Category Archives: Faith

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!

Rain On Me Lord!

April showers bring May flowers, provided they’re properly cared for by the gardener. And while wild flowers can grow with seemingly no care whatsoever, my sometimes, confessedly neglected flower beds begin to dry up within hours of me forgetting to water them. My spiritual life is much the same. Left unattended, without the water of the Word and I’m as shriveled and parched as a raisin in the sun. It’s also true if I don’t spend time nurturing my relationship with the Lord. I cannot do it for the Jesus Chick, not for my Sunday morning class or my Wednesday night class, but for me alone. It’s personal.

Isaiah 45:8-12

Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

Getting in the word is just like my spring time flower beds; digging around always unearths something. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. The word is always good, but sometimes there’s some bad in me that needs rooted out cast out. If I spend all my time focusing on ministering to other people, I miss the ministering I need. And the weeds of this world will prevent my own spiritual growth. We need to take time for us.

Isaiah understood that concept when he received the word of God. Isaiah was a vessel, filled with the seeds that God had given him and a relationship that allowed him to be used mightily by God. We too are that vessel!

Stop Striving with God

Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?

Striving against God? Who would be that stupid, right? Me. That’s what I do every time I feel the coercing of the Holy Spirit to spend time alone with God and I spend it in the world. When I read verse nine I could hear God say, “That is not what I created you for. I didn’t create you to be exhausted with things of no eternal value. Stop striving.”

Stop Doubting God

10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?

Why do we question why we were created as we were? Boy, oh boy does that question hit me hard. I’ve never made any bones about it when it comes to my always questioning God’s direction in my life. Even though I know. Even though it’s as obvious as the nose on my face. But even with the knowledge of what I’m supposed to do, I’m always playing the comparison game with other writer, artists, and singers. Basically telling God that what He did in me, isn’t enough.

Stop Bossing God

11 Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. 12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

When I read these verses I immediately knew that God wanted me to know. To Shari quote it in the manner I heard it inside of my head, I heard God say “Why don’t you ask Me and My Son what we have planned for you instead of telling Us what you have planned. I’ve created the universe and the host of all of Heaven. What have you created by comparison?”

Wow. That is so true.

I’m learning at a snail’s pace to love myself and my work. But it’s hard. I criticize myself until I feel like a dirt dog unworthy to eat from the scrapyard. True story. But the reality is, who created strife and doubt? and Who created confidence and love? We know the answer and yet we buy the lies of Satan every day.

Stop Striving. Stop Doubting. Stop Bossing. Start enjoying the gifts God has given you.

Crash Test Christianity

That’s the thought that came out of the teen class lesson yesterday as my co-teacher Doug taught our youth. My brain goes strange places sometimes and either like honey or mud, it’s stuck in that place until I dig around and find out what the Lord needs me to know about that word.

The word was “prove”. Meaning to demonstrate, show, give evidence or verify something.

It’s what most of us want on the everyday front of life; we want evidence that we’re going the right direction, that God is pleased, that we’re forgiven. And God tells us that’s okay. He wants us to prove Him.

But sometimes proving Him leaves me feeling a little like a crash test dummy. Not that God wants me to be that. He’d rather I be the evaluator. Not the demonstrator. But I hit the wall again and again. I’m no different than the original crash test dummies, they however were on camels not Kia souls.

Behavior Lessons

In Exodus 15:24-25 it says

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?

There third day into the trip and they’ve already found something to complain about with leadership. They’d arrived at Marah and couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. And that was Moses’ fault.

Yesterday, my grandsons Luke and Parker were wrestling in the floor and knocked something off the table. Within a second of the crash Parker yelled, “Luke did it!’

We’re always looking for someone to blame for our problems in life rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves. I’m not apt to throw someone under the bus, though I might, but more than likely I’ll blame circumstances for my errors. Knowing it was my fault.

But God gives Israel the bitter water to prove something about Himself.

Verse 25:

And he cried unto the Lord and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, and said, if thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth you.

Praise God for grace! We are not bound by the law. But that doesn’t make the law nonexistent. It’s still there. But now it proves that we cannot keep ourselves. We depend on that grace to clean us up when we crash and burn.

And He does. The name of Grace is Jesus.

Faith Lessons

In Exodus 16 we find the children of Israel complaining again, but this time its about the food.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

For some reason that scripture struck me funny. Although I don’t find it funny when my provision isn’t coming in like I wish it would. If you’ve ever lacked (and we all likely have), you can understand the children of Israel’s mindset. We often chalk them up to being a bunch of whiners, but if you’re a million strong in the wilderness and you’re not seeing a Walmart, you’re worried. But the Lord intervenes in the conversation:

Vs. 4

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

More evidence. More being tied to the law. Again… praise God for grace! Our provision is not tied to the law, it’s tied to faith.

Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your  need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:6 ~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Verse after verse we’re given about the provision of God. And yet ye all know that there have been times when we’ve been without. Is that a lack of faith? Perhaps it’s just another way God proves Himself to us. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Sometimes it’s about learning that we can survive without it.

One of my nephews crashed a motorcycle one time and once the downed bike stop sliding and he stopped rolling, he jumped up and said, “I’m fine.” No one was any more surprised than he was. He learned that sometimes we can crash and not burn.

The last place I want to talk about being a crash test dummy is in Exodus 20:20

Grace Lessons

 We just talked about it through Paul. So how does grace work with the laws of God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Moses had just given them the Lord’s Ten Commandments. They had seen God come down as lightening, thunder and the noise of a trumpet and they wanted no part of it. They wanted an intercessor. So do we.

Remember, this was before the days of sci-fi and special effects. This was the real deal and I probably would be afraid too. The only one not shaking in his shoes was Moses and that was because this wasn’t His first rodeo with God. He’d been in conversations with God before.

But now. Glory to God!!! We don’t need an intercessor. We have a more excellent way. There is no need to go through a priest. Christ took care of that on the cross.

Matthew 27:51 – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Ephesians 2:18 ~ For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Second to the Resurrection, which proved my Lord’s power over death, my favorite part of that story is the renting of the curtain in the temple. The very thing that kept the common man out of the Holy of Holies was gone. Torn in two from top to the bottom, and opening our way to have direct access to God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

God proves that every day to His children by showing them His presence in their lives.

While the children of Israel felt condemned by the law, there is no condemnation in Christ, only grace for those who come to Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There is no crash and burn for the child of God. Just like those crash test dummies, we my crash, but  we’ll be fine. Because the Lord is on our side!

A Hippy at Heart

I truly am a hippy at heart. And by hippy I don’t mean the stereotypical one’s that those of us who were raised in the 60’s and 70’s remember. Though I must confess I would have fit that mold at various times in my life too. But by hippy I mean, tie-dye lovin’, peace seeking, freedom speaking child of God. I think God like’s the hippy mindset so long as He is the center focus.

Perhaps you agree. Perhaps not. Either is okay. But it’s where my mind is at this morning. I actually drew two images (one above and one below for this blog) The first was the dove below but then the blog took on a whole other direction. And thus the hippy Shari showed up.

My verse this morning for focus was Isaiah 26:3

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

So you may be wondering how I got from the dove to the hippy? It was a short trip. It started with my niece Holly. She’s a little hippy-ish too. And she’s been on my mind a lot lately. She’s a single mom of three and such a free spirit. I love her. I love all my nieces and nephews and my children because each one is so different. I mean really!!!!! different. Out of the 12 they have a few commonalities, but their personalities are nowhere close. Much like the church of God.

We have a common bond, Christ Jesus; but our personalities are what makes us who we are in Christ, and it’s what makes each one of us cope with difficult times in a different way.

I cope with life struggles by relying on the freedom of Christ. That’s the hippy mindset in me. It’s not that I want to go wherever the wind blows, that’s not God’s way; but I want to go in the direction the Spirit leads, and sometimes that’s down weird path that other people don’t understand.  

So on a day that I’m struggling with some issues in life I turned to this verse and found the freedom for living that I needed.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Perfect Peace?

What does that look like? Well, first of all you have to tune into the first word of that sentence. Thou. Thou is God. And it is in Him only that you’ll find perfect peace.

It’s not that life is perfect, it’s that we can rest in the knowledge that whatever we’re facing is in His control. If He chooses to take us through it, we’ll go. If He chooses to remove us from it, we’ll go out or around, but some way, somehow God’s got it taken care of.

That sounds so easy right? But we know it’s not always. Life sometimes stinks and it’s not any fun, and that’s where the hippy attitude of the flower children and God’s children parts. We’re not escaping reality, we’re living in the very real knowledge that we serve a God who can and does amazing things in the lives of those who serve and trust Him.

That’s where that free spirit takes me that is my happy place!!! I can trust in Him who I have served for 23 years and watched as He brought me through time and time again. I know that if I keep my mind focused on the direction God, the Holy Spirit is leading, I’m going to come out a winner. Because I’ve read the end of the book.

Just as my 12 nieces and nephews and 25 great nieces and nephews (yes there is a boatload of us) differ and have many talents, so does the church. Find yours, give it to God, and then walk in the freedom His peace affords knowing He’s guiding you.

That’s my advice to my kids and grand-kids, and it’s my advice for you…

Take Heart Child of God

He brought me forth also into a large place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19

Room to Breathe

Have you ever been trapped in a small space? Even sitting in a crowded theatre where people are shoulder to shoulder is not a feeling I enjoy. I’m not claustrophobic but I still don’t enjoy it. It’s the same feeling that I get when trouble happens in my life. I feel as though the walls are closing in on me, breathing is difficult and being a heart attack survivor, those times are not what I want to experience.

I need room to breathe. And Praise God! He provides that room through His word.

Psalm 18, another of David, who assuredly had enemies, was likely written in his old age. Perhaps a reflection of his previous enemies, maybe new ones. As a child of God we all have enemies, the greatest being Satan. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. Heaping and heaping things upon myself, until I’m out of room.

This morning I imagined God swooping in , brushing my burdens away and telling Satan, not today. She’s got no time for that. And I could breathe.

That place… that awesome large place… is Heaven. Me seated in Heaven with the Father as spoken in Ephesians 2: 6

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

There is plenty of room to breathe in Heaven!

Removed from Battle

He delivered me. I did not fight the battle because I didn’t have the strength.  If David was in his final days upon writing this Psalm, he likely wasn’t able to physically fight the battles any longer.  Regardless of age, life’s battles takes its toll on your strength.  It weakens the spirit and with it weakens my hope that I’ll win.

I’m in that place this morning.

It’s why I turned to the word of God, looking for hope in the only place it is a surety. It’s there I found the freedom to breathe and the relief of not fighting the battle. Just to sit and watch God as He removed me from the battle.

Raised in Belief

Belief that I am a favored child of the King. Raised, meaning lifted up and strengthened in the knowledge that He who sits high and looks low, not only controls my world but the world of those that would seek to cause anxiety and stress in my life.

He loves us! He does not want us to fight these battles alone and He desires that we talk to Him about it and get out of the mindset of defeat. He delights in you!

I can’t help but think about my own children and how I delight in them. I can’t wait to see them and speak with them. I love hearing what’s going on in their life, it’s not a burden, it’s a blessing. I want God to do amazing things in their lives and for them to have Victory.

Is it any different for our Father?

 Take heart child of God. You are loved and adored by your Father above. You are with Him in Heaven and He is with you on earth.  The battle is over with Him because He goes before us. We have His word as a promise and a reason to believe. I hope this encourages you today! It sure did me

How Thirsty are You?

It’s a thought that’s been so heavy on my mind and heart lately. I’m not thirsty enough. Not when it comes to water in a bottle, or the water of the Bible. I just don’t want it bad enough, knowing that it is the quencher to the thirst within.

Why is that?

The old adage “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” comes to mind. There are people all across the earth that would literally give their right arm for what I have freely flowing in the tap. The same holds true for what’s lying beside me on the couch. The water of the word that is all over my house, on multiple tables, bookshelves, and electronic devices, and yet I don’t thirst enough. I read it. But I don’t thirst for it.

In Psalm 42 David writes as he’s being persecuted by Saul for doing nothing less than trying to be of help in a position that he knows is actually his. He is on the run, driven from his homeland where he longs to be. Away from family and friends, away from the house of God. All these things that I have surrounding me and yet I take them for granted.

This morning I have burdens on my soul. Ministry burdens. Life burdens. But I’m not on the run. Sunday morning, Lord willing, I’ll be in the sanctuary of Victory Baptist Church listening to the word of God without fear of being persecuted or killed because I’ve openly walked through the doors in the free country that I live and am protected by.

However, today I’m so parched by the world around me. I’m thirsting. I’m tired. Maybe you are too. Maybe you’ve had enough of bad news, wickedness abounding and world of hurting people. If you’re ready to sooth your weary soul. Read along with me and let’s unpack how David lived on the run…

Thirsting for His Presence

One of my favorite, fav-o-rite songs that I sing is “Your Presence is my Favorite Gift of All” by Claire Lynch. It blesses my soul! It causes me to remember that feeling that I have when I’m in the presence of the Almighty God. It causes me to long to be there again. Imagine David, on the run and unable to attend a worship service that He so loved being a part of. That’s where he is in the beginning of Psalm 42. He misses being in God’s presence. So do I.

1As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

The living God! Oh my stars if we could get a hold of that thought and take it in with every breath. God is not dead, He is very much alive! And He longs to be found alive within His church today. Not dry and dusty Christianity, but praise singing, hand raising, shoutin’ time Christianity. The real deal that comes from being thirsty.

I can imagine the hart (deer) running to the brook after being high in the mountains away from the water for a long time. Needing to feel that moisture running across his tongue and down his throat into the depths of his belly. What a relief! that’s where my soul was this morning. I needed to feel the Spirit of God like a glass of water from a well spring. Can you feel it? Just in the reading of a few lines of scripture I feel my soul moistening, tender, ready to receive His word.

Thirsting for His People

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

There was a time when many, many churches were on fire for God. They are few and far between. I need a church that praises and preaches the joy of God. One that I can feel the love of God through. I have that. David had that, he missed that. I long for a revival both in my soul and in my church. I want a soul stirring meeting that doesn’t want to end. We experienced one such in our church in 2010 when a 5 day revival went for weeks. We were thirsty. We not only thirsted for God but for each other. We couldn’t get enough of the fellowship. You practically had to throw people off the lot. David got that. He loved His people like that.

Thirsting for His Power

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

The Hermonians lived on a high hill, Mizar means little hill. I have to wonder if David isn’t reminded of times when regardless of being in a high place or a low place he experienced God’s power.

Am I thirsting for that? Do I even believe it will happen? I’m ashamed to say that there are times when I just don’t believe. Not because of God, but because of the flesh that I allow to rise upon with me.

I went to the Orthopedic doc yesterday for my knee injury. His diagnosis without the MRI was vague. He said it could be that when I injured it I flared up some serious arthritis. Or it could be the original diagnosis of a torn meniscus. Following the appointment I went to my friend Tracy’s for a new hair doo and she is a power packed prayer warrior. So as we discussed my knee I said, I’d rather it be arthritis than the tear. Which is crazy because the tear can be surgically healed, arthritis not so much. But I can’t have the surgery due to the open heart surgery being to close. To which Tracy responded and loudly. “Why are you not praying for complete healing?” To which I said inside my head, because I don’t have enough faith.

David was using the water that was overflowing him, that would have drowned a lesser man, to ignite the revival in his soul and the power to give God glory for the victory, even in the face of little hope.

Can I get a witness that that has got to encourage your soul!!!

Thirsting for His Praise

David was distraught and downhearted in a way I cannot even imagine. But I can imagine it on my level.

I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God? 11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

I have never felt that God forgot me, but I can tell you that I’ve felt that God was choosing to ignore me. I always knew it was my fault. I allowed myself to get there, but I couldn’t feel Him moving in my life. And I can tell you that I did not praise in that moment. But David did.

When the doc gave me the diagnosis yesterday I said, “Okay… this is what it is.” But what if God said… “It ain’t what you think.” I didn’t even leave room for the option.

I need to be a little thirstier for God’s side of this discussion…

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.

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.

Broken Again

Whoever coined the phrase “getting old ain’t for sissies” was so in tune with my life right now. So by way of confession, I’ll let you in on a secret, 2018 was brutal on me and 2019 isn’t so great either!

I stopped going to cardiac rehab at the hospital because I’m a wimp with cold weather. It was just easier to stay home. But I didn’t want to lose the progress that I’d made so I was doing some exercises at home. Which included a step aerobic that I really enjoyed when it was pain free. I was having some knee issues but I was determined to fight my way through. So as I step step stepped on my little Gold Gym ® stepper I misplaced my foot and stepped backward really hard. I immediately knew I was in trouble when a blood curdling scream proceeded from my mouth that brought the critters running to my rescue. Except Callie the cat, she is way too important to worry about her handler.

I refused to go to the hospital because it was cold outside. I told you I’m a wimp. So I waited 24 hours, for which worked really well for me because the temperature outside dropped to the negatives. But after x-rays and exams it was determined (as best they could without an MRI) that I have a torn meniscus. So I’m “peg leg pete” as my daughter Whitney now calls me, and I’m feeling very feeble. And not just physically.

Psalm 38 was written by David as a Psalm of remembrance. Although there is debate whether the Psalm was written to remember his sin with Bathsheba or the distress of Israel, for me it matters not. I only know that it resonated with my heart today.

Physical pain, and the pain of sin and regret take its toll on the body. It weakens me spiritually and causes an angst in my soul.

David penned it well when in verse 8 he wrote “I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.”

Feeble Folk

Feebleness is a state of frailty, weakness or delicacy. None of which I care to be described as. But I doubt I’m alone. We all have times when we feel weak whether or not it’s physical or emotionally in times of life’s woes. It brings to mind our mortality and just how very little we are in control.

While my torn meniscus could have been remedied by using a little common sense when exercising on laminate floors, my sins can be remedied by using a little common sense in my brain. Neither of which I overly skilled at. Obviously a trait King David bore as well.

I recently have been following a couple of gals on Instagram that are just a tad too perfect. Their actually not, they’re very human, but they’re posts are “pretty”. Their homes are pretty, their lives are pretty, their spirituality is pretty. They make me nauseous. Yes. I’m sinning in thought. But it’s the truth. I can’t handle all the “pretty” stuff. I need some reality. They really do inspire me to be better. But I also tune into a preacher who has been an utter failure! But he’s fighting back and roaring through the hard times and allowing me to see into his life of blunders and mishaps and helping me to understand, I’m not alone.

When I fell off the step, I roared both in my soul and in my physical being. I let the puppies know, momma was hurt. I believe we need to do that spiritually as well to a world of perfectionistic attitudes that see only the “pretty” images on social media and in life. We come into church with our perfect attire and attitudes having just left the brokenness of life at home and the reality that all is not necessarily as well as it looks.

It’s why I appreciate people like my preacher friend who lets me see his realness. Then my realness doesn’t make me feel like a complete failure, just a recovering failure. Which is truthfully what I am.

If there was an F.A. meeting (Failures Anonymous) I’d go. But there’s not. And once you attend you’re no longer anonymous. Everyone knows! So I’ll just go to church, read the word, talk to God and share with you. My therapist. Thanks for not charging me an arm or a leg (for which I only have one left.)

Finding Our Super Powers

Below is the teen lesson I’ll use for tomorrows Sunday School program where I teach 9-12th grades. It’s certainly a suitable study for adults as well, after all, I teach these teens as the spiritually mature adults they are. On more than one occasion they’ve taught me.

Most days I feel like the underdog. I fail, I fall, I get up and try again. I leap in faith only to look more like a leap frog than leaping a building in a single bound. I venture a guess I’m not alone. I’ve yet to meet a saint of God (at least any I cared to be around) who thought they were an absolute success. Servitude brings a humility that allows us to remember who ­­the real super Hero is: The Lord Jesus Christ! But even the bible recognizes the making of a hero. We’re not super heroes, but yet we too have the potential to be a hero by using the power within us. We (or at least I) fail to remember that it’s never me who has the ability to make things happens when leading souls to Christ or serving God in any capacity. But rather the Holy Spirit.

The rollcall of heroes in the book of Hebrews gives me great hope that God can use someone like me. So what is our role on the roll and what is our superpower.

One of my Dad’s favorite verses was Hebrews 11:1 ~

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Superpower #1 – Seeing the Unseen

Other Christians see things in me that I don’t see. Or I don’t have the faith in my abilities to bring them to fruition. But if we view life through the vantage point of God what are the unseen things we’d see? And how do we see them?

Hebrews 1:3

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

What unseen things do you “see” in creation?

When I think of framing I think of an incomplete project. God created this world by speaking it into existence. “Framed by the word of God.” But there is still work to do. We are that work for which we do by stepping and leaping in faith to show others to Christ.

Why do you think that unsaved people, especially those in the field of science, struggle with believing in God’s creation?

Superpower # 2 – Willing to Kill

The first hero mentioned in the book of Hebrews 11 is Abel. His super power was a righteous kill.

Hebrews 11:4

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Abel killed in obedience. Cain on the other hand killed out of jealous and pride and the killing was of his own brother.

Why was Abel’s killing of the sacrifice righteous?

Is that hard for us to understand, especially if we are critter lovers?

Of course it is! But it may be a little less difficult for those of us who are not vegetarian. We can understand the sacrifice a critter makes for us to have a hamburger.

Abel’s refusal to sacrifice an animal was his unwillingness to recognize that sin required a blood covering. It still does. But Christ made that final sacrifice on the cross.

The death now is our own. We are dead to ourselves and alive in Christ!

Superpower # 3 – God Pleasers

Hebrews 11:5

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

What can we do that would please God and allow the world to see this superpower?

One thing for certain, without faith we will not please God. Hebrews 11:6 says

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe00 th0at he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

If by seeking God, it pleases Him, how do we seek Him? And how does seeking Him show faith?

Superpower #4 – Boat Builders

Hebrews 11:7

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

In that day, that was more than a little bit crazy. From this side of it we know how wise he was, but at that point it had never rained one drop.

Sometimes if we want to be obedient to God’s calling we have to be a little bit crazy!

Have you, or do you know someone who’s been a little bit crazy?

Superpower #5 – Going to the unknown and believing the impossible

Hebrews 11:8

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; he went out, not knowing whither he went.

Stepping out in faith isn’t for the faint of heart. Abraham had no idea where God was sending him, but he was willing to go.

Where would you fear God’s calling on your life? Has He called you to do something you now fear?

What country(s) would you fear being called to?

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a  child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.

Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100 when Isaac was born. There is nothing that God cannot do?

Write down something that you struggle believing God will do in your life and then remember the principles of your superpowers!

Superpower #6 – Eternal Living

Hebrews 11:20-22

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

All these men knew that there was an eternity to live for. Until their dying breath they handed down that legacy. We should never stop believing that we need to tell people about Jesus.

How should an eternal mindset cause us to live?

Superpower #7 – Facing the Fire and Water

Hebrews 11:

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. 24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. 28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Moses stood before the fire when God called him out of the burning bush and he stood before the Red Sea believing through the power of God they’d get through it. Even as an infant he was placed in harms way. All this is evidence that even the chosen children of God are not immune to heart aches and danger. His own family rejected his wife and gossiped behind his back, but God took care of it all.

How does this encourage you in your everyday life?

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Superpower #8 – Girl power!

Hebrews 11:31

By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

God doesn’t only use men for the higher powers. Rahab is listed as a “harlot” and yet she is in the lineage of Jesus Christ. What does that tell us about the people God will use for the Kingdom’s glory?

Rahab and her family’s life was spared because she believed in the God of Abraham and protected His people. She truly had girl power to face certain death if she was caught. She also proved that God can use people even with questionable pasts.

Paul went onto mention more heroes of the faith, but what we might find when we get to Heaven is that in a book of the things we’ve done for Christ we too are mentioned as heroes of the faith!