All posts by talk2shari

That’s a Good Funeral

Proverbs 17:27

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

One might think (and often correctly) that me and the phrase “sparing words” would never be in the same sentence. It is however a family trait.  While I have no problem speaking what’s on my mind, there are times (sometimes days upon days) that I’d rather say nothing to anyone. The ringing of a telephone causes my stomach to go nauseous and even messages on social media overwhelm me. I like silence. Because I know that in those times is when I am most likely to hear God speak. And then there are other times, if I’m honest, that I am drawn to the noise of the earth around me because I know in the silence I’ll hear God speak, and that scares me too. It’s crazy, I know! But it’s me being real.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a sweet cousin who’s epitaph verse was Proverbs 17:27. He was a very well educated man with much to say, but seldom said it. His daughter said it best when she said “if he spoke you should listen, because his words were weighted.” What an awesome testimony he had.

As I sat there and watched his children work through their grief in front of an audience and do it so God glorifying; it did what a funeral should do, it caused me to reflect on my own life and the cause and effect of silence. Silence can be good, or silence can be bad, there must be balance as in everything in life. Even Cheesecake. I know that’s random… but it’s true.

The Racket

Three times in Psalm 46 the Psalmist says that “God is our refuge.” Refuge being a safe haven, sanctuary or shelter. As a child of God I understand that. I have run into that place to escape the sorrows of the day so very many times. I’m in that place right now. I needed this word this morning to send me to the feet of Jesus to speak to Him about the many burdens in my life. They accumulate so quickly. Too much, too often and I’m consumed by it.  They’re a racket in my mind. God understands. That’s why He spoke this Psalm into David. Not only for him, but for us.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Those roaring waters and trembling mountains that feel as though they’re going to bury us in defeat are exactly what runs us into the refuge. If it were not for that trouble, we’d think we didn’t need help. We’d be sure that it was us who could get us through the issues of the day. God doesn’t make the trouble, but He’ll get His glory in the midst of it!  I witnessed that yesterday.

My cousin’s death was not a death of God’s timing. But God knew the heart of the man and used the occasion of his memorial to quiet the noise in my life and probably many others. Death has a way of putting life in check.

  • This is important. √
  • This is not. √

The River

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

I sing a song titled “Tell Me One More Time About Jesus” and in that song there is a line that speaks of the Pastor’s words being like a “cool drink of water.” The Psalmist’s words are such. So were the words of the memorial, because they all point to Jesus. Jesus is that river, that makes glad the city of God! When a child of God comes home, whether timely or not, you better believe there is rejoicing in Heaven! Should there not be on earth.

I told my cousin Duke last night when he called to see how the funeral went, that “I love a good funeral!” We laughed, but he knew what I meant. Because we both know Jesus. And there is joy in knowing that a loved one’s struggle is over and they are sitting beside of Victory! Glorraaaaaay! That puts a shout in my soul.

The Refuge from the Rage

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

You can better believe that Satan was not a happy camper at Gassaway Baptist Church yesterday. He expected worlds to fall apart when he moved “his kingdom.” But this world is not our home, and this world was not what my cousin’s children had their eyes on.  They were standing in the refuge of the God of Jacob. The same God and Savior who gave Jacob a new name when he wrestled with God in Genesis 32.

Every battle of a child of God ends in Victory, even if it doesn’t always appear that way.

My cousin was described as a man of few words, yet he was a writer, a thinker, a ponderer… and he and I had many times talked about our ponderings of God. He left his testimony with us through his children when his daughter said, “Our dad was a humble man who wouldn’t want you to focus on his education, successes and the many things he did that no one knew. He would want us to tell you of the day he made Jesus his Savior.”

That’s a good funeral.

Stuff I Got to Remember Not to Forget

With every stroke of the brush, marker or pen my mind’s eye goes into critical mode. “That line’s not straight… that looks dumb…why did I put that there?” It’s likely the nature of the beast of an artist. A word I have always had issues with because I’ve never considered myself to be one. So today, 2 Corinthians 12:9 caught my eye and took me to a different place.

The place called grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Perhaps it’s a trip you needed to take today as well.

His Grace

The only grace that truly matters, because He is the only One Who is worthy to give it. I can extend grace to others and I should, because I need it as much as they do. I’m a sinner saved by grace, fully forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ. But often times there is no one harder on me than me. I’m sure Apostle Paul could identify. How many times did Satan remind him of his previous life? Countless no doubt. And for me, Satan may only have to remind me of fifteen minutes ago. But there’s something about pen to paper that makes my mistakes more permanent than just the ink.

His Strength

Seeing the mistake on the page weakens me. It reminds me of the fact that I often consider myself faux artist, much like the technique of faux art. I’m not real. It’s why I need His strength. I rely on it to get me through those times when Satan would tear me down and with me the ministry I long to build for the Kingdom of God. That’s why Satan does it.  Every time he can use self-criticism as a tool he can thwart the Kingdom’s work.

His Power

I don’t know how many times, far too many to count that I have walked off the platform feeling like a dirt dog because I had failed. Only to be greeted by a child of God who described a performance that was far above the one I experienced. That’s His power! Not mine. He can take a vessel, marred and broken like me and use me in spite of myself and my mistakes.

There was an illustration once at a retreat I attended where the ladies had taken a pitcher, broken it and glued it back together. In front of the audience they poured water into it only to have it pour through the cracks of the broken vessel. Hello! This is where we get happy. If we allow our brokenness, our mistakes to be seen by other people, the Holy Spirit can flow into and out of us blessing many and drawing them to the grace, the strength and the power we experience as His children.

Yes… this is what I have to remember.  My imperfections are made perfect by my Lord. His grace, His goodness, and His greatness dwell within me. I just have to let them leak through the cracks of my broken, messed up self.

Swamp Monsters and Other False Hoods

I am pretty sure that I am not alone when it comes to growing weary of the news media of today. There was a time in my life, when the news was on, it may not have been the gospel, but at least it was truth. There was a standard, this remarkable word called “ethics” that governed media. But today media is marketing and entertainment without accountability. But it is not however there is great repercussions.

I won’t call out call letters of media that I consider to be absolute liars. That’s not my purpose here. And I’m not so sure that any television news outlet of the day is to be considered truth. Their bias is obvious and they’re either sold to the highest bidder, or they’ve got their own agenda which clouds their objectivity.

So why am I here?

I guess to tell you where I stand and hopefully encourage you with some gospel truth about the world we live in.

My first Bible study as a new child of God was on the book of Revelation. Talk about a meaty subject for a milk drinker! Oh my goodness, it was. But what it did was solidify me in the truth of the gospel. Praise God I had a Pastor that was there to break it down and help me understand what I could, and skip past what I couldn’t for a day when I was weighted in the word and ready for it.

It is important for a Christian to read and study the word of God, not only for personal edification, but for prophetic wisdom for the day.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not privately interpreting the Bible. God is clear on that. But I’m here to tell you, if you read it, as religiously as the world watches the swamp we call news, you’ll see the prophetic words of old that read like a modern day newspaper.

A Light in the Dark

2 Peter 1:19-21

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

The world is a dark place. Television, the web, the movie screens, all cater to darkness and evil. And Americans pay top dollar for it. Parents allow their children to watch it as if it were no more dangerous than Tom and Jerry of our day. There is repercussions. I see it playing out in our locals schools in rural West Virginia. I can’t imagine the dark side of public schools in larger areas. But I know it’s there.

Peter said we’d do well to take heed to the light that shines in those dark places because there was darkness then, and it’s far worse now. The world around us seems oblivious to it and willing to buy into any lie the media feeds them.

2 Corinthians 4 says it best…

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We have the wisdom we need for the day within us. You don’t need me to tell you, but perhaps you needed me to remind you.

A Truth for Tomorrow

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

My words are not prophetic, but they’re truth as revealed to me by the Holy Ghost as I sat in my living room this morning wanting to hear from God. I didn’t turn on the news because there was nothing there that would encourage me. I tuned into the Word of God and this image of the swamp monster came into my head.

That’s how I see the media of the day. They’re a vile group of people working on the agenda of Satan himself to lure people into the darkness, not the light. They love creating dissention among people and groups because it makes news and keeps people talking about prejudices, politics and pathetic individuals seeking personal notoriety.

No Prejudice in the Gospel

The gospel will shine the light on every single one of those topics. There is no prejudice in God. All men are equal. Peter said it as God revealed it to him in Acts 10:34 ~ Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

God loves all people!!!

Colossians 3:11 

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

No Politics in the Gospel

It was politics that killed Jesus, God’s Only Son. People wanting to please people. This ought not to be.

Matthew 16:26

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

No Personal Agenda in the Gospel

Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:

31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

While life goes on around us, and there are things we have to do and conversations we have to have that have nothing really to do with the gospel, it’s just living. But all that we do should in some way glorify God.

God is only in the truth.

1 Thessalonians 5:21

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Friends in the Fire

Oh to have the boldness and fearless testimony of the three Hebrew boys… without the fire of course! Can that even happen? Can you have a testimony to that degree without the test? I don’t think so.

I have so many friends currently in fires of varying degrees. I stand by with helpless emotions wishing and praying that God will spare them this trial and await His answer. I guess that was the same prayer that many were praying for me in May of 2018 when I had the heart attacks and surgery that followed. But for some reason it felt different from my perspective of laying in that hospital bed with round the clock monitors, medical staff and drugs. I was too busy going through the battle to realize it was a fight. It was just a process. The real battle began when I came out of the hospital and continues today trying to get and stay healthy.

It began when I once again had control of the situation.

Maybe that’s how the boys felt when they answered King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:16

GOD IS ABLE

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

To West Virginia-nize it “Listen up Neb… we ain’t even got to think about it. Do your best. Because our God is able, either through the fire, or out of the fire. The decision is His!”

That’s the attitude I see in these guys. They’d fully relinquished this event to the Lord.

When I laid in the bed at Ruby Memorial for 4 days prior to surgery I had plenty of time to stress out. And I won’t lie to you and tell you that I didn’t occasionally have moments of fear. But they were truly rare. (No one was more shocked than me!) Mainly because I recognized that this was out of my scope of expertise. So likely the Hebrew boys recognized that they were not fire fighters.

But what about the unmentioned friends who watched? How was there faith? I don’t know, it doesn’t say. But I know how I am right now watching my friends go through their fire. I don’t like it, but Gloraaay! I have hope. I know my God can deliver! But I would not have so great of faith if I hadn’t spent a little time in the furnace myself.

The post surgery healing probably took more out of me than the actual surgery.

SATAN IS ANGRY

19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. 20 And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

When Satan seen that there was no fear in the boys, he turned the heat up via Nebuchadnezzar. He does that with us too. When he sees us in our bravest form he’ll often heap more on! I don’t know how many times the medical staff tried to “explain” to me how sick I was. Finally one very intelligent gal looked at me and ask, “Do you want to know the danger you’re in?” To which I replied, “No. That will serve no purpose other than to stress me out.” Ignorance may not be bliss, but it’s handy to calm the nerves.

Sometimes we just need to tell Satan, and some people to shut up. I know that’s not nice, and I was raised better.  But negative people will bring you down. We are aware in the battle we have an angry enemy, but don’t let that voice be louder than the voices of Victory.

THE SAVIOR IS ABIDING

24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. 25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

At this point in biblical history, Christ was in the fire. Now He’s in us!

John 15:7 

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

That same faith that the Hebrew boys drew upon to save them from that fire, is the same faith that we draw upon today. The only difference is, He’s even closer. He’s in us! Ready and willing to get us through or bring us out!

THE RESULT IS ABSOLUTE

Even Nebuchadnezzar knew. He seen the power of the God of the Hebrew boys. The same God we serve today.  

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. 27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. 28 Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort. 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, in the province of Babylon.

As the wife of a fire fighter, I’ve smelled smoky clothing a lot! It’s nasty and it penetrates the fabric and everything around it.

So for that smell, to be nowhere on anything the boys wore speaks such Victory to me. It means that God brought them through the fire, and when they got out, there wasn’t any evidence they were ever even in it.

Gloraaaaay again!

God is able! Pray church and believe that God will bring us through and out and Satan won’t get one drop of recognition for his part in it.

Sweeter as the Days Go By

Sweeter as the days go by! That truly is how it is when you’re serving Christ and doing your best to stay in the center of His will. I had, what my friend Gloria and I call a “Cinderella” day yesterday. It’s when all the stars align, and things are going well. You’re just having a great day.

I taught on the Holy Spirit in my Teen Sunday School class and the kids were so gracious and interactive with the lesson. And as they walked out of the class they said to each other, “this was a good day.” And I thought, yes, yes it was! Not because of me but because the Prince had shown up.

We then went to worship and again the Spirit was moving in the service and it was so, so very good!

During and after church there were terrible wind storms and the trees began to break, tearing the power lines down and knocking out our electric. On a day that I had two grandbabies. So no tv, no internet, video games were dying and it could have gone down the tubes were it not for the kids who said, “can we make crafts?”

So we spent the afternoon making paper and craft stick projects and the it was a sweet time. That I would not have had, if the power hadn’t have gone out.

Well how true is that in life that we don’t realize how sweet some things are until they’re gone. Or, we’ll spend so much time focusing on the negative and ignore the positive.

I can tell you when the electric went off I was about to get frustrated. Had it not been for the kids, I would have. They just roll with the punches. So it started me thinking about how many times I’ll look at the painful events in my life and much like the honey bee’s of spring we’re about to experience, all I see is the stinger. I forget about the sweet honey that I love the flavor of.

Psalm 19

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Glory to God! Even a simpleton like me can have a Cinderella moment in the study of the Word of God because the Holy Spirit makes it possible.

While the law of the Lord is perfect, I am far from it. And I’m a rule breaker from a way back; so getting my flesh under control isn’t always easy and it’s seldom ever fun.

Most people do not like bees buzzing around the flowers of their house for fear of getting stung. The focus is not on the honey, it’s on the potential pain. And while the saying “no pain, no gain,” has its place in fitness, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so in life.

If we would focus less on what we can’t do and more on what we can do in Christ, the days certainly get sweeter. When the lights went off yesterday my first thought was, well, there goes wifi. The boys first thought was, let’s get some glue!

There are 10 “Thou Shalt nots”. But how many shalls are there?

I don’t know, but I know there’s a bunch.

The testimonies mentioned in verse seven is why we find great joy in verse eight.

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

We know in our hearts that the advice of the Lord is always good. His word is always right and encouraging to our souls. And if we allow that word to really penetrate the heart to the point of rejoicing, God suddenly opens up the scriptures in ways that we’d never noticed before.

The more we testify, study and share the word of God with each other, the more we find ourselves focusing on the honey, not the sting.

We still fear the bee, but we’re not fretting over him. We’re happier if we can just let him do his thing and we’ll reap the reward later in the grocery aisle of a sweet jar of honey.

Two more verses and then we’ll be ready to get on with our day.

Fear is a healthy emotion if it’s kept in check.

We should have a healthy fear of bees, rock cliffs and fast driving. And the Lord!

Verse 9 days The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Fearing God isn’t something terrible. It’s a healthy respect for He Who controls the world. 

We almost missed Sunday evening services. But not quite. The electric came back on 45 minute before church was due to start. If I had gotten frustrated because of all the things I wanted to get done and didn’t yesterday afternoon, I could have ruined not only the afternoon but the evening as well.

I know from experience. Our  mindset is ¾ of the battle on any given day. So are you looking at the honey, or are you watchin’ the stinger?

It’s good to be reminded about Who is in control.

Verse 10:

 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

What’s to be desired more than gold? His judgements. His decisions on our behalf are sweeter than honey and the honey comb.

Just before Jesus disappeared into the sky after the Resurrection He shared something with His people.

Fish and honeycomb.

Luke 24

36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

38 And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

41 And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

43 And he took it, and did eat before them.

44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Psalm 19, The Law of Moses and Luke 24, all work in perfect harmony. Just like our lives if we let God control the narrative.

They were standing in front of the risen Lord, feeding Him fish and honey. And He tells them, I’m the real deal.

And He’s still telling us that today.

Even in the hard times, and they were about to have some as the persecuted church. But God wanted them to remember a sweeter time.

I hope you have a sweet, sweet day today! And praise His name at days end.

Will My High Hopes Last?

Ethel

The sun is shining and it’s a balmy 52 degrees today in Calhoun County, West Virginia. It gives me high hopes that spring is just around the corner! High hopes because I can see the glorious sunshine and feel the warmth (well kind of) on my skin as I go out to feed the chickadees in the hen house.

But what about next week when the temperatures drop back into the twenties, snow is possibly in the forecast, and the chicks still need fed. Will I have high hopes that day that spring is just around the corner? Or will I bundle up and growl as my bones ache in protest to the chore? Not believing with any great confidence that spring will come?

I see and occasionally fall victim to the same faulty thinking as a child of God. Hope is fleeting in this fallen world, is it not?

2 Corinthians 4:18 says

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I have only girls in my henhouse, because, it is after all, a henhouse. And boys are bossy. I speak in poultry language of course, not humanistic. I would never say that my husband is bossy.

Okay… that’s a lie.

But he will tell you that I listen about like the poultry dames. I love my chickens. I do not however love their hygiene. They’re pretty gross. But they provide breakfast and attribute to my baking; so, I’ll tolerate their stinky butts and shovel their poop if I can’t con the hubs into. Which is usually the case. But my point of my Bantam banner is this, those girls always have hope!

They’re expectantly awaiting me to come to the hen house and feed and water them and they graciously (with the exception of one Silkie) allow me to take their eggs. They don’t care what the weather is like, although they’re a little less productive on cold days, much like me. But they still have hope. They’re doing what chickens do.

Am I? Doing what I’m called to do? Every day? Or just on days when I feel like the Son is going to return?

Just like the ladies in the henhouse, God’s plan for me has been mapped out rain or shine. Cold or warm. Muddy or dry. I need to be productive for the cause of Christ which is to tell others of His return. That may come in the form of a blog, vlog, speaking engagement or a song I sing. But all should point other to Christ and tell them of His imminent return. That is hope.  That is what we have. It’s not up for debate. He’s coming back for the church!

Will it be this spring? Today? Tomorrow, next year or 2025? It doesn’t matter. He’s coming back! It only matters that I’m doing what needs to be done. So… I’ll feed my chickens, I’ll feed my family, I’ll feed the youth in the teen department with the word of God and I’ll feed my own faith with God’s word like 2 Corinthians 4:18.

I hope you found some nourishment in that word today too!

Lucy

The Offering

Some of the Old Testament is often difficult for me to relate to because it’s so different than how we relate to God today. We are so blessed by grace! A fact that is made all the more clearer as I read the worship experience in the days of Ezekiel.

Through the closing chapters of Ezekiel God is laying out prophesy and Christ like illustrations. Typification that is easily seen from this side of grace. It causes me to wonder what it was like to view it from God’s side of Heaven.

Ezekiel 45:20-25

And so thou shalt do the seventh day of the month for every one that erreth, and for him that is simple: so shall ye reconcile the house. In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering. And seven days of the feast he shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bullocks and seven rams without blemish daily the seven days; and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering. And he shall prepare a meat offering of an ephah for a bullock, and an ephah for a ram, and an hin of oil for an ephah. In the seventh month, in the fifteenth day of the month, shall he do the like in the feast of the seven days, according to the sin offering, according to the burnt offering, and according to the meat offering, and according to the oil.

There is no doubt in my mind that the formality and pomp of this event was amazing. Should not our worship experience of modern day be every bit as glorious? So why is it not? Likely because we don’t see the blood as we should. The blood of that day was likely not such a glamorous viewpoint but the reality that something died for your sin.

I must confess that blood makes me squeamish. Even that of hamburger or any other raw meat. I just don’t have the stomach for it. But I deal with it. So I praise God that our worship of today and the sacrifice that our Lord and Savior made on the cross over 2000 years ago, covers our sin; and I don’t have to deal with the blood of goats and cows! But the blood must still be recognized.

God’s View

When God looked over the balcony of Heaven as the children of Israel made their sacrifice He knew the rebellion of His people wasn’t over. He knew that that blood was a temporary atonement for continual problem. He could see the coming atonement that was a permanent solution to an ongoing problem.

As I read the details of the offerings and the feasts and it goes on and on and I get burdened in my mind from what seems like more information than I currently need. And then I think about my God. The God Who is in every detail of my life. All the piddley little things that are so unimportant in the scope of eternity and yet He cares. How can I not care about every little detail of a sacrifice that set the example of what His Son did for me so that I could have peace for the day and hope for eternity? God’s view then, is my view now, even though mine is from earth, I can see it just as clearly as God did from Heaven.

God’s Vow

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The final sacrifice. No more critters. No more pomp and circumstance over the blood of animals. No more separation from God! No more necessity of a man on earth to make our intercessions to God. We alone can approach the altar of grace from anywhere we are, in any state of condition that we’re in because Christ made the ultimate sacrifice and God make the ultimate promise. It was finished! He opened the door of the throne of grace for every child that accepted Him as Lord and Savior and the door would never again be closed.

God’s Victory

1 Corinthians 15:55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15:57

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having just lost another family member this week, these verses provide fresh hope. Not just victory over death, but victory over every day living. All the struggles I face. All the times I just don’t get it, and I fail God miserably. He is there for all of it. He has me covered. His offering was enough. “It is finished!” He said on the cross. And I am so grateful…

When the Monster Returns

Anxiety. Not for the good Christian girl and boy, right? Umm, wrong. Multiple people have recently come to me requesting prayer for their anxious spirit. And I’m ever so glad to lift them to the Lord, believing that He will remove their fears and anxiousness and restore to them the peace that comes from knowing Christ. And then, moments later, I’m in the same predicament. What is it about anxiety that can get such a hold on the believer?

I know my Lord is greater, but for the life of me I cannot convince that monster that is lurking behind me. He just won’t believe it. I read the word of God and the anxiety flees, only to return after I allow the cares of the world to creep back in.

Most days for me it’s manageable. I reiterate the fact again that I am not a super saint, but God has given me this ability to shut things out; almost like slamming the door in Satan’s face. It’s my coping mechanism and it serves me well, until it doesn’t. It can also allow me to shut out things that I should be managing.  That’s when the stress can get out of control and that monster lurking behind me almost feels like a physical presence on my shoulder.

When I had the heart attacks, it was the heaviest it had been in a long time. So now, I try to keep a handle on things. But like most everyone, I don’t always win my monster mayhem.

My imaginary conversations. Oh my stars, I am so glad you people are not inside my head. I have more conversations that never take place in reality than anyone should. I tell people off, I rescue the distraught, I line people up and line them out. It’s awesome! And then I come back to reality. Bury the thoughts, shut out the world and crawl into my pity pit that allows the anxiety to take hold over the peace my Lord wants for my life.

The street scene in Mark 5 wrangles my angst this morning.

22 And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, 23 And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. 24 And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. 25 And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26 And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27 When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28 For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29 And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? 31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague. 35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

Two characters who triumph over anxiety are Jarius and the woman with the issue of blood. Both had life altering issues. Jarius was at the point of losing his young daughter (12 years old). The woman with the issue of blood (for 12 years) is losing hope. I don’t think these two 12 year old stories are in the same part of scripture by happenstance. Jarius wants to keep alive his issue, the woman, wants her issue to go away. We all have issues. Some physical, some emotional, but all can be spirit breaking.

So what can we learn from the word and the characters of study this morning that will help us with our own issues? I think that there was a commonality to both of their victories.

W.E.P.T.

I can almost guarantee there was a lot of weeping prior to their coming to Christ. What parent cannot identify with tears both of joy and heartache when raising children? But the thought of losing one is beyond comprehension or acceptance. And the woman with the issue of blood had had the issue twelve years; preventing her from spending time with the people she loved, draining her physically and emotionally. But using the acronym of W.E.P.T  both

They Worshipped – Both fell down at His feet

Entreated – Both reached out to Him for a solution.

Prayed – Both prayed for God’s mercy

Trusted – Both trusted His answer.

And both received Victory. Jairus’ daughter lived, and the woman was healed. And the anxiety was stopped. Oh what power I the word of God! These were not my issues, my issues are far less. So how can I not trust Him?

Will the monster return… probably. But so will victory.

The Art of Conversation

The PDF version of this tool with instructions are free and ready to print at the end of this post

Monday morning I had two of the grandbabies and breakfast protocol at Noni’s house is pancakes, and with pancakes being messy I distributed napkins accordingly. And these were special “conversation starting” napkins that I purchased from our local grocery store, Foodland.

Each napkin had a question printed on it to get family conversations started, which I think is really cool. And it worked perfectly.

The first question was “You had a dream last night and it came true, what was it?” To which Noah (age 11) responded “school was canceled.”

His dream however did not come true.

But it did get me thinking about conversation starters. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner it got me thinking of Valentine’s Day conversation hearts, which I personally love the flavor of! But more importantly than the flavor I love the idea of using them to share Jesus by starting a conversation around the condition of a soul, or the topic of church.

I thought of a few…

  • Biggest Fear?
  • Got Faith?
  • Who do you Miss?
  • Dream Life?
  • Who loves you most?

I’d love if you posted in the comments some things you think would be a good conversation starting question. I’m going to make and print these conversation hearts for my youth class on Wednesday night. I’m going to make myself a set. Whether or not it’s Valentine’s day, it’s still a great soul winning tool.

Conversation Flavor

Philippians 1:27 

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

One of the reasons I like the flavors of conversation hearts is because they’re delicately sweet and not over powering. That’s how I like the Christians I meet. Just show me Jesus!

When Paul said “Whether I come to see you or not,” that causes me to think that perhaps there was dissention among the ranks. Maybe they weren’t happy he wasn’t there, or perhaps because he wasn’t there the leadership had gone awry. But whatever the reason for his comment, it brings attention to the fact that the world doesn’t need to see disgruntled Christians. There’s enough of that everywhere else.

And it leaves a bad flavor in the mouth of the unsaved. Why would they want to be a part of that?

Our main focus should be striving to share the gospel. That’s why I like this tool that the Lord gave me this morning. So I’m going to act on it. Our conversations need to lead to action.

Conversation Fun

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

I’d like to add, let no man forget his or her youth.

Some of the conversation starters that might lead to a salvation conversation can be a fun topic. A question like “What does your dream life look like?”

Very few people don’t like to dream about the perfect life. Wouldn’t we all want it? So what would it look like? And how easy that can enter into a conversation about the perfect life we’ll have in eternity.

That’s a fun time!

Conversation Facts

2 Corinthians 1:12

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

Whether we’re talking to the saved or the lost we need to know the truth through the word of God. Not using our own wisdom, but what the Word of God says, because that’s going to speak the heart of those we’re having a conversation with.

A question like “What’s your biggest fear.” And the scripture to calm the fear such as 2 Timothy 1:7 will go a long way in starting a conversation.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I don’t know of a person who doesn’t have fear, and who’s not looking for peace. I have fears. I needed that scripture today. I needed it yesterday and every other day. What a great question to ask someone who’s lost. Because we know they likely have great fears.

What about the question, “Who do you miss?” For me it’s my Dad. Many, many others, but most him. And how wonderful that I have the scripture that tells me that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! And that Jesus has prepared a home for me that He talks about in John 14.

So what’s your conversation starting questions?

I’m serious about listing them below. Even if you think they’re too long for a piece of candy, maybe together we can shorten them. The printable link to the ones I’m using tonight are below! Enjoy and let me know if you use them and how it goes.

http://thejesuschick.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12-conversation-starting-hearts.pdf

http://thejesuschick.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12-conversation-starting-hearts-instructions.pdf

Not Because I’m a Saint

This is the table that is before the Lord.

Ezekiel 41:22b

It is one of my greatest heartaches and concerns of the American church today that the Sunday morning altars are empty. Pastors should not have to heap guilt upon the congregations to create movement and cause a begrudging child of God to kneel at the altar of grace. We should not ever do it out of vain repetition but rather with the knowledge that there is always a need, be it ours or someone else. For me… it’s me. I take others to the altar too, but I’m here to tell you, I go because I know what a wretched sinner I am and how I fail my Lord every day. I don’t go to prove my “sainthood” or that I am all that and a bag of chips in the house of the Lord. I’m not trying to impress anyone in any pew. I’m going because I need it!

I find three things at the altar (and more). But three very notable things.

I Find Quality

Ezekiel spoke of the altar as a table. The finest wheat, and sweetest bread is there waiting for me every time I kneel. Jesus said in John 6:35 I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

It is apparent from my waistline that I love to eat. But I pray that my soul is every bit as ravenous for the things of God. That is why I go. I don’t always feel hungry for the things of God. I’m ashamed of that. There are times I want worldly things that tickle my fancy. It’s a real struggle. I’m a vain, bling loving babe that likes techy things, music things and all things artsy craftsy. Those are the things that can so easily draw me away from God. I need reminded that those things are fine in their place, but that the true and finest filling of the soul comes from time with the Master.

I Find Quantity

God has not one time refused me time. Isn’t that a great thought? But what’s shameful for me again is I have refused Him time over and over. I need reminded on as I kneel at the altar that it is a privilege beyond comprehension that the Lord of Glory wants to talk to me. Wants to give me His precious time.

I Find it Quietly

While there is a time for praising and shouting the glory down, my time at the altar is in humble, silent awe. It’s the feeling of the Holy Spirit that dwells within, also coming from above like a mighty rushing wind and just settling there on top of me pouring Himself down into me and blessing me all over. Helping me to understand that in my greatest failures, I am loved. In my deepest pain, He understands it. And when I just don’t know what to say. He intercedes on my behalf, making groaning where there was no words.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. ~ Romans 8:26

That is why at every opportunity you’ll find me at the altar. Not because I’m a saint… but because I ain’t.