assigned the position of fashionista judge or worship police or even, pew warmer.

If Christ’s people spent more time doing their particular job, that Christ has called them to do, rather than policing the jobs of others, perhaps more people would feel the “freedom” to attend our churches.

The Rules really haven’t changed since the cross… Jesus said go. An invitation to our church would be an awesome place to start! Forget what anyone looks like or acts like, just go…

He’s So Easy to Love

No automatic alt text available.

I’m So Easy to Love

That was God’s word to my soul this morning. I make it hard. I allow the world to invade my mind with notions of Who God is and it’s never good. It’s always words like, judgmental, harsh, angry… words that drive me away from Him. Who do you think is whispering those words? That’s a no brainer, and yet I listen. Satan loves us to think that God doesn’t love us. So this morning as I talked to God, our conversation went something like this:

Lord, thank you for patience. My disobedient heart, selfish ways and walking in disbelief have surely broken Your heart.

To which He replied:

Not really Shari. I see your whole heart. Remember yesterday’s art? I know the fabric of your heart in every detail. It’s why I’m patient with you. I want you to come to me with your whole being, so I can bless you with Mine. Every time you hold back, I do too. It’s what a Holy God does. Like the Garden of Eden… had I continued to give Adam and Eve everything after the fall, they’d have stayed in that sinful, painful state. They’d never have drawn to me. And I would have had to turn my back on them. I loved them. I created them, and I created you. Tap into what I created in you. It’s a well down in your soul filled with my goodness. You’ve never fully given yourself. Do it, and see what happens. Your eyes could not contain what I have in store. I love the mornings we spend together, when you and I get to know each other better. Satan hates it.  He and I used to have those mornings too until he forsook me. That did break my heart. I created him… I loved him. But I wasn’t enough. That’s what breaks my heart. Not that you fail, although that hurts; but I know understand that battle. I was there. It’s not easy. What breaks my heart, is that I am not enough. The God of all creation, isn’t enough. I need you to understand. I am easy to love.

And that’s when it the conversation stopped. He knew I needed to grasp that He was easy to love. I needed to stop buying the worlds lies that God is angry with me, and tired of my continual failures. He understands human nature, for which I need to repent; but deep within us is not only a well of creativity for living, but a desire to know He who created us. If we’d tap into that we’d understand why He is easy to love.

God loves what He created. Just like He created it. Maybe you too needed to hear that this morning…

A Few Words to Help Me Focus

PROVERBS 16:3

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

The depth of the word of God blows my mind away sometimes. He desires so much for us to know and understand Him and yet it’s overwhelming when I even delve into one verse alone. What must it have been like to have been Adam and Eve who were created in the image of God and walked with God face to face? They did not have the internet to search out wisdom, nor did they need it. They walked with Wisdom. It causes me wonder how directionally challenged I am in life because I depend upon man made gimmicks and gadgets to study, when, if I just walked a little closer to God the well would be far deeper.

After multiple attempts and failures to define who “The Jesus Chick” is I determined to leave that to God. Wouldn’t that have been a novel idea from the beginning? So over the weekend when the word “focus” kept being implanted into my brain it was if God was taking my sweet little cheeks into His hands and drawing my eyes toward Him saying … “focus on Me, Shari… not the world. It has nothing for you. You’re not of the world.”

This weekend I began a new process of communication with God called “Two way journaling” and those conversations have been pretty intense. But always with the word “focus” coming into my mind.

It’s hard to focus when the world is calling. It takes an intentional mindset of shutting it out and the use of a soothing YouTube video of meditation music didn’t hurt. Two days of hearing that word… and today was the third. So I took the verse Proverbs 16:3 and dissected it using the Strong’s Concordance and a Matthew Henry Commentary for clarification of its meaning. Just a dozen words, but they lead me to focus on the journey of Shari. Insert your name instead of mine and see if they lead you to a journey of [___________].

com·mit /kəˈmit/

When I first looked at the word commit in the Strong’s concordance it was defined as “roll.” To which my first, second and third thoughts were, “that ain’t right, this concordance is defining the wrong word, how would commit = roll?” And of course, I was wrong. After following that word through in the Matthew Henry Commentary I discovered that commit meant “to roll our burdens”, the great concerns of our soul upon the Lord and depend upon Him rather than self.

My word “focus” made much more sense in that context. The works of life that I have desired to do have not been rolled upon the Lord, but rather carried upon my shoulders, taking my focus off of the Lord. It turns out when you’re walking bent over from being worn out… it’s hard to look up to Jesus.

Works/wərks/

Another great discovery I made was that the word “works” in the Strong’s concordance is translated to “art” in some of its contexts. My art is a gift I’ve struggled with understanding God’s purpose in since salvation. So to see it used in this manner brought joy and hope to my soul. Although I thought that I had committed my art “unto the Lord, I really committed it to the purpose of others. I refused to see the purpose God had in it for me as an income or career because art is subjective and a matter of preference. Self-appointed critics or a lack of appreciation of my time invested can suck the enjoyment out of a piece of work pretty quickly. So rather than listening to the Lord, I listened to self… which always gets me into trouble.

Thought /THôt/

That’s where the creativity begins, but certainly not where it ends. In my mind there is a contrivance, a fabrication that begins there but ends with the hands of creativity. Strong’s defined it as a “cunning work,” or a work with “purpose.” My hearts to desire is to have purpose in the Lord.

es·tab·lish /əˈstabliSH/

Not only is that the conclusion of the verse, but the end product to the creative works placed in the Lord’s hands. Defined as “to stand” as a pillar would stand. Those things that will stand and make an eternal difference. How can art do that? It will for certain burn up in the end times. But not if it is established in the heart of man and inspires others to seek Christ. That is my “FOCUS.”

The Beauty of Working God’s Plan

Everyday should be a reality check on the goodness of God. But the reality of it is, it’s not. From the beginning of many of my days I’ll start in a “woe is me” mode and finish in a little higher or lower position depending upon how the day progressed. I’m ungrateful at best and often times downright disrespectful to the Lord for all His goodness. But there’s something about getting into the posture of prayer, and by posture I mean the physical stance one assumes when praying, that makes a difference. God honors humility.

The past couple of days I’ve gotten serious with my prayer time with the Lord. I’m guilty of taking prayer in a “to go bag” because it’s easier to pray on the run or just say a quick prayer and then run. At an altar I’ll concern myself with how I look, or how long I take and then halfheartedly pray for fear of going past verse number two and overcooking someone’s roast beef. And thus… the condition of my heart.

I don’t know that God is so much concerned about the position for which I pray, as much as He is concerned about the heart in which I pray. But the position of the physical body aids in getting the heart into a spiritual position to receive the Word of God. So the past few days I’ve laid prostrate on the floor on a prayer blanket, and what began as an awkward stance, ended in a tear soaked blanket of confession, adoration and supplication and an amazing presence of God.

That statement isn’t inserted into this blog to show how very “spiritual” I am, but rather it’s there to share with you how God honors the humble in heart, and the lowliest of sinners like me. When I got up… ever so slowly… awkwardly… and somewhat painfully… some things had not changed. But what did change was the inward feeling of self-worth. I knew I was a King’s kid. I knew I had purpose.

When Moses penned Psalms 90:17 following their deliverance out of Egypt, he was still working the plan. They for certain hadn’t made it to the Promised Land. There were still some ugly times ahead. But through it all Moses prayed this:

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

What my time in prayer accomplished was allowing the ick of the world to be washed away. And allowed the beauty of God to be on me; to realize that God’s still working the plan… an oh so pretty plan through my hands.

Are you having a less than lovely day? Talk to Jesus about it. He loves you and desires your company.

I’m Leaning a Little Closer to Crazy

From the day the Holy Spirit entered my heart in 1996 it’s been quite the journey. I’ve been on mountains, I’ve been in the lowest of valleys. I’ve seen the shadow of death. I’ve explored the caverns of the recesses of my mind and discovered that there were terrible, vial things hidden in the dark. I’ve dragged them to the mouth of the cave and thrown them off a cliff.  On the outside of my mind, where other people dwell, I’ve been an encourager and a discourager with the same mouth. I’ve allowed people to matter more than He who created me, at which time I would retreat into the recesses of my mind again and as I went back in I’d pick up those vial things from the valley below the cliff. I’d use them for company. Sounds pretty dramatic doesn’t it.

Life is filled with drama.

And I can be a drama mama inwardly but outwardly I try to keep it sane. I don’t want the world to see the crazy that lives within me. But believe me it’s in there. So I went back to the revival to hear “crazy” preach again last night. And I say that in the most respectful way about Sebby Volpe. Sebby is crazy about Jesus. He’s just crazy enough to let the Spirit lead in such a manner that when you leave the service you not only knew that you were in the presence of God, but God had stirred up a little bit of crazy inside of you too.

Sebby spoke on the spirits last night. A subject matter of my heart for months and months and months. I’ve longed to see the Spirit moving in a great way. I’m also aware that not everything that moves is of the Spirit with a capital “S”. There are little spirits out there that can make a big mess of things if we’re not careful. So the scripture says to try the spirits and see if it’s of God. (Paraphrased from 1 John 4:1). And so I earnestly seek God’s wisdom to know what’s real and what desires to deceive me.

A.W. Tozer wrote this:

Now our Lord Jesus. That great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” said Paul (I Thess. 5:21) . “Beloved, believe not every spirit,” wrote John, “but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1) . “Beware of false prophets,” our Lord warned, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Then He added the word by which they may be tested, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

And so I lean on scripture to guide me through this haphazard world that seems to go from one extreme to the other on spirituality. The pendulum swings from deader than a hammer to wide open crazy! And I’m somewhere in the middle leaning toward the crazy side because I know Christ ain’t dead. So what struck me about Tozer’s writing was the closing of that paragraph. “Ye shall know them by their fruits” – Matthew 7:15.

So regardless of denomination I look at the fruit of the body of Christ (people I believe to be saved) And upon inspection of the fruit I find this:

SEEDLESS FRUIT

They’re a sweet bunch! But they’re not sowing any new seeds. They are content with our four and no more in their congregations and so they rest on the laurels of those who have gone before.

SOUR FRUIT

Oh they are the faithful! Every Sunday, rain or shine you’ll find them in their place, hanging on the branch. But don’t ask them to move to another limb because that’s where they’ve hung out since their granddaddy brought them to that church and for pete’s sake don’t ask them to blend in with another tree, even if they are apples.

SACRED FRUIT

They put themselves up on a pedestal of righteousness and only affiliate with those who will conform to their standards of ritualistic observances. Your peeling must be the right color and your flavor must be the same. Usually bland.

SEASONAL FRUIT

Also called C&E Christians. Christmas and Easter only. I truthfully don’t think they’re fruit at all.

SEDCUTIVE FRUIT

They draw people into them with gadgets and gimmicks. But often times it’s a flesh thing. There is no fruit inside. And because of that people are convinced there is no such thing as “fruit of the Spirit.”

And then there’s my favorite:

SPIRIT FILLED FRUIT

It’s could also be called the passion fruit. The passion fruit has a tough outer rind with a juicy, seed filled center. It’s a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins that benefit your health. Hello? Doesn’t that sound like what a true Spirit filed Christian should be? I’ve been hurt so many times (many by fellow believers), so I’ve developed a somewhat, though not impenetrable skin. Else I’d have already left the tree. I have however managed in 21 years of salvation to keep that ooey gooey center that makes me love people all the more and have a desire to see souls saved. I am filled with the seeds of the gospel but I’ve allowed life to squelch my desire to sow them. I’m considered to be a little too passionate for the Lord sometimes. How can that be? After everything He’s done for me.

Sebby Volpe makes people uncomfortable because he tills the soil when he comes to town!

The world is looking for a tree that bears a fruit that has passion and power. It’s called the cross of Jesus. But they’ll never see it unless we become passionate about our purpose. I’m leaning a little closer to crazy this morning!