Tag Archives: Church Leadership

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!!!

Do You Know How Mighty You Are?

I have multiple vices in life that can get me distracted and off on an “Oooo that’s shiny” moment. The most recent one is Netflix. I’m not an avid television watcher, as a matter of fact I’ve gone months with very little television, until… it was be placed on a portable device that I can watch from any room in the house, has no commercials and I decide when I want to watch it. Netflix speaks my Attention Deficit Disorder language. I won’t watch just anything, I have a few set rules: it has to make me laugh or add a sense of adventure. I won’t watch sad or grotesque shows that make me cry or cause my stomach to roll over. Life is sad and gross enough. But throw a slap stick comedy on the screen or one of a super hero and I’m hooked like a fish on a line until the last episode is off the air. Hence why Netflix appeals to me, and gets me in trouble, you can binge watch every episode until it’s done! This is not a Netflix commercial, it’s a warning.

I said all that to say this, my latest run on superhero shows is the “Arrow.” A green hooded man who was done wrong, out to right the wrongs of the world with a few sidekicks thrown into the mix. As I watch in disbelief of their super strength and warrior tactics my eyes roll and I begin wondering how I can get sucked into this story line. This isn’t humanly possible. But then, as I read merrily along in 1 Chronicles 11 this morning on the historical truths of King David, I’m not watching Netflix but I’m reading the very truths I rolled my eyes at. But even to a greater degree of strength.

One man without the aid of special effects and stunt doubles killed 300 men in battle. Alone. No Robin to his Batman. No Kevlar. One man and his sword took down 300 warriors.

1 Chronicles 11:20

And Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them, and had a name among the three.

That lead me to the question of the day, where are those people of valor today? Why have we allowed our nation to get in the position that it’s in today. Who told us we were weak?

I believe I can tell you where it started: When church became of little importance in the homes across America.

Oh… I know I’m preaching again! But I fully believe the reason we are weakened as a nation is because the comradery of the church was the backbone of America and it’s gone. It’s been a long time since anyone in the boundaries of America has had to fight a hand to hand battle for a piece of ground. But it’s beginning again. The church has lost so much ground, and fewer and fewer are on the battle ground of faith.

A few things those of us in church need to remember about this battle we’re in:

We are Mighty in Christ

(2 Corinthians 10:4). For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Satan loves to make us believe that we don’t have the strength to fight this battle we’re in. And yet, through one man, in the weapons of the day, 300 men were slain. I haven’t even seen that on Netlix! And if I could, it’s still Hollywood. We have the genuine article of ability through the Word of God.

We are Mighty in the Word

Just like the men of David lived according to the word of God, so should the might men and women of Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 1:5) For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

The same word that changed our hearts has the power to change the heart of anyone on earth. And yet we doubt. Who are we to say that if we continue in His word, getting it out in our communities through face to face evangelism as well as using the technology at hand, we couldn’t each bring thousands into the fold of Christ? We’re not fighting with a spear, we’re fighting with the power of God!

We are Mighty in Unity

David didn’t have the biggest army, but he had the biggest victory, because his men were a unified body fighting together. One of the reasons I think unity scares many of the believers of Christ is because we hear unified and think “one world church.” And that church is coming, but that church has nothing to do with Christ. If your church believes that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and the one and only way to Heaven is through His blood that made the sacrifice for all mankind, then you shouldn’t care what’s over the door of those who believe in the same like manner. You can disagree on a few of their ideas of worship styles and church rules, but we can all agree on Jesus. And through that belief work in unity to bring souls to Christ.

On my next superhero show, I think I view their tactics a little closer. Possibly consider buying a cape. Just kidding. Maybe.

 

 

 

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.

P.S. ~ He doesn’t call pew sitters

a-pew-sitterI can’t seem to make it too far in the book of Judges before I’m under conviction and or in a state of frustration. At the end of Chapter two we read the words of God frustration with Israel:

20 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;

21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:

22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.

23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

Israel had again and again turned back to following the false gods of the people dwelling in their land. So in frustration God decided that He would “prove” their loyalty to Him by allowing the troubling parties to stay in their country, thus giving Israel the choice to choose the God of all creation or the created gods. God would send leaders in like, Joshua, Caleb,  and Othniel and judges to govern and guide, and yet each time they either ignored or waited until the leader was gone and then went back to following the ways of the world. History would repeat itself again when Israel would cry out, God would deliver, and they’d follow for a while and then fall away. Such has been the case with Israel, America and the church.

I watch in sadness as the American church goes two directions. Those who stand on the ground they’ve been given refusing to look at any other method of worship as even a possibility, and those who take their worship far, far into a worldly perspective and turn godly worship into a worldly celebration without the holiness of God anywhere in the equation. And then there are those of us in the middle, watching and wondering when Jesus will come and take us out of this mess. But all the while there is a need for the gospel to go forth, but those willing to take it are fewer and fewer.

It hit too close home when I read that as soon as Johua, Caleb and and Othniel passed away, Israel went into disarray.  Why wasn’t there a strong enough leader in their stead? I can say the same about the church, collectively and personally5sq. I’ve watched as strong leaders pass away or move onto other ministries and those in the balance are not ready and have no desire to be ready.

Was it the previous administrations fault?

Did Joshua, Caleb and Othniel drop the ball in training others to be in their place?

Possibly but I doubt it, and that excuse only flies so far. At some point people see the need and choose to either step up or step back. If everyone steps back, succeeding that is usually the ruination of a body of believers. They begin getting lethargic in their service to the Lord, their personal walk with God goes by the way side and slowly but surely a community is in captivity of Satan because the saints of God failed to step up in the position of leader.

I wish I had the answer. Following last week’s election there should have been people lining the altar on Sunday and proclaiming that they were to ready to step into the places God had opened. I didn’t see it at my church, did you see it at yours?

What’s it going to take for people to realize that God may call us home soon and there’s a world in need of Jesus that we were supposed to tell. Or… He may not call us home for a while and He’ll tire of us as He did Israel and say… you wanted the world… there ya go. Welcome to captivity.

My prayer is that one by one we’ll declare our loyalty to God and our churches and our country will turn back to God. But it has to start with us singly looking at God’s desire for our life.

P.S. ~ He doesn’t call pew sitters. Get busy!

Consider Your Ways

consider

Consider Your Ways

Frankly, I’d rather consider everyone else’s, that way I don’t feel so bad. But the reality of it is that won’t fix anything. So I have to start with examining myself from the foundation up, and that foundation was the day of my salvation. Am I better now than then, and to what degree? I can look at myself and say I am wiser… true story. I am spiritually more mature… true story. I am committed to the cause of Christ… true story. I am where God desires me to me… ummmm, no.

This idea of examination began when I grumbled to God about the church. I know it’s not just my own church, its churches collectively; because I’ve heard the grumbling of others who grow frustrated with the lack of commitment in God’s people. But as I grumbled, God began to shine the light of His word into the recesses of my heart and lo and behold… there was a message for me. I was really hopin’ it was for somebody else.

The book of Haggai the prophet begins by God calling out His own saying “This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord‘s house should be built.”

My theory as a leader is that I need to get God’s people motivated. But what I heard God say was, “You need to get motivated.” So much of my effort is spent trying to prod people into doing something and so much time is lost in the prodding. As leaders we need to get busy building.

So Haggai goes on to show the Lord’s frustration with the people when He replied to their response…

Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.

God was frustrated too! The people were more concerned with their homes than His. I guess Wednesday night was grass cutting night in Haggai’s neighborhood too. I guess Sunday evening services were for the people without a life. Yep… I’m in the flesh. But doggone it, why is that still so? Did we learn nothing from scripture? Every time the children of God forgot whose they were, there was a price to pay. And today we’re paying that price in the 2016 election for starters. Why is it a shocker that the moral decay of America would allow a lying, adulterous, murdering family in the White House? Could it be that our church houses have been abandoned and God’s priorities are so far down on our “to do lists” that He doesn’t even rank one day of the week with Him as focus.

Well, God did get their attention. At the conclusion of chapter one it is said that the “Lord stirred up the Spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.” It sounds like they got their priorities back in check!

Is there hope for us?

Twice in chapter one God said “Consider your ways.” And so I am. What is my direction? What is my personal mission statement? Every church should have one, and every person should have one. The children of God in Haggai’s day had the foundation of the temple to build on. In Chapter 2, verse 18, God again said consider, but this time it was not their ways, but rather the founding ways. The foundation of which the temple had been built in the days of Solomon was solid. They didn’t need to build a new foundation, only to build upon it.

So here’s the beginning of my mission statement… I think it’s a work in progress.

It’s my job to build, it’s God’s job to stir. Work. Let God take care of the drifters.

 

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.

The Unseen is not Unnoticed

lily work

It’s hard to believe sometimes that I’ve been on the road to salvation twenty years, but I was saved in 1996, so the math is there. But in many ways I still feel like a new convert. I’m ever so grateful that God’s mercy is new and afresh every day, for I need it every day; that’s the part of that new convert feeling I’m not so proud of. I still feel like an utter failure most days of the week. But another side to that new convert feeling is the absolute fact that I’m as excited today as I was the day I got saved, which is what makes serving God so easy.

I’m not one for accolades. I have no desire for men’s applause for work that I should be doing, but an appreciation is wonderful. So when Mickey Carter preached on the unseen lily work in 1 Kings 7:22 my soul smiled.

And upon the top of the pillars was lily work: so was the work of the pillars finished.

The Top

Where no one seen but God. Unless of course great effort was made to get up to it. For the record I don’t feel unloved or unappreciated very often. Seldom would be more like it. I must give glory that God has always sent encouragers into my life who climb to the top, look at the lily’s and say well done. But I’ve had days where the flesh rose, usually in exhaustion, when I felt as though all my unseen efforts were not for naught but went unnoticed. It caused me to wonder if anyone cared or understood the time I had put into a particular project. Was it necessary? Was it just busy work? And then Brother Mickey blessed my soul by allowing God to use him to tell me… it wasn’t for nothing. God took note.

The Lily

Another character trait for me is that I love, love, love a project. I’m project driven and it’s all about the details. But many times I’ve seen the “details” in the trash at the end of an event and thought… why did I put all that effort into something that was thrown away? But isn’t that everything down here? Nothing is going to make it through the end days, and if for a brief moment in time my efforts made someone’s heart happy and brought glory to God, then my attention to detail, the intricate work on the lily, was a worthy effort.

The Finished Work

The pillars were done, no names were inscribed as to the artist, just a beautiful workmanship that held up the house of God; which is exactly what we should be. Those of us who serve don’t need to be noticed, we need to be useful. Those pillars were beautiful, but they also served the purpose of being the strength of the church. Am I? Are you? It’s a point to ponder in our servitude as to whether our time is spent strengthening the house of God.

Just keep serving, using the gifts and talents God has given you to finish the work. It does not go unnoticed. You are loved…

Yes, I’m one of those people

one of those people

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands **

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands **

If you’re happy and you know it the your life will surely show it

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands**

Yes. I am in full blown camp mode! I’m singing camp songs, I’m grinning inside and out because next week I’ll have the opportunity to spend five glorious days with 20 or so rowdy teens in a camp in the hills of West Virginia. If you’re not a teen leader then that may sound like more of a punishment than a reward of life, but if you’re in the youth department of a church, you know which ground I stand on! It’s Holy Ground!!!

Isaiah 54:13 says And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but our worlds in a mess. Fear and anxiety is running ramped and I myself have days that I feel like hyperventilating until the Lord returns. Imagine that in the life of our youth, whose minds are inundated with fearful images, music filled with anger and hatred, political nonsense on every media outlet and all running an inlet straight to their heart. Some are churched, most are not, and all have a desire for a future, even if they’re unsure of what that might be.

Our camp theme this year is “The way that I’m Wired.” It delves into the inner-working of God inside everyone, and how that should play out in the believer. I’m excited!! I can only wonder what God might have done with me if He’d have had a hold of my heart as a child… these teens that I’m about to embark into a camp adventure with can find out now and that makes me very, very happy to be apart of it!

My first lesson for them is “happiness is a choice and a gift of God.” It comes from seeking His will and when that is discovered, you can still grin from ear to ear, even when the world around you is falling apart. Life’s not perfect, we won’t grin ever day… but we can.

When I teach, I grin. When I sing, my soul leaps within me. When I play music my heart smiles and it is all because those things are the will of God for my life… it’s how He wired me. David said in Psalm 144:15  – Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.”

Color me Happy! And please, pray for our camp July 24-28.

3 Step Strategy for Revival

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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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West Virginia Voting: Where Country Livin’ does a gal good

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At last there is a reprieve from the political rhetoric, or so I thought. I was looking forward to a few days of no television ads or discument…. I know, it’s not word. It’s my version of what happens when you friendly argue about politics. Half discussion; half argument, and I am wholly tired of it all. I’ve seen too much political hype about why we vote like we do in West Virginia. Laying its reasoning to the cultural side of who we are. I’m fine with that. I’m proud of my Appalachian heritage and have never felt that I’ve missed out on life because I’ve not lived in the big city. But I’m most proud of my Christian heritage; which is why I vote the way I do… not because I’m a po’ little country gal who doesn’t understand the complexities of life, therefore I’m conservative. I’m not prejudiced, narrow minded nor am I misguided, and if you call me a radical that’s okay. So long as you understand that I’m radical about Jesus.

There are guns in our home, several. They’re for shooting deer, squirrel, and other critters that my husband enjoys calling fine cuisine. I call it disgusting… I’ve never been a fan of wild game. But my people are, and I’m okay with that. The guns are also handy to defend our home in case an idiot would decide that it would be a good idea to break in. It’s our right… at least for now.

I said all that to get to this. The part of my day that I love the most, and spend too little time in; is the time I take with the word of God. It’s where I know I can make sense of this world when the liberal jargon overwhelms my mind and has me questioning am I right or just weird? It’s why I vote the way I do and think the way I do.

Isaiah said it like this in Chapter 28:9

 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

Who shall we teach about life and train in the ministry? Not the babies, which the political world seems to have an overabundant supply of. They profess Christianity, and yet there behavior isn’t even in the ballpark. I’ve seen T-ball games with more maturity when understanding how to lose. Name calling, carelessness with the feelings of others, lying, and that’s just the precursor for bad behavior.  And we wonder why children behave the way they do! Those who scream against Christian morals and mock the foundation this country was founded on are not who we should have a problem with. They’re lost. And without Christ; we need not think they’ll have Christian principals. But what about our so called “Christian” leaders.  They have no concept of the accountability factor that God is going to hold His people to, and the role that their misguided thinking plays in the flailing condition of our Nation. Of course, that’s “if” they are His people. I’m not their judge.

Isaiah continued on… 28:10-12

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

If I were to do a “state of the church” address for today, I’d say we’re in a state of unrest. Isaiah said much the same. Our country’s leadership isn’t helping to comfort the hearts of the people because they’re not following the word of God. Isaiah said the instructions for life were simple, precept (instruction) upon precept. Line upon line (just read it word for word without inserting our own version of what the scriptures say. Stop stammering on what God said! He meant it then and He means it now, God hasn’t changed.

Any psychologist worth a grain of salt will tell you that children need stability in order to feel safe. The only stability in the world for the child of God is the word of God and the church is messing that up by arguing over what God meant. It’s where country livin’ does a girl good. Because I’ve been brought up to believe and respect the simple and honest things of life. While people scoff at the culture of West Virginians, let me share a little about what makes it such special place to grow up in as a child and live in as an adult.

Homegrown West Virginians are very real. They talk and walk the way their grandfolks did and they generally think the way their grandfolks did. Some call it clannish… I call it family. They take care of one another, and other one another’s that don’t belong them.

Statistically speaking, West Virginia ranks 20th in church attendance (Gallup Poll 2014), with approximately one third of our state attending church. Not a statistic I’m proud of… I said they were good family people… I didn’t say they were saved. But even those who don’t go to church, don’t generally mind those who do, and have been brought up to respect the church goin’ folk. That’s the problem with America as a whole. I heard an old-timer once say of someone who forsook their Appalachian heritage “I think they got above their raise’n.”

Jeremiah, just like Isaiah, said pretty much the same thing in Jeremiah 6:16 ~ Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

We won’t find rest in our nation until we get back to the foundation of the Word of God. It’s a fact.

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