Tag Archives: Bible Journaling

I Can’t Make You Listen

The hardest part of being a child of God, parent, grandparent, niece, cousin, aunt, and friend is when your heart breaks as you share the gospel and they won’t listen. They’re not rude. They’re not unkind. They’re just indifferent.

I debated for a few seconds on whether or not to write this blog today. My heart is tender and I’m weepy. But that’s okay. I need to share while the pain is fresh.

I’m not a super saint. I’m a messed up child of God that was saved by grace alone, that’s my greatest fear on why people won’t listen to me. They look at me and think “Why does she think she has it (life) figured out?” And I don’t, but I have eternal life figured out and that’s my message.

Ezekiel was not only a spokesman, he was a watchman. He watched as the world around him spiraled into destruction because of a nation that rejected God. I see the same thing, only now God is not viewing us as a nation, He’s viewing us individually, and every single one of us is going to stand accountable for what we’ve done in this life. Alone, before God.

I envision my family and friends standing before God and having Him say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” I feel Ezekiel’s frustration. But I feel God’s pain of rejection and I feel my broken heart that those people will miss out on Heaven and suffer Hell. Yes. There’s a Hell. Why won’t they hear?

I can’t make them listen. I can only blow the horn again and again and say Jesus is Coming Soon whether or not you believe. He will step out on that cloud and call His people home because the Bible says He will and not one word of that book has failed yet.

Christmas can be a sad time because loved ones aren’t with us, but at least if we know Jesus Christ as Savior we know that we will spend eternity rejoicing with our loved ones. But what about the ones that aren’t there? I don’t believe we’ll remember them. But you can believe (because the word says it’s true), that they’ll remember us.

After the heart attack and surgery, I’ve struggled with playing games with faith. I wasn’t guaranteed another Christmas, and I almost missed it. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell everyone I can about the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

I can’t make them listen. But I can keep blowing my horn and telling the world Jesus is coming soon! Be ready!!!!

Do you know you’re ready? If not, follow the link for the plan of salvation at the top of the page! And then tell me and everyone else in the world you can about Jesus!

The Vessel, the Voice and the Value

It started with a conversation with a friend and woman of God Angel Murchison two days ago. We were sharing the many things that God has done with our lives and the countless ways He has used us in our prospective ministries. As we spoke the words “vessel and voice” came into my mind; how blessed I was that by being a willing vessel, allowing my voice to be used for the glory of God I had become of value.

Just for the record, I’ve always been of value to God. After all He died for me. But in my own eyes I struggle with worth, and for certain worthiness.

The thought continued into a conversation with my friends Daniel and LuAnn Johnson as we worked on a Christmas giving project together. We were trying to be willing vessels. We were using our voice, and we knew that it was of value for the Kingdom… but deed…. We weren’t sure how.

By doing all the things that God had laid on our heart to do, we weren’t really seeing the fruit of our labor by way of souls being saved and lives being changed. So what’s a girl to do if “there ain’t no proof in the pudding?” (that’s an old time colloquialism for evidence of effectiveness).

So this girl went to the word of God.

2 Timothy 2:20-21

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work

Various Vessels

Gold, silver, wood and earth. I look at those materials and I can see various people who align metaphorically. I view myself as an earthen vessel, a clay pot crafted in the Master’s hand as the scripture relates in Romans 9:21

Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

We are, I am, what the Master makes me to be. Unfortunately there are times that all I see is “God made me weird.” I have quirky ways, weird ideas and take random leaps of faith or fiction that sometimes end well, and other times end in disaster. And God has to put me back on the wheel and work the bumps out of life again.

Vigilant Vessels

Ever watchful for an opportunity to serve.

That’s why I do crazy things with people like LuAnn and Daniel Johnson like host a community Christmas party. They’re a little crazier than me because they drove from North Carolina to West Virginia. But God said go, and so they did. And God said join them, and so I did. And together we make a good team because we look for opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life and for the chance to tell the world that Jesus Saves!

Victorious Vessels

Victory doesn’t always look like crossing the finish line for a trophy. Sometimes it looks like an unfinished project.

As Daniel, Luann, their young Clayton and I, fed and encouraged the folks who came to our Christmas party, we attempted to sow seeds on a cold December day, believing that they’d take root and grow into something amazing for the Kingdom. But if we’re honest there were some seeds that fell on stony ground.  Those seeds suck the life out of me because they make me feel like a failure and cause me to question once again the value of my ministry reach.

And then a man walks through the door that just needed to feel like someone cared, and we did. And it was in that moment that I see the hand of God and heard the Spirit whisper… “that’s why you’re here.”

I felt the ribbon go around my neck and the Lord kiss my cheek and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” We were vessels of honor and value. Sanctified (set apart from the way the world views obedience and victory) and meet (of value) for the good work that the Lord has for us in the Kingdom.

Victory! It’s not always the big wins that are of value. Sometimes the value is in the little we do being vigilant vessels.

I hope you enjoyed this word today, and I pray you’ll share this post as well as the ministry of www.theJesusChick.com. Over the next month I’m working on a my website style as well as it’s content in hopes of being a bigger blessing and opening the doors of opportunity.

You too are a valuable vessel! God bless you and Merry Christmas from the Jesus Chick!!!!

Don’t let the Enemy do a Victory Dance

Below are my notes for Not another Manic Monday published live on Facebook, Monday, October 29th. The video is below the written version. I pray you’ll join me on Mondays at 10 a.m. each week as I share in music and word what the Lord has laid on my heart.  – Shari

Our scripture for today’s devotion is 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I get so tired of hearing the battles that Satan wins in the lives of our people. Not the people who are lost, but those that are saved. He defeats us through deception, discouragement and darkness.

Let’s talk about

The Power of Deception

One of my favorite pieces of journal art is the roaring lion I journaled in 1 Peter 5:8 where the verse reads Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.

You need to underline that in your bible “as a roaring lion. The devil is a faker! Jesus is known as the Lion of Judah. Satan wants to be lion, but he’s not. He walks around making noise, but he can do nothing that the Lord does not ordain. But we often hear the roar, and it stops our dance.

If Satan can incite fear or doubt in you by roaring in your ear that something bad is going to happen, or something good isn’t going to happen, he’ll do it, and we’ll buy it. Why? Because we give him a mane, when he truly doesn’t have anything more than a deceptive Halloween costume.

John 8:44 says that Satan is the father of lies, and yet we listen to him like he’s speaking truth.

He is the great deceiver and every time he makes us believe a lie he does a victory dance that should have been ours.

So what’s he been roaring in your ears. For me, he tells me every day that I’m forever going to be in the position that I’m in financially and physically. That’s my roaring lion.

If when we hear that roar, we’d imagine Satan in a cheap plastic lion mask, the roar would turn into a meow. Because that’s all the power he truly has.

The Power of Discouragement

It looks a lot like the power of deception, but discouragement is in the heart, deception is in the head because we try to reason with logic.  Discouragement, at least for me, is a heart matter. Satan uses the things that I’m passionate about to tear me down.

He’ll do it through other people who will make comments that just cut me to the core. Maybe it’s about my appearance, or my family, or a project that I’m working on and it immediately causes me to want to throw my hands up in defeat.

One of the ways he’s been tearing at me lately is through my grandchildren. Reminding me every day that they are exposed to some of the wicked things that my mind would never have imagined through a nightmare at their age. And their literally seeing it through television, Youtube, friends at school and other means of the media.

I feel powerless and discouraged. This is not a plastic mask demon, this is a real live demon messing in the lives of people I love. So how do I take back the dance that Satan has been dancing with discouragement?

I give them to God believing that He has sent the power of angels to shield and protect my grandchildren.

Hebrews 1:13-14 says “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent for to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”

No angel sits on the right hand of God. Jesus Christ sits in that position. But, God, Creator of all has assigned ministering spirits to those who are heirs of salvation. Ha! That’s us!  It only took one angels in 2 Kings 19:35 to kill 185,000 people. I’m pretty sure, my grandchildren’s guardian angel can take care of a few middle schoolers wanting to harm, or infest my grandchildren’s minds with garbage.

I can’t be with them every day, but I can trust that God will provide the protection they need. I have to, else Satan will do a dance every time I worry.

The Power of Darkness

1 John 1:5-7 reads This then is the message which we have heard of him and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.

I witness it every day and would be a liar just like the scripture said if I didn’t acknowledge that good Christian people are exposing themselves to the darkness and pretend that it doesn’t affect them.

I was telling my teen class the other day about a time when the television was called “booger john” because people believed it to be evil. And that was in the days of Leave it to Beaver! Look what our minds are exposed to now. We truly deceive ourselves if we don’t think that everything we allow into our minds doesn’t affect us in either a negative or a positive way.

The news media has filled our minds with fear and deception and we’ve bought it hook line and sinker. We watch shows with sex and violence and those images are seared into our brains to be drawn upon when Satan wants to get our minds off godly things. I was sitting in church yesterday and a television show that I had watched (that’s geared toward children by the way) a marvel hero who, came into my mind, an ungodly scene that I should have never allowed into my mind, and Satan brought it up in church, or I did. I don’t want to give him full credit.

Who ever said the eyes are the windows to the soul, knew what they were talking about.

We have to fill our souls with more light than darkness.

Another quote says that knowledge is power. Well, yes but it needs to be godly knowledge, not all knowledge is good power.

We have to stay in the word of God and to weigh everything we’re told by scripture. Not just the parts we want to believe.

We cannot possibly make it through this life unscathed with just a Sunday service. Not to mention those people who don’t even attend on Sunday’s or they hit and miss. Satan has you in his cross hairs first thing Sunday morning and he’ll be dancing on your head by Tuesday afternoon like a chorus line if you don’t get some more word into you.

I’m glad you joined me today, but don’t let it stop here!

Devour the word this week and keep Satan from devouring you!

Twenty Minutes Late for God

Bible Journaling Art by The Jesus Chick – Shari Johnson

It’s not my nature to be late for anything. I struggle with it. It’s as if to say if I arrive on time for everything in my life, all is obviously right in my world. Right? Wrong. Very wrong. But I can at least pretend for that day of punctuality that I’m okay.

So for this entire week, I’ve awoken at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. multiple days. I hear the Holy Spirit speak, “Get up, I have something to say to you.” And rather than get up, I would lie in bed awake, in frustration with my body that loved the feeling of the covers against my skin and drift in and out of sleep; only to wake up a few hours later feeling as if I’d been beaten, with every joint in my body aching. So this morning at 3 a.m. when I heard to Holy Spirit speak again, I snuggled back beneath the covers, had a nutty dream and heard Him speak again at 5. Just like the past week every day. So at 5 a.m. I determined to get up and listen. But by the time I rallied myself up and made it to the kitchen it was 5:20.

Twenty minutes late for God…

That too is my nature. I’m not late for the world, but I’m late for divine appointments on a consistent basis and for multiple reasons and excuses.

Twice this week, two different very close friends ask me how I “really was.” They ask me hard questions that examined me like a spiritual physician and I knew they were warnings from God that I once again needed to slow myself down and take some pressure off. Doggone those people who love you.

Did I listen? I tried. But life has a way of getting you to the point that you’re 20 minutes late for an appointment with God. And that’s not good. Nobody makes God wait without consequences.

My mind went to Jonah, and his very own book. A look into the life of a man who tried to make God wait. But God didn’t lead me to that scripture, He lead me to Luke, chapter 12.

12:35-36

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.”

IN HIS PRESENCE

The scripture refers to the return of Jesus Christ, when He comes to call His church home. But it could just as easily refer to any time the Lord knocks and requests us in His presence. Like 3 a.m. wake up calls.

BY HIS PETITION    

12:37

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: very I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.

My mind is humbled at the very thought that the Lord would serve me. And yet He does when He speaks to my soul and ministers to my broken spirit. He’d had sent angels of mercy in the form of friends who gently warned… “Rest.”

He Himself had not tried to wake me to steal my rest, but rather give me rest through His word. And yet I refused to listen but rather drift back into a restless sleep. Until today. And though I was twenty minutes late, He was still right on time to give me the message that I needed to hear to calm my troubled heart.

FOR MY PORTION

12:42-43

And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

I weep in the wisdom that the Lord provides my portion in due season. Which often time comes later because I didn’t answer the door when He was prepared to make the delivery.

It came late this week because I kept failing to answer the door. I studied this week out of necessity of teaching opportunities. Not for personal portions. It’s like savoring the goodness of someone else’s plate as you deliver it to their table. Never experiencing the food for yourself. I wonder how many Pastor’s experience that.

This morning the Lord and I dined over frosted mini wheats and coffee and the word of God. It tasted so good! And the mini wheats were pretty tasty too.

A lesson in life from the Jesus Chick… when God knocks, open yourself to opportunity.

Ministry Isn’t An Afterthought

I seldom ever just draw for the sake of drawing. It’s likely with a blog or a request in mind that I doodle the “Jesus Chick” cartoon that I use so often. Today, I finished some work for the Bible College, began to process my thoughts about a blog topic and determine what might follow that as far as getting something accomplished for the Kingdom and then my mind drifted. To a place of just wonderment. A siesta of sorts. I know… I just came back from a siesta. Four nights of revival and two at the beach and the sad part is, I needed that siesta to remind myself that I need to take more siestas.

Most people who look at my life look at me as an “unemployed woman” who occasionally serves the Lord (which isn’t a real job according to most), sings a little on the side (which is technically goofing off) and is readily available to forget about the laundry and dishes (true story) and go off on jaunts across the world with her bestie and play with her grandbabies with the remainder of her spare time. I just wore myself out talking about my time off!

I thought, perhaps today, I’d share a little about the glamorous days of “The Jesus Chick.” If you’re in the ministry, you can no doubt identify in many ways. If you’re not, please use this as a catalyst to pray for those of us who “don’t have a real job.”

On Monday’s I pack my guitar and song books into the car and travel to our local nursing home. I sing and minister in word to about 10-15 long term care residents. I try to sing songs of their childhood faith so that they can chime in. What a blessing that is to see patients who can’t remember their name half the time, recall every word of “How Great Thou Art!” Sitting across from me is usually a very cranky faced woman. She breaks my heart. She knows religion but she doesn’t know Jesus. She’s bitter at the world and my music soothes her soul temporarily, but just like Saul, who hired David to soothe his, when the music stops… so does the peace. She doesn’t know peace. I carry that home in my guitar case. It gets heavy sometimes.

On Monday nights a couple of friends and I meet at the church for a Bible journaling class where we share our art, but more importantly we share our heart. We’re burdened for our people. We want our churches to grow, we want our friends and family to experience the fire of Jesus! During the day I prepare handouts for the girls and conversation starters. Everyone needs conversations of the heart. It helps us grow in our own faith when we sow seeds into the lives of others. Good seed. That’s important to know. Stay away from those who sow weeds in your garden.

Wednesday’s I have a teen ministry where I try to sow good seed and pull the weeds of the world from the lives of children. Good grief there’s a lot of weeds to pull. If it’s been a while since you’ve sat down with teens to have an in depth conversation about their life you’d be shocked at what they face and be awed that they can come out of it unscathed. Only in Jesus.

If you follow this blog you know I have weeks of abundant writing and weeks of less. It depends on how much life takes its toll on my time. I sing at every opportunity. Often times for secular events hoping that my words in song and my testimony in between will spark a conversation with someone in the audience.

Spare time is often helping other ministries with promotion and publication art. And then when the weekend rolls around it’s game on for Jesus! I teach Sunday School, sing solo and sing in the choir, organize events and take care of our own church publications and such.

Does it sound like I’m complaining or bringing attention to my works for Christ? I surely hope not. That’s not my intent. My intent is to allow you to see that ministry may appear that it’s an afterthought; especially for those who work “real” jobs. But carrying the burden for souls in a guitar case, a hymnal, a cyber church and the occasional back pocket or purse is a heavy load. There’s no time off from your mind. I speak not only of myself but of ministers all over the world. Serving God is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, I’m sure they’d say the same.

But sometimes you just want to fly away… or splat a mud puddle in cute boots.

“And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away, and be at rest.” PSALM 55:6

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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.

Here’s the Link

 

The Difference Between Flatland and Mountaintop Faith

Traveling both far north and far south of West Virginia will take you into the flatlands of the United States. And while that countryside is most beautiful, and my time there is always enjoyed, I much prefer the hills of West Virginia. At least until the first snow and I risk sliding off a mountain side. But it is currently spring, and although snowflakes still occasionally fall; if you wait 20 minutes the sun is likely to shine again and all signs of winter are gone. Our trees are budded, tulips are coming up and the hedges are green. Our hope is renewed that we will feel the warmth of the summer sun soon and very soon. As I type those words, I hear my friend Walter, who’s received the promise of Heaven singing that song “Soon and Very Soon, we are going to see the King!” Well he now sees. His faith has been made sight.

I often mention Walter, because Walter changed the fabric of my life. He was in his seventies when he joined our congregation. A black, retired, Pentecostal pastor who made his home, and his doctrine that of Victory Baptist Chruch for several years. Worshiping with a 98% white congregation. Color was not an issue for him or us. Walter brought a mountain top experience to our church and taught us to worship more freely. He was downright fun!

So what is the difference between flatland and mountain top faith?

Hebrews 11:1-2

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report.

A Good Report

The elders of the bible believed the promise of the Messiah as spoken by the prophets of old. They didn’t have the privilege of our vantage point of looking back on the cross with the evidences of scripture and history, but they did have the future evidence of the spoken prophetic words coming alive right before them. If one of God’s prophets said the sky was falling, you’d better wear a helmet! But there is now such a variation in what preachers preach today, it is no wonder people are living in flatland faith. Flatland faith meaning, no mountaintop experiences. The world doesn’t know what to believe, there are few “Good Reports.” Billy Graham has died, and there are few of such a stable nature coming up behind him. And even fewer with fire. And far too many “self-professing saints” with a lifestyle that is more apt to be found in Satan’s camp, than in Christ’s.

A Good Testimony

Hebrews 11:3-5

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

I have to ask myself, what sacrifices am I making for the cause of Christ? Please don’t misunderstand, I speak not of works for salvation, which cannot be done. Salvation was paid for at the cross. But by works I refer to that which I do which has a testimony from the grave. What do I do that has eternal reward? The only thing that’s going to make it into Heaven by my hand, is a soul that I lead to Christ or a saint for which I’ve encouraged by knowing the word of God. Too few people have evidence of a good testimony. A part of which is an excitement and zeal for the cause of Christ. I remember Walter and glorify God, because Walter encouraged me while he was here. Like Abel, “being dead yet speaketh!”

A Good Reward

Hebrews 11:6

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

I’m by no stretch of the imagination a “super saint.” Lord have mercy on my soul, I fail Him often. But I desire and seek the mountain top experiences believing that God is a rewarding of those who do. Troubles come, but God is so faithful that even in the troubled times, His presence is a mountain top experience. Knowing that I do not have to go it alone. Hallelujah!!

Chapter 11 is the testimony of the heroes of the faith who lived in faith, not knowing what I know, but believing it would be because God said it was so. They believed not seeing. I believe because I’ve seen. I’ve seen saints live it out. Do others see it in me? Do they see it in you?

Get excited! Our future is amazing!

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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.

Here’s the Link

 

What’s in Your Tool Belt This Week?

Much like my counterparts of yesteryear there is a great deal of my Saturday preparing for my Sunday. Although mine is not to the degree of those of the past. I’ve heard my parents speak about spending Saturday’s ironing ‘Sunday go to meetin’ clothes, preparing things for Sunday’s dinner that could be prepared ahead. Getting done any normal daily work that could be done a day ahead so that Sunday was spent in genuine rest in the Lord Jesus.

Sunday’s are not so Holy for the church or the world either one.  I would be guilty of failure to “rest” on any given Sunday. Although I’m in church for morning and evening services, I’ve been known to spend those few hours in between at a store, or any other number of activities. But my Saturday’s are spent preparing Sunday School lessons, Powerpoint presentations for services and attempting to get my head wrapped around worship. The world takes its toll on me. Even though I’m home much of the week.

Saturday is not the only day I work on the building, but it does cause my mind to be more focused. Sad… but true.

What’s in your tool belt for the weekend services? That’s the question I ask myself.

HAMMERING IT DOWN

No self-respecting carpenter would be found without a hammer in his/her too belt. Jesus Himself learned the trade of carpenter from His earthly father and building the church is the foundation of Christianity. If Sunday services are no more than a lecture hall, we’ve missed the mark. God nailed down our purpose when He handed out the great commission for all believers. Not just preachers.

Matthew 28:19

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Contrary to popular belief He did not say sit on your hinder parts in the church on Sunday and accept no responsibility in the building process. Pastor’s need to pass out a few hammers on Sunday morning and remind the congregation as they leave the building to use the tools he’s given them for the week.

PRYING IT UP

I fully believe it would take a pry bar to get some believers up out of their seats, their hands out of their pockets or their voices out of the depths of their soul. Today we should be preparing out hearts for the services in the morning. Imagine if we took the time on Saturday to pry the sins and junk deep within us out and entered the building with a Spirit of freedom to worship. Wow!! What would that look and sound like?

King David knew that a clean heart was necessary for the freedom of fellowship with God when he wrote Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

It would be good if today we did a little cleaning before Sunday and pried some of the dirt out of the corners of our lives.

MEASURING OUR FAITH

My grandchildren love to find David’s tape measure and pull it out as far as the can only to release it and watch it zing back inside itself. I fear we often measure our faith in the same manner. A quick look at the distance we’ve traveled, the things we’ve done and then it’s back in the box with a pat on the back for a job well done. But what if we measured our faith by the word of God instead of by the world’s standards. Would our faith even make it out of the box?

In preparing for Sunday’s services I wonder what my faith looks like to God. Have I built anything substantial this week or is my work simply cosmetic. While the structure beneath is rotting inside.

SAWING THE WORD

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we look at the New Testaments example of building the church, I’m pretty sure we’re not even in the same blueprint. And before anyone says “times have changed.” We must admit, “The Lord hasn’t.”

His word is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. If Peter could see 3000 saved, so can we, but not without a change of attitude toward the tools of the trade.

Nowhere in the book does it say there was a dress code to serve Christ.

Deuteronomy 22:5 reads:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

This scripture was written at a time when both men and women wore basically the same form of apparel. Although no doubt there was a difference between the two. Just as my jeans and my husbands are completely different. My pockets have bling! His pockets have a leather patch. I wear lace, he wears plaid. But people will read into the word things that just are not there. They do the same thing with worship, evangelism and ministering the gospel. Rather than focusing on building the house… they worry about the drapes.

There are rules. They still apply. But many of the rules for which we govern our Sunday’s with are not found in the word.

When you build a house, you start with the foundation. When you build a church you do the same. Every single word of God.

Isaiah 28:9-10 reads

Who shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

God laid out the instructions for building His church. We need to stick to the plan.

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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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It’s Time to Reclaim It

For our Sunday morning crowd, at Victory Baptist Church, I work up a PowerPoint of Welcoming slides, announcements, and various words of encouragement. As I worked on it over the weekend I came across an imag

e of a tree that was dead on one side and alive on the other with the caption “Making a Difference.” The image stays in my mind as a representation of the church today. From the beginning of time, God’s people would lose and gain ground, until Israel lost all bu

t a small, but mighty piece of land. And while God still very much blesses and protects Israel, His people now cover the earth. The piece of ground that God concerns Himself with for now is the inward heart, regardless if they are Jew or Gentile. He is concerned with all who trust Jesus as Savior. Israel will one day garner God’s attention in end times, but until then, Glory to God, His eye is on the church of His Son Jesus Christ. There’s just one problem with that; we too are going by the way of Israel. We’re losing ground.

It’s never more obvious than when you listen to the un-churched speak of the churches in their community. The churches belong to “those people.” Those whom they don’t feel apart. They’ll call them out by name “The church that so and so family goes to.” Many, not all, but a lot of churches have become family run businesses. A select group of people determines who preaches, sings, participates in service, and every other avenue of decision that is made on behalf of the body of Christ in their church.

So why is this on my heart? It’s not the condition of the church I attend, but it can be the church that anyone attends if we’re not careful to guard the ground for which God has entrusted them with.

The heart.

We’re responsible for taking the gift of Salvation, which God blessed us with through the sacrifice of His Son, and share it with the world within our reach. In and out of the building. On the web and in the newspaper. Every source of media and outreach that can possible be used as fertilizer for the ground for which we serve; the local church. Else we run the risk of losing the ground our predecessors have sown and reaped on.

It’s why my services have been used for the past 22 years in design and marketing of tools evangelists and churches can use to promote the church in a positive light. Not a light of the world, a light to the world. I have heard so many people in the circles I travel who have no understanding of the power of the media, and yet it runs most of their lives and they’re not even aware.

I’ve taught youth for the past twenty years in one form or another and they can quote the words to every secular song, tell you the name of every player on a national team, and discuss the vilest behavior in a network hit with blinking an eye, but they’ll not talk to their friends about Jesus. It breaks my heart! They’ll open themselves to drama on social media and tell everything that was once taboo outside the home, and poke fun of other people like they’re not people just like them. It’s why I understand the power the world has. Little and large churches become dynasty’s of power and serve to appease a select groups, and occasionally there are those that you’ll find Jesus in. We really have lost ground.

So how do we gain ground?

Wake Them

Zechariah 4

1And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.

The church seems almost oblivious across the aisles. In my journey’s I almost always experience a pocket or two of people with a real desire to see their church alive again. But most of the p

eople in the church are asleep. We need to awaken our congregations!

Watch Them

And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

Zechariah was concerned with the trees. The Angel seemed shocked that he didn’t know their significance. I doubt I would know the significance either and would likely be so shocked by the appearance of an angel, I probably wouldn’t know my name. But this is a different time; but it’s not a different message. We need to be watchful and aware of the messages that God is sending to us. We’re not without warning that our churches are dying.

Warn Them

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth. 11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are 

 

the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

I usually don’t cover that much scripture in a blog. People tire of reading… sad world. But I couldn’t not use every word!

What’s causing us to lose ground in the church is that the Spirit of God is missing out of the equation. Just as I would be shocked if an angel appeared in my sight, half the church would be shocked if the Spirit of God showed up. They’re so use to the formality of religion that anything else is just too celestial.

“Crying grace, grace!”

We should be crying out to the church that grace has been extended to the church, but for how long? How long will God wait before He takes the church out of the world and our loved one are left lost without hope. Warn them!

Alas, the Angel explains the symbolic vision in the last of the chapter, but Zechariah is still concerned with those trees.

The two trees, the anointed ones as I understand it, were Zerubbabel and Joshua, King and Priest anointed for those roles. My shout just came up from the depths of my heart. Who is it that God has anointed for the role of crying grace, grace, but His people. You and I who are called by God to share the gospel. We have Pastors to lead us and people to serve. It’s time we reclaim the ground the world has taken!

Freeloaders in the Flock

No automatic alt text available.Driving to play music with a secular crowd, I prayed that God would open the door to share the gospel.  Boy did He! He opened it wide open and in true “Jesus Chick” form I walked out on the porch of that opportunity with my mouth wide open and for an hour and a half I debated faith. The opportunity was great, my delivery I’m not so sure about. It’s the problem with being a “leap and the net will appear” kind of gal; not only do I leap and believe the net will appear, I also speak and believe the words will appear. This has on more than one occasion got me into trouble. Only because I don’t slow down to hear what God’s speaking to my soul.

Luke wrote in chapter 12, verses 11 and 12: And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Well, I didn’t give it any thought, I just spoke from my heart. I’m just so doggone passionate about what my Lord has done! I know He’s okay with that, God doesn’t need any freeloaders in the flock. It’s not a works salvation, but James said in Chapter 2, Verse 18 “Yea, a man say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  That too was a piece of my conversation. There is no works required for salvation, Jesus did it all, but there most certainly should be some evidence.’

 

My “freeloaders in the flock” statement came from a conversation I had with my friend Gloria about my new critter passion, the chickens. Sue, Glo, Butterscotch and Toffee and 4 everyday variety of chickens I’ve yet to give names. My husband wanted the chickens for what they produce, I wanted the chickens because they make me smile. The little babies “peep peeps,” and the antics of the grown chickens remind me in more ways than one of the flock of God. But my husband, in the confidence of a husband, said “No freeloaders.” I, in the confidence of his wife, smiled.  He knew what that meant. No, chicken killin’. But I understand his theory, if we feed them, they “should” follow that up by rewarding us with an omelet or two.

Well, I believe the same as a child of God. If He provides for me in every aspect of life, both physically and spiritually, should I not produce something in my life for Him?

3 WAYS NOT TO BE A FREELOADER

Win souls

It’s the most gut wrenching, fortifying method of serving Christ of all the ways we have to serve. Gut wrenching from the standpoint that you are standing toe to toe with the devil as he tries to undo every deed you do. For every statement of persuasion I would make for Christ, Satan would fuel the fire with human intelligence and logic. It is during those times that I am apt to speak before the Holy Spirit has a chance to get a word in edge wise. It’s not easy, but it is most assuredly worth the war.

Work the Gospel

I know we are a “no works” salvation. But Jesus worked, and if we’re to follow in His footsteps and live as He lived there is work involved. See a need, fill a need. That was His way and should be our way. We should be praying and watching for opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ so that others can see and believe He is Lord of our lives and a game changer for theirs.

Worship

In my human opinion one of the worst cases of freeloading is when able bodied children of God don’t find the time to make it to church. They make the time for work, every form of play known to man, they’ll never miss a hair appointment or an oil change in the worst of weather, but when it comes to taking care of their soul, and thanking the very God who created them and saved them, He is the last on their list. Oh, I know… I’m preaching now. But one of the hardest things to overcome when trying to win a soul to Christ is standing in the defense of freeloaders of the flock. There’s no excuses we can offer.

How To Make a Lemonade Life Out of Lemons

life

Solomon is said to be the wisest man to have ever lived, and I don’t doubt it. His words were salve to my troubled soul this morning. I don’t understand why God chooses to allow this world to continue in the state that it’s in. I’ve never seen so much evil. I’ve never felt the fierceness of sin trying to turn my own mind away from God such as I do right now. The closer I try to get to God the greater the oppression of the enemy on my soul and the vexation of my spirit. So to hear that even the wisest of men struggled with that understanding gives me some comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in my search for peace.

There is something about the tartness of a lemon that has always been a metaphor in life. Very few people would bite into that fruit and pleasure in the experience. It’s a jaw puckering, eye quivering, taste like no other. But squeeze the juice out of those babies into a pitcher, dilute it with water and add the sweetness of sugar and it’s a whole new day! The sour is overcome, the taste buds dance and the soul is made happy in a beverage. The lemon is no longer looked upon as a painfully sour fruit but rather something to be savored.

A bite out of life sometimes yields the same result. A piece of my day viewed from the perspective of just a brief period of time is bitter, and harsh. The pain sears my spirit. It’s too much to consume. Broken dreams are like an unsweetened lemon. I try to grab hold of faith, reign in my thoughts but the bitter, sour taste has my eyes closed and teeth clenched. I can’t see anything sweet, I only taste the lemon.

Ecclesiastes 5, the words of Solomon, had a lemonade making effect on my life today and wise advice:

Living the Dream!

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

We all long for the dreamlife; the one without heartache, sorrow and struggles. But that dream is almost always mingled with a few nightmares. Stay focused. Keep your footing in the house of God where the Word of God is preached, a support system is in place and an accountability program in effect. Listen more and talk less. Work harder and be idle less. Satan is full of ideas that he loves to share with busy people trying to make things happen. Be not hasty with decisions, it almost always leads to heartache. I have worn that shirt many times!

Leave the Lies

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

So, so many times I’ve dreamed dreams and said to God, “God, if only You’ll do this, I’ll do this.” God’s not in to empty promises.  Solomon words advise us to keep our dreamlife in perspective. Fear God more than fearing failure. Failing isn’t always the problem, refusing to admit you failed and moving on is often the problem. When God doesn’t allow a dream to come to pass, perhaps that was your dream not His. Or perhaps you didn’t work hard enough at the dream. “That” is life in perspective for me. Be honest with yourself. God already knows.

So what then? What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we anticipated?

Learning the Lesson

A brief and incomplete summary of verses 8-17 is that even when we do life as best we can, reality can still be harsh, heartaches can still come, and the dream may or may not be fulfilled. Money won’t buy happiness, life is brief, and we’ll take nothing with us when we die. But understand that God was there through it all and through it all there was a purpose.

The lesson to be learned is this, the dream is not the achievement, the dream is the process that leads to success.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ~ Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.