The Reason is You!

That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. ~ Romans 15:32

Not happenstance that this verse was on my reading plan today, September 28, 2019. And not happenstance that tonight I’ll fly out to New Mexico to make some new friends and enjoy the fellowship of the Spirit. I certainly covet your prayers for our safety and for the will of God to be done. There is much traveling and not just by plane but by car as well. It will be an adventure and an opportunity to see a part of the country I’ve never seen. But more important than that, it will be an opportunity to share the love of Jesus in a place I’ve never been in hopes of making a difference by encouraging God’s children.

A thought that I’ve had for weeks tumbling through my mind like a constant tumble weed is the notion of how many we touch for the Kingdom of God. The teens and I discussed the number of how many people we think that Apostle Paul may have touched for the cause of Christ.

I used the illustration (showing my age) of the shampoo commercial of days gone by when it talked about “if they tell two friends, and they tell two friends and so on and so forth, how many people will hear about the product. Well. If we used that theory believing that Paul preached to 5,000 as a round figure totally guessing number. And each of those would have told two friends about Jesus, some more, some less, and there being 30 generations in 1,000 years, and there being 2,000 years between us and Paul. Now… how many people have been effected? The answer… I don’t know. Ask a math person… I am not that person. One of my kids immediately knew the equation. They were not shocked that I did not.

But all of this is said to make the point, that the reason we do what we do is to get the word out! Jesus saves. That first. But then once people are saved, the blessing doesn’t stop! We have the blessing that comes from the fellowship of God’s people. It’s a little taste of Heaven here on earth.

I’m excited to share in that this week in Magdalena, Reserve and Glenwood. My friend Gloria is excited to share in that too!

Please pray.

And for those we’ll be joining, get ready! Your West Virginia sisters in Christ are on the way!

Do You Know that you Know?

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. Romans 14:5b

What a word from Apostle Paul. The great persuader and crusader of Jesus Christ.

In this wishy-washy world it’s good to know that I know. A very wise statement from a friend of mine, Shirley Fitzwater, was one his daughter Teresa shared with me and I’ve yet to forget it. It may not be an original, but I’m giving him credit. Shirley said, “The only thing worse than the guy who doesn’t know, is the guy who doesn’t know he doesn’t know.”

Confused yet?

When you break that statement down, it speaks so much to society. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing something. We’re all learning as we walk this earth, and I have so much to learn! But those who don’t know that they don’t know, are unaware that they’re missing any knowledge. It breaks my heart. The sirens of Hell are screaming loudly and yet they ignore them.

As the wife of a fire fighter I’ve had to listen to the sirens (tones) drop on David’s multiple radios for years. Some days when emergency services are very active, I want to take the radio out into the driveway and smash it in to a million pieces. I think I might find great joy in that. Noises bother me. But over the 30 years he’s served, most days I tune it out. I try to let it be a reminder to pray for the people who are involved, but some days I just don’t. I’m not a super saint, I’m Shari. Fully a failure much of the time. But isn’t that illustration a world view. They’re tuning out the sirens of Hell and pretending that their day will never come. They don’t know that they don’t know.

As I said, I’m glad I know.

In the context of Paul’s scripture in Romans 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.  Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

I must confess that there is a part of my less than lean body that made me smile when Paul said that “another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” That’s the evil side of Shari. But the jest of this conversation speaks of judging the manner of life someone is living who does indeed know, although they’re not living as we believe they should. Another’s life is truly not ours to judge. And the world loves using that statement against Christians saying that we are judging them when we speak to their salvation. They don’t know that they don’t know. And arguing that point with them may or may not drive them into a deeper relationship with Christ. But Paul said that those who are weak in the faith, just accept them. Don’t argue.

It’s a fact that I am ever so grateful that God always impressed upon my heart that I didn’t know. I knew there was something missing in my life. So, when I received the salvation of Christ, I knew I didn’t know, and I set out to know it. But not every child of God is like that. It’s like children, they grow at different rates.

My grandson Luke is almost as tall as I am. Well over five feet. His cousin Noah, who is just a few month’s younger is so much shorter! But we do not look at his stature and say, “Noah, you need to do better.” No, we encourage him to work with the stature he has. Should we not do the same for the child of God?

I am grateful that I know and I am indeed persuaded in my own mind about the word of God, my standing with Christ and the doctrine for which I believe. But I believe what Paul is saying and reminding us of, is that we need to take care of our relationship with God, and not to judge the relationship that others may have and the way in which they worship God. If a person is saved, he or she is the property of God, and He is their Master. It’s not up to us to judge the Lord’s servants and argue.

But Paul said Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. We, as mature saints of God, need to know what we believe and why we believe it. That requires more than an occasional Sunday in church, and reading the word of God. I’m not judging, I’m just saying what the Lord has impressed upon my heart as the only path to fully being persuaded of who He is.

Do you know that you know? If so you need to glory in it! And you need to share that wealth with someone today.

This is How He Works

Good morning New Mexico!

My heart is full this morning as I prepare to head your way with a message that has me shouting the Glory of God in my office this morning. It’s a message that I’ve heard 1,000 times, (well maybe or maybe not so many) but it is a familiar word. But  the thing about the God we serve is, though it is familiar text, it is unique to the circumstances of the day, and to this trip.

The picture in this message is one that I drew in my bible this morning as I gloried in what God was speaking to my heart. That’s how He works in my life, through images and outlines of His word. He spoke to me about purpose and plans and I listened… And now it’s time for us to pray.

  • Pray for my journey (and specifically my guitar) Airports are not musician friendly. I need favor!
  • Pray for Gloria and I, that we’ll be obedient to everything the Spirit tells us to sing or say.
  • Pray for your congregation that the Lord will prepare the hearts before the service even starts.
  • Pray for your church that they’ll be blessed, and that our trip will be an opportunity to exhort our brothers and sisters in New Mexico in such a way that a fire is stirred in their hearts and ours and forever unite us as friends in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Can you tell I’m excited? I don’t take this opportunity lightly. I love you and cannot wait for our fellowship time.

This is how He works: through His people. That’s us!

🦆An Ugly Duckling Story🦢

GRAFTED AND GRATEFUL

From a child I’ve felt like an odd duck. I always had hopes that I would be the ugly duckling that grew into the beautiful swan, but never felt that I met that accomplishment either. Not asking for pity, just sharing my heart. Believe me when I tell you, I’ve came to terms… well kind of… with the fact that I’m peculiar.

It is my life verse you know… But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; ~ 1 Peter 2:9

But peculiarity won’t be a part of Heaven. Have you ever thought of that? That in that place, we will never again feel inferior. That alone should make you shout! But here I feel inferior because I know the inward Shari that the outward world does not. When they look upon me with a judging eye, it’s generally their critique of my abilities or looks. But I not only have that to contend with in this world of glitz and glam that attracts my eye, but I have the failures of the flesh as well. Oh glory… I needed a dose of Jesus this morning to remind that even though I am peculiar here, I am a part of the family of God.

Romans 11:17-18 ~ And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

While Israel awaits their coming Messiah, having missed His first appearance, we partake of the root and the fatness of the olive tree.

That thought brought such joy to my soul and tears to my eyes, to think that their rejection and God’s infinite mercy allowed me to be grafted into their family as the wild olive tree would be grafted to the Original. How can I boast about the fact that I am a child of God, and forget that for now Israel is astray?

How can I not be burdened for God’s heart as I would if my own children were astray from me?

My daughters are both loving young women. Both married. And I have accepted their spouses as my sons as well. It’s an easy fit for me, because God’s acceptance into His family was the ultimate example.

When this world tells me “I don’t fit.” I can honestly say “You’re right. I’m sorry I tried to!”

Because I do. I love worldly things. There. I said it. I love make-up and shoes and clothes and God has gifted me with such. But none of those things ever seem to heal the ugly duckling syndrome. I always feel less.

Nothing brings it on more than the blessing of a singing and speaking opportunity. I begin to tear myself down.

But this morning I was reminded that my ministry came with a high price. The life of Jesus Christ. And because of Him, and His willing sacrifice, I’m apart of the family of God and privileged to serve.

Every word of the Bible is a worthy read, but the Chapter 11 of Romans is a good read for the day if you need reminded of what a high price was paid for your soul.

I feel a little prettier today because I am one of the “All” God will conclude my blog today with Romans 11:22-26

6gtFor God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

On Second Thought

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

~ Proverbs 16:3

The thought began last night as I once again had “second thoughts.” It’s a character trait I’m familiar with. I will second guess every decision I ever made and inwardly struggle with whether or not it was God’s will or Shari’s way. And yet, I’ll leap off a cliff without regard (figuratively speaking only) and not question if other things in my life are right decisions, or merely a whim. Oooo something shiny moments where I think, life cannot go on without that. There is no rhyme nor reason to me. Can you identify? Your personality will no doubt be what determines that.

My friend Chief and I have much in common. We are both “mango” personalities, who married apples.  (it’s a personality study) We drive them crazy, but they love us and because of that their tolerance level has been high. Love binds even the craziest of people together. But the little bird tweeting her song in the image speaks more than most people would see just by looking at the image. She represents me, doing what I have been anointed and called to do. Anointed? Yes. I know it’s a churchy word and if you’re not churchy, you may question my sanity. But God doesn’t. He does amazing things; like give me song lyrics and tunes inside my mind that turn into huge blessings to myself, and to those I minister to. I can’t explain it, I only know it happens.

It’s why when second thoughts come into my mind, it bothers me. Because 24 hours before, I was as rock solid on my decisions as Niagara Falls. And felt that I had every bit as much force in the spiritual realm!

Satan works to de-commit us. He wants to shake my world and yours until our bones rattle within us.

The Commitment

Some days I think I need committed. But Proverbs is a book of wisdom written to give us word for everyday life. Especially those days when we second guess what we’re doing. It can be the smallest or the largest of decisions. But either way, it disturbs our peace of mind when uncertainty is added to the mix. Am I preaching to the choir? I’ll bet I am. Because if you’re a child of God, Satan cannot take you from the grasp of the Master but he can shake everything up around you. Especially things that we have committed to do for the Lord. A commitment to me is a contract. When I accepted the call of God, I said I’d do… whatever.

So, what do we do?

We have to remember

The Work

Mission work is real. Although to most of the world it looks like “Baptist Welfare.” That’s what someone once said to me that it was. They were saved. They just didn’t understand. It was said to kind of poke fun at some missionaries that were getting a good bit of support. Not rich, but they’re expenses were more than covered. It was not me by the way.

What a novel idea! …That we should meet the expenses of a missionary. Yesterday I journaled Philippians 4:17. I didn’t realize how it would play into my day, but it did. Satan had taken my mind places it should not have gone, but it did.

Philippians 4:17 says “Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may about to your account.”

Missionaries don’t desire a gift when they request support, they desire the ability to provide fruit for the Kingdom of God for themselves and for those who support them and can’t go and do it themselves. You don’t have to be a missionary to be a soul winner. But you can be a soul winner through a missionary.

It is a worthy work. How can I second guess that?

 The Thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:5 remind us that:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Our thoughts cannot be established if anything is exhalted above it. You know like, lording an idea over you, in the manner for which Satan does. He cannot be Lord of our lives, but he can pretend that he is by doing his best to control the thing he has access to; which is our mind.

I smiled with the thought of “taking thoughts captive.”

I imagined it, for myself, much like those little fella’s on the junior football league field when they’ve discovered they actually caught the ball! They tuck it into their arms and they run for all it’s worth, once they’re over the shock that they have it.

That’s kind of how I handle being given assignments by God! It’s like, oh my stars! I have this idea, I’ve got to run with it, which way do I go? Sometimes it works out, and sometimes Satan takes me down before I make it to the next yard line. But the goal is, don’t let him get the ball.

I need your prayers, and if possible I can always use your support. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s about understand that if God has called you and anointed you into a position for the Kingdom, you’re going to have oppositional times. Lots of them. But stay committed.

Believe me when I tell you… I am not receiving Baptist welfare, or any other kind. I’m just an American missionary bringing the gospel of Christ through word and song to my part of the world. I believe that America needs us on our soil.

My Hearts Desire

Romans 10:1

Brethren, my hearts desire is that Israel might be saved.

Continuing on in my journaling of Romans, I made it no further than the 1st verse of Romans 10 today. My heart broke for the Lord. It broke for Him, not because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, although that was certainly a part of it; but it broke for my own failures as His child that He so willingly included into His family. Shari Johnson, gentile, who He willingly allowed the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ for. So that I could be a part of His amazing family. And what a privilege!

And so now I turn back to Paul’s burden, that is my burden too, that Israel might be saved.

Dying and end times can be scary . The world would love it if we’d just ignore it. It’s way easier than facing the reality that eternity will come to all. The world would have you believe that you should never ever read the book of Revelation! It’s far too confusing. That’s a lie. It’s not confusing if you’re in a good bible believing preaching church that teaches the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Will you understand every jot and tittle? If you do, you’re a better bible scholar than I am. But you’ll understand what the Lord needs you to understand. And while it won’t take all the uncertainty of our end days away, it will give you peace. And help you to understand that God has a plan.

It’s a plan that will restore his precious Israel back to a right relationship with God. God’s desire. It will happen the same way it happens to a Gentile. Through belief on Jesus Christ. It will not however come as easy for those who believe after the church has been raptured (caught up) to be with Jesus. Which could be any day now. There’s going to be a terrible time of tribulation. Seven years, that those who believe on Jesus Christ now will be privileged not to have to go through. Something else I’m grateful and humbled for.

When those who have not read scripture, or been in church, hear this teaching it sounds insane. That’s what Satan want them to believe. But get in the book and read the prophecies of the Word of God and understand what has come to pass already, that was predicted thousands of years ago and suddenly it doesn’t sound so insane, but rather reality sits in, that there is a God. And He has a plan, and it’s playing out just like He said it would.

The end times will play out like no Hollywood production ever could. There will be a Hero that swoops in from the sky and saves Israel. There will be heroes on earth that will take a part of the Master’s plan and set things into motion that eventually put the Devil into the pits of Hell where he’ll stay. But not until he does some serious damage on earth by deception (which he already has). And during that time there will be trials and tribulations that have people crying for the rocks to fall on them.

Revelation 6:16

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

But it’s not something that anyone has to fear who knows Christ Jesus as Savior. Jew or Gentile. It’s why I want and desire, as does the Lord, for Israel to accept what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Have you accepted that? Do you know where you’d be if God decided today to call His church home? Would you be with Him and your saved family? Or would you be left here to face those 7 years of tribulation. That you likely will not survive. That’s not said to cast fear. That’s said to help you understand it’s not a fairy tale. It’s real.

Want to know for sure? Follow this link.

If you did, please, please, please let me know!

Why Hast Thou Made Me Thus?

I’m trying very hard to stay focused on the ministry God has set me at task to do. And it’s not hard work when you love it, it’s just hard staying focused when you don’t always feel valued. Please don’t feel sorry for me. I just thought perhaps this might help someone else today too. God even gave me a song to go with the feelings on my heart today, so I’m feeling blessed, in the midst of being stressed. You know what I mean? It’s those days when the world tells you title + money = value. And the lack thereof = slacker.

And then I read verses like Romans 9:20-21

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Did that hit you as hard as it hit me? Who am I to tell God Almighty that the one he created (me) isn’t of value and suggest that my purpose isn’t valued. It is God who honors or dishonors and I can tell you flat footed and bold faced that God honors those who serve. And by service, I’m not necessarily speaking of preachers, deacons and such, although they are included. But by service I mean anyone who:

  • Draws a breath and thanks Him for it.
  • Gives a glass of water in His name, cup of coffee, or a jar of scrumptious pears – Mr. and Mrs. Eisley.
  • Shares the most precious of gift with someone in need, time.
  • Tells a child that they’re amazing and loved.
  • Prays for someone because, or just because.
  • Tells someone “I understand.” Or “I don’t understand, but I’ll try.”

I realize the world doesn’t always understand why Christians do what they do, and some days there are Christians who don’t understand why we do what we do or see little value in it. But it’s God who gives the honor and it is He who has the power to mold us into something amazing. Sometimes He does that by making a little mud with the tears in our lives. It makes the clay more pliable. I hope this word encouraged you today. God sees. And He will honor you in His time.

Never Give Up

We do not cross paths in life by happenstance, of that I’m certain. While we may be there by circumstance, it’s not by happenstance (coincidence). I look back on my 57 years, with a primary focus on the past twenty-three, those are the years since salvation; my formative years of serving Christ in the capacity of me which lead into The Jesus Chick which came to be in about 2005ish. I’m not very good at dates, but I’m very good at events that made a difference.  There are things that happen and people who cross our paths that leave us saying “I’ll never be the same.”

When my brother was killed when I was ten years old, it forever changed my outlook of life on earth as to whether or not it was forever. It was not. At the time however I didn’t understand it all, I only understood that life was very, very sad and I couldn’t fix it. And I tried in my 10 year old state of mind to fix it by living in altered realities called my imagination. It’s what makes me weird and okay in a world that I still can’t fix. It’s not always healthy. It sometimes leads to not facing reality as one should. True story. Don’t judge me. 😊

I had another one of those bell ringing moments this morning as I read a social media post of a friend who just lost her father. One of the things that made a deep impression on her was the number of people who came up to her at her father’s service and said “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the fact that your dad never gave up on me.”

We need some more Gene Duerksen’s in the world.

But even in a world where there’s a shortage of Gene Duerksen’s, and we often miss out on taking advantage of those that we do meet who encourage us in the battle of life, I was reminded through the word of God this morning that there is one will forever spur us on! Gene Duerksen now see’s Him face to face…

Romans 8:37

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

How many times have I attempted to fly and sometimes crash landed and other times succeeded but with no witnesses for review? Many. But how many times have saints of God had faith in me even when I had none and cheered me on or gave me words of advice and encouragement.  Too many to count. I’m still privileged to that.

Lynn Stoneking’s testimony of her dad’s character of encouragement reminds me that I too have the opportunity to never give up. Not on my kids, grandkids, friends, family and me. Because God will never give up, so how can I? Did you need that word today? He doesn’t give up on you either! Share this post. Tell a friend or family member you believe in them. Shoot me a message and let me know I’ve encouraged you. We need to share and care for each other.

No Matter How the World Dresses up Sin – Dirt is dirt

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. ~ Romans 24-25

I’m pretty sure I have the best teen group in the nation. If you’re a teen leader, you probably think so too… or you should. They stretch me with my idealistic notions of what faith looks like, by granting me the new generations perspective. Just when I think I have it all figured out, we get into a deep (or sometimes shallow) theological discussion and I have one of those “You are not as smart as you thought you were, Shari,” moments. They are really quite frequent if I’m honest.

But last night’s ill prepared teen lesson was on “restoration” of the body of Christ. We skimmed the tops of scriptures about Peter, David, Saul and others whose failures sometimes lead to renpentance and sometimes not. But God’s love of broken people is evident from Genesis to Revelation.

The one glaring fact that comes from muddy pink boots, is that no matter how the world dresses up sin, dirt is still dirt. It aint pretty. The lesson that I learned from my diverse group of thinkers in the teen group last night was, children, (like God) are so quick to forgive the people they care about. And so quick to move on from mistakes understanding that they’re learning! I’m not so quick to move on. I sometimes put my pretty muddy pink boots in the corner as a reminder about that time I didn’t go around the mud, but walked right through it. I walk by my failed attempt at life and kick myself. I try buying a new pair of boots, but they’re not fun to wear, because i really want to wear the pink ones.

I know that’s a very odd parable. But what I hope you learn is what I did: Restoration also has to be done within. Especially if we’re not apt to share the fact that our boots are muddy to start with. Christians seldom want anyone else to know what they struggle with for fear of being seen as “less godly.” Well let me tell, I am for certain less godly. And I struggle with lots of “stuff.” I have a tender heart willing to forgive everyone but me. God is showing me through the youth who love me faults and all, that He does too.

I need to clean off those pink books and get back to walking.

How about you? Do you struggle with self degradation and unforgiveness. Maybe your boots are another color, but they’ll clean up just as nicely if you’ll spray them down with the water of the Word.