Category Archives: Christian Service

You’re Welcome on my earth… but not my island?

island

I’m never more sickened than when I see a Christian (myself included) snarl their nose up at another person in disdain for their behavior, circumstance, opinion or position in life, but I see it so often. We tend to use a person’s station in life to judge whether or not they should be allowed entry into our world. I’m not talking about entry into Heaven; no Christian in their right mind wouldn’t want every soul in Heaven, but many don’t want them in their space down here. Believe me when I say “I get” when people make you uncomfortable for any number of reasons. Their language, their demeanor, their culture, their attitude… it’s a long list! But as children of God it is unacceptable to not accept them; and not just on your earth, but on your island.

In 2 Corinthians Paul was counseling the church of Corinth (in the Bible according to Shari, and we know that’s dangerous) But as I understand there had been a man excommunicated from the church, the reason not known. And I believe that’s because for future reference God wanted you to be able to fit it to your circumstance, so He left the reasoning broad. But none the less many people in the church had punished this man. So much so that he was at risk of being swallowed up in sorrow. So Paul advises them to prove their love to him by forgiving everything he did and giving this man a fresh start at grace.

2:6-11 ~  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

I dare say that no Christian is immune to falling into the snare of Satan when opposite world’s collide: Sinner/Saint, Rich/Poor, Democrat/Republican, Bold/Meek, Zealot/Passive, I won’t even go in to denominations! It’s not so much forgiveness that I’m talking about as much as it is acceptance. Sometimes we’ll be forgiving but will not be befriending. We want them on earth, but not on our island. At a distance they don’t make us uncomfortable.

When I began to pray and search for a topic this morning the word comfort came into my thoughts because that’s what I personally am in need of. But a trip down that path lead to a fork in the road and then as only God can do it came back to the original path. As if to say “I know you need comfort Shari, but you can’t have it without finding the source of the discomfort and getting rid of it.” So we went off my path to His own and then back to mine, and in so doing I found what I was looking for.

Paul told the Philippian Church in Philippians 2:1-4 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

There will never be comfort in any body of believers unless there is unity, and not just among a single church, but the entire body of Christ. (Those believing that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and no other).

God’s advice to me… you’ll find not only the comfort you’re searching for, but the answers you’re searching for when you love my people… all of them.

A Conversation from the Back Seat

A post on my Facebook wall yesterday morning of the A&W Root Beer Stand brought floods of memories of my own times with my parents at the drive in hamburger stand. What a treat to get to eat in the car! Now it’s the story of my life as I travel the roads of West Virginia. My favorite A&W story isn’t mine, it’s the story of Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) from his book “Rebel with a Cause.” As a child he was picking on his sisters in the back seat of the car as and having been warned by his mother (Ruth Graham) that she was going to put him in the trunk if he didn’t stop, he wasn’t really concerned.  They were on the freeway in four lanes of traffic (heading to A&W or a like place) so he “knew” she wouldn’t stop there.  So he continued until he felt the car swerve out of traffic, across three lanes and on to the berm. She got out, pulled him out, and proceeded to put him in the trunk. He said he loved it. There were all kinds of toys in there. Car jacks and tools and such! When they got to A&W he thought, great, now I can get out. He hears him mom order their food, waits a while, hears the waitress return and then hears the car door open. Ruth Graham opens the trunk, hands Franklin his burger and, and shuts the lid again where he enjoyed his lunch and rode the trip back home. Lesson learned. Don’t doubt your Mom.

I’m not advocating this method of child rearing!  The Welfare department would be knocking on your door before the day was out and probably should be; that was dangerous! But it just goes to show how times have changed. We’ve learned some lessons in raising children and we’ve failed in many other respects. In church it’s no different. We’ve learned much over the years but by the same token many of the old paths have long since been forgotten, traded for a newer shinier path that may or may not show you to Jesus. Church discipline is all but a thing of the past because the church no longer has the right to interfere in the lives of the members.

Well, for the record, God’s still calling the church to hold its members accountable. No… I’m not going anywhere with this. I really don’t know why it’s on my heart this morning, I only know it is. And if it only touches one person this morning, giving them the desire to walk the old path, then it’s been worth it. The world is watching… we’re supposed to be different.

We’re the kids in the back seat… not a good idea to run your mouth to the Father.

What Could Have Been Done More? ~

Christian help wanted

Isaiah 5:1-4 ~ Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.  And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

America has been a blessed land. God’s providence has been written across the pages from the beginning of time. It was founded on Christianity and battles have been fought and won time and time again for the continuation of that liberty. But as time goes on we see less and less of a stand for Christ. Even many of His very own churches for which He died for has turned their backs on Him, falling in line with liberal beliefs that you can have salvation without the blood off Jesus, killing children is okay, we are the alternative lifestyle and Christ is “a” way, not “the” way. It does not surprise me when unsaved people defend the right of wrong, but when the church does it they can accept their part in the slap given by the soldiers in Mathew 27:30 ~ “And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.”

This country was planted with the choicest of vine. Look back on the history of our founding fathers and political factions, and although they were not perfect men, their testimony of honor stands strong today. Now look at our political factions of today and scroll forward to the history books of our great, great, grandchildren and tell me if you see a story of American heroes or sour grapes and briars? Who would want to read our story?

There are few men of great moral fiber (actually just the renderings of a diet of much fiber if you get my gist).

Isaiah’s question “What could have been done more?” hit me hard this morning. God gave us His best. There was NOTHING else He could have done. But as for us… what is our excuse as the American Church for doing nothing? For allowing that nonsense in Washington to continue and saying that we have no right to step in. I personally don’t have the answer, but I have the desire. If I seen the right leaders stepping up for the coming elections I certainly would fall in behind them. As well as in my local community. But they have to be Christian leaders, else we’ve done nothing more than the world, which is what has us in this predicament now.

I hope we’re all prayin’ and I hope God will answer with some strong Christian men and women to stand up for the America we read about in History. Not for the one that’s going down in History.

Graduated Thinking ~ Less Than What? ~

cap

This morning I’m here to share with you something that’s been on my heart to share for years, and I’ve not had the courage until today. When I read a post from a teen in my youth department who Satan was thumping on and who had the nerve to fight back, publicly. She’s a senior in High School who beyond a shadow of a doubt has the talent to do or be anything she set her mind to, but she’s choosing at this time not to go on to higher education but rather focus her life on being a woman of God, and perhaps a wife and mother a little further down the road. And because of her decision the world is berating her that she is less. My question to them is “Less than what?”

Here’s my story. Unlike her I wasn’t saved when I graduated High School, therefore I did not have the Holy Spirit within me giving me guidance, but that’s not to say that I didn’t have the Holy Spirit guiding me, because I fully believe He set a path in motion that would have been easier if He were within, but was fulfilled from without. I hope you got that. God had a plan… Jeremiah 29:11 says – For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. ~ God had a plan that He allowed to come to fruition because I eventually did get saved; which God knew I would, that was the expected end He could see. And I believe the plan would have come together much nicer if I had gotten my heart right with Christ sooner.

But like this young lady much of my life was lived feeling inadequate because I didn’t measure up to the world’s standards. And some well-meaning people… and some, quite frankly, mean people contributed to that inadequacy with questions as to why I didn’t continue my education, and still yet today ask that question of me. And still today when the question arises I feel less. Less than what? Less than God intended?

This is not an “anti-higher-education” blog. Praise the Lord for those who seek wisdom in specific fields. I don’t believe any of us want a doctor or nurse who got their degree by filling out a form and paying a fee. No. We want well educated people. But I’ve seen plenty of well-educated miserable people who rather than following the Lord’s will and plan for their life chose a profession based on status. Who felt that they’d never measure up in life unless there were some ABC’s behind their name. And there were some who when having achieved the ABC’s forgot the fundamentalism of life’s purpose.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for months, but every time I put fingers to keyboard the fear of someone saying “You’re writing this to justify yourself in a field you’re not qualified for,” came to mind and I just shut it down. Because the world had convinced me that they defined me. If I didn’t have their piece of paper somehow I was less. Less than what?

This morning as I sought for answers I ran across Psalms 139 and discovered that I did indeed have a degree. Psalm 139:16 ~ Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

My name is written in a book in Heaven under “Child of God”, but not only my name… “all my members were written down before I was born.” My fingers were written down, they have a purpose, my eyes were written down, and so was my mind, and my legs and my toes…. Every member of this body has a purpose and a talent that no man can define. A degree is a unit of measurement, and I, Shari Johnson have abilities measured in Heaven which are limitless. So lesser than what?

If I fulfill the will of God in my life; His purpose… then when I get to Heaven and receive my final reward it won’t hang upon a wall, but will be a crown of pure gold that I can lay down at the feet of my Savior.

Read on in Psalm:139 verses 17-18 ~ “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum o f them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Yes please, Another helping of self doubt

Every time I take a few steps forward in faith, I step back 8 feet. Even as I wrote that sentence, my mind wandered off the page and onto life and Satan began pummeling me with one of those “What were they thinking asking you to do that?” conversations. Another failure in the making… ugh. Does he never stop?

No. Not until eternity and then his power will be locked in the pits of Hell. Glory to God!!! So this morning I have to look at one of my all-time favorite failures for strength. That’s what I love about the Bible, it’s not a book of Sanctified Sam’s and Little Sister Seat Saver’s that stand at the foot of the cross with gold medallions around their necks. No… it’s filled with totally messed up people who have fallen to the foot of the cross. Like Simon Peter. Our favorite failure. Or so the world would have you believe. They’d rather you and I think about the fact that he sank in the water, rather than the time he stepped out of the boat. They’d rather we think about the time he denied Jesus, rather than the time he died on a cross, crucified upside down. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus Christ. The world doesn’t want us to focus on Peter’s victory, but rather cause us to doubt the probability that we’ll be victorious.

Matthew 14:30-33~ But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

The winds of decision

The wind was likely there before Peter stepped out of the boat, but not until the safety of the boat was gone did it matter. The moment we make the decision to step out for Jesus that’s when the breeze turns into a gale! That’s why so many songs and sermons have the words “Keep your eyes upon Jesus” because a short glance in another direction leads to doubt in the decision that seemed really good just a little while ago.

After the first step

In no time flat the wind can turn a glorious sunshiny day into a gloomy cloud covered sky. Peter was so excited to see the Lord! He didn’t question his decision, but when it was just he and the Lord on the water, the next step wasn’t so clear anymore. How true is it that when you’ve finally made that decision to step out in service and then you hear yourself saying “okay now what? I’m here Lord… confidence level declining… I took the first step, but the second’s not nearly so clear… I’m getting that sinking feeling… Lord are you still there?”

He’s still there! Bidding you come. He didn’t ask you to step out to let you fall, but He didn’t say He’d make the water smooth sailing either. I don’t know about you but I’ve had to fight off the clouds every step of the way in my decision to serve Christ. For the record that’s the equivalency of fighting air and you’ll never win that battle. It would likely go a lot smoother if we’d just stand there and enjoy the breeze.

We don’t have that story from Peter, we only have one where he sinks and Christ saves. Christ not only knows us, He knows our adversary. I find great comfort in knowing that Satan doesn’t have a new plan, he uses the same old tricks of distraction and discouragement to get our eyes off Christ. Christ doesn’t have a new plan either… they’ll sink… I’ll save.

He’s got ya!

Leave the Weather to God

Job 38:31

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

T. De Witt Talmage once said “Of all the sweet influences that have ever blessed the earth those that radiate from Christ are the sweetest.”

As winter winds down… at least I hope so, cabin fever has set in, my bones ache from the cold and it wouldn’t break my heart if I never had to drive on an ice covered road through the hills of West Virginia. But if the Farmer’s Almanac holds true I might as well get over it because winter is still the season I’m in. I have no influence over climatic conditions, other than possibly moving to another climate; but as it stands now that’s not going to happen. So why do we spend so much time stressing about things for which we have no influence on and so little time influencing those things we can.

We can influence the economy

If all Christians who say they’re Christians gave as they should give (tithes and offerings) what affect do you think it would have on the economy of the United States? I dare say we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in. As it was in the days of Malachi 3:8 -10 so is it today ~ Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

We could influence the economy through the blessing of God if we so chose.

We can influence political decision makers

If all Christians voted Christian morals and not party lines what affect would it have on the nation? Deuteronomy 17:15 spells God’s design out when He said Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. These are those who God blesses. And yet we choose to talk about the weather.

We can influence community

In Matthew 5:13 we’re told that Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Christians are the seasonings of life! We flavor the community… be it bitter or sweet.

 We can influence family

God’s ultimate plan is have us together in a perfect world, but the only way that can happen is if our friends and family know Christ as their Savior. It is our influence that will get them there. Ephesians 2:3-7 ~ Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

We need to be about our Father’s business… leave the weather to Him.

I have issues…

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I love and hurt deeply. People are important to me… I like stuff… but mostly stuff that connects me to people. But connecting to people opens up your life for scrutiny, and it’s not always healthy. People will look at you and judge a snapshot of time which has taken a movie reel to produce. While my family and I were “connecting” at my Mother’s dinner table yesterday after church, the subject of mental health came up. No comments from the peanut gallery… remember… this is a snapshot – not a movie. J But it was a pretty heavy subject with regards to the lack of access and seriousness of the issue. Those in need of mental health professionals are often lumped in to the criminal side of correction and a downward spiraling multi-generational effect occurs.

So why do I feel I’m qualified to discuss the issue… because I have an issue with it, and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express a while back, and I guess that wisdom sticks with you for a while.

For 15 or so years I worked for the courts, prior to that for about 6 months I had a temporary hitch as file clerk for the Department of Health and Humans Resources. What I discovered was I could have brought the filing systems with me to the court, because many were the same names, generations of families; second and third generation offenders who were just living out what they had been taught by parents and grandparents. So what does that have to do with mental health? The court was looking at the snapshot instead of the movie. I know… they don’t have time. But that excuse doesn’t fix it and it ended up being why I left the courts, because we weren’t fixing anything. It was like a raw steak… which nauseates me… slap a BandAid on that baby and put it back out in the field, it’s not done. The jail time and fines didn’t finish the crime spree, it just left an open wound waiting to be infected again by something bad. There was no healing.

There were two stories that came to my mind this morning as I thought on the issue of mental health. One was the demon possessed man in the book of Mark and the other was the woman with the issue of blood.

Mark 5:15-20 ~  And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Matthew 9:20-22 – And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

I know your argument, one was mental, one was physical. Yes… but they both had the same cure, and prior to their healing they were both outcasts in society. People didn’t get either one of their issues. And we haven’t progressed too far today. What the people didn’t understand they shunned.

Please understand that I’m not saying all criminals have mental health issues and need to be loved and nurtured to redemption… some people are just mean, and they need locked up. But I’ve seen too many people who if someone had looked at their movie instead of their snapshot they’d have seen an entirely different story. Praise God that Jesus knows the entire story line! And should we as Christians not spend a little time on the movie instead of the snapshot approach at what our people need.

I do tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, and sometimes my sleeve is also filled with other hearts as well. Today my heart is broken for a family that needs their movie viewed…

If today you should come across someone who’s life isn’t pretty… please take a little time to get the story behind the snapshot.

Empty Bellied Sheep on the Road to Heaven

Matthew 9:37

King James Version (KJV)

 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

Our church over the past few months have taken on discipling like we’d not in a very long time. It was indeed discipling that made the difference in my life as a new convert by having two or three people who took an interest in my life and encouraged me daily in my walk with Christ. They walked along beside me encouraging me daily; not necessarily by saying or doing, but simply “being.”

Being available

Every day someone would swing by my office just to say hello, or call to find out how I liked the church or how life was going. I’m sure they had other things they could have been doing. But one thing was certain, I felt loved!  They made themselves a part of my life and in so doing I learned servitude.

Being approachable

If I’m not the queen of dumb questions, I’m at least the princess. Getting saved puts a burning desire down within to read the Word of God and with reading comes wondering. While the Holy Spirit certainly poured an understanding into me that I had never known, I still didn’t understand many of the cultural aspects and theological terms. It was wonderful having people that I could unashamedly ask the “dumb” questions and who were grounded in the Word enough to know the answers and in so doing I learned study.

Being abased

Much of the time an outspoken church has a reputation of being haughty or holier than thou. Their focus is on appearance rather than attitude and the result is those around them feeling less, or so it was with me. A perfectly dressed saint did not inspire me so much as a saint (who though he or she may have been dressed to the nines or in jeans and a flannel) would make me feel as though I had just had my feet washed by the King. I cannot count the times my new friends not only took care of my spiritual needs but my physical needs as well – and in so doing I learned humility.

Our primary responsibility is leading souls to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but that’s only the beginning; the actual work for the cause of Christ has just begun. If I had not had wonderful people encouraging me along my new found path, I’d have been back to the old path in no time flat. Our church had gotten away from that and was doing a great injustice to the service of the Lord. His sheep were walking around with empty bellies.

In John 21:15-17 the Lord asks Peter three time “Lovest thou me?” and Peter (to paraphrase) said – “You know I do Lord!” Christ answered once to feed the lambs, and twice to feed the sheep. The lambs (new converts, the sheep (those who are stable and unstable in church) ~ We all need fed, we all need encouragement. Some days the road to Heaven is long…

Call and encourage one of your peeps today!

The Power of the Pig

When Jesus Christ walked the earth, He healed the sick, delivered the demon possessed, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, turned water to wine… goodness gracious! The list goes on and on through ages past to eternity. And as sure as His miracles happened so did the Devil have his day.

As Jesus was coming into the country of Gergesenes he met two men possessed of demons; men who terrorized people by blocking the road so that no man could pass; likely struck terror in the hearts of children and adults alike, menaces to society… until the day that Jesus passed by. He healed the two men and cast out their demons and the nightmare on the road to Gergesenes was over. But the nightmare in the city lived on. The problem wasn’t only the possession of people it was power of Satan’s persuasion.

Matthew 8:31-34

So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

They asked Jesus to leave! He Who had just saved their city from terror was asked to leave. Does this strike you as odd as it did me? I have been in scary situations before and when someone showed up to rescue me I was grateful they were around, I certainly wasn’t asking them to leave but rather holding on with all my might. I’m sure the people from the city were “happy” for the two men who were delivered from the demons… but doggone it, did Christ have to take their pigs?

The pig farmers sold Christ out. They went into town and rather than sharing the good news of salvation they complained to the city that Christ has killed their pigs. Unfortunately it’s still present in the church today. We want people saved, but not at the expense of our comfort. The fact of the matter is new converts can bring new issues and costs but I fully believe that had the pig farmers rejoiced in the salvation of the two men, Christ would have replaced the pigs the devil destroyed, probably with something greater!

Don’t let Satan rob you of a blessing by taking your focus off the ministry and on to the mayhem that can come with new ministries in a church. Our purpose is not in the pigs… its in the people and seeing souls saved!

Salvation: It’s not about signing up, but about giving up

There are those who’d have you to believe that Christian living is cookies and cream in the spring, apple pie on a summer day with a dollop of ice cream on top, apple cider in the fall and hot cocoa in the winter. It’s a state of comfort year round for those who live right. And if that is the case I am not the one to look to for answers. Because other than my first 5 minutes at the altar, living the Christian life has been anything but easy. But don’t stop reading there, it’s also been peace at its finest, and for that the ease has been worthy of passing up. If you’re a new convert, meaning just recently having accepted Christ as your Savior, (or an old convert) you’ve made the best decision of your life but it’s an eye opener! You suddenly realize just how many faults and failures you have, and everywhere you turn is a reminder; because this Holy God that you’ve asked to enter into your heart wants nothing to do with sin, and you’ve just discovered how much sin is in your life! The closer you get to Christ the harsher that reality is.

Matthew 7:13-14 says ~ Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Jesus says that getting saved is like entering in at a straight gate… simple enough right?… but the word “straight” in this passage is not as in “straight as an arrow” but rather as in the “Strait of Gibraltar,” a narrow and turbulent passage of water that connects the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea. That sounds so much more like my life than the straight as an arrow analogy. The thing about water is it’s much easier if you go with the flow than to fight against its current. But when we get into a struggle in life our human nature kicks in and we fight with all we’ve got, believing that we’re not supposed to have trouble; we are children of the King after all! But Jesus says no, you’re going to have trouble in this world because this world is messed up. It’s broken and it’s not going to be fixed until He returns, but in the meantime, flow through the turbulent times not kicking and screaming but rather holding onto Him as your life jacket. He won’t let you go and He sure won’t let you sink.

That is why salvation is not about signing up, it’s about giving up. Signing up means you’ve enlisted to “do something.” You can’t do anything to get yourself saved, Christ already did it and that part is indeed easy for you. But man likes to complicate things, we like to “do something, fix something or reinvent something to make it better.” You can’t make yourself or salvation better.

A very easily understood analogy of Christ is his statement that follows in verses 15-17 ~   Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

We all likely know them, those who preach Christ but live more like His adversary the Devil. They frustrate us, or they do me! Because the damage they do to young Christians by pretending that their life is perfect when it’s apparent it’s not, will cause a young Christian to question their salvation decision, throw their hands up in defeat believing they’re wrong and in so doing lose the peace God affords. Salvation takes two hands, and they both need to be holding onto Jesus, not on to anything in this world. The waters may be rough, but hang on child of God, Jesus has you covered! Woohoo… just wrote myself happy!