What Would Change?

Every Easter I run the risk of losing the whole purpose of the Holiday, which is to serve as a reminder of the price our salvation cost. It didn’t come cheap. It cost God His Son, and the Lord His life. Yet, I get so wrapped up in the labor of love for the church that I forget to take the time to celebrate the labor of Love from our Lord and Savior.

I had all but sluffed off blogging today as I had the past couple of days because I had too many other things vying for my time. Like laundry, chocolate chip cookies, vegetable soup and cornbread, you know… really important stuff. (insert rolled eyes here). Even as I write, there are reminders all around me of other things I’d planned on doing today. But what slowed me down was a video posted on Facebook this morning by Blake Shelton.

Now, for the record, I have a love, hate relationship with the show “The Voice” because of the immoral aptitude of the co-stars. Yes, I know it’s Hollywood, not the church, but I’m still entitled to my opinion. So imagine my surprise when I listen to a song that Blake wrote titled “The Savior’s Shadow.” (Link Below) According to the link, Blake dreamed the lyrics, awoke, and wrote them down and then composed the song during a time in his life when he was struggling. Struggles can bring amazing things out in us when we’re in a attitude to receive the Lord’s goodness.

If the “religious” crowd aren’t careful they’ll miss the lesson I received in Blake’s song.

When I read the title, my Jesus Chick feathers ruffled up and I was ready with a critical spirit to critique him like they critique the people auditioning for their show. But I smoothed my feathers out, and listened. With each word Blake sang, my heart melted. And not for Blake Shelton, but for the Lord’s work.

I was quickly reminded that I’m a sinner saved by grace, and the only reasons I have this platform and the opportunities to minister in song is because the Lord had pity on my soul and used me in spite of who I really am.

I had written a social media post a few weeks ago regarding another co-star of the Voice, Kelley Clarkson. I was so aggravated with her announcing her Christian faith one minute and then cussin’ like a sailor the next. I’m still flustered over it. To be given such a platform for Christ and then to damage the cause for which He gave His life in such a way, through the vulgarity that she knows to be wrong makes me sad. For Jesus and her. She totally trashed her witness.

And then there’s Blake. Who makes no profession of faith, openly drinks alcohol and boasts of his immorality, and then look what God did through him! Is Blake saved? Well, there’s “no proof in the pudding,” as they say, but it’s not for me to judge. He’s not much worse than his co-star and in truth, he’s not much worse than a great many professing Christians who see no need to be in church or relinquish their mouth and morality to the Holy Spirit. And if I look at the inward part of Shari… no worse than me. I may not openly sin, but I certainly have some parts of my life that aren’t pleasing to the Lord.

Matthew 7:3-4 says And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”

I heard a story the other day of an art critique who was invited to critique a selection of inspirational art. He stood before a painting of Mary and the Christ Child. Mary was holding the Baby in front of a countryside and mountainous scene, but to the critique’s eye, everything seemed off. The faces seemed distorted, as did the mountains and scenery behind them. It was almost as if everything was painted from a different viewpoint.

The art critique decided to change his position of view, and so he knelt before the painting in the busy gallery. There on his knees he discovered that the painting was meant to be viewed from the position of prayer.

Oh that we would critique the world around us from the position of prayer before getting into our “godly judgmental stances.”

If rather than tearing down the people we come across in the course of day, we got on our knees and viewed them from the position of prayer and through the eyes of God, what would change about them and what would change about us? What would change about me?

 ——————————————————————————————————

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

Longsuffering Has an Expiration Date

When I heard the title of this writing in a recent sermon of my Pastor, it was one of those times that the words rolled over and over again in my mind like the never ending credits to a movie. Only the words attested to the fact that there is an ending. Date unknown. Time unknown. Maybe before you get to the end of this sentence. But as certain as the air we breathe there is an expiration date on God’s longsuffering.

Peter 3:9-14

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

I’m a fanatic over expiration dates on food products, unlike my Mother. We’re pretty sure she’s going to poison us eventually. (I’m kidding, kind of)  She was raised in an era of “scarcity” when it came to the necessities of life, while I have been raised in an era of abundance. This is no doubt the foundation of our mindsets when it comes to expiration dates. I fear our reasoning on the expiration date of the Lord’s longsuffering is much the same. Most of us have not experienced a time of suffering that was long. We’ve gone through bouts of it, but nothing in any great length. But imagine the length of time the Lord has suffered with humanity and their unwillingness to concede to His Omnipotence.

Knowing that most people aren’t longsuffering enough to read more than 500 words, I’ll keep this as short as possible. The last verse (14) in my selected scripture gives me three points to ponder on the longsuffering of God and the short-attention span of His creation. Us.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Pre-salvation, I knew that I was sinner. A conscience was placed within me that let me know. The three things I longed for and could not attain are listed in this verse. And I believe that this is the case for most unsaved people, if not all.

I Longed for Peace

John 14:27 speaks the words of Christ Himself Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

My heart was troubled, and it was afraid because I knew that this world nor my life would be forever. That all changed the day I surrendered my life to Christ through the simplicity of a prayer. “Lord! Save me!”

There was no peace found outside of Him.

I Longed to Feel Worthy

The world puts a great deal of value on worth. Friends are chosen on the basis of “being worth our time.” What do they bring into the relationship? Careers are based on the value of our skills; what do we bring to the table? Family, though not chosen, are often rewarded and positioned on the basis of merit. Who is the most successful? This is not the case in every friend, career or family, but it is usually the case in our lives at some point, leaving us with the feeling of never being enough. Spotted, so to speak.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the Lord doesn’t want you to bring anything to the table? He just wants you! Just as you are, no matter how broken and messed up that is, or even how perfect you may think you are. Once your life is given to Him, you are viewed through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. He died for you, therefore you are worthy. You are amazing in the eyes of God! You are without spot.

I Longed to Feel it was Not my Fault

Every mistake I ever made in life also rolled as movie credits in my mind, letting me know what a failure I was. Even though I’m saved, it still happens today (the accuser does his job well).

Revelation 12:10 ~ And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He loves nothing more than to convince us that we are “Ne’er-do-wells” without hope. But God is the God of Hope! And in Him we are at peace, without spot and without blame. That is truth. And we love that we can believe it!

But another truth is God is coming back for His church. And His church is not comprised with membership roles of a specific denomination. It’s comprised of those who have confessed that they believe the virgin born Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to pay their sin debt; that He arose on the third day and took the keys to death, Hell and the grave that Satan had been yielding about in arrogance. Christ returned to Heaven, where He now is, making intercession with the Lord for every fault we have so that God does not see our failures, He sees His Son.

When He returns, will you be ready and waiting? If yes, that’s awesome!!!! I’ll see you there. But I ask myself and you this question… Who won’t be there because they don’t know this truth? Share this message with them. And let them know you want them ready.

—————————————————————————————————–

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

What’s in Your Tool Belt This Week?

Much like my counterparts of yesteryear there is a great deal of my Saturday preparing for my Sunday. Although mine is not to the degree of those of the past. I’ve heard my parents speak about spending Saturday’s ironing ‘Sunday go to meetin’ clothes, preparing things for Sunday’s dinner that could be prepared ahead. Getting done any normal daily work that could be done a day ahead so that Sunday was spent in genuine rest in the Lord Jesus.

Sunday’s are not so Holy for the church or the world either one.  I would be guilty of failure to “rest” on any given Sunday. Although I’m in church for morning and evening services, I’ve been known to spend those few hours in between at a store, or any other number of activities. But my Saturday’s are spent preparing Sunday School lessons, Powerpoint presentations for services and attempting to get my head wrapped around worship. The world takes its toll on me. Even though I’m home much of the week.

Saturday is not the only day I work on the building, but it does cause my mind to be more focused. Sad… but true.

What’s in your tool belt for the weekend services? That’s the question I ask myself.

HAMMERING IT DOWN

No self-respecting carpenter would be found without a hammer in his/her too belt. Jesus Himself learned the trade of carpenter from His earthly father and building the church is the foundation of Christianity. If Sunday services are no more than a lecture hall, we’ve missed the mark. God nailed down our purpose when He handed out the great commission for all believers. Not just preachers.

Matthew 28:19

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Contrary to popular belief He did not say sit on your hinder parts in the church on Sunday and accept no responsibility in the building process. Pastor’s need to pass out a few hammers on Sunday morning and remind the congregation as they leave the building to use the tools he’s given them for the week.

PRYING IT UP

I fully believe it would take a pry bar to get some believers up out of their seats, their hands out of their pockets or their voices out of the depths of their soul. Today we should be preparing out hearts for the services in the morning. Imagine if we took the time on Saturday to pry the sins and junk deep within us out and entered the building with a Spirit of freedom to worship. Wow!! What would that look and sound like?

King David knew that a clean heart was necessary for the freedom of fellowship with God when he wrote Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

It would be good if today we did a little cleaning before Sunday and pried some of the dirt out of the corners of our lives.

MEASURING OUR FAITH

My grandchildren love to find David’s tape measure and pull it out as far as the can only to release it and watch it zing back inside itself. I fear we often measure our faith in the same manner. A quick look at the distance we’ve traveled, the things we’ve done and then it’s back in the box with a pat on the back for a job well done. But what if we measured our faith by the word of God instead of by the world’s standards. Would our faith even make it out of the box?

In preparing for Sunday’s services I wonder what my faith looks like to God. Have I built anything substantial this week or is my work simply cosmetic. While the structure beneath is rotting inside.

SAWING THE WORD

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we look at the New Testaments example of building the church, I’m pretty sure we’re not even in the same blueprint. And before anyone says “times have changed.” We must admit, “The Lord hasn’t.”

His word is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. If Peter could see 3000 saved, so can we, but not without a change of attitude toward the tools of the trade.

Nowhere in the book does it say there was a dress code to serve Christ.

Deuteronomy 22:5 reads:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

This scripture was written at a time when both men and women wore basically the same form of apparel. Although no doubt there was a difference between the two. Just as my jeans and my husbands are completely different. My pockets have bling! His pockets have a leather patch. I wear lace, he wears plaid. But people will read into the word things that just are not there. They do the same thing with worship, evangelism and ministering the gospel. Rather than focusing on building the house… they worry about the drapes.

There are rules. They still apply. But many of the rules for which we govern our Sunday’s with are not found in the word.

When you build a house, you start with the foundation. When you build a church you do the same. Every single word of God.

Isaiah 28:9-10 reads

Who shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

God laid out the instructions for building His church. We need to stick to the plan.

 ——————————————————————————————————

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

Even the Easter Bunny Knows

I have no qualms with the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus or any other fictitious character that has been created to give children happy childhood memories. It did not warp me, nor my children that we were told the Easter Bunny was watching in order to make us behave better, even if it were only for a few days. We gradually and gracefully grew into the wisdom that those characters weren’t real and there was no traumatization. My oldest grandbabies have figured it out too, but continue the charade for their younger siblings, even though any other time they’d love to squash their little dreams.  What baffles me is that the “logical” thinking world has yet to figure out what critters and new creatures in Christ have long since known.

Creation is by the Creator

Of all the things (and there are many) that point me to God as Creator, its critters. My chickens for example. I have plain ol’ ordinary chickens and then I have the “fluffies.” They’re actually called Silkies, and they’re the youngest of our brood. They recently just started laying eggs, and although there are no roosters in the vicinity it still doesn’t stop them from treating their eggs like there’s something other than breakfast inside. I have to fight her off to get the eggs. And she’s not happy about it.

I had been collecting several of their tiny eggs each day, but a few days went by and there were no eggs in the box. It had gotten a little colder and chickens tend to lay fewer eggs during those times, but I really would have thought that out of my four specialty chickens, somebody would have laid an egg. On the third day I went to move their water bin and discovered that everybody’s eggs from the previous three days were hidden behind it. I cracked up! That overprotective hen had pulled a good one on me.

How could that not be intelligent design? How on earth could an explosion create love?  I need to ask no other question for myself to believe in the Creator. Although there are the occasional critters who don’t have the instinct of parenting, (including humans) most understand their responsibility and the exact methods of taking care of their young. Birds know how to nest, and chickens know how to sit and all know how to protect.

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Regardless of whether or not someone professes that God is God, and Jesus is Lord, and the Holy Spirit dwells within the saved and convicts the lost, doesn’t change the fact that it’s truth. Creation attests to the Creator.

Long before I knew the truth as the truth, God was working in my heart and mind to understand Who He is and who I was. I recently wrote another song titled “Salvation’s Song” and one of the verses speaks of the how I knew I wasn’t saved, and how I knew when I was. Before I was saved… no peace. After I was saved…. PEACE. Only God can make an internal difference. We are created with sin coursing through us. That explains the world. But when God’s presence comes within through the Holy Spirit, Glory to God there is peace on earth. Not outside… but in.

Yes, even the Easter Bunny knows God. Do you?

There’s a link at the top of this page titled “the Road to Salvation.” If you don’t know or are unsure of your salvation, and that if you died today you don’t know if you’d be in Heaven or Hell. CLICK THE LINK. And let me know so I can pray for you.

__________________________________________________________

Comments and Contributions are always welcome

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complain… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

 

Spring 2018: And God laughed

Funny thing about the Lord. He is God.

This morning as I prepared to blog, the Lord was dealing with my heart over the issue of guilty pleasure. And before your mind goes too far into the nether regions, my guilty pleasure is Netflix. My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to watching most television shows. He’s a cop, fireman, cowboy kind of guy. I’m a lift my spirit and make me laugh kind of gal. So in the evening when he comes home after a long day at work I “try” to say nothing about his choice of TV, I simply retire to another room with my iPad in hand and watch something on Netflix that makes me laugh.

The problem with Netflix is it really appeals to my Attention Deficit Disorder nature. With no commercials and an endless supply of full seasons of shows, one show can run mindlessly into another until the evening is gone.

I’m Guilty

Last night was one of those nights, into this morning! I finally went to bed at 1:30 a.m. after the 5th episode of “Drop Dead Diva.” Please don’t judge, she cracks me up. Not the healthiest of shows to watch. I would claim humanity, but that doesn’t cut it with God. Anyway… this morning I got up with that on my mind. How I had mindlessly watched this show and was now complaining about being tired and needing to write.

Needless to say, God didn’t offer me a pity party.

I had another verse in mind for blogging this morning and then… just like that God reminded me, “I only think I’m in control.”

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

The image above was taken as I went to take the trash to the curb. The snow is still pouring down and it’s not apt to let up all day. All day the first day of spring.  Should it not be sunny on the first day of spring? And God laughs. He too likes a good chuckle.

When I went to copy my verse from the Bible Gateway site, Jeremiah 17 was the verses for the day. The verse reminded me that…

I’m just a Guest

Plants come and go and so does human life.  The tree gives no thought to the weather, it simply stands it’s ground and continues until God is done, or man cut’s it down. Isn’t that the way with human life?  It goes on, until it doesn’t. But unlike the tree humans are painfully aware of our surroundings. We expect all of our days to align to our plans but then it snows on the first day of spring and plans have to be changed. The tree stands in the cold with its buds poking through the wet snow and waits for the sun to shine again. The tree understands that come what may, God is in control. The tree understands it’s a guest on this earth. We usually believe there is all the time in the world. Even time to waste. But like the tree, we too are just guests on this earth waiting for God to take us home. My real home. The one without Netflix.

I’m Glad

I regret that I wasted much of my evening with Jane, the drop dead diva. But I will not lie to you and say that I probably won’t fall into a Netflix trap again. What I will say is, regardless of how I think I’m in control, I know I’m not.

The premise behind the Drop Dead Diva show is that a skinny model dies and through a comedy of errors returns to earth in the body of plus size attorney. It’s hysterical. And sometimes thought provoking. It also may be why it appeals to this plus size gal. But between my guilt for watching the show and the snow falling to ground outside, it makes me realize that God likes to laugh to.

And so the picture of the first day of spring 2018 will serve as reminder that it’s God who controls the weather, not the calendar nor man. And although man has control of behavior, it’s God who controls life.

And God laughed.

Four Reasons to Stay on the Wall

In the book of Nehemiah, a mighty religious leader of the day received word of the remnant of the Jewish people that are left in Jerusalem. Their wall of protection is destroyed, the gates have been burned and Nehemiah sits down, weeps, fasts, prays, and then then begins his conversation with God.

Before we take our stand atop our wall there is a few preparatory measures we need to take. First talk to God, make sure it’s your wall to stand on and fight. I cannot tell you of the times I have climbed to the top of a wall that was built on someone else’s ideas instead of God’s. Second, take accountability for the brokenness if it’s yours. And third remember, you are one of the Redeemed! That in a nutshell is Nehemiah Chapter One regarding the state of Israel and Nehemiah’s prayer to God. If it’s your wall, don’t come down.

God is the God of Action. Unless it’s for a time of prayer or preaching, nowhere in scripture do you find God’s people sitting still and being productive. If they’re sitting still (like King David) they’re apt to fall into sin. Busyness isn’t always a sign of productiveness, but it’s certainly a better sign than never being found doing anything.

I cannot summarize the story of Nehemiah and the wall into a few sentences. So much happened and the entire book is so worthy to read. But for bit of encouragement for the both of us I’ll use this scripture from the book to encourage you to stay on the wall.

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry: for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Israel had just heard the word of God afresh. They were mourning for the state of their nation. But Nehemiah gives them (and us) these words of encouragement.

We have a Reason to Celebrate

If God’s people can’t rejoice, who can? The wall was rebuilt in spite of the opposition they faced. And for those of us on this side of the New Testament, we are blessed with the Word of God that has stood the test of time and has proven itself as truth no matter how many times an angry world has tried to tear it down. We can eat the fat and drink the sweet of His glorious word and feel the Spirit in our soul as we do. The world may not know… but we do. That is reason to celebrate! Stay on the Wall and Celebrate what God completed at the empty tomb.

We have blessings to share

Nehemiah reminded them that their blessings were not their own to keep. Neither are ours. I looked around my home this morning at all the goodness of God and His graciousness to me who is so unworthy and I feel shame that I don’t share more than I do. I feel shame that I don’t take the time to thank God and stay in constant prayer that His mercy abounds in my family and friends. You too no doubt have blessings uncounted and gifts in your life that you could encourage someone with today. Stay on the wall and share God’s goodness that world may see what He’s done in your life, and that even the unsaved will glorify God for you.

We serve The Lord Most High

I loved when Nehemiah said “Don’t be sorry.” I believe he was telling the Israelites to move past regret. I am so apt to stay in an attitude of unworthiness because of my failures. I do it to the point of yet another failure; because God has proven I am worthy by His death on the cross. Was not that enough? We serve a risen Savior who took every sin; past, present and future upon His shoulders at the cross so that we could live in victory! We serve the Lord Most High, there is no reason to be low. Stay on the wall and serve in the victory you’re afforded and don’t cower to the demons of Hell that tell you you’re not worthy. You are worthy by His blood.

We have His Strength to Go On

That strength is found in His joy and His joy is found in our service. There is engrained in the child of God a desire to serve. When that desire is fulfilled it brings with it a joy unspeakable and that joy floods the body and soul with strength to go on. Yes, we’ll have some days of doubt, we’re human. But we can look back on the joys of serving God and the fruits of our labor, just like Nehemiah and children of Israel must have looked back on the rebuilt wall. Look what you’ve done in the strength of the Lord! Can He not do more? And will you not continue to stand and fight for those who have yet to make it to where you are in Christ?

I have family and friends who have never experienced life atop the wall. They’ve never known the victory of Spirit filled leaving and confidence in Christ. I’m not done until God says I’m done. Stay on the wall and continue in His strength that others may experience it too.

The wall of Jerusalem was nothing more than bricks and mortar. The Rock for which we stand is indestructible. Stand Strong in His Might!

No Big Words or Big Britches, Just the Basics

Colossians 4:3-5

Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Apostle Paul’s words to the Church of Colosse came from behind prison bars to a church facing persecution in a manner most of us cannot perceive. America isn’t the godliest of nations right now, but for certain we’re not facing what other countries are by way of the persecuted church. His words, God’s word, pierced my soul this morning. How many times has God opened a door for me, and I have failed to open my mouth for Him. Most of the time it’s for fear of unpreparedness for what to say, how to answer; knowing full well that Christ has never failed through the Holy Spirit to give me what I needed.

An Open door

Friday night’s for me are most usually spent playing music with friends. It’s not a Christian venue, it’s a barn in the middle of nowhere called Munday Road. Currently it’s a building in town because the barn is too cold. But back to the story of Friday night. I prepared my music for the evening, a few bluegrass standards and a few gospel songs to finish the set. I prepared my heart  that I was going to get a word in for Jesus before the night was done. I finished my set with “Somebody Touched Me,” and uttered something at the end about that happening in 1996 and hoping everyone there had been touched in that way. I don’t feel that that is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he prayed that God would “Open the door of utterance.”

I was lame at best.

What is it that causes us, me, to cower down in sharing the gospel to a lost and dying world?

Lord, let me walk bravely through an open door, knowing that You are waiting on the other side.

An Open mouth

An open mouth is not my problem, I can talk with the best of them. But speaking the mystery of Christ can be a mystery to me, who fancies myself (not a bible scholar) but one who understands the basics of the word. I also understand the basics of the Holy Spirit. He speaks to my soul, and my mouth should bear witness of what I heard. And in the confinement of the church walls I can do it! Outside is another issue.

The worst I’ve ever experienced in sharing the gospel is not the hatred of a lost world, it’s the know it all saint that loves to dispute scripture rather than win souls. It casts a shadow of doubt up on myself and squelches the Holy Spirit moving in me.

As I was getting ready to leave Friday night I invited a couple of the musicians to church on Sunday, the response cut. She questioned me about the location of the church and then quipped, “I don’t like snooty people.” They’d been looking for a church and just hadn’t found the right one. I understand that… I don’t have much for snooty people either.

Lord… let my open mouth be tempered with grace.

An Open mind

I believe that walking in wisdom is lacking in church today. It requires a mind that’s open to the leading of the Holy Spirit without regard for location or circumstance. Paul was jailed for sharing the gospel, yet from the jail he continued to serve. He is a notable character quite often for the fact that he was a religious somebody before he became a part of Christ’s body. He was schooled in the finest institutions of the day. Yet the wisdom that Paul now depended on is the very same wisdom that we have access to. That thought made my brain hurt this morning. Perhaps it’s the 3:30 a.m. wake up call I received from the Lord today, but I don’t think so. Paul had to learn anew the faith of Christ. All the wisdom of the world and religion wouldn’t prepare him for what he was going to face. Only Christ could do that.

Many religious institutions of our day are sending out men and women who are relying upon their own wisdom, not the leading of the Holy Spirit. I’ve sat in more services than I care to remember when the “big words and big britches” lost their purpose of sharing the gospel to the commoner who sat in the audience needing the “basics” of the Word of God.

Lord… keep my mind open to Your Spirit today that I will share Your words, not mine.

Happy Lord’s Day!!!!

 

 

How Crazy is it?

The closer I get to Easter, the more my mind reflects on the cross. And the more I reflect on what God did that day the more I have to say that it’s got to be a crazy love that would be willing to do what Jesus did that day. When I look at the world we live in I think to myself “Why on earth would you have saved this wicked and rebellious generation?” For which I am one. I know my heart and how I can turn on a dime toward something sinful and ignore the Holy Spirit within in me that gives me more than enough support not to fall into it. And yet I do. And yet He still loves me. That’s crazy! But what’s crazier than His love is those who fail to accept it.

The Love of Jesus is Without Condemnation

While sin is not ever acceptable it is no less inevitable. 1 John 1:8 says If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” There is a difference between condemnation and conviction. Jesus will not condemn the child of God for the sins they’ve committed. That crazy day on the cross He died to cover every sin ever committed by His children. Is not that a worthy payment? Of course it is. Does that mean we can sin and not understand there should have been a penalty and yet may still be repercussions? Of course not.

If a store is robbed there is an earthly expectation of the penalty that freedom should be lost. If I hurt a friend without regard for them or our friendship I may lose that friend. But when I sin, regardless of the depth of the sin the penalty is paid in the eyes of God, and the relationship is restored the very second I turn to Him. That’s crazy love, but it’s how He works.

Sin is without condemnation but it is not without conviction. The Holy Spirit reveals to the child of God when sin is in the house, we know better. We may still fail but He has given us the power within us not to. If we fall into sin it is our choice.

The Love of Jesus Cannot be without Declaration

Matthew 10:33

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Professing Christ is more than just saying that you know Him. Satan knows Him. The demons of Hell know Him, but they are not children of God. I knew Him in my head from the time I was a child until 1996. But not until I declared Him as Lord of my life and trusted in Him to save me did I know Him in my heart. It was then that I truly felt the Holy Spirit guiding me and putting that conviction upon me when I wasn’t going in the right direction. It was also when I began to declare my love for Him. Even when the world thought I was crazy.

My friend Doyle Ballengee said it best when he said “Go ahead and call me a fanatic, when you or someone you love gets a bad doctor’s report, you’ll be looking for a fanatic.”

That’s how I feel about my declaration of love for Jesus. Go ahead and say I’m crazy when all I want to do is talk about my Lord and all that He’s done in my life. Because when your life gets turned upside down but this old world, someone as crazy as me can help you set it up aright by showing you how Jesus did that for me.

I know it sounds crazy to the world when I say that Jesus died for me. Because the world wouldn’t give you the time of day if it cost them anything of any magnitude. But Jesus will give you more than you could ever imagine in return for your declaration, acknowledgement of Who He is. God.

The Love of Jesus is Not without Expectation

I can hear the naysayers now, “Oh, there it is. I knew you had to do something.” No, you can sit on your toosh and do absolutely nothing and still make it to Heaven. Jesus paid the price once and for all at the cross. All who accept, believe and declare Him as Lord, that He died on the cross, rose again the third day, and ascended to Heaven to make intercession for you will be saved. But if you want to be all you can be for Christ, and have the reward of His glory, on earth and in Heaven, there is an expectation.

I sat at a table with three friends this past Wednesday, each with their own story of coming to the knowledge of Christ in their lives; four very different people with one common bond…Christ.

  • One came to Christ because she grew tired of being with people, and yet alone.
  • One came to Christ because the religion she had grown up with let her down when she needed it most.
  • One came to Christ when He realized the law wouldn’t save anyone.
  • And this one, me, came to Christ when I realized there was no peace in this world without the Prince of Peace. And “religion” wasn’t the same as a “relationship.”

Each one of us now serve Christ and desire to serve Him greater because He did that crazy thing on the cross.

How crazy was it? He was beat until His body was unrecognizable and said to have looked like hamburger, He was spit upon, and ridiculed, at the height of His pain had a crown of thorns rammed on His head and was mocked as King of the Jews. His earthly mother sat at His feet with her friends and wept for the Son God had allowed her to give birth to. Some of His final words were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 in part) That’s crazy because it’s true.

He did that for you. Have you experienced His love? Declare it and share it! He is worthy.

A Lesson in Survival From Ollie the Owl

On a recent cold winter evening my husband David was delivered a wounded screech owl from our area of West Virginia. It had been hit by a car, and a 6.5 oz. owl verses a 4000 pound car survival story certainly speaks of the tenacity of this little creature. But when David brought it to the house I really thought he brought it home to bury. It was not in a good way. The first day it sat lifeless with an occasional opening of one eye. I guess to see if the humans taking care of it were still there. The second day he was more alert and obviously in pain, but by the third day it was apparent it was going to survive! But the quality of survival was still iffy. Probably the only one more shocked than we were about the survival was the owl. I named it Ollie, it just seemed like a good fit. We attempted a release but Ollie could only glide to the ground and then couldn’t take flight from there. We then called the WV Raptor Center to ask what we should do, because keeping an owl is a federal offence and wild creatures shouldn’t be caged anyway. That’s a no brainer. The center was very helpful and got in touch with raptor transporter who came in a few days to retrieve Ollie for assessment and owl therapy. Who knew! that owls could have therapy?

Our last few days with Ollie at our house were spent letting it perch on our hand, scratching its head and rubbing our fingers down its feathers. It made no attempt to bite us, it was gentle as a pet, but the better it felt, the less it encouraged us to touch it. I fed it raw hamburger (not the best diet) but I couldn’t do the frozen mice thing. According to the Raptor center raw liver would have been better. But Ollie loved the hamburger that I would spoon feed it. Needless to say, I grew quite fond of this little creature of God’s.

Historical Job’s Temple in Route 5, Gilmer County, WV

Karen, the raptor transporter assessed Ollie for a few days and then called to say it seemed apparent that it could fly and she invited us to take part in the release. The release had to be in the same area for which it was hit by the car, and that happened to be at a historical site in our neighboring county of Gilmer called “Job’s Temple.” A  Methodist Church building built between 1860 and 1866 and is constructed of poplar logs. It’s a beautiful location.  And too ironic not use for a correlation between Ollie’s rescue and faith.

Because of the condition of Ollie’s eyes it was apparent that it had a concussion. I feared that it couldn’t see at all. When our hand would pass by its eyes there was no reaction.

I Once was Blind but now I see…

A few days following his collision with the car.

I was in that same state of condition prior to my salvation in 1996. The walking dead. I was a part of the problem with religion. I professed but didn’t possess the Spirit of God. And that sad part is, I wasn’t even aware; I just knew something was missing. That missing piece was the Spirit of God! It caused me to soar in life… wait… I’m getting a head of Ollie’s story. Ollie didn’t know or care who David and I were, only that we were caring for it. Feeding it, nursing it back to health. Oh how very grateful I am for the church people that took me under their wings and discipled me when I finally was rescued through salvation. Please don’t ever underestimate the importance of helping a new convert find their way through Christian faith. Just like Ollie, if people hadn’t protected and spoon fed me for a while on the ways of Christianity I would have been devoured by the beast of Satan. I wouldn’t have been lost… but I could have very easily been discouraged from flying.

Your Grace Still Amazes me!

Salvation is amazing! But much like Ollie I fear the captivity. If we’d have gone against the law and kept Ollie caged, it would have continued to heal and had the ability to fly but its flight would have been constrained to the area for which it was kept. Sad. So many Christians are constrained to the walls of the church when it comes to experiencing the full power of God’s amazing grace!

Everyone is at risk if they don’t take risks.

Ollie trusted David and I for a few days as it was healing. I was under the direction of several people in our church for a time, until they were certain I could take flight on my own. It was then that I was encouraged to branch out into the ministry and take my spot on the branch. I began devouring the word of God until I felt I understood it enough to share it and then I began to teach. I began on the very elementary level, junior high and high school classes for which I needed. Slowly I progressed into the adult ministry. I came up through the ranks of every age class in our church. And with each one I learned more and more.

Ollie was a mature adult bird. It should have known better than to fly in front of a car. I was brought up in a Christian home, I should have known better than to be lost. But I did not. It doesn’t matter our age, it matters how we react to Rescuer. And it matters if you’re in the right place of rescuing.

I won’t say that anyone else couldn’t have done what we did for Ollie. But they couldn’t have possibly cared more. And that’s how I felt when I found my church family. I’d never been cared for in such a way. If you’re not in that church… find it. Find the one that will encourage and strengthen your soul until you fly!!!!

I’ll Fly Away

Ollie’s release was bitter sweet. It was the right thing to do, but I had so enjoyed the company of God’s precious critter.

I met Karen at Job’s temple and we trekked up the hill behind the church. She allowed Ollie to familiarize with the area again. It posed on her hand like it was waiting for us to get one final picture, and then within a few minutes, Ollie took flight! Oh my stars what a wonderful sight! I rejoiced to have been a part of the process.

If you’re a child of God, you too should rejoice in being a part of the process of seeing another child of God take flight.

Just like Ollie and the car, the world can hit us when we’re off guard or on guard. We need to encourage one another to stay strong in the faith. We all have times when we feel faith waning and that we’re not sure if the journey is going to end well. If you’re a child of God, it ends so much better than “well!” But the journey also can be amazing. Study and learn the word of God, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit, and when it’s time to take flight, soar like you’ve never flown before. God’s got a plan for you. Nothing just happens.

God sent Ollie to David and I because He knew the end of the story. He knew that He would be glorified. Will He not do the same for His children.

Luke 12:4-9

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

Don’t Miss Your Assignment

The story of Samuel begins as the answered prayer of his mother, Hannah, who prayed for Samuel and then gave him to the Lord to use. A thought unimaginable to me as a mother, who labored 8 hours for one and 4 hours for the other, and wanted my girls as much as Hannah wanted Samuel. I can’t imagine at just a few years old, taking that child to the temple and handing him over to a Priest to raise. Hannah’s name actually meant grace. A gift God had no doubt blessed her with in order to do what she did.

The characters in the story of Hannah would have also caused a mother of lesser faith to second guess her decision. Eli the priest had done a terrible job of raising his own sons, they were heathens, making a mockery of their role at temple and God eventually tires of it and kills them. And now Samuel is growing up under the guidance of Eli. I think I might have hung out at the temple a lot! Looking to see if my son was cared for. But Hannah didn’t. She trusts God and eventually had three more sons. Who no doubt took up much of her time.

Samuel grew up just fine, as we know from the scriptures, but what if the story went another direction. What if the story of Billy Graham had gone another direction and he hadn’t have accepted God’s call on his life, how many millions would have gone to Hell? How do we know that we’re not the next great soul winner in God’s plan? What if we only win one soul, but that soul wins millions, and what if we neglect so great a calling because we didn’t take the time to hear it?

A Study from Samuel 3:1-18

1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.    

Right out of the gate in the life of Samuel we learn that children are not excluded from the call and service of Christ. We also learn that there is no “open vision.” Meaning that God was no longer communicating with the way He once did. Probably because of the behaviors of Eli’s sons, which likely affected the rest of the nation, who had never needed any help falling into sin in times past.

And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.

 

Samuel thought that he was hearing Eli. He was young and had never experienced the Lord working in his life before. I was 34 before I ever experienced the Lord working in my life. That brings us to the question, how are you to know that God is talking to you?

KNOWING THE VOICE OF GOD

And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.

We understand through the word of God how we hear from Jesus: when the scripture says in John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” Over time we begin to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the world that constantly pulls us in different directions. But not without a relationship that is constantly growing in Christ. Thinking that Sunday morning Christianity is enough… isn’t. A loving relationship isn’t open for conversations 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is for certain you won’t hear if you don’t spend time with Jesus and listen.

Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

This time Samuel responded.

Hearing and understanding that it is God requires more. It requires:

KNOWING THE CHARACTER OF GOD

11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

God tells Samuel that He’s going to bring Judgement on Eli and his sons. What does that tell you about the character of God and has He changed? Of course not! Malachi 3:6a tells us For I am the Lord, I change not;”

So in knowing and understanding the character of God we can for certain weigh what we’re hearing against what we know to be the character of God. Would God personally do what you believe you heard? Anyone who says that God told them to do something immoral or unjust didn’t get that word from God.

Another all telling sign “can” be that the word you received makes you uncomfortable. Samuel didn’t want to have tell Eli that God was going to bring judgement upon them. When God told me that I needed to speak, that thought was way outside my comfort zone, but it wasn’t way outside my thoughts. I’d always desired it, but the world had convinced me that I could not. Preaching and teaching the word of God isn’t a popular thing to do in this day and time.

KNOWING THE DIRECTION OF GOD

16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. 17 And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. 18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good. 19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.

A most amazing statement when we read “None of his words fall to the ground.” Everything that Samuel ever said, came to pass. Would to God, that I had such a relationship with the Lord, that everything I said came to be. I’m pretty sure that every single time I said “God said.” He didn’t. Because if He had said it, it would have happened and it did not.

I need to listen closer, draw closer and never fail to hear an assignment from God.