Category Archives: Church attendance

My Burden for the Little People!

When I make the statement “I have a burden for small churches,” I get a multitude of looks and responses. If the person to whom I’m speaking is not a member of a small church, or usually any church, they just don’t get it at all. But if they are a member, their response depends upon how active and concerned they are for their portion of the body of Christ. Most are very concerned, and bewildered perhaps, on how to do anything to get their church motivated and growing. I get that. The struggle is real in every church regardless of size. It’s very difficult in our apathetic society who sees no need to arise on Sunday morning with their family and attend their local church. That is what drives me to be up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning to write about it. And my soul stirs within me because I know I’m called to exhortation of the “little people.” The forgotten church houses in the hills and hollers of the United States. No, not just Calhoun County, West Virginia. Although that is my first mission field. But after traveling to New Mexico and seeing the battle firsthand on that side of the country, my burden is for everyone from east to west and north to south. That is my mission field.

In reading the book of Revelation, I see the little churches. Although the churches for which John is writing may or may not have been little in size. They were notable churches of the day. But read verses 12-16:

Revelation 1:12-16

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

First of all, the image of John seeing God should get you excited. That will be us one day who know the Lord Jesus as Savior! The seven candlesticks are the seven churches to whom John writes. The seven stars in the hand of Jesus are the seven angels of the seven churches as written in verse 20.

That thought caught my mind this morning as I began to think about my own beloved (a very churchy word with a very deep meaning) Victory Baptist Church and the fact that we have an angel. I have to tell you, with our tribe, that angel gets a workout. That’s spoken part in fun and much truth. Victory Baptist has been my training ground for 23 years. The Lord placed me there because He knew I’d be under great leadership and receive the edification necessary to make a difference in this world. He allowed me to go through trouble, strife and anxieties within and without the church. That too was training ground.

I’ve experienced the power of Jesus in the midst. That’s where He is. Just like He was in the midst of those seven candlesticks, He’s in the midst of our churches. No matter what our church faces, Jesus is there with all power. We lack nothing of what’s necessary to thrive in his world, and yet we all struggle because the battle is very real. Jesus knows that, and that’s why He’s there.

Those angels that are with Jesus are also there to remind us that although Satan and his minions are out there wreaking havoc, we have our own spiritual realm of defenders. Glory to God! that makes me very happy!

Today I am encouraged in this word. I hope you’re encouraged too! Tomorrow is the Lord’s day and we have a few hours before the bell rings. Let’s do what we can to strengthen the body of Christ by prayer, and an invitation or two! That’s where the growth starts.

Save this meme, and share it with your friends… you don’t know until you ask!

The Great Escape

Every time I reach the point of exhaustion, brought on by too much list and not enough time, I have one of those wishful Calgon take me away moments. If you remember the commercial, it’s where the mom soaks down into a tub full of Calgon bubbles and somehow her world goes away.

While that’s awesome. The problem is you have to get out of the tub eventually! Monday comes. That’s where the manic Monday concept comes from. The dishes need done, the work needs done, people need stuff, the phone’s ringing, the bills need paid and it all gets to be too much.

It’s then that I need my life to make sense. I need order in my chaos. And because I am personally my own chaos, I can’t do it. So I go to the word. And I look for my escape from the manic I call Monday.

I knew it was coming. So when the Pastor preached from Philippians four last night and I heard the word escape, my mind began to drift from Sunday night to Monday and I felt that overwhelmed feeling and thought, “that’s my word for the week.” I need to escape!

But just like the Calgon bath, I knew I would eventually have to face it. Just as we all do. So I might as well face it with the Lord and His word.

When looking for an Escape, Don’t Ignore the People

Hebrews 11:32-35

And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae, of David also and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out o the weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in the fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

Glory to God what a line up of people for us to gather encouragement this Monday morning!

Most of them did escape. They eventually got their Calgon moment. But some went by the way of great escapes because they escaped to the best Calgon Moment of all, the one that never ends called eternity.

And while none of us are likely wanting to shorten our time here. We can still have those Calgon moments if we stay in the word.

Those people, as well as others in our life are there for an example.

Hebrews 12:1 says

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

God knew there would be “Calgon take me away” days. He wanted us to be prepared for them, so He put examples of the others who faced worse, and many in our own lives today. You know who they are. The people that you just don’t know how they do it.

I think of Louis Milam. A man in our church who had crippling arthritis and the deformities that came with it, and yet he seldom ever missed church. He’s my go to guy even though he’s already gone on to Heaven. Every time I want to throw in the towel, I think of him. I don’t figure Louis had one Calgon day in the last 20 years of his life. And yet he didn’t quit.

Don’t ignore the people that God put in your life to encourage you.

My second point:

When Looking for an Escape, Don’t Ignore the Preacher

Hebrews 12:25

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from Heaven:

If that’s not a warning, I’ve never heard one!

October is Pastor appreciation month. It may be one of the most unappreciated professions of all times in this day and age. The world doesn’t want to hear preaching. I crave it. I listen to it more than music, because to me it is music.

It restores my hope! Last night the preacher said something that really made me take note. He said “Nothing should make us go to one extreme or the other, because nothing changes the fact that the Lord is going to return!”

Wowzer!

Nothing that happens today is going to change the fact that Jesus is coming back! Woohoo and Glory to God! that should put a shout on you. Because you can say that to Satan and it will for sure get his goat, because he knows it’s true.

Someone once said “If Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.”

That’s why we go to church and take every opportunity we can to listen to good solid preaching because we need that reminder that we will have our day.

Which brings me to my third and final point:

When Looking for an Escape, Don’t Ignore the Promises

2 Peter 1:4

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

We have within ourselves the divine nature of God in the Holy Spirit. We have a Calgon moment in the making anytime we want it, but we have to have the promises of God in our lives to escape the corruption of this world which is also still in us. Those promise are found in the word of God.

I don’t think any of us realize how precious the book is. But we can see how precious Satan knows it is because he keeps doing everything within his power to destroy it. It’s why we have to fight for it.

Not nearly enough came to the fight with Madeline Murray O’Hair in 1963 when she single handedly managed to get prayer and the word of God out of public schools. I wonder what our lives would be like today if she had lost her battle. I read the story of her distorted life and horrific death this morning and praise God for her only living son, William, who is saved and serving God in D.C. as an author, Baptist minister and chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition.

So I’ll say this in closing, the only way to escape the wickedness of this world, is to understand that Jesus is the way, truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Him. He is the only way to a true Calgon moment. Do you know Him today. I needed this message today. Take heart child of God, Jesus is coming soon!

Please share this post and I pray your week is awesome!!!

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.

Mutual Faith

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. ~ Romans 1:11-12

It’s what’s kept me going for 23 years. I believe with all my heart that it is the most undervalued superpower of the church today. It’s why pews are sitting empty and saints of God are living defeated lives. God never intended for us to go through this alone. Even He had 12 friends.

Mutual faith is a beautiful thing. Let me tell you what it looks like in my life.

Mutual Desire

On Sunday morning I’m with the local church. A body of believers that I stand doctrinally in agreement with. We don’t argue. Haven’t for the 23 years I’ve been there, (which for some churches is unfathomable). We’ve not argued because we’ve had strong leadership and a mutual desire to keep Christ as the Head of the church. He’s in charge, then we fall in line accordingly – Pastor – Deacons – Church.

If everyone is doing what they’ve been designed to do, you don’t want to do what someone else has been called to do.

On Saturday my heart begins to desire my Sunday morning time with God’s people. It’s genuine and I know that I’m called to serve in that place in my multiple positions. I don’t want anyone else’s! Believe me, God has placed enough on my plate. That’s what He does when you share His mutual desires.

Mutual Foundation

When Victory Baptist church was established in 1992, it came to be out of heartache. A church split that was never desired, causing division among God’s people, which was never intended. I came on board 4 years later. After the dust had settled.

I came in from a church that had been established for decades. A church that loved each other but had lost their mutual desire. There was no Kingdom purpose. No foundation. (I don’t say that lightly) it makes my stomach turn to think about it. But it is unfortunately what is happening to most churches of today.

The foundation of the church is to edify the body and seek souls to be saved. Victory was built on soul winning, something we too have lost sight of over the years. It’s easy to get complacent and become very comfortable with those we have.

Peter sent thousands out from Pentecost. Can you imagine? These people in Rome were of that lot and they were excited, and Paul was excited to meet them. He loved where he was, but he desired to go where he had not been.

That’s a lesson for us! I so desire to go where I have not been.

Mutual Faith

It doesn’t matter where I go, I find those of mutual faith. Or perhaps God sends them my way. I seldom ever go anywhere that I don’t meet up with God’s children.

My husband David and I went on the hunt of yard sales in the city last weekend and low and behold, one after another I met with God’s people. What a blessing!

I drew strength from them. They perhaps did not even know it. Or maybe they too drew strength from me.

By the same token at those sales I also met people that my soul bore witness that they did not know Christ. I feel like I missed the boat because I didn’t take the time to tell them about Jesus. I have friends who you’ll not be in their presence, but a few minutes and you’ll know that they have come to tell you about Jesus. They do it unashamedly, with bold conviction!

I have bold conviction, and a big mouth. I know that I’m failing to use my spiritual gift to do what God designed me to do. Tell the world about Jesus… better.

I don’t take lightly the web platform, after all, how many people has Paul reached and continues to reach for the cause of Christ through the written word. It too is a superpower. The point is, there is not only safety in numbers there is power in numbers! Together we are an amazing team.

I pray this has encouraged you! Feel free to share it and invite people to your church. Let them know you’re a part of a great team too!

Faith is Not Routine

There is nothing routine about God! We like things neat, tidy and wrapped with a bow… but God’s not on a schedule, and there’s no such thing as time in Heaven.

Text: Ephesians 3:16-19

16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Four verses, one sentence and a lot of goodness that we need to understand. And by the way, nothing common, ordinary or routine. Because just when we think we have God figured out, He goes and does beyond anything we could ever imagine.

When we think we can’t take anymore, He allows more. Just to prove to us that we’re stronger than we think, and that we need Him more than ever.

Exercise routines are good… I’m lousy at them, but they’re very good. They strengthen the body the same way trials strengthen our spirit when our faith is exercised. It builds faith muscles when we’re pushed outside our comfort zone. Praise God it’s not routine. They don’t happen every day, if they did, we’d likely give up. God never puts things on us to cause us to quit, He wants us to understand how far His love extends and how far He’ll go down this road with us. All the way to the end of this road, when eternity begins.

Paul said that the love of Christ “passeth” our knowledge. We can’t imagine the depth of it. It’s like the bible school song many of us sang, “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.” And remember the second verse, when we’d add the Mmmm… in place of the words. I thought a lot about that today, and how the writer of that song may have been inspired by the fact that the depth and width of God’s fountain of overflowing love is indescribable.

After this weekend, where 30 people were killed by the wicked devices of this world, we need to remember that love. Those people were just living life, not waging war, and yet they were killed. That is a level of evil most of us, praise God, cannot understand either. We can’t imagine the frame of mind of those murderous individuals. But it’s not hard to understand the feeling of hopelessness that many people in this world face because they’ve never experienced the “fullness of God.”

Our church just came out of revival. Our annual tent meeting. A yearly scheduled event we call revival. But that’s not the revival God wants. Paul lived in a state of revival, not because life was roses, but because he was constantly under persecution and threat of death. That will cause you to get your priorities in check, quickly! A look around us should remind us of our need for bold exercised faith.

I kind of figure there was a time the very disciplined Paul lived a routine. But when Jesus blinded him along the road, Paul’s routine life went right out the window. And he became a man who lived in the moment.

In the last two verses of Chapter 3 of Ephesus Paul writes this:

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

He reminds us all that God can and will do far more than we ask or think, but He just won’t do it and hand it too us on a silver platter; He does it through us and through our church body. And He does it for His glory!

What are you going to do this week for the cause? Are you in revival, or are you a walking corpse waiting for the upper taker. Be alive in Christ Jesus and working for His cause. He is worthy!!

We Need to Take Care of Our Land

The Land of Less

It’s so easy to forget that we need to glorify God when things are going well. But let the well run dry for a while; and then be refilled, and suddenly praising God comes easy! When heartaches come it feels like we’re walking through a desert land. Creating a thirst for what once was and what we hope will be again. The land of less is relative to the life you live; for some it’s the land of nothing. A fact I often forget. What I deem as less would be a life of luxury for some in other parts of the world. True story…

We live in the land of the Blessed

When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh because my soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lustest after. ~ Deuteronomy 12:20

Our great and Almighty God enlarges our territory, he expands not only our physical places but our reach. He makes promises that we can hang onto believing it to already be true. But we have to be in a position and a mindset to receive them.

For me I struggle between frustration and guilt so often that I miss the places I’m already blessed. I fully believe that I’m not further along in my life’s work because I’ve failed to appreciate the place I’m in. God expects more from His people than I give Him. I know I’m chosen. I know I should be living like it, but I don’t always do it.

The Land of the Stressed, Depressed and sometimes Oppressed

Sound like America? It does to me. Are we not a Nation that appears to be one step from needing hospitalization? And I’m not speaking of physically. The behavior of our people is crazy. Even the blessed are stressed and depressed, and the oppressed are likely in better condition than the blessed; because they at least know on Whom they can depend.

Even those of us who are spiritually grounded can relate.

Times of separation from what we desire in our life leaves a thirst that only God can fill.

Satan however uses stress to separate us from peace. God is peace.

Satan uses depression to separate us from joy. God is joy.

Satan uses oppression to separate us from the feeling of belonging. God is ours and we are His. Glorrrraaaay!!!!

Psalm 63 1 ~ O God, thou art my God; early will I see thee: my soul thristeth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.

That is why

I know the Land of Refreshed

There is a built in desire of the people of God to be in fellowship with likeminded souls.

Psalm 84:2 ~ My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the Living God.

It refreshes my soul to be in the right congregation with the right people. That place is for you to decide, but this is a criteria you should consider.

  • First and foremost the Word of God must be your primary focus. A church that fails to stand on the word of God is nothing more than an organization of members. It is not the body of Christ. He has to be center.
  • The people should be encouragers, not discouragers. You should feel loved!
  • The people (especially leadership) should exhort, not distort. The truth of the Word refresh your soul and you should feel filled!
  • There should be affirmation not condemnation from the people.  You should feel as though you are a part of that body in Christ and that they too desire to be with you. You should feel accepted, not judged.

I’ve been in enough congregations to know that this is not always the case. It doesn’t mean they don’t have good people or they’re not doctrinally sound. It means that perhaps they need to examine their church the way we have to examine our lives. If we are not what God desires us to be, we know it and it causes us to thirst for what we need. We need to take care of our land. Personally, Physically. Spiritually.

3 Reasons I think People Don’t Feel Saved

For  many years if you’d have ask me if I was saved I’d have said yes. Largely because of shame and because I couldn’t admit that I didn’t even understand that concept. Most people who knew me assumed I was saved for no other reason than because I went to church. That was it. That was all it took.  Not because there was any evidence of it in my personal walk with Christ. Which I didn’t have.

So yesterday, as I was blessed to sit in church and hear a convicting message of the gospel; and by convicting I don’t mean I felt like a dirt dog, because I’ve been in those sermons too. But by convicted I knew there were areas in my life that needed more commitment.  And one of those areas was my Monday morning video “Not Another Manic Monday.” I had lost sight of what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to draw people closer in their walk with Christ.

So today’s topic is one that I believe every child of God has an occasional if not consistent struggle with. The assurance that you’re saved, and three possible reasons that I think will help in winning that battle.

People Don’t Read Beyond the Norm

So what’s the norm? Unfortunately, I think people rarely, if ever read the word. I think that because that’s who I was in my previous church life.

Hebrews 10:22 ~ Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

A preacher friend of mine (and I’ve used this illustration so many times) said that the Word of God was like a spiritual “warsh” cloth. I know it’s wash cloth, but that’s how he said, and I love that memory.

It’s a phrase that has stuck in my head because I know it to be true. And it’s one of the primary reasons people lose their assurance of salvation. Because they don’t understand the importance of reading the word of God.

Prior to salvation, my idea of reading the word of God was, #1~ it was the preacher’s job. # 2 ~ it was there if I felt troubled. But the problem with the second notion, is at that time I wasn’t saved. So it was like reading the owner’s manual of a product I didn’t have. It made no sense what so ever. 

But once I became saved, and the Spirit of God came into my heart that changed and I was blessed with an immediate desire to soak in the word of God in every form. Spoken, written and recorded. I know I’m not the norm and many people may not have the time that I spend in His word. But the writer of Hebrew spoke a great truth when he said

…  having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

That evil conscience (that causes us to doubt our salvation) is covered by the blood. But without the reading of the word to remind us of that, we lose the feeling of being clean.

There is one thing I can tell you with bold assurance because I’ve lived it and I’ve failed at it; without the reading of the word of God, you will forever battle the assurance of salvation.

When the writer of Hebrews wrote 10:22, and when my preacher friend was inspired to say “warsh cloth” it was because both of those men had a relationship with the Lord beyond the norm.

People Don’t Live Beyond the Norm

1 Thessalonians 1:5 ~ For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

God has blessed me with some amazing Spirit filled saints in my life. People who live out the faith. They’re not perfect, but they’re living in the perfection of Christ.

By Spirit filled I don’t mean that they have more of God in them than the average saved person. When we get saved we all get all of God. 

Ephesians 3:19 says And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

When I think of the fullness of God I think of it like shaking a soda pop. When you do the carbonated bubbles explode to the surface. Well that’s what it’s like when you’re filled with the Spirit. It’s not that you have any more of God that anyone else. But rather the Spirit in you begins to bubble up with excitement because of the work God is doing in your life. And when it bubbles up and out, it’s evident to not only you, but the people around you.

At those times, nobody can tell you you’re not saved. Because you’re living it. And while we can’t live on the mountain all the time, if we’re serving God enough, those experiences will leave very little room for doubt in your eternal state. Not for you. Or for the people around you.

I was successful in my early walk with Christ because the people around me bubbled with excitement. And I wanted it too.

People Don’t Attend Church Beyond the Norm

Colossians 2:2 ~  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Growing up I thought that faith was a Sunday morning thing. Sunday night and Wednesday Night Bible Study was for the blue hairs and old men. And most churches are still like that today, if they even have a Sunday night or Wednesday night service.

Right after I got saved our church began a Wednesday Night Study called “Journey to the Heavenlies.” It was a study on the book of Revelation. A pretty heavy topic for a new believer. And while I certainly didn’t understand all of it, I understood enough, because of an excellent teacher. I was fascinated about the prospect of Heaven and no longer feared the end times.

That understanding helped inspire me to read and live beyond the norm. And it gave me the desire to come back again and again to learn more. I was so thankful for the truth of God’s word being taught to me that I wanted to live and do more for my Lord.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians he hadn’t been with them for a while. But they were holding on to each other and it multiplied their assurance.

That’s what attending a church does and why it’s crucial to your assurance.

When I got saved I was attending every revival around me. I couldn’t get enough church, be it mine or someone else’s. I just wanted to be with God’s people. I still do.

I know that in being with God’s people, I’ll not only be encouraged, I’ll be accountable. We need people in our lives that will keep us from slipping in our faith which causes doubt.

Last night the preacher told the story of some old time saints in a remote village. They didn’t have a closet to get into for prayer, but realizing the importance of spending time alone with God they would carve out a path in the woods. Each would have their own.

But if someone’s path started having grass grow on it, it would be evidence that they weren’t spending time alone with God. And one of their friends, in a nice tone would say, “Friend, your path has grass on it.”

They were letting them know that they were concerned that their friend wasn’t spending enough time with God.

So that’s my question for you.    Friend, does your path have grass on it? I hope not. And I don’t stand in judgement. Because my path any day could start growing grass because I’m just flesh and blood.

That’s why I go to church, read the word and live beyond the norm. Because I’m not normal.

That should get a big amen!

It’s Not about Us this Morning

A quick drawing and a quick thought this morning as I prepared my heart for church. I needed to remember, and perhaps you do as well, that God’s idea of mercy and mine are two entirely different notions. Mine has limitations, His goes higher than my mind can fathom.

As I prepare my heart for worship, Satan loves nothing better than to bring my failures into view in hopes that rather than glorifying God, I’ll remember me. But the fact of the matter God has thrown them as far as the east is from the west.

Now let’s go to church and praise Him for it.

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.

One Generation can change the World

I watch as my 83 year old Mother mows her lawn, weeds her flowers, quarrels because the deer eat them, and continues to feed them by making sure her beds are filled with new flowers each year. She cooks Sunday dinner for her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren to the number of 20-30 every other Sunday. Her work ethic is not dampened by the fact that her legs don’t function nearly as good as they did a few years ago. Her generation is still an example set before us that is so very much taken for granted and discarded in the lives of many. They are often the weakening back bones in most of the church across America while the generations below them are too busy or too apathetic to make church a priority.

In 2 Chronicles 27:1-5 we have an example of Generation Builders.

Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord. And the people did yet corruptly. He built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.  Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers. He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.

Jotham was a leader with work ethic, however not so much in the backbone department evidently. There was much said about the attention of detail he gave to rebuilding the city and House of the Lord. His battles were fought and won and yet one sentence in his story speaks volumes in the coming generation.

“And the people did yet corruptly.”

His leadership took care of the materialistic and defensive matters of the day, but the ethics were sorely lacking. Sound familiar? Continue reading in 2 Chronicles and you’ll discover that his son Ahaz was a wicked, idol worshiping, child sacrificing moron that God punished by allowing his captivity as well as Judah’s. God had had enough and the entire nation paid the price. Why would we think that America would be any different? It’s purely speculation on my part, but I have to wonder if Jotham failed to be vocal and forward about teaching his values.

I didn’t realize that my Momma’s generation was called “The Builders,” but I believe that’s an appropriate description, while Baby Boomers is a good description of mine because we’ve blown up quite a bit. We are failing the next generation in leadership by following in the ways of my speculation of Jotham. We are not vocal enough about the ways and expectations of the Holy God we serve.  Yes, our buildings are beautiful, but there’s not very many people in most of them.

It only took one generation of mealy mouthed leadership in Jotham’s day to become a fallen nation in the day of his son, Ahaz. We were nearing that point just a few years ago when we sat silently idle as our country’s leadership embraced every false religion and scorned Christianity. We are raising a spoiled generation who believe they are entitled to the freedom of immoral beliefs and our children are being sacrificed to the gods of this world which are at their fingertips.

However, I believe that God has given grace to our nation because of those of us who are willing to speak out against the “Ahazian” (my own word regarding Ahaz) leadership that still remains in Washington and Hollywood who are trying their best to destroy the work God is doing in through the current administration. No the current administration is not perfect, they’re sinners just like the rest of the world, but at least the name of Jesus is back in our White House! Praise God!!! Our soldiers are supported and our flag is respected.

I pray you are vocal to your children and grandchildren about the Lord Jesus and why we need to let the world know He Saves! Because that is what will save our Nation.