Category Archives: Fear

Friends in the Fire

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

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

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

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

GOD IS ABLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

SATAN IS ANGRY

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

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

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

THE SAVIOR IS ABIDING

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

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

John 15:7 

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

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

THE RESULT IS ABSOLUTE

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

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

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

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

Gloraaaaay again!

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

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.

I Knew I Was on the Right Channel

Thirteen days post op and it seems the last couple of days have been emotionally trying. Satan loves to get on the heels of bad news and ride it like a jet airplane. What a creep! I got on social media this morning and as is the case most every day, I’m not the only one suffering. Bad news abounds! I have multiple friends facing multiple issues and I wish I felt like shaking the soup out of Satan, but unfortunately, I’d just rip a stitch, so I’ll just leave Him to God.

I read an article about oats or eggs for the heart patient and decided to go with oats, good choice! I turned on a preacher preaching on revival which always stirs my heart and I was ready to have church. When he said “Magnify God, not the problem” I knew I was on the right channel. I sketched the creation for this blog and stopped the negative thinking that Satan was filling my head with and decided to share that message with you, who may need it as well.

Magnify the Lord!

When I was in the process of quick diagnosis and surgery necessity there was no time for fret. I just had to give that to God and believe. That’s what many of us do when the battle is raging at its highest, but post battle is when the body is coming down from the adrenaline and fight or flight, and we’re tired. It’s when we begin to reflect on “the what if and why” of the situation. We lost control, what if we never get it back? Well, truthfully… look what a mess I had my life in when I had control. So this morning my mind is back in battle mode, refusing to believe the lies Satan is filling my head with. Is he lying to you too?  Let’s fight this battle together, that’s how David did it.

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. ~ Psalm 34:3

There is power in numbers. When I found out about the surgery, I spread the word. I wanted the children of God to lift me to Jesus because I knew that’s where the power was. I had personally witnessed it again and again and I knew God was able to deliver. Does He heal everyone? Not always this side of Heaven. And it’s His choice and reasoning. But I also knew that if He chose not to heal, my family was going to need Him even more than me. But praise God He did heal, and I will glorify Him and magnify (make everything of his bigger in my mind and life) exalting Him over the lies of Satan. God is bigger. He is bigger than any problem on your list too.

Exalt the Lord!

I not only want to make the Lord the largest part of my world, I also want to share Him and testify of His goodness with everyone else. It’s like sowing seeds of hope when someone who has come through the fire can say, Jesus did it all! All I had to do was trust Him. I had multiple brothers in Christ in my own church who had come through the battle I did, they prayed and encouraged me so much. But not only the battle of heart surgery, all battles of bad news fall under the same rule of strategy to overcome. Pray, have others pray, give it to God, and watch Him win. Listen closely, He may have some rules of engagement along the way… like eat oats instead of the pop tarts. Or share your testimony with someone else. Or just rest… that’s a tough one for me. I still covet your prayers, I’m just in the beginning of healing and I need patience.

God bless you! And join me as we magnify God to the world! Share your story, share this post, always share Jesus!

On the Other Side

Proverbs 4:23

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I cannot tell you when the heart issues began in my physical body, only that they had begun months before. I was having arm pain pretty frequently, but I would shush it as if to tell God, “I ain’t got no time for that Lord.” So on the busiest Sunday in a long time, of the busiest week in forever, in my most favorite place and haven of rest, I had a massive heart attack at about 9:40 a.m. Sunday, May 20th, 2018. I stole away to my class room at Victory Baptist Church, out of the eyes of the congregation and waited for the pain to subside. Yeah… I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. It did, and so I continued doing what Shari does. “Church stuff.”

I left church and a little later went to my granddaughter Paityn’s dance recital. Another “episode” and I walked out of the auditorium and away from people to let God know, I had too many things to do and the pain subsided.

Monday: another of my favorite ministries is the Long Term Care at Minnie Hamilton Health Care where I play and minister for an hour each Monday at 2:00 p.m. Once that was under my belt I had but to finish preparing for the departure of an African missionary that had been staying in our home, and the in the process of running an errand for that, the third and final, “Okay God, you win.” I pulled into the fire station where my husband is chief and said, I need to get to the hospital. And immediately everything was out of my control and there was no more shushing God. I was informed I had had a heart attack.

So what was my reaction? Typical Shari. “Hmmm. Now what? I’ve really messed up this time God. Are you going to fix it?

Things began rolling so fast: a friend staffed ambulance trip to Camden Clark in Parkersburg. A heart cath that showed a 95% blockage was over with before I even knew it. Literally I asked the doctor when he was going to start. I’d been joking and talking about music and Jesus with the staff and missed my own heart cath. I was assigned to a heart doctor that I was ready and willing without apprehension to trust for my heart surgery. But then, he fears I have a blood disorder and refuses to do the surgery in that facility. So to WVU in Morgantown I go. Another ambulance ride, constant chest pain and I’m as cool as a cucumber in the garden after the rain.

I had a 95% blockage in two arteries, one being the main. And so a team of the best heart doctors in our state commence to figure a plan for the surgery. They’re worried about the blood issue. I know it’s covered by the blood and so I lay there in waiting for a new start on life and all the while asking God, “Am I gonna come through this?” I kept hearing again and again, “You’re fine, you’re going to the other side.” So there I continue to lay for 3 days waiting for the boat. God had calmed the sea, but Jesus had hired drivers for this trip in the form of WVU medicine.

The boat arrived Friday, May 22nd and my double bypass surgery was scheduled for 6:30 a.m. My husband David, Pastor Steven, and salvation long friend Ed Eisley met with me before surgery where we prayed, laughed about life and off to surgery I went. I know… I’m a nut.

I was wheeled into a very sterile operating theatre where the show was about to begin and I was the star. I was very aware and oddly so that I had no fear. Two of the medical staff were from my mom’s home county, and as I joked and talked about like acquaintances we knew, the next thing I know my husband is saying “Shari it’s done. You’re good.”

My healing in the next few days was every bit as insanely miraculous. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pain free, but it was tolerable and passed quickly. And here I sit, on a Sunday morning at 4 a.m. two weeks from the day of my heart attack, preparing my mind for church and wondering how the game plan has changed for me in the scope of my service.

Fggam.org founder, Dewey Moede asked me a few days after the surgery “What’s the biggest lesson I learned through the heart attack?” At that time my mind wasn’t in a place to answer. The brain fog of drugs and anesthesia had my mind a jumbled mess, and I’m still not so sure my lesson is over. This has certainly sidelined me in a few ways. But what I am very aware of is the fact that God is faithful. I am not.

I am not some super saint with the ability to step out in faith every time and never ever question God. I did not maintain that Spirit of fearlessness in surgery by my own accord. God’s divine mercy saw fit to use me for six days for His glory and without human reasoning. Hundreds if not thousands of saints of God lifted my name to the Lord and I knew it because every prayer could be physically felt. God placed the best medical facility and staff in my path for six days. I left the hospital in record time and returned home to family who were frustrated that they didn’t need to take care of me as much as they’d planned.  If you played any part in my “episode,” I am so eternally thankful.

So for the lesson? I’m sure there are many, many to come. But the one in my mind right now is that God needed me to understand that my life was not my own and it would be used as a vessel for His glory and goodness, even when I tried to shush Him or do things my way. I pray you learn that lesson by my errors rather than your own. I look at the heart bypass as hopefully a bypass around the world’s approach to faith. You can give your heart to Jesus and be an honest to goodness child of God, but until you go around the worldly view of Christianity, which is so wrong, and give full control to the Spirit of God, you’re missing out on Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Children of God we are set apart and created with purpose. We do not belong to this world. When that boat of surgeons arrived to take me to the other side, I was ready. It’s not to say the world didn’t try to tell me the storms would overtake me, but I knew the maker of the storm! I will not allow Satan to take credit for any part of what I went through. I brought it on myself through disobedience and ignorance, case closed. God was glorified because as my friend John Powell used to say, “God takes care of stupid people.” Especially those with a desire to serve Him and be used by Him.

Here I am Lord, use me!

Longsuffering Has an Expiration Date

When I heard the title of this writing in a recent sermon of my Pastor, it was one of those times that the words rolled over and over again in my mind like the never ending credits to a movie. Only the words attested to the fact that there is an ending. Date unknown. Time unknown. Maybe before you get to the end of this sentence. But as certain as the air we breathe there is an expiration date on God’s longsuffering.

Peter 3:9-14

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

I’m a fanatic over expiration dates on food products, unlike my Mother. We’re pretty sure she’s going to poison us eventually. (I’m kidding, kind of)  She was raised in an era of “scarcity” when it came to the necessities of life, while I have been raised in an era of abundance. This is no doubt the foundation of our mindsets when it comes to expiration dates. I fear our reasoning on the expiration date of the Lord’s longsuffering is much the same. Most of us have not experienced a time of suffering that was long. We’ve gone through bouts of it, but nothing in any great length. But imagine the length of time the Lord has suffered with humanity and their unwillingness to concede to His Omnipotence.

Knowing that most people aren’t longsuffering enough to read more than 500 words, I’ll keep this as short as possible. The last verse (14) in my selected scripture gives me three points to ponder on the longsuffering of God and the short-attention span of His creation. Us.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Pre-salvation, I knew that I was sinner. A conscience was placed within me that let me know. The three things I longed for and could not attain are listed in this verse. And I believe that this is the case for most unsaved people, if not all.

I Longed for Peace

John 14:27 speaks the words of Christ Himself Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

My heart was troubled, and it was afraid because I knew that this world nor my life would be forever. That all changed the day I surrendered my life to Christ through the simplicity of a prayer. “Lord! Save me!”

There was no peace found outside of Him.

I Longed to Feel Worthy

The world puts a great deal of value on worth. Friends are chosen on the basis of “being worth our time.” What do they bring into the relationship? Careers are based on the value of our skills; what do we bring to the table? Family, though not chosen, are often rewarded and positioned on the basis of merit. Who is the most successful? This is not the case in every friend, career or family, but it is usually the case in our lives at some point, leaving us with the feeling of never being enough. Spotted, so to speak.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the Lord doesn’t want you to bring anything to the table? He just wants you! Just as you are, no matter how broken and messed up that is, or even how perfect you may think you are. Once your life is given to Him, you are viewed through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. He died for you, therefore you are worthy. You are amazing in the eyes of God! You are without spot.

I Longed to Feel it was Not my Fault

Every mistake I ever made in life also rolled as movie credits in my mind, letting me know what a failure I was. Even though I’m saved, it still happens today (the accuser does his job well).

Revelation 12:10 ~ And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). He loves nothing more than to convince us that we are “Ne’er-do-wells” without hope. But God is the God of Hope! And in Him we are at peace, without spot and without blame. That is truth. And we love that we can believe it!

But another truth is God is coming back for His church. And His church is not comprised with membership roles of a specific denomination. It’s comprised of those who have confessed that they believe the virgin born Jesus died on the cross of Calvary to pay their sin debt; that He arose on the third day and took the keys to death, Hell and the grave that Satan had been yielding about in arrogance. Christ returned to Heaven, where He now is, making intercession with the Lord for every fault we have so that God does not see our failures, He sees His Son.

When He returns, will you be ready and waiting? If yes, that’s awesome!!!! I’ll see you there. But I ask myself and you this question… Who won’t be there because they don’t know this truth? Share this message with them. And let them know you want them ready.

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This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

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He Understands the Mud

Déjà vu

It seems like the story of my life. Déjà vu – I’ve seen this before. I make the same mistakes again and again and I wonder, “Why does God tolerate me the way He does?” Certainly because His ways are not my ways, else I’d already be before the throne and waiting for my beating. But God doesn’t live in our realm, nor does He think in our realm. His ways are so much higher. And praise His Holy name that they are!

A HIGH PLACE TO CRY

Psalm 61:2

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Even on the days when I feel too unworthy to cry to Him, He hears my cry from the unspoken inward parts of my soul. That is a feeling experienced only by a child of the Living God. Who when the world overwhelms me, there is a Rock that I can stand on where even the highest wave cannot overpower me when I am there.

A HIGH PURPOSE TO BELIEVE

Psalm 89:27

Also I will make him my firstborn, Higher than the kings of the earth.

Though I know in my heart that God can control the saved and the unsaved of this earth if He so chooses, (Proverbs 21:1); that does not always convince my head. I allow fear and suspicions to control my mind and take it to the dark places that Satan would have me live. Satan will fill my mind full of worry and doubt and I will allow it to overshadow why Jesus was born and what He died for. God’s first and only Son, born in a lowly manger, experienced the lowest part of the earth, so that He could ascend to the Highest with the power of those things in His hand. How dare I take them back… and yet I do.

A HIGH POWER TO SEEK

Isaiah 55:9

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I have limited wisdom to say the least. But, I am the child of a bottomless well of wisdom that is at my beckon call. However, I neglect to tap into it the way I should.

The girls and I discussed at Bible Journaling class last light how we desire so much to obtain a place in life where we can just serve God, uninhibited by the world around us. Just live Jesus. But this sin cursed world distracts and entices and I fall, and fail, and God forgives. And I don’t understand why, I’m just grateful He does.

A HIGH PRIEST TO PROPITATE

Hebrews 7:26

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners , and made higher than the heavens.

It’s Christmas time! The Christ Child is on my mind a lot. I imagine Him as a child, making mud pies and having that Déjà vu moment of when He and His Father created it all.  He knew, that much like that dirty, stinky mud, there would come a need for a cleansing of my soul for which I could not. And He became the sacrifice so that I might live free from sin. And yet I don’t. And He still loves me, and I don’t understand why. His ways are not my ways, or His thoughts, my thoughts.

I am loved. So are You. Enjoy this season with that thought in the forefront of your mind.

 

There’s a Reason I need a Fish on my Tree

After hearing a sermon this morning from the book of Jonah, I thought, if I could create an ornament to hang on my tree of what Christmas means to me it would be one of the great fish. I would do so because I’ve always been painfully aware of how very much grace I stand in need of on a daily basis. I’m truly not quick to judge. I’m not above it, I’m just not quick at it. God is the God of second chances, but He’s also the God of 20,000 chances and beyond, to which I can attest I’ve needed.

Another thing that I have become painfully aware of is what a judgmental world we live in. You can’t walk down the street without feeling the condemning eye of someone, even if it’s just a figment of your imagination. The feeling is very real, at least for me. A former young lady from my youth department posted an image on social media last night that said this:

  • When I make a mistake
  • I know it.
  • I feel it.
  • I tear myself apart.
  • I lose sleep.
  • I don’t stop thinking about it.
  • So when I say I’m sorry.
  • Know that I mean it.
  • I’m my own toughest critic.

My first thought was, “perhaps I taught her too well, she became me.” But then I put the blame where it lies and that’s on Satan; who uses the tool of guilt to thwart the lives of any child of God trying to serve.

So… back to the ornament.

Before his great fish experience Jonah had three oracles hanging about his neck that drew him overboard.

Prejudice, Pride, and Preservation

Prejudice defined as judgement of another. Pride in the sense of judgement of self of a greater worth than others and Preservation by taking care of your own without regard for the souls of others. All of which are reasons for which Christ died, so that no man would be above another, of any greater worth and without excuse for failing to help someone in need. But we tend to forget that. Granted we’re better to remember others during this time of year, but why is it limited to December.

Jonah had that spirit about him when God told him to “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.”  But Jonah went in the opposite direction because he didn’t believe the people of Nineveh were worth saving. I can tell you the Jonah’s of social media should have their own site where they can spew their venom to each other instead of taking it upon themselves to be the judge, jury and executioner of people they don’t think are worth saving either. They are the “Mean girls” of today. A Christian falls and rather than picking them up we tell them their err, but when it comes to picking them up and giving them solutions to their issues, we run like Jonah.

Who ever said talk was cheap lied. It can cost someone their life.

PREJUDICE

When Jonah got on the boat with the mariners, (not people of God), they tried to save him. They didn’t want to throw Jonah overboard; that was a last resort. The world also often uses it as a last resort when they meet a drunk, a drug addict or persons of despicable character. They’ll take them in, make shelters, provide for their needs, where a Christian will give them a gospel tract and walk away, “Leaving them to God to clean.”

Jonah was expected to be a vessel. God had called him, and he hit the reject call button because he was prejudice against the people.

PRIDE

Pride too must have been part of Jonah’s character. When he determined the storm was brought on by his problem, rather than say, “turn the boat around I need to go back,” he said “throw me over board.” Willing to die rather than obey the calling of the Lord for the people’s sake. Pride will do that. It will cause you to disobey God rather than admit you’re wrong and go in the direction He’d have us go. I speak with experience, there’s a reason I need that fish on my tree.

PRESERVATION

Praise the Lord! I’m saved and preserved by the blood of Christ because my self-preservation tactics are self-destruction. Jonah was willing to die rather than submit to God’s will. But God had another plan. He preserved Jonah in the belly of a great fish that would have killed the average man; but God was not about to let one of His plans fall through. So when we read Jonah 3:1 “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh that great city, and preach unto it,” we see the God of second chances and we read next that Jonah went. For the record he still wasn’t happy about it, but he went!

I have failed my Lord so, so very many times. No, I’m not quick to judge, but even if I’m slow it makes me guilty. I need the great fish ornament to remind me to be the giver of second, third and 20,000 chances. To never look upon the fall of someone as an opportunity to give advice but for me, it becomes an opportunity to give a hand. Amen!

Liquid Lies

Four Reasons People Fall into Substance Abuse

According the Center for Disease Control statistics of 2015, West Virginia had the highest per capita drug-related death rate in the U.S. In 2015, the state saw 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people attributed to drug use. Researchers from the CDC found that the increase in drug-related deaths in West Virginia from 2014 to 2015 was considered statistically significant, with an increase of 16.9 percent. While the rest of the country wrestles with an alarming rate of illicit drug use, West Virginia is truly on the front lines of this battle.

On Friday evening our church attended an event called “The Judgement House” at the 14th Avenue Gospel Mission in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We drove an hour, broke bread at a local pizza establishment and then made our way to the very well performed Judgement House drama on the subject of overdose.  The drama storyline was that of a girl addicted to drugs following the murder of her mother, her own addiction, the attempted intervention of family, and her life failures. All of which eventually leads to the death of her brother, her overdose and the eternal ramifications of their life decisions. It was a soul stirring event because for me. It was also one that caused me to examine myself, God’s grace and consider the fate of people in our community.

There are countless reasons for people falling into addiction and sin, but I believe each of them can fall under four subcategories.

Four Reasons I’ve seen people turn to drugs and alcohol and not to Jesus

  1. Reason One: Familiarity
    1. Constant advertisements, store displays and discussion of the good times of sin. Even the bible says in Hebrews 11:25 that there is “joy in sin for a season.” If your of any age at all you know this. However, there’s also the morning after and the results of any decisions made. It may be life altering for you or for someone else. You may not see the destruction of it for years down the line when your decision, and acceptance of it as natural behavior, leads to the destruction in your own child’s life.
    2. 1 Peter 2:11– Dearly beloved, I beseech [you] as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
    3. 1 John 2:16– For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
    4. 1 Corinthians 15:33– Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

Questions:

Do you see the commercial effects of familiarity in your life? Store, television, internet?

Do your friends make poor decisions and how much are you drawn into their decision making?

How do you think they affect you?

Do they cause you to accept the behavior as “normal” and not see it for the sin that it is?

  1. Reason Two: Escape Reality
    1. In the storyline the girl could forget her mother’s death and her father’s grief when she took the drugs. Although in reality it just mask the pain, it was still there.
    2. Escaping reality can also be placing the blame on everyone else. The girl in our story blamed her father not being there for her at her mother’s death. Yet she had her brother. It’s easy to look at the people who let us down and discourage us as the reason we make poor decisions, but none of that is a valid excuse with God.
    3. This doesn’t have to be speaking of the extreme life of addiction. It can also be speaking of our behavior when someone lets us down. Perhaps we’re rude, disrespectful, or we won’t do what we know is right to do because the world deserves it or we’re “having a bad day.” That too will be an accountable moment before God if in our decision making we affected the lives of others.
    4. Satan’s goal is to convince that we are alone. And then he attacks in our weakest hour, with our own weakness.
    5. 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
    6. Proverbs 20:1Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Questions:

If you examine your life, are you placing blame on someone else and excusing bad behavior?

  1. Reason Three: Attention Seeking
    1. There are people who will look for any reason to get all eyes on them. Even to the point of self-destruction. They love when people feel sorry for them or perhaps they’ve bought Satan’s lie that the drugs and alcohol make them a more enjoyable, braver character.
    2. It’s easy to fall into an attention seeking trap. We all want to be loved and sometimes that’s at our expense and sometimes that’s at the expense of others. Our words can be just as harmful.
    3. James 3:10 ~ Outof the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
    4. By placing attention on ourselves, we make others feel less and for certain God is not being glorified.
    5. John 5:44 ~ How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only

Questions:

Does our decisions honor God?

Do we excuse sin for the sake of comedy? (cussing, off color jokes, conversations about topics Christians shouldn’t have?)

  1. Reason Four: Rebellion
    1. A reason as old as time. It began in the garden when Eve seen the fruit and Satan convinced her it was good and would make her as wise as God, and then Adam ate it so his wife wouldn’t be alone.
    2. Not doing what we know to be right is rebellion.
    3. It’s turning away from God and toward the sin. God looks upon rebellion pretty harshly.
    4. 1 Samuel 15:23 ~ For rebellionis as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
    5. We tend to make rebellion glamorous.
    6. 1 Corinthians 10:13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
    7. Galatians 5:16– [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Questions:

Is there an area of rebellion in your life?

The acronym
FEAR

It often boils down to F.E.A.R.

  1. We fear not fitting in to the public norm. Rather than living the godly standard.
  2. We fear that reality is worse than our imagination. It’s actually reverse.
  3. We fear we’ll be overlooked. Rather than desiring God be seen.
  4. We fear the world more than we fear God.

This blog was my Sunday morning teen lesson following the Judgement House, which is why it’s in outline format. Feel free to use this in your own ministry!

5 Ways to Stop the Coaster

I don’t know the year that my life turned into a roller coaster ride but I seem to have been on it for quite a while. Whoever sold me the ticket is losing money!

I probably don’t need to ask if you’ve ever felt that way, because I’m pretty sure we’re all in the same theme park. Perhaps “Stress Me Land” would be a good name for it. Every second of my day seems to be filled with unachievable goals pointless meanderings. A breather for me is usually the time, when at the end of the day, I sit down with my phone to play a mindless game, and wake up two hours later and go to bed. Life is exhausting! There’s so much vying for my time, it’s hard to know when to say when.

So when I once again woke up feeling overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion before the day even started I knew of only one remedy. The word of God.

5 ways to stop the Coaster

Get Still

Isaiah 41:1-10

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

We know the scripture that says “Be still and know that I am God,” and yet finding that place of stillness is seldom ever sought. Isaiah is speaking to Israel, their life is in turmoil and which one of us can’t identify with them and often times for the same reasons. We’re not obedient to God, we rebel again and again, we fail to serve Him as He should and yet we want Him to care for us and patch every booboo in our lives with a superman Band-Aid ®. And when we’ve road the coaster of life ‘til we’re ready to puke we finally hear the word of God say. “Silence!” That’s point one. Get still.

Get Real

Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah’s asking them the question “Who raised you up in the first place.” In that day there were many idol worshippers and Isaiah is challenging them to compare their idols to God. Can your idol raise up a man, stand him before you and make him ruler. Can he make a man from dust? That scripture challenges us to compare our own idols that seem to have control over our lives. Think about “that” in comparison to the God of creation. Who wins the battle?

Get Ready

The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.

Funny thing about the word of God. It doesn’t take you very many words before you see the Lord at work and the power of His Word.

Glory to God!!!! How I needed this message today.

All those anxieties and fears that have been rummaging through my mind looking for something to latch onto are suddenly shaking in their boots because they know Jesus has just took hold of the coaster switch, that it should not be moved.

Get Set

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

Isaiah calls the people of God to remember that they are a chosen generation. Israel was handpicked by God and we are saved by the crucified hands of God! Does that not put a shout on you? Yes we fail and yes we let God down, but God has never and will never fail us. He will not cast us out which is the greatest lie of Satan to believe that He would. And yet… every time I let God down, (though I know I’m saved) Satan beats me up with that lie over and over until I get here. And God reminds me that my footprints have been set in Heaven already, and their waiting for this body to meet them there.

Now Go!

10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Start the day a new. Knowing that God is with us all the way.

 

The God of Miraculosity!

Miraculosity – Ephesians 3:20 thin  king – the Miraculous Generosity of God.

What causes unbelief in a child of God? It’s a question I ponder often. Why is it that at the times we most need faith, there is a greater presence of doubt and fear? Both were overcome at the grave of Jesus Christ when He victoriously arose the third day, and yet they didn’t die because Satan is still around to keep them alive and well. They won’t have eternal life, but they’ve been here since Satan introduced them in the garden of Eden. But moving past “Devil made me do it” phase of our lives we have to take responsibility for much of this one on our own. This is a problem in our “own country.”

Matthew 13 tells the truth of a hometown visit by Jesus with the saddest departure.

Matthew 13

54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

The Entrance

Much like Jesus arrived in His hometown, he arrives in the heart of a child of God. The Holy Spirit is Amazing! It is astonishing when you begin to know and understand things because He reveals them to you from within. I can remember picking up the word of God following my salvation, and scripture that once seemed to be written in Greek were now as plain as the nose on my face. I read and I understood because the Holy Spirit was revealing it to me. It was then that I could not get enough of the Bible. Every day, every spare moment I had that precious book open because He was speaking to me through every word.

God not only revealed the word to me through the Holy Spirit but He sent men and women of God to sew into my life; many of whom did that through not only the testimony of the word but the testimony of their lives. They shared their own miracles with me and I began to see that the Spirit of God was now as He was then. Able. He was able to all that we ask.

Ephesians 3:20

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.

Not only all that we ask but above all that we ask. How amazing is that! And yet, we don’t believe. Why? It’s not because we don’t have the power to believe because that power works in us. We see that through His word. I believe that unbelief is often a product of our surroundings.

As a new convert in Jesus Christ I was surrounded by people of testimony. For me that made the difference. I had evidence that God was still the Ephesians 3:20 God. Many of those who testified to me have gone home to be with Jesus and I’m seeing less and less of people who share the testimony of great things in Christ Jesus.

The Exam

Once Jesus arrived in His home town the people began to examine who He was. Isn’t his dad a carpenter? Isn’t his momma Mary? Don’t we know His people? How can He be anyone special? To write those words breaks my heart. The exam still continues today when we examine a situation and fail to believe that God will overcome it or that God won’t do that miracle through us because “Am I not just Shari?” Who am I to think that God would do this…? And it’s right there that we’ve resurrected doubt and fear yet again. We’re examining (questioning) the power of God.

The Exit

And so the exit. The saddest of all scriptures.

58 And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

They missed out on the miracles of God because they couldn’t get past that He was just a carpenter’s son. Those words pierce my soul because I’ve been just “Shari” most of my life. But fortunately interspersed within those “just Shari” years were moment of miraculosity. Yes… I know that’s not a word. But it should be. Because I’ve seen God do some pretty miraculous things with a girl named Shari. And I’ve missed out on some things because I didn’t believe the God inside the Girl would do it.

The testimonies I cut my teeth on as baby Christian are still fueling my soul today, but God didn’t intend for me to live on somebody else’s blessing. He’s given me my own. Where we are in life is “our hometown.” And before we let Jesus exit, we need to tell the people in our world about the great works God has done. Don’t sit on a testimony. I’ve been guilty so many times! What we’re doing is allowing doubt and fear to win out in our young people. They need to hear about the God of Miraculosity! Go and tell someone about the great things He’s done in your life. Tell them about the little things He’s done, they need to hear it all.