Whoso is wise, do this…

owlPsalm 107 begins in verse 1-2 ~ O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;”

And then ends in verse 43 with Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.”

The verse between 1 through 43 are filled with trouble and deliverance, backsliding and redemption, sorrow brought to rejoicing and again and again the psalmist reminds the reader that “men should praise the Lord.” I will not tell you that through every heartache and sorrow I have shouted the house down. I’ve shouted neither for joy, nor have I shouted for complaint… I fear God too much for that. Oh, I’ve whined; believe me! But how do you get in that attitude of praise when you’re in the midst of the storm sea?

I went to sleep last night praying God would remove a heartache, and I awoke this morning praying likewise and then I began to ponder the what if’s in my life; possibly with a little help from Satan, or the flesh I’m not sure. What if this would happen or that? What if it gets worse than this, what now? And then I had an urge to begin thanking God for the morning. I didn’t stop there, I thanked Him for family, friends, my home, right down to the coffee in my cup! …and then it happened. Whoooooooshhhhhhhhh. That ever calming breath that comes from the Lord calmed the waters of my soul. Whoso is wise…

Observe ~ look around you and see all that you have to be thankful for. Yes there is heartache, but so much greater than the troubles of the day is our Lord. In His providential ways He can speak peace into existence. The storm may be raging, but the soul of a saint of God can be stilled just as easily as the storm at sea.

Understand ~ boy, that’s tough sometimes. Understanding doesn’t always know why something is, or when it will end, sometimes its believing that God’s in control of it. I don’t understand how electricity works, but I believe when I hit the switch the lights will appear. I don’t know how God works, but I understand that He does, and He does it on my behalf. I fully believe that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), but I still might whine about it. God’s lovingkindness is immeasurable. I fail, He forgives. I hurt, He heals. I mess up, He fixes it.

How’s your sea this morning? Feeling a little nauseous? Start praising God …whooooshhhh… Peace be still my soul. Amen. Let me know how God is working in your life.

Moving Forward in Faith

Genesis 13:14-15

And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

Paradise seen to promises as far as the eye can see.

Lot, the atypical carnal man, nephew of the “Friend to God” Abraham, had just received the graciousness of his uncle being given half of Abraham’s inheritance. Not, was it just half, but the half he chose was paradise; well watered ground likely green and plush as far as he could see. Lot dealt with life in the flesh; he would fit in well with our “if it feels good, do it” society of today. But then there’s Abraham, who was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but he loved God and all along the journey you see him building altars to God, taking time and the effort to praise the Lord and acknowledge what God was doing in his life. Lot’s journey took him where the flesh lead and into a heap of trouble.

As I read this text this morning it stirred my soul when I read “after that Lot was separated from him.” Not until Abraham had separated himself from the worldliness of Lot did God begin to show Abraham what the future held. How often in life are people held back because they refuse to separate themselves from others in their lives whose carnal focus continually keeps them from receiving the blessing of God. Lot had no concern over Abraham’s success but rather his own lusts when he looked at the land that was before him and chose the best. Abraham’s concern was not only that his nephew was cared for, but that their relationship was unharmed: “for we be brethren.” (13:8)

What Lot did not know was that just beyond that beautiful land he chose was heart ache and sorrow. He would be surrounded by depravity and immoral attitudes that would turn his wife away from God ending in her destruction and corrupt his children. But the land that Abraham received, though it did not appear to be the greater acreage, had an unseen beauty. It had the blessing of God in every direction; north, south, east and west… after that Lot was separated from him.

Abraham had a tender heart for his nephew and likely would not have “separated himself” from him. I fully believe that there are times in our lives when God moves people out of our lives so that he can bless us, and for our own good we need to move forward without looking back. A lesson Lot’s wife learned too little, too late(19:26). I’m not saying that we cannot be friends with the unsaved (how else will they see God unless it’s through us); but when turmoil and strife continually abound in our lives because of the people we’re around it may be time to separate ourselves and move into God’s promises. It’s time to move on in faith that God has something wonderful in our future!

Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Wait for iiiiiitttttt…. Bring on the rain!

James 5:17-20 ~ Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

I love passionate Christian people! They not only stir my soul but things happen when you’re around them. Sometimes it happens quickly and other times you have to patiently wait for the rain. For three years and six months Elijah prayed for the rain. You can almost hear him saying “Wait for iiiiittttt….” No doubt there were people who laughed him to scorn, his friends may have stuck with him for a while but some of them likely walked away shaking their heads saying “Po ol Elijah, he just don’t get it.” Yeah, I know they didn’t speak country in Israel but I can still see it. More than that I see Elijah watching them walk away and being a little broken hearted that they didn’t have his faith. They served the same God, they’d seen and heard of His miracles, they knew God wasn’t on the clock, why couldn’t they believe? But that was okay, because Elijah had enough faith for all of them.

Passion isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is for anyone who will believe. James said Elijah was a man of “like passions.” He was just like us, he put his under-britches on the same way we do. I’ve been waiting for God to move in an area of my life and I know there are people out there who are saying “Po ol Shari, she just don’t get it.” Well I’m waiting on the rain! Have I been tempted to move to another mountain with a moister climate? Plenty of times!But the truth of the matter is, if I moved there I know in my heart that that land would be dry and barren too. God said “Wait” and I so I am…

In I Kings 18 we find Elijah still waiting in faith, God had rained down fire on the altar on Mt. Carmel and Elijah knew that the sky was about to open up. In verse 41 “Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.”  He hadn’t seen the first drop, but he could hear it! He had been faithful, He had kept his eye on the sky believing it was on its way. He was passionate about his purpose in life, to show others the power of his God.

So here we passionate people are. Is there something you in faith have been waiting for God to do?

Elijah told them to go seven times and check for the rain, Let me know if I can pray for you and at Wait for iiiiittttt…7 tonight I’ll check the posts and lift your request to the Lord.

Stirred & Shaken

Mark 1:27-28
And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.

Jesus had just called out a few of the disciples and then He heads to church. Imagine their surprise when Christ calls out the demon from the young man. The disciples had been on the job less than a day and already the excitement started. Jesus had stopped by the fishing villages and offered them the opportunity for a new direction in their lives, but I doubt they’d imagined that it would be like this. They knew He was different, else why would they have left the stable jobs they had as fisherman to follow Him. They’d surely felt their hearts stir within them He spoke, something drew them to Him; but they weren’t the only ones Jesus had stirred.

Jesus stirred the satanic forces. They knew who He was. They called Him by name in Mark 1:24 ~ “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” Satan and his band of mayhem men know when God is moving in someone’s life. They know that their heyday is about to end and they rip and tear at everything they can get their teeth into to try and destroy the vessel that God is about to use. But it’s futile. Because when God takes over, the vessel is new! And when the religious leaders of the day seen Christ restore the young man to whole, they said… “This is new!”

Jesus stirred the sanctuary. They didn’t know who He was. They had been so used to dead religion, that they didn’t really know how to take the Live. Lively gospel bothers people, because they can’t control it. It’s easy to sit in a dead church, there’s nothing there to drive you up out of your seat. But get in a service where the Holy Spirit is moving and you’ll see people stand and testify, raise their hands and shout at unacceptable times, and glory to God… it makes people ask questions, like “Where did He get that authority?”

The new disciples had to have known life was about to change. When Jesus stirs up your life, it makes you and everyone else around you uncomfortable. Some will stand beside you and wait with anticipation to see what The Lord is going to do, and others will walk away. Possibly because they’re afraid they’ll get caught up in the moment and jump on the glory train, or because they’re satisfied with mediocrity.

I don’t want mediocre. I want heart thumping, soul stirring events in my life that leave people saying “By what authority did that happen?” And I can answer them with a grin on my chin… That’s God!

Is your soul stirring? Get up! and then let me know where you go…

A New Year, a New Song ~ Bluegrass Style

What is it about the New Year that brings on a whole gamut of possibilities that a new day does not? I mean really, are they not one in the same. A new year is the completion of 365 individual days, followed by the beginning of 365 individual days. In the scope of eternity it’s not even a drop of water in all the oceans of the world, but it serves to remind us of that which we completed, that which we failed, and that which we now have opportunity again.  I joined with friends last night and we played bluegrass music and sang songs to celebrate the outgoing and the incoming years but out of the entire evening one moment stands out, because it was God moment.

I sat beside a fellow seeming considerably older than me; but maybe not. He was a man I barely knew. And as the groups of musicians took turns calling out songs, and some a little sillier than others it came to be my turn and I asked my new friend if he knew “Child of the King.” “Yep,” he replied,” but I don’t know it that well. You sing and I’ll play.” And so we did…

As I finished the final chorus with everyone now knowing the song and chiming in to sing along and my friend said, “That song ended all too soon.”

Hmm…. I have a feeling that’s what many may say at the end of time.  Each one of us may be 10 minutes from Eternity.  Sing loud! Make every moment of 2013 count for something and glorify God in the moment.  I know… sometimes that easier said than done when you’re in trying times. Look past the trying time! Be your own visionary, holding on to what God has promised to bring you through. We could have sang “Child of the King” over again. But I’ll bet the moment wouldn’t have been the same. We’re meant to go through the song of life only once. Make the best of it!

Psalm 144:9
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.

That’s the gospel bluegrass style right there in the middle of Psalms!

 

Why I Talk About Jesus

Romans 5:1-6
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

If I spent time this morning reflecting on who I’ve become I would have to spend some serious time looking at the journey that got me to where I am today. Christianity is not a title its an event. I guess I get so excited about talking about Christ because my experience with Him has been so exciting!

Justified by Jesus! “Just if I’d” never sinned. Oh my goodness. How wonderful is it that Christ takes guilt out of your life. I’m a self blamer, if you fall down, I probably could have prevented it, even if I’m in West Virginia and you’re in Texas. Is that nuts? yes, but it’s been a piece of the fabric of my life for as long as I can remember. So… is it any wonder I get excited bout the justification of Jesus Christ and the peace I have in knowing that my faults and failures are covered. He took them upon Him so that I could be free from them. It was like having toted a huge piece of luggage with me, and then having Jesus show up one day, unpack it, put everything in His luggage, and then throw my bag in the dumpster so I couldn’t refill it. Yes, that excites me.

Access to grace! God’s riches at Christ’s Expense. Grace is receiving that which I am not entitled too because I didn’t buy it. Over the years friends and family have given me gifts of instruments; an upright bass, a fiddle, a mandolin and more. These are things that bring me great joy. I didn’t ask for them, they just one day appeared in my life through a conversation or a phone call and I was blessed. I didn’t do anything for the giver, they just gave. That’s grace. The only One who knew of my desire to be a musician was God. I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it. But when I began to serve
Christ through music, God began placing people in my life that would become instruments themselves. Instruments of grace. Used by God to give me that which I did not deserve. And you wonder why I want to tell people about my Lord!

My journey has not always been so pleasant. Even in the midst of experiencing the joys I just spoke of, I was also experiencing great trials. I lost people I love, I lost jobs, I lost joy, but I never lost Jesus or His peace. When I would finally make it through one of those horrific times, I could look back on the experience and understand that it truly did have purpose. I grew in those times spiritually and became stronger in my faith and testimony which allowed me to share that with someone else going through those same type trials. I have hope today because of what God has brought me through in the past.

This is why I talk about Jesus. Because your walk with Him should not be a point “A” to point “B” experience. It should be a journey with great stories to tell about what He did along the way. I pray you experience that today, and that you’ll share with me some of the gifts of grace you’ve received.

A Goal In My Soul

Wow. The last Sunday in 2012! Its hard to believe. This year for me was filled with a little heartache, but more joy than pain, and for that I am grateful. A year in review of my ministry finds me slightly disheartened (as usual) that I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I had hoped and dreamed. But then on a few of the stages of my life, the production went better than I could have imagined, so I guess over all 2012 was good.

One of the most memorable times of the year, happened just last week, when at Christmas Eve communion a 5 year old in our church, who’s a foster child with one of our families, came running up on the platform when the Pastor asked if anyone needed to be saved.

“I’ve never been saved!” he proclaimed.

If only the adult world were so tender hearted to the Holy Spirit’s leading. And there on that most special of eve’s was the gospel in a nutshell. A child coming to Christ.

Matthew 18:3 says “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

My ministry is about pointing souls to Christ, and my greatest fear is pointing soul’s to
Shari. It is so easy in the field of public speaking to lose focus. I can so easily get my eye off the message of Christ in an attempt to entertain. And while it is a fine line that I must walk, because I want people to enjoy the message; but I much more want them to implement the message in their life. A giggle in their soul is good, but a goal in their soul to serve Christ more is really what its about.

At years end of 2013 I want my purpose to be proliferating the servants of God. I want my inbox full of testimonies of what others have done for Christ because I in some way encouraged them to be a better friend to God. I too want to be a better friend to God. What about you? Was 2012 your greatest year for Him, what is your goal for 2013. Share with me a little, would ya?

Why are you cryin’ to me?

Exodus 14:15-16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.

I’m starting an extreme study on Exodus for an upcoming event that I’ll be announcing on January 1st. And this scripture is my launching point. The images that flood my mind of the Israelites exodus from Egypt are vivid. Although Hollyweird has given us an idea of what it may have looked like, I’m certain the reality of it was greater than anyone could imagine! Here stands Moses with the sea before him and the enemy behind him and God says (to country quote it) “Why are you cryin’ to me? See that rod in your hand? it has a purpose…”

I am just now discovering the rod that God has placed in my hand. Today its an iPad, tomorrow it will be my voice in a Sunday School class room at Victory Baptist Church. On April 12-14, 2013 it’s a whole new day! God does the work, but He does it through the tools He has blessed me with. I’m about to get happy!

Here Moses stood with the enemy on his heals at the bank of the Red Sea and God says “Why are you looking at me, I’ve given you what you need to be successful, hold it up and go! Our lives are all about lifting The Lord up for others to see. I’m ready. God has been filling my tool box with rod’s that I hadn’t even noticed. He sent me countless Aarons and Hur’s (Exodus 17:12) into my life to strengthen me in the times of battle. Not until eternity will I have enough time to thank them.

But this message is for you too. I’m not an exclusive, I’m a messenger. Open up your Bible (the ultimate tool box) and find out what The Lord has for you today. I guarantee it’s something. He is faithful! Are you looking for direction? Hold up that rod and watch the waters part. Can I pray for you? It would be an honor….

Couch Christianity?

Psalm 93:1
THE LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

Working from home can breed bad habits, and I am a creature of habits. One such bad habit is the tendency to remain in comfy clothes when I’m working from home. After all, who will know but me, right? Well, perhaps the children or grand-babies, but they don’t seem to mind if I’m in sweatpants and my favorite Grascal Shirt. (that’s a bluegrass group for all you non-grassers out there.) What I have discovered however is clothing is a state of mind…

If I’m in comfy clothes, my state of mind seems to be more relaxed, I tend to settle down in the couch and lounge as if I am independently wealthy and have no need of employment… and then the mail comes. Oh glory… I better get busy! By the same token if I get up, shower and put on work clothes (my pretty pants) my mind seems to focus more on the business aspect of my life. I believe most assuredly that God looks on the inner man, but… the outward man makes a statement that is seen by everyone else and felt by you.

Psalm 93 reminded me this morning of the royal robe I wear. Romans 13:14 says “But, put on The Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” As Christians we wear what Christ wears and visa versa. My comfy clothes are suitable for couch lounging but not for meeting and greeting my peeps on a professional level. I doubt my Grascal tee would shout “This chick can speak!” It would be more apt to say “Vacationing?”

I’m not on vacation in the workforce or in my spiritual life. I have work to do, and so do you! There are people around us every day that may be 10 minutes from Hell. That’s a scary thought, and its reality. Its so easy to get comfortable in our Christianity and keep our mouths shut; but that’s not what we were called to do. We need to get off the couch and put on our pretty pants (spiritually speaking) and be about the Lord’s business. Our friends and family need to see Him at work in our lives through the way we speak, dress, and behave. Amen? Amen!

Got a match?

When I was called into the youth ministry many moons ago, I had no idea of the joy that the future would hold. I’ve never understood why anyone would consider working in the youth department a chore… If it is a chore, there is a good chance you’re in the place of someone else’s calling. If some folks treated their careers in the same manner as they treat church they wouldn’t last a week. Someone who showed up for work once every two or three weeks, half hearted, unprepared and with as much excitement as flu shot line would be sent packin’. And yet… the most important job in your life that has eternal ramifications is viewed more as a hobby in many churches. It’s penciled in on the calendar with an eraser on stand by should a more entertaining opportunity become available.

Last night in the Teen Department of Victory Baptist Church we brought out the dry erase board and begin making our 2013 agenda. The kids bubbled with excitement at the possibilities that lie in the future. I must confess that my heart pitter pattered a little bit too when I seen the potential for our ministry to grow and catch on fire. I’m packin’ matches, and I’m going to strike one at every dry piece of wood I find in the youth department. How? I’m going to let every one of the youth know that I care, I’m going to creep on their facebook page (with their permission) and know what’s going on in their lives, the up and downs and in betweens. I’m going to pray with them and for them and let them know how very important they are to me, and more than that… how important they are to God and our ministry.

Wow! I just caught myself on fire! Hold the water… just let me burn!