Tag Archives: Church accountability

Mind Your own Business

You can color me guilty. I most always have an opinion. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and jerks a knot in my knickers when I begin to focus on the life or lifestyle of another person. When I begin to think that I need to do a running commentary. It’s usually just inside my head. It’s sometimes to those close to me. It’s seldom ever, if ever to the person for which I’m forming an opinion. I’m not that brazen, or stupid.

But it’s become quite obvious to me lately that not everyone has the ability to know when to keep their mouth shut. And no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. Just many, many, many people in general. It’s an epidemic! And because of social media, the world has a stage.

If you go to “The Jesus Chick” page or my own personal page for “Shari Hardway Johnson”, as well as my twitter feed and Instagram, you’ll note that it’s positive commentary and images. That’s not a holier than thou statement, it’s just truth. I don’t want to be in anyone’s drama, or a discouragement. So my posts are positive. I made that choice, and I’m pretty sure God agrees with me.

Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

I read that this morning and thought, “there it is. What I’d like to tell every nosy, ne’er do well in the world. Mind your own business!”

Who makes these people judge and jury of the lives of someone else and what skeletons would come crawling out of their closet if the door was open?

Although it is far worse in the political arena, or at least it far more outspoken, it’s just as bad in the church. And I speak collectively, not of any in particular.

I think of an incident many, many years ago in my own church where a young woman with several children had the audacity to come to church without a slip under her dress. Oh my stars! And as she exited the ladies room a ne’er do well woman said to me, “can you believe she forgot her slip.” To which I responded, “With all those kids, I just praise God she gets here on Sunday morning.”

Where on earth was this woman’s mind? And why did she think she had the right to tear down a young mother trying to do the right thing?

Now, that may seem trivial. But a comment like that is what will discourage someone, who’s struggling anyway, to decide to leave the church. And that could be devastating to a family and Hell bound someone because of it.

The longer I travel this road with Jesus, the more I realize the focus of the church is so off kilter.

I personally love pretty clothes. And God has gifted me with several. But I don’t love them because I think they’re holy, I just love girly stuff. God made me that way. I also have a personal conviction that when I go into a church I dress in their common attire. If they’re casual, so am I. If they’re fancy, I try to be a fancy Nancy too and I enjoy it. But I don’t look at anyone who’s not in the common attire and think about their heart toward Christ. Clothes do not make the man. The Spirit of God does. And I’ve known people who looked like ragamuffins that I was in awe with the depth of their relationship with God.

I’ll not tell you that I am above judging. It’s human nature. Or that I don’t have other issues in life. But it’s something that makes me so nauseous because I’ve seen the damage it’s done, especially in the circles I travel of the Independent Baptist realm. Trust me, they’re not all the same. That’s why we’re “independent.” I’d probably be kicked out of some.

My faith is not in the denomination. It’s in God. But I agree with the doctrine of my church and so I’m there and I love my people. Mainly because the vast majority are not judgers. They love all people. Even if their knees are showing. Insert smile here. Even if they’re a girl who wears britches. Or a fella that’s a t-shirt, blue jean, work boot kind of guy. We love them.

So does Jesus. And this morning I think I’m delivering His message when I say. Mind your own business.

Insert smile here.

Just Give Me Jesus

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Job 13:16

It’s not that I don’t feel like a hypocrite on a relatively regular basis. But for years I have felt like this was my message for the world. Not in judgement, but rather in tender compassion and pleading to the soul playing church on earth, and missing Heaven in eternity.

There’s a vast difference between being in church and being in Christ. But for too long the religious crowd has preached (and I use the term liberally) that all the world is fine, so long as they’re in the building.

Iglesia ni Cristo

When I visited the Philippines several years ago there was a huge church that was the size of a small West Virginia city. It had pointed steeples and ornate architecture that gave it a castle appearance, but not in a good way. It just looked cold and evil. It was the Iglesia ni Cristo (meaning Church of Christ) but not as the American Church of Christ. They believe that they are the one and only true church called out of Isaiah 43:5. It’s a very formalized methodical religion. All who are not a part of their church are Hell bound. according to them. That doesn’t sound any crazier to me than those who preach what many churches are preaching today, which is just show up occasionally, continue living in sin throughout the week, and you’re fine. It causes me to wonder if even the Pastors are saved who preach a message that is anti-relational with Christ.

I can’t help but think that my message today will be viewed as judgmental. But I promise it’s not. My heart breaks for church leadership as well who don’t have a deep enough relationship with Christ to understand its importance and their purpose. They’ve been deceived by this world too.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

This is my friend Chuck McDonald’s life verse. Because when he got saved, he became a new creation. And anyone who knew him, seen the evidence in his life. That’s the key, and it’s the missing piece of many people in our own churches. Evidence. They walk out the door on Sunday morning and walk back into the world looking no different. There’s no evidence that church made a difference.

It’s not that the message doesn’t go out of many churches, because it does. There are many, many good preachers. So what makes the difference? Church leadership.

It’s not just the Pastor’s job. What made the difference in my friend Chuck McDonald’s life, and in my life is that there were people who stepped up and took me under their arm as a disciple of Christ. I keep saying it, but I’m not living it any better if I’m honest.

My formative years as a new Christian were spent in fellowship almost every day with people from our church. We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, we spoke on the phone, we were in constant church services of some sort, somewhere. It was amazing! If our church wasn’t holding a revival I was looking for someone else’s.

Does it have to be that extreme? I don’t know. It worked for me. And it worked in the days of the Bible.

Acts 2

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Steadfast, in doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread and praying! Glory to God if only we had that kind of time.

Well, in this modern day of technology, do we not? We can be across the globe, and still be in constant fellowship, and yet we don’t.

I joyously speak with my friend Dewey Moede from New Mexico most every day. He is who God sent into my life to follow up where others left off. You too are that person who is in need of a Dewey, or perhaps you are the Dewey.

My point being is this; we should be living our lives, wherever we are for Christ. So that people know we’re there for them and that a relationship with Him and them is an important part of our everyday.

I’m not about what denomination is over the door, I’m about what your relationship is with my Lord. Are you truly a brother or sister in Christ?  

Only those who are will be Heaven.

Just give me Jesus.

Have You Sold Him Out?

Zechariah 11:12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Believe me when I say, that I could have gotten in the flesh so easy when I read this scripture this morning in Zechariah. There is no irony, it was deliberate, as is every word in the word of God. Nothing just happens, and nothing was just written for the sake of taking up space or embellishing the Book. It’s there on purpose.

Before I began reading, I asked God to speak to my soul through Zechariah. I about half believed He would. I’m just being honest. Sometimes the Old Testament prophets are either too meaty or too dark for me. They’re not about the ratings. They don’t care what I think. Zechariah was preaching the truth to Israel, they had not been in a good place with God. He’d taken them to the wood shed so many times the splinters had splinters. And at this point He’s telling them like it is, one final time “If you won’t listen, I’m giving you a serious time out.” (Yes that’s the Bible according to Shari) This is about 518 BC. Jesus doesn’t make the scene for greater than 500 years and Israel’s time out is long and silent.

My stomach just turned thinking about the times that God has been silent in my life and how hard it was. I didn’t hear from Him until I got into a place that had me wanting Him more than I wanted the world.

During Israel’s silent time, many people went on to the afterlife having never experienced God. Oh, how sad.

So, back to the scripture. It’s all too familiar to Matthew 26:15

And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

If you know much about the bible, you know that that was what Judas received for betraying Jesus.

Shari “in the flesh” wanted to write about Washington D.C.’s betrayal of the Lord. I wanted to name names, and parties. And I may or may not have been justified. I wanted to name news stations, and denominations. Yes, I was feeling very fleshly indeed. Until God brought up my own sell out. The times I could have spoken up, showed up and stepped up and did not.

Speak up

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ve failed on multiple occasions to speak up in the face of adversity when dealing with non-believers. But when a President, who clearly has not lived at the foot of the cross, does more for the cause of Christianity and speaks the name of Jesus in more sincerity than some backslidden politician  who refuses to speak up on behalf of Christians who elected them because of their stand on Christ, something’s wrong and they should be called out.

Show Up

It’s an odd thing to me that people will go to great lengths and expense to attend a secular event without regard for the day of the week, or the way they feel. But come Sunday church, or Heaven forbid a revival or Christian concert and suddenly they just don’t have the energy, money or time.

Stop lying to yourself and to the unsaved. Because you know better and so do the lost. Show up.

Step Up

The hardest one of three most likely because it requires commitment.

The saddest part of the story of Judas is the fact that Jesus would have gladly saved him. He repented of the money he took and gave it back, but couldn’t admit he was wrong about Christ and humble himself, but rather committed suicide.

He had weighed the price of his sin at 30 pieces of silver. That’s what he said the life of Christ was worth. Even though he had spent all that time in His presence.

The children of Israel had spent time in His presence too, but still failed.

I fall in that category too. Every time I fail to speak up, step up or show up I’m letting the world see how much I truly value Christ. Not nearly as much as I should.

Praise God for grace.

Before I throw anyone or any group under the bus I need to examine my agenda. Is it self-righteous Shari, self-promoting Shari or possibly even self-denial Shari who would rather bring attention to someone else’s issues than face my own head on.

Once that’s clear. I and you, need to speak up, show and step up into positions of authority that will give us a voice for Lord. And when others in authority weasel out and don’t defend Him, we need to call them out and set it right.

Beware of Dry Bones

A Nation of Dry Bones

Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14) came to him after God had directed him to prophesy the rebirth of Israel in chapter 36. God was using Ezekiel to restore Israel to her land of blessing. But it didn’t seem humanly possible. Israel was once again in captivity having fallen away from God’s grace through rebellion. In that state it would take a miracle to find hope! Something like dead men’s bones coming back to life.

When God told Ezekiel to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and come to life just as He had created Adam, Ezekiel obeyed. He’d been transported to the valley of dry bones already so no doubt he was in a mind to listen. When that body of bones resurrected with flesh and blood to stand as an army it symbolized the coming together of the Nation of Israel in end times.

As I read commentaries of the Ezekiel’s valley experience, I couldn’t help but see the implications against us. We’re  in captivity and aren’t even aware of it. At least Israel knew.

This morning’s breaking news with regards to New York Governor’s celebration of the abortion bill passing that would allow unborn children up until birth to be aborted made my eyes well with tears and my stomach roll over. It’s murder. Plain and simple and there will come a day of judgment that I wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity of. That smug look of self-righteous indignation on the faces of the “victors” will be removed by God Himself.

These and other acts of rebellion as a nation are dry bones to beware of. We will be held accountable for our votes and our attitudes of remiss when standing against those who support such atrocities.

A Church of Dry Bones

The only thing worse than government leaders being elected who stand for abortion is churches that stand with them or those who take no stand at all.

Edmund Burke said it well when he said that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

How true that is. It’s what’s happening in our churches today when church leadership is refusing to take a stand against what the bible plainly lists as sin for fear of government repercussion or offending their congregations.

I thank God for churches who stand in the gap for these unborn children. They are children, they have names! God that in Jeremiah 1:5 that before we were in the womb He knew us. We have a name and a purpose long before we’re born.

The infants that the governor of New York celebrated their death may have been the doctor who cures cancer, Alzheimer of eradicates drug abuse through some revolutionary tactic, but it will never come to pass because they were murdered. They may have been the preacher that leads your grandchild to Christ, but your grandchild will never cross their path, because they were never born. Drama? No, reality.

A People of Dry Bones

We cannot change our nation and our churches until we’re ready to believe that God can resurrect the dead.

I will not give up on my nation and the churches across this great land because I know a lot of great people who are willing to take a stand for the cause of right. I believe that’s the only reason God hasn’t eradicated us.

But there’s not enough of us willing to make that stand known. Sometimes it’s because we don’t know where to start. Other times it’s because we don’t have enough support in our own troops.

Start by taking a stand on your own. In life, on social media, where ever the opportunity arises. Ask your church to get involved in awareness and then contact every political leader telling them your position and assure them that you’ll make their position known.

When Ezekiel made those bones dance, he did it through the power of God but it no doubt made him shake in his own shoes a little; mainly with excitement that God would revive His people again. He will. And He will revive us if those who say they stand for right do it.

We need to beware of dry bones but we need to be prepared for possibility that they just might come to life and bring this nation back in God’s grace once more!

Whether or not it happens only time will tell. But we will stand before God and answer for our efforts, or lack thereof.

The Decision after the Dance

I have a fascination with the redemptive story of Israel. That is likely the case because I have a great resemblance with the children of Israel; I too get out of line, get in trouble, get right, get rescued and then like a good shampoo, I will lather, rinse, repeat. Over and over again it happens. So when I read chapters like the 15th chapter of Exodus it always make me wonder why God puts up with me. The children of God had just seen the miraculous work of the Lord in parting the sea so they could walk through on dry ground, they then watched it kill their enemy by crashing back down on them. Think on that a second! So they’re on the shore, singing and dancing and praising the Lord, and Moses breaks up the party to continue their journey to the Promised Land.

I envision this much like a car ride with my kids for vacation. They start out excited, but after the first few hours on the road the whining and fighting would begin. Multiply that times the million or two that Moses had in the back seat. I don’t know what kept him sane. But following the great miracle came a time of dryness when the children of Israel couldn’t find water; and that’s a legit complaint. But they had just seen God take millions of gallons of water and displace it through the staff of Moses, so why did they really think a drink would be a problem for Him?

Exodus 15:23-27

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.  And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

The Dance

My previous Pastor called it “the honeymoon” stage when a person first accepted Jesus as Savior. It seems like everything in the world is roses and chocolate if you’re a woman, or Black and Decker ® if you’re a guy. It’s all good. But it’s not long until you discover that life’s not always good, sometimes it’s downright lousy but you eventually come through it and it is once again time to dance. But then there is another time…

The Dry

It’s a longer period of time, when things do not get better quickly. You don’t feel the presence of God and frustration begins to set in. You try to have faith, but it’s wavering and your patience for change grows thin. You ask questions of God such as “Why and When.” Just like the children of Israel.

The Decision

There comes a time when you have to decide, am I going to whine, or am I going to whip the Devil through the promises of God?

In the very last verse of that chapter, the rescue came in the form of a camp sight oasis of sort. Twelve wells and seventy palm trees. That oasis also came with the promise of healing and rest if they were obedient to God’s commands.

Numbers play an important role in scripture. Especially the numbers 12 and 70. There are multiple references to those and they make an interesting study, but for today’s message I offer this thought:

12 Disciples and the 70 sent (Matthew 10:1 and Luke 10:1)

Not likely a coincidence that God used those numbers and it draws my mind into the importance of Christian fellowship and service. The children of Israel had lost sight of the role that they played in God’s plan. They were His chosen! After this journey He had promised them a wonderful life. Technically the journey too could have been wonderful. But they blew it when the lost sight of the power of God.

New believers in Christ usually believe that they could whip a bear with a fly swatter if they thought God told them too. But over time we begin to take our relationship with God for granted. We’re grounded in the faith, we don’t need to be in church “every service.” A few “worldly things won’t hurt,” and it’s not long until we’re dry and dusty and there is no water in sight. And we begin to complain that God’s just not there for us anymore, knowing that He didn’t move, we did. It’s so much easier to blame God than to look at where we left Him.

New Testament references: When Joseph and Mary left 12 year old Jesus in the temple, they found Him just where they left Him. When the woman with the
12 year” issue of blood reached out for Jesus she was healed, when the 12 year old girl died, and her father came to Jesus, Jesus brought her back to life. Twelve is the number of completion and we are complete in Christ. He has chosen us, just as He did the twelve.

As for the number 70: By God’s direction Moses appointed 70 elders in Israel to stand with him in the tabernacle. And in Luke 10:17 “The seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” The 70 were excited about what the Lord had done. They had gone out two by two and God provided for them in their walk with and for Christ.

I don’t know if I’m correct, but I know how the Lord impressed my heart on this matter this morning. Fellowship is important, both with the leaders (12), and with the servants (70). There is great and healing, comfort and rest in the people of God. Israel should have trusted God and they should have looked to Moses for leadership instead of complaining. They also should have come together as people of God. But they decided to whine. That whining cost them 40 years of no direction and they missed the joy of entering into the land of promise.

Whining because things aren’t what you’d like won’t keep you out of Heaven, but it will prevent your joy in the journey. Staying out of church won’t keep you out of Heaven but it will costs you your joy, fellowship and relationship with the Lord. We need it. I need it.

Hearing the Word of God and being in the fellowship of God’s people brings healing and comfort to the soul. Don’t miss out. Be in a bible believing, preaching, serving church this Sunday!!! and share this message with someone struggling to stay faithful. I love you, but more importantly, JESUS LOVES YOU!!!

Who Is on the Wall?

wallI love lessons in leadership. It truly is where my heart lies much of the time; seeking wisdom of God as to the expectations of leaders in a church.  I’m especially interested in leadership as it pertains to women. Now I realize this differs at every church, and I know that varying denominations have varying beliefs, but I think one we will all agree on is that our church is “our church.” And how we believe is our choice. That being said, this is not about gender as much as it is about the ears on the side of every head be they male or female. One of the greatest leadership lessons learned of recent date was the 2016 National Election. The ears of Washington D.C. had been plugged with the cotton of conspiracy by Satan himself and they had long since stopped listening to the people. Unless of course you were Hollywood’s people. Which is a liberal mindset not fit to listen to and by no means should carry a greater weight than that of the rest of the country. And because they didn’t listen, the election was a shocker for them! Well, I don’t want a shocker in my church and you shouldn’t want a shocker in yours either.

That’s why it’s important to listen, rather than labor in vain.

2 Samuel 20 finds King David trying to reestablish his Kingdom having been ousted by his son Absalom who was then killed in the battle.  And once that battle was over there was a man of Belial (evil ungodly man) who’s name was Sheba the son of Bichri and he refused to accept the victory of David. Sound familiar? I guess Sheba was a democrat of the day (okay, I’ll stop). This is not about politics so don’t fret! This is about one woman in her community who saved the day and one leader in David’s army that stopped to listen.

2 Samuel 20:16-20

Then cried a wise woman out of the city, Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab, Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.  And when he was come near unto her, the woman said, Art thou Joab? And he answered, I am he. Then she said unto him, Hear the words of thine handmaid. And he answered, I do hear. Then she spake, saying, They were wont to speak in old time, saying, They shall surely ask counsel at Abel: and so they ended the matter. I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel: thou seekest to destroy a city and a mother in Israel: why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the Lord? And Joab answered and said, Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.

A Woman of Wisdom

The unnamed woman, a mother of Israel (she was a leader), took her plight to the leader of David’s Army and saved her whole city. She went “in her wisdom” back to her people and they cut the head off of Sheba and threw it over the wall to Joab. He didn’t have to lift a finger, he just had to listen.

A Woman of Willingness

Much like our nation, I believe that church leadership isn’t listening to their people. There’s a battle against the church from within and without but if everyone would just listen to one another we could throw the head of Satan outside our walls and dwell in peace. Of course I speak metaphorically, but this scripture pierced my heart when I heard her plea for her city “I am one of them that are peaceable and faithful.”

In other words, “I’m not trying to cause trouble, I’m one of your people and I’m willing to serve, tell me what you need and I’ll make it happen.” Joab listened and the woman acted. That’s what will make our churches great! When leadership puts the battle into the hands of the people. The congregation knows where the trouble is. They see when a family struggles, they see when disagreements and dissention is arising in the ranks, they know when something works and when it doesn’t.

A Woman of Watchfulness

Everyone in the congregation? No. But the woman of wisdom who had kept her eye her people, not for the latest gossip, but to keep them alive! No doubt there were men of wisdom. We know who’s mature in the faith and who’s still a baby and likes to tattle. A whole city was saved because a woman without a name had the nerve to speak boldly to a leader and that leader had the wherewithal to listen.

Here’s was my lesson from this woman’s story:

  • She cared, and she cared deep ( she was willing to stick her neck on the line)
  • She went to the leaders to find out what needed to be done, and he answered.
  • She went back to her people and had them handle the problem. (I highly doubt she killed Sheba) but she knew who could.
  • She didn’t care if nobody knew who she was, her mission was to serve the people of God.

The lesson: Leaders should listen, and listeners should feel led to lead, so that everyone on the inside of the wall has a voice.

Not Without Jesus

sheepfoldThe story of Deborah in the book of Judges has always had a fascination for me. To see a woman in leadership at that time in history was amazing. It ought not to have been so by tradition. But there she was traipsing off to war with Barak who had been instructed to take the men and go and yet refused. So brave hearted Deborah calls his hand on it and he says, “I’ll go if you will.” (Shari quoted, not scripture). So Deborah went and the battle was won. In Chapter 5 is the song of Deborah and Barak, at which point she again calls out the men when she sings to the tribe of Rueben in verse 16 “Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks?”

The tribe of Reuben knew Israel was in battle, yet they opted just to sit with the sheep rather than go to war. And for me that was a grim view of the churches in America. There they sit with their sheep while Christians are on the battlefield and they’re content to listen to the “bleating of their sheep,” who’d rather stay safe in the fold than come against the liberal crowd on the battle field. All the while the gospel is being watered down beyond recognition and the word of God is being challenged as lawless because it offends those who live in sin. Somebody needs to sing this song… today it’s me.

I see a new hope on the horizon in America. I must confess… I’m a little excited. But last night as I watched the news and the hope spread through economic forces and American leaders my first thought was… “Not without Jesus.” The churches of America better be ready to reclaim some ground along with the government reclaiming control of our borders, military and economy or this plan won’t work either.

The Tribe of Reuben were on the wrong side of Jordan to fight in the battle. And the churches in
America (collectively) have been on the wrong side of the battle in our land. Pastors have cowered down to the liberals and refused to dole out the word of God that convicts and cleanses the heart of the hearer. What God has called out to be sin: homosexuality, abortion, etc. – the churches of America have deemed it either forgivable or a misnomer of scripture.

Why is the American church cowered down among the sheep? If there is a hope to be found in America it will be found on the right side of Jesus, or it won’t be found. Old Testament or New, God says “come out from among them.” It’s a good word for America right now.

Don’t Take Grace For Granted

holy-ground

When we read the bible, we often times read it as if it’s a homework assignment from the Lord and we really want to go outside and play, but we have to get this done first. We treat attending church much the same way. Rather than, understanding that it’s the very Word of God, the One Whom we long to see and hear, but we’d rather it be in person than through the means He’s given us… which is His book. Like the children of Israel, we forget how Holy God is.

And while I totally get that Jesus came from Heaven and walked as a man, and made a way through His death, resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit for us to have constant communion with Him in a much less formal way than that of the Jewish religion, it still does not take away how Holy He is. But we forget.

This came to my attention in a recent teen class on one of those nights where I just couldn’t get a handle on their attention. I had brought in instruments in hopes of worshiping the Lord in song but their attention strayed more toward Led Zepplin and The Eagles. And while I’ve been known croon a tune or two of some old favs of my past, I wanted their focus on worship. So, tonight as I prepare for my midweek teen class, my heart is heavy. It’s broken for God because not only the children but we too have forgotten how Holy God is and that His house is a special place. I hope that in teaching this lesson about the Song of Moses, my kids will understand why I love praise and worship music, and why our time together in His word and in His house isn’t just another Wednesday night. But it’s special to God and it’s special to me.

I hate going into one of those nostalgic “back in the olden days” modes, but there’s something different in the church today than there was when I was a kid, and it’s not for the better. While we’ve contemporized many things that make services more “user friendly” (which I agree with) we also draw a fine line between play time and understanding Who’s presence we’re in if we’re not careful. We want kids and adults alike to enjoy their time in God’s house, but we shouldn’t forget that it’s God’s house.

I was in a service many years ago where the Holy Spirit was so heavy during a communion service that someone kicked their shoes off before approaching the altar because it felt like such holy ground. Those times have been rare. I don’t expect it every service because I think we’d take those times for granted if they were there all the time. But I do expect to feel the Holy Spirit moving in me every service, or something is wrong and it’s usually with me. I want the youth in my department to feel that Presence in the church. I want them to understand that the God we serve, the One that loves to laugh and play is also the Creator of the earth and the same God that in Old Testament times would wipe people off the face of the earth for the behavior that we show towards Him today.

Grace shouldn’t be taken for granted.

I think by the time Moses had lead the children of Israel through the wilderness forty years he had just about had enough. They’d whined and murmured, turned their back on God to worship a cow and drove Moses into a fit of anger that kept him out of the Promised Land. Can I get a witness that if he were here today he’d sing that song in Deuteronomy 32 again.

1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:

3 Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.

4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.

5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

6 Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not He thy father that hath bought thee?http://www.fggam.org/wp-admin/ Hath He not made thee, and established thee?

7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of my generation: ask they father, and will he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Moses went all nostalgic on them as well! He began his song as many contemporary worshipers do today with the song “How Great is Our God!”

And oh my goodness, how great is He! We sing the words and the Holy Spirit moves through us but no sooner is the last word sung, and we’re back into the flesh again. Or is it just me?

By the time Moses had gotten to the fifth line of the song, it was no longer a happy little tune, it was more like “You Ain’t nothing but a Hounddog.” And that theme continued throughout the song until He closes it with the promise of Grace in verse 43

Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people: for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries, and will be merciful unto His land, and to His people.

O we love that verse! That’s when the rubber meets the road for the enemies of God’s people! But we’re not too far from the behavior of the enemies of God today, be it we’re covered by grace and they are not. We love grace! But we forget that the mirror of grace is the holiness of God.

So what am I trying to point out?

God is Holy… don’t make light of Him.

God’s house is sacred… walk in like it’s a big deal.

God’s Word being taught is divinely inspired… listen like its God… because it is.

Don’t take grace for granted.

Don’t Limit God

Spirit limit

If only I had failed God once and learned my lesson I’d consider myself in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in; that shape being a sinner saved by grace. But no, I have to again and again fail God, beg mercy, feel minty fresh for about 30 seconds and then sin again. Why are we such a fickle lot of people? Christian people that is. Am I alone? I’m pretty sure I’m not.

This past week a well-known preacher, Perry Noble, and one that I had followed, fell. I loved this guy. He wasn’t perfect and I didn’t agree with everything he said but I loved his style of preaching and his “realness.” The problem with being real is it also makes you pretty transparent. Because you’ll say anything. If it comes into your mind, it’s usually out of your mouth before you give a second thought.  This was his style. He was funny and charismatic and above all, thousands of souls came to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ through him. I believe that. His words stirred my soul and I believe God used Him. But he fell, because he, like I, am human. His transparency gave me a spiritual insight to him that said “proceed with caution.” He dabbled too close the snake pit, and that my friend has gotten many a preacher in trouble. Alcohol was his downfall, and I won’t even get started on that because I could write for days! And it’s not the point in this blog. My point is the limits we put on God is through sin’s hold. It’s not the sin itself, it’s the hold it get on us.

Israel let God down again and again. But His great mercy brought them through. Read what David said in Psalm 78

But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 78:38-41

God understood Israel and He understands us. He knows we are weak vessels and that we fall, but the key is to move forward away from the snake pit. Turning back doesn’t stop God’s forgiveness… He’ll forgive again and again. But He won’t bless again and again. We limit Him. Even God has limits, they’re called “us.”

He desires to pour His blessings down upon us, bring revival into our church houses but our turning back puts a speed limit on the Holy Spirit. Turning back is different things for different people. For my preacher man that fell, he got too close a substance that fuels the fires of Hell. Alcohol. I hate it and everything it stands for. That was his sin, I have my own, and you have yours. And for the tribe of preachers that want to cast this preacher to the curb… God sees you too. God Who is full of compassion forgives, you who are full of pride will point and condemn the man God forgave.

My point to ponder is this: Don’t limit God. He forgave the sin, now move on. There’s a new speed sign up ahead that says “full throttle!”  Don’t turn back.

3 Step Strategy for Revival

revival

Every real revival in the church has been a child of prayer. There have been revivals without much preaching, there have been revivals with absolutely no organization, but there has never been a mighty revival without mighty praying. ~ R.A. Torrey

Last night was the last night of our spring revival, and I’d like to tell you that Heaven met on earth, souls were saved and the church as a whole got its heart right with God… but I can’t. It did fuel my desire, but my question for myself this morning is, “Okay Shari… how far will you go for revival.”

In a biography written by Os Hillman, he said of D.L. Moody:

Dwight L. Moody was a poorly educated, unordained, shoe salesman who felt God’s call to preach the gospel. Early one morning he and some friends gathered in a hay field for a season of prayer, confession, and consecration. His friend Henry Varley said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Moody was deeply moved by these words. ~ Os Hillman Biography

Consecrated… a nice bibley word… I know bibley is not a word, but it’s as much a word in my vocabulary as consecrated. Consecration (meaning wholly dedicated to God) doesn’t seem unattainable to me, it seems unlikely. There’s always something in my way, usually me. It’s the same reason I’m not the best musician, nor the best artist, mom, servant of God, or insert any of the dozens of other titles I have into here. I’m a sinner saved by grace, emphasis on sinner, and I’m semi-dedicated to everything I do. But I’m not wholly dedicated to anything and I’m especially not wholly consecrated to God else I’d be better and not feel like such a failure.

In my search for revival and my time in prayer prior to the revival last night I came up with three points to ponder and reflect on in the coming days in hopes that the sparks of revival that I witnessed in my favorite church on earth would ignite myself and my people.

CLEAN ME UP

Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

I don’t have to guess at my sins, nor do you likely. I can get them right the first time. And so I confess them to God, but then I fall again, and again and again and the right spirit, the one who wants the revival fires to start burning feels as though I’ve just wet the wood. And then my mind is drawn into Elijah who told the prophets of Baal to wet the wood and wet it good and God sent down the fire to lick it up and ignite the offering to God. And suddenly, even in my failures I feel that twinge of hope and keep praying… clean me up Lord, send the fire, please.

BIND ME UP

Isaiah 30:26

Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be seven fold, as the light of the seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people and healeth the stroke of their wound.

What is the breach in my life, the area of the wall that allows doubt and confusion to get into my being? Another place to search and it’s a vast area. What am I doing that’s allowing the Devil into my life? I need to bind those areas up with the gospel keep my life Christ focused. What are those breached areas? Yeah, I guessed those the first time too. My life is spread too thin… I’m not focused, but rather trying to watch the scope of the world and what’s going on with everyone else and the breaches in my own wall are vulnerable…

FREE ME UP

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Speaking those words “use me where you want me ” is indeed liberating, and also scary! It means that I have to let go of the reigns and possibly let go of some things in my life that kept me bound. This morning it has me pondering stepping out of a position that makes me nauseous every time I step into it and although that is liberating it’s also sad. Life’s not easy. But if revival did anything for me this week it caused me to realize I have people in my watch care that I’ve allowed the breaches in my own life to let the enemy into their lives too.

Are you spreading yourself too thin? Look up… He’ll help you.

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