Category Archives: Grace

The Danger of Walking on the Wild Side

I’ve recently watched a few Christian friends, and by watching I don’t mean “watching” in the sense of waiting for them to fall or judging their walk. I watch because they’re drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are drawn to the wild side. To my knowledge, they’re not actively participating in a bad lifestyle, but they’re fascination of it brings me to the realization that I too, and likely every child of God, can be drawn into a desire to walk on the wild side. And there is a danger.

Romans 11:24-26

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, untill the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungoliness from Jacob.

Apostle Paul is speaking to the Jews about the wild side of the Gentiles. They didn’t appreciate it. They’d always steered clear of the Gentiles; and now, this Gentile loving Jew was telling them that they should embrace them and call them brothers and sisters. What? That rebel nation is now God’s people too. Yes! Hallelujah. Because we were made new. We were not a heathen branch grafted into a healthy tree that would have weakened it. But rather we were a newly formed branch, not formed by nature which grows wild, but rather formed by the Creator with purpose. I just wrote myself happy!

The Jews were represented by the olive tree, a valuable, fruit bearing tree. But their focus wasn’t on the fruit, it was on their status as the original tree. Apostle Paul was trying to reintroduce them to the Fruit Bearer. Christ. The long awaited Messiah that they had rejected because they didn’t understand the mystery of the work that God had done. They didn’t want to understand. That would be key.

And sometimes we don’t want to understand the price God paid to turn us from that wild branch, into a Holy Nation. You see, there’s a side of me that can look back on the wild side of life and think “that was fun.” But then I remember what life was really like outside the True Branch. And nothing on the backside of where I am now, seems appealing. I don’t want to mar the beautiful Branch that I have been allowed to become a part of.

That’s what scares me about the friends of mine that find joy in reliving the wild side memories and walk dangerously close to marring the branch.

Glorifying Sin Mars the Branch

When someone speaks of the past life’s sin in a manner that makes it sound fun and exciting, it can cause the unsaved to think that we’re missing out on something by being saved. That’s a mark on the branch, because it is the furthest from the truth.

I lived unsaved 34 years. I had plenty of experiences in life that the world deems as fun. I also know the miserable state I was in at the time. That somehow gets forgotten by those glorifying those days.

But now… Glory to God I’m having more fun, and more excitement than I ever had pre-salvation. Hands down, it is not an exaggeration!

Glamorizing Sin Mocks the Branch

That thought makes me nauseous. But for me it’s what happens when I hear someone laughing and joking about sin. Whether it’s their sin from a previous life, or someone else living in sin. There’s nothing funny about it.

What someone views as a funny story about a drunk, reminds me of the lives I’ve seen ruined, absolutely destroyed because of alcohol. When a Christian speaks of alcohol as “not sinful,” when drank in moderation, I wonder who they’re trying to convince.

While few people joke about drugs, the legalization of marijuana reminds me of a night at 15 years of age, I almost died because someone laced mine with PCP.  You may say one has nothing to do with the other. I disagree. Because one is a gateway drug to the other. Just as beer is the gateway to a stronger fix for an alcoholic. And one time just may be the end to a life that wasn’t saved. It’s a game that is too dangerous to play, and certainly doesn’t need glamorized by God’s people.

Glossing over Sin Moves the Branch

Making light of any sin, or looking at the wild side of life as a fond memory causes an instability in the life of the believer not just the unsaved. I’ve watched it play out too many times.

I heard a preacher mock the “Baptist” about not being drinkers for months and months, and then I watched him fall to alcoholism. He did eventually win the victory over it, and I praise God for that, but he paid a high price.  

I watched as a woman made light of her indiscretions and almost destroyed her marriage.

I was broken hearted when a preacher friend fell to a sexual sin. I also remember his last sermon, the title of it was “Finishing Well.” He did not.

I didn’t get my 20 plus year badge of the Christian faith without being broken hearted, hurt, and yes, I too have fallen because I’ve walked too close to the wild side. It’s too dangerous to make light of and Satan loves it every time a Christian “fondly” remembers a day of sin. Don’t give him one drop of glory.

Remember what the price for that sin was. We are not heathen branches grafted into a healthy tree. We were made new! Let us act like it.

Do You Care?

We love Him, because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

There are some people in our lives that are easy to love. My bestie Gloria is one such person, so are countless others. I am blessed with people. Lots of people that I call and mean it when I say they’re friends. And then there are people that I am acquaintances with via life or social media and of those I may or may not have a great depth of concern for.

I would certainly pull them out of the path of a truck. But I might not take them chicken soup if they were ill. That sounds very mean. But it’s not meant to be. It’s not that I don’t care about their health, it’s that they are not on my radar of cares of the day. Nor am I likely on their radar either. So how exactly did God intend for us to love one another?

What is our level of compassion for those outside our immediate family and friends?

For me I only had to think about 1 John 4:19 for a split second before I realized that before I knew God, before I realized what He did for me and when I was just floating around in the world like a bubble on a summer day without concern for my soul or anyone else’s… He loved me.

He loved me when I was out in sin and behaving in a manner that would have made a sailor blush. Yes, I was that kid. I grew up fast when I married and had children, but I still didn’t know Jesus and was as filthy rags, and yet He loved me. He maneuvered my life to get me into a position to hear the gospel in a miraculous way that has me in awe today. He uses me even yet today when I still fail Him miserably.

Now… I ask myself that question again about the people I don’t know. “Shari, do you care?”  I asked myself that question about the people I’m pretty sure I don’t even like. “Do you care?”

I ask, because at any moment God could have given up on me or never thought enough of me to waste His time and yet He did.

This morning I was convicted by this thought because there are so many hurting people that I know via ministry and social media that I don’t care enough about. Ministry isn’t just to the pretty, easy to love people. Its’ for all people. Even the sometimes ugly, grouchy, negative, arrogant,  drunk and drugged up people. The latter of which I have an easier time loving. The grouchy, negative, arrogant people not so much.

I’m wondering who might cross my path today that needs loved on? I’m wearing a new pair of white jeans… I wonder if I’m willing to get them dirty. Isn’t that how we decide?

I have a doctor’s appointment for my knee this morning at 10 a.m. Perhaps it’s there that I’ll answer that question. Maybe it will be on social media, or maybe on an unplanned adventure. Like the one that got me saved.

The Concept of God

It was a thought that seemed almost foreign to me this morning as I read John 3:16…

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

It’s likely the most widely known and quoted verse in the bible. We say it without thinking. It just rolls off the tongue of most Christians regardless of how long they’ve been saved. The point being, even if you can’t quote it, you know it. But this morning, it just seemed brand new.

Not necessarily the verse, but rather the concept of the depth of God’s love and the vastness of His being, and the fact… I need to repeat… the fact that He did what He did for someone like me. A nobody. That this morning in my living room and in the home of my friend LuAnn, God spoke to us and said, I have a work for you to do.

I received a message from my friend Faye yesterday, and through her God said… there is a work to do.

My friend Dewey and I speak most every day. But lately God has given us a deeper love for the ministry and a desire to do more. There is work for us to do.

Why me…

Why does God put these awesome people in my life?

Because His concept is beyond what anyone of us can imagine. And the possibilities of what He can do with us are beyond what anyone of us can even think. And I know this because today John 3:16 was a brand new verse in this ol’ girls head.

The concept of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” three in one has often boggled my mind. How can three be one? It just doesn’t make sense to the earthly mindset. I’ve heard it explained by using the illustration of the egg which has three parts (the white, yolk and shell) yet it is one. It’s a great illustration. But it’s an egg… not God.

But lately as God deals with me, trying to get me to a better place spiritually to where He can use me, He speaks to my heart about understanding who He is, so I can better grasp who I am in Him.

He is Huge!

Isaiah 48:13

Mine hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.

Who did that? My God! He is in the details.

If God can measure Heaven with His hand, that means He’s a pretty big Fella. That means that these people who make light of our God, should really think twice. He can flip them off of the planet. I have to be honest, that image kind of made me giggle. And kind of made me want to watch! But then I remembered that He could flip me off the planet too, and that God died for the “whosever.” Not only Shari.

He Has Always Been

How can God have “always been, and how did God, “beget” Christ, His Only Son? I don’t know. But when I think about the Creator of the universe and His Son, who were from the beginning, which is what the Bible tells us in John 1:1, I am somewhat awestruck like a rock and roll fan at their favorite concert. I want to get close enough to hear One whisper to the Other, and close enough to know them as intimately as a bestie. But in order to do that, I have to get out of my little brain get into Heaven as the Bible tells us we are in Ephesians 2:6 that says “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

That’s present time, not futuristic. So if I’m sitting in Heavenly places, that means I should be able to overhear a few conversations of God and His Son. So can you.

In Jeremiah 1:5 it also says that God knew us before we were in the womb. So… exactly how long has our conversation been going? I don’t know. But what I do know is that as a child, before salvation, I had a desire to know God. So Jeremiah 1:5 is not hard for me to understand. And because of that it is getting easier to understand John 3:16.

He knew me, before I was me. He chose me before I even came out of my mother’s womb and He placed me like He placed the stars in Heaven on this piece of dirt in Calhoun County, West Virginia. And He connected the dots with North Carolina, New Mexico, the Philippine Islands  and so many other places, in a way that others may not understand, but I’ve experienced. So yes… I’m a fan of my Savior. Yes, I reverently respect and fear Him because of the enormity of Who He is. And today I feel so loved because of John 3:16.

There’s a story of a little orphaned boy who is found on the street and a man sends him to an address with the instruction to knock on the door and say “John 3:16.” When he gets there he taken in, bathed, fed and tucked into his bed where he for the first time in his life feels safe. He later says when he becomes a preacher that he didn’t understand John 3:16 at the time but it made a dirty boy clean, a hungry boy full and a scared boy feel safe.

Yes… yes it does. I don’t have to comprehend the vastness of God. I can feel it.

The Extent of Forgiveness

It’s not an original thought. I heard a preacher close his sermon out with it this morning, and then it was stuck in my head… which basically means that the preacher did his job!

If you’re a Christian you’ve likely heard the sermon, you know the salvation message and you understand the concept. But it is so easy to lose sight of the depth of God’s love and the extent of His forgiveness. Especially if you’re discouraged or have feelings of unworthiness.

So just what is the extent of God’s forgiveness, lest we forget?

As far as the east is from the west

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

That’s pretty far wouldn’t you say?  In God’s realm, I don’t think the east ever meets the west. God took (removed) our sins from us, and yet we so often take them back and fail to accept His gift of forgiveness. I am the worst at rehashing failures and staying in a mindset of defeat.

I need to remember what God chooses to forget. And that forgetting is a choice.

As deep as the ocean

Who is God unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)

Satan would love us to view God as angry all the time. So would a few preachers I’ve heard preach. But God does not retain His anger. It doesn’t say He doesn’t get angry. I believe that with the worst, despicable sins out there, God gets angry. When a child is abused, or a heart broken by broken vows and abuse, God’s upset. But at the first sign of repentance of that sinner, God is ready and willing to forgive. The word says He delights in it! It brings God great joy for us to come to Him in search of a renewed relationship. It is then that He casts our sins in the depths of the sea. That’s not only a deep thought, that’s a deep location.

Never Void

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

This is a verse we often use to remind ourselves that anytime the word is preached, it always serves a purpose. But have you thought of yourself being the recipient of it? If God spoke it to you, it was spoken with purpose and its purpose will be fulfilled. So when we read these verses as personal, we understand that they are written to prosper us. To help us live a life of joy and abundance through the price Christ paid on the cross to cover our sins.

I wrote these verses down in the back of my bible under the title “The extent of Forgiveness.” I want them handy so I can show myself, my friends and for certain Satan. He seems to need reminded a lot.

The God Satan Doesn’t Want You to Know

For certain Satan doesn’t want you to know God because he’d prefer you stay in his custody. But once a soul has given their heart to Christ, Satan has to change his game plan to interfere with the Kingdom and the Kingdom’s work. There is nothing he can do to remove the seal of Salvation that God puts on His children.

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Glory! But he can certainly do a lot of damage to the spiritual walk of God’s children by binding them with lies. Or at least that’s the case with me. So today I search the truth and invite you along…

Micah 7:18-20

18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

We’re not to fool ourselves and believe that God is not a Holy and just God Who doesn’t get angry. Oh… I believe He gets angry and I believe He gets frustrated with me on a pretty regular basis. But the trouble with my thinking is, I get stuck there. There in that place of God’s frustration, long after He has moved on and sometimes may never have been, I’m still there. He moved on the second I repented, but I choose to stay in that place of bondage and allow Satan to convince me that God’s frustration lingers on. And I have a feeling I’m not alone.

It’s much easier in our less than merciful flesh to view God as a less than merciful God. If every day we would remember three words that God has attested to, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Forgiven

Micah 7:18 – God delights in mercy! The other day I watched as an adult was less than merciful with a child. The children happened not to be hers. Not that that is always the case, I know parents who are less than forgiving. But on this occasion the child had misbehaved and she separated herself from him as if to say “you are not worthy of my presence.” My heart broke. Praise God our Savior doesn’t treat us in that manner. He longs for the relationship to be restored as soon as it’s broken. But we delay, buying into Satan’s lies that God is forever upset. No… God is forever merciful.

Forgotten

Micah 7:19 – How deep is the sea? I personally don’t know, but I know it’s deep! And how far is the east from the west? Really far! You can’t get there from here. And that is the geographical location of our sins. Yet Satan wants us to believe that God has them attached to His refrigerator, so that every time He goes there, He is reminded of my sin.

That’s how our minds work. Not God’s. I have to work really hard not to rehash old hurts. Because they are not in the sea. They’re in the recesses of my mind waiting for a day that I can call them to mind and be frustrated and hurt again. And have to forgive… again. If I don’t bring them up, Satan will. And so when I’m in need of God forgetting something I’ve done or someway I’ve failed, I am reminded of how someone hurt or failed me, and I attach that theory of thinking to God too. What a lie!

God is not man!

Isaiah 55:8

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

Forever

Micah 7:20 – God’s plan nor word has ever changed, but man’s sure has. The recent election was proof of that. The political rhetoric coming from all sides made it impossible to know who was telling the truth. And even if someone had a video as evidence, we still couldn’t trust that it hadn’t been manipulated in some way and voting was a very serious game of chance. And such is life sometimes. Marriages fail, friends forsake us and parents and children break our heart. So when we hear the word “forever” in the biblical sense, it’s sometimes hard to grasp.

I can’t help but think of Satan’s words to Eve… “ye shall not surely die.” So we have on one hand the thought that forever will never come, and on the other hand, that forever is subjective to the situation.  And both make it hard to fathom eternity.

But God’s word will stand true and Satan will forever by a liar! He would much prefer that we didn’t   know the truth and one way he can help that happen is to sabotage our relationship with the Lord. It’s not hard when fewer and fewer people keeping their relationship with the Lord first in priority. The more we put between us and God the easier it is for Satan to convince us that God is not desiring a relationship with us. And when we fail, we can’t feel God’s mercy because there’s too much distance. But guess who didn’t move?

God’s exactly where He’s always been. In eternity past, present and future. Loving us as much today as yesterday and wishing we’d just talk to Him, and skip Satan the middle man… he’s a liar anyway.

Why Will You Die?

Another milestone in the zipper club (heart bypass) journal was the completion of my first week of cardiac rehab. Also another  reality check on the lack of care for myself over the last several years of life. Following my decision to stop smoking on May 26th, 1997 (with the prompting of the Holy Spirit after a year of salvation) I traded my addiction to tobacco for an addiction to all things tasty. Gradually I blossomed into the well-rounded person I am today both spiritually and figuratively.

The criticism and judgement of sometimes well-meaning people (sometimes not) served me well in the department of discouragement and depression. The added pressure added extra weight. However, before anyone thinks I blame others for my blessed figure status, the answer is no. I’m the one who lost her will power. And so today as I read Ezekiel 18, I remembered my week at cardiac rehab. The struggles that I had as I pushed through each piece of equipment and so did not enjoy it. As I tried to clean up the mess I had created over the past 21 years.

Ezekiel 8:31

“Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

I believe Israel had gotten on God’s last nerve. They’d sinned, worshiped idols and used their children as sacrifices. What a mess they’d gotten themselves into because they’d gotten their eyes off the Lord and put them onto the things around them. I won’t throw any stones in that department either.

But the end result of a life without God, is always death. And no matter what I try to do in life without God as the central focus, it will surely die, because I am His, and He is mine and He expects to be a part of my life.

So how do I make sure that’s the case when living everyday life and making decisions that can change my future? And how many times have I gotten on God’s last nerve by not listening to Him.

The Word tells me.

CAST IT

Cast away from you, all your transgressions.

Easier said than done, right? Well, yes and no. We know that nothing is impossible for God! But we must first allow Him to have it. For me and my transgressions… there were many. The overeating and desire for food replaced an addition that had begun when I was a child. I smoked my first cigarette at 13 years of age. I had been addicted a very, very long time. But when God got involved the desire for that substance was replaced with a desire to be better for Him. But the cigarettes had also come with a stigma of non-acceptance by the world, both saved and unsaved people alike. So it wasn’t hard to not desire it. But everyone loved food!  It was acceptable.

But the weight gain was not.

Add to that the fact that God had called me into ministry work and I was now standing before people every week, I became very weak emotionally.

I allowed the pressure of that judgment, whether real or not to get the best of me and I ate all the more because it made me feel better.

So what did I need to cast off?

Addiction. Self-Condemnation. Irresponsibility.

If Jesus had cast my sins as far as the east is from the west, I needed to cast my transgression to Him so He could take care of them. Because when I threw them down, they never failed to land out of arms reach and I would pick them up again 

Psalm 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

CREATE IT

…and make you a new heart and a new spirit:

So how do I do that?

I have to change somethings about my life. Beginning with my mindset. Your brain tells your heart when to beat.

In the course of the day, your heart will beat somewhere around 100,000 times and over a calendar year might beat up to 35 million times. Over the course of a lifetime then, your brain and your heart have to work together to engineer 3 billion heartbeats.

However there’s something in the heart called automaticity.

Meaning that the heart, even if it’s disconnected from the brain, will continue to beat at a set rate.

For me that shows that there’s a thought controlled side of the heart and a God controlled side of the heart. Praise God! He knows when to kick His side in.

But when it comes to decision making He leaves that to me for the most part. So I need to create within myself a new heart and spirit. Basically new desires and passions that align with God.

I can only do that if I focus on godly things casting those things that are unhealthy to Christ so that He can help me get them out of my life.

COMMIT IT

…for why will ye die,

Commitment was something that Israel didn’t have. They’d make and break promises as fast as the ink would dry on the paper.

I’m not any different. I yo yo diet, and I yo yo commit to the promises that I make God that “I’ll do better.”

We take commitment too lightly. Forgetting that God doesn’t take it lightly. Over time, God allowed many of His chosen people to be killed because they couldn’t keep their commitment to live for Him.

When I quit smoking, I partially did so because I believed God was going to allow me to die a dreadful death because of the effect of smoking. He warned me to quit… and so I did.

The transgression of poor health was not so easy for me to commit to overcome. I allowed emotions and lack of self-respect to play the major role in controlling my diet. Scroll forward to May of 2018, three heart attacks, open heart surgery and now cardia rehab and I am beginning to think I should have listened sooner.

Duh. I’m a Slow learner. Israel and I have a lot in common. Most of all, and Hallelujah, we have God’s grace in common.

But eventually God’s patience runs thin and we get on God’s last nerve. Before that happens, it would be much better to give those transgressions to Jesus. Everyone has them, and their personal to them.  

There’s a 3 step plan for it. Cast. Create. Commit.

God’s final verse in chapter 18 was  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.  

There is life in Christ! And a much better, more rewarding life. Live it! And live it well. 

Foolish chick… Praise God for Chick Grace

Perhaps it’s an oxymoron that the Jesus Chick has chickens, but I love my little brood.  I have nine laying hens, or at least they’re all supposed to lay. Some do not. I have a two Leghorns (Laverne and Ethel), a Rhode Island Red (Lucy), two Silkies (Glo and Sue), two Black Australorps (Shirley and Rhoda) and two Belgium deUccles (Butterscotch and Toffee). They show so much familiarity with the modern day church that it really does seem fitting for them to be in my care. I guess chicken farming is a little like Pastoring. Each of them have their own personality. One’s a little bossy, a couple of them are sometimes lazy, there’s the showboats and the strutters. They all have purpose and potential, but it’s not always evident in the service of the coop. They expect feed and water to be at their beckon call, but if I need productivity on their part… well that’s debatable.

I’ll bet every preacher reading this just shouted a big Amen. If only inside their mind.

If I’m being honest, I’m anyone of those chicks at any given moment in time. Last week was a low productivity week for me. I’m excuseless. Perhaps it’s still the effects of the heart surgery lingering on, or perhaps I just had a lazy week. I don’t know. I just couldn’t seem to come out of my funk. I’m praying since this is Monday that God has mercy on my soul today and my productivity will be up, because He and I have been talking a little this morning about the life of the Jesus Chick. Actually I was listening to another brother’s message and God spoke to my soul in such a tender way, that I had to share it with you. Perhaps today you’re not feeling too productive for Jesus either. Or maybe you feel like you’ve let God down in one of the millions of other ways that I quite often do. Failure is a fact in my life. Whether it’s a chick or sheep, we all stray.

Luke 15

1Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.

And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

And he spake this parable unto them, saying,

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

The crowd gathered to hear Jesus. The religious and the lost alike had a desire to see and hear Jesus. But for two entirely different reasons. The religious hoped they’d find some way to accuse Him; the lost hoped that find hope. There was no doubt those in the crowd who knew Jesus as Savior and were there for the encouragement. And then there would have been someone like me, who loved the Lord, but let Him down pretty often. Even the saved sheep sometimes stray away from the flock. So what great and awesome news to hear that Jesus would leave the 99 and seek the one who was I!

The other day, David built me a bigger coop for my chickadees and we were taking them from the old coop to the new. In the process of the move one of the hens made a run for it. It took us twenty minutes to get that rebel red back into her place. I’m sure it would have looked like a great comedy as I tried to pin her into an area so David could latch on to her. That’s how God does me sometimes I think. He chases me down through the Holy Spirit, desiring me to come back to Him and commune in sweet fellowship. That liar Satan would have me to believe that God is angry and has no desire to have me home. And I’m dumb enough to believe his lies every time. But the Holy Spirit is relentless! And Praise God He is!!!! The great truth of that is, God doesn’t have to leave the 99 to bring me back, He never leaves any of His children.

There is a multitude of reasons we stray from the Word of God. Sin. Sorrow. Suffocation. Life gets on us and it’s hard to shake. God should not have to come after His children but He does.

My chicks are not free roamers. Mainly because I don’t want chicken poop in my yard or the worry of them bothering the neighbors. I don’t want to be a roamer either. I need to stay penned in the word! I not only speak of the writing of this blog but of the safety of God’s protective fence. The Word of God places a hedge around my heart that keeps the world out, and when I fail to read and study it as I should, it allows a breach for Satan to come in. And just like Lucy the Rhode Island Red, I run for the border! Foolish chick… Praise God for Chick grace.

 

 

Life lesson: Make sure the ‘O’ is in the right spot.

The difference between a good idea and a God idea

I have lots of good ideas. At least in my mind. And for the most part, I believe that they’re ideas that would make a good work for the Lord. Every day since salvation I’ve thought about my ministry and its direction; until the day I went into the hospital and then suddenly it was about that moment in time. Who was I with, who was speaking, was it about my health or was it an opportunity to witness for Christ? That was my mindset.

I missed my youth group, I missed singing, I missed speaking, but those things weren’t on my mind. I didn’t pick up the Word because I couldn’t focus, all I could do was listen to the words that I had “Hidden in my heart.” (Psalm 119:11) But now, I’m back, I’m reading, I’m writing, I’m drawing, I’m singing (from my kitchen table) I’m seeking God’s direction for me now, in this place.

But I recognize even more that there’s a difference between a good idea and a God idea. One “O”.

Psalm 86:1-8

Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.

David desires God’s will for his life, he knows there is purpose (he is holy, set aside). And in the first 8 verses of his prayer I see his petition to God, “O Lord,” again and again. I can clearly see that the reasoning for my unfocused ministry over the years has been that I’ve not cried “O Lord,” enough. I would ask and halfheartedly wait for God to answer, knowing there might be a chance He wouldn’t necessarily agree with my “good” idea. Zap! That one stung. I know truth when I hear it. I’m driven for service, sometimes too driven.

David prayed

  • O’ Lord Hear me
  • O’ Lord I Trust Thee
  • O’ Lord I cry to Thee
  • O’ Lord I give myself to Thee
  • O’ Lord be with me
  • O’ Lord, let it be Your works

Mine would have been, “O’ Lord! Thanks for that idea!” But not David. He prayed first asking God to please listen. God loves a conversation with His children. A real conversation. Not a repetitious religious act, but a Daddy/Daughter/Son conversation. He want to hear the desires of our heart. He wants to know just how passionate we are about the conversation. Good ideas are not always God ideas. The human mind is fickle and can change at any point. A good conversation with God allows us to work through whether or not it’s passion or just possibility.

David Trusted God. I too often trust me more. Trust is letting go of anything but God for which I learned from the hospital bed. I had to trust that God had put me in the right place with the right people to handle it all. Is life any different? Maybe not as life threatening, but every bit as serious.

When it came to getting to WVU medicine, I discovered that a few life threatening decisions that had been placed in my hand, God had removed. One was changing hospitals mid-stream after I had built a trust with a physician. After my heart cath, the medical staff at the second of three hospitals I was in, decided I had a blood disorder that placed me at considerable risk, and they refused to do the surgery there. It turned out that that hospital had had an outbreak of staff infection and mersa on the heart wing for the past 18 months. Coincidence that I was removed from there? Not in my mind. The blood disease diagnosis was incorrect. Shocker. God removed that decision from me. That’s not how it always works. More often than not, He leaves us to free will. It’s why it’s so very important to cry out to Him more than once.

David pleaded (cried) to the Lord, He laid himself down before the Lord and ask the Lord to be with him through it all, and in finality he asked God to let it be His works, not David’s.

Another zap for me. My good ideas, have too often been, mine. They weren’t bad, they just weren’t God’s. So much work, so much effort put into things that I don’t know if God ever intended me to do because I wouldn’t slow down and use that extra “O” as a cry for wisdom. For the most part I still don’t have any regrets because God knew my heart was to do His work. But He has certainly sidelined me for now and is allowing me to reconsider my direction…

Life lesson: Make sure the ‘O’ is in the right spot.

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.

—————————————————————————————————–

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.

Here’s the Link