Tag Archives: commitment

On Second Thought

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

~ Proverbs 16:3

The thought began last night as I once again had “second thoughts.” It’s a character trait I’m familiar with. I will second guess every decision I ever made and inwardly struggle with whether or not it was God’s will or Shari’s way. And yet, I’ll leap off a cliff without regard (figuratively speaking only) and not question if other things in my life are right decisions, or merely a whim. Oooo something shiny moments where I think, life cannot go on without that. There is no rhyme nor reason to me. Can you identify? Your personality will no doubt be what determines that.

My friend Chief and I have much in common. We are both “mango” personalities, who married apples.  (it’s a personality study) We drive them crazy, but they love us and because of that their tolerance level has been high. Love binds even the craziest of people together. But the little bird tweeting her song in the image speaks more than most people would see just by looking at the image. She represents me, doing what I have been anointed and called to do. Anointed? Yes. I know it’s a churchy word and if you’re not churchy, you may question my sanity. But God doesn’t. He does amazing things; like give me song lyrics and tunes inside my mind that turn into huge blessings to myself, and to those I minister to. I can’t explain it, I only know it happens.

It’s why when second thoughts come into my mind, it bothers me. Because 24 hours before, I was as rock solid on my decisions as Niagara Falls. And felt that I had every bit as much force in the spiritual realm!

Satan works to de-commit us. He wants to shake my world and yours until our bones rattle within us.

The Commitment

Some days I think I need committed. But Proverbs is a book of wisdom written to give us word for everyday life. Especially those days when we second guess what we’re doing. It can be the smallest or the largest of decisions. But either way, it disturbs our peace of mind when uncertainty is added to the mix. Am I preaching to the choir? I’ll bet I am. Because if you’re a child of God, Satan cannot take you from the grasp of the Master but he can shake everything up around you. Especially things that we have committed to do for the Lord. A commitment to me is a contract. When I accepted the call of God, I said I’d do… whatever.

So, what do we do?

We have to remember

The Work

Mission work is real. Although to most of the world it looks like “Baptist Welfare.” That’s what someone once said to me that it was. They were saved. They just didn’t understand. It was said to kind of poke fun at some missionaries that were getting a good bit of support. Not rich, but they’re expenses were more than covered. It was not me by the way.

What a novel idea! …That we should meet the expenses of a missionary. Yesterday I journaled Philippians 4:17. I didn’t realize how it would play into my day, but it did. Satan had taken my mind places it should not have gone, but it did.

Philippians 4:17 says “Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit that may about to your account.”

Missionaries don’t desire a gift when they request support, they desire the ability to provide fruit for the Kingdom of God for themselves and for those who support them and can’t go and do it themselves. You don’t have to be a missionary to be a soul winner. But you can be a soul winner through a missionary.

It is a worthy work. How can I second guess that?

 The Thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:5 remind us that:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Our thoughts cannot be established if anything is exhalted above it. You know like, lording an idea over you, in the manner for which Satan does. He cannot be Lord of our lives, but he can pretend that he is by doing his best to control the thing he has access to; which is our mind.

I smiled with the thought of “taking thoughts captive.”

I imagined it, for myself, much like those little fella’s on the junior football league field when they’ve discovered they actually caught the ball! They tuck it into their arms and they run for all it’s worth, once they’re over the shock that they have it.

That’s kind of how I handle being given assignments by God! It’s like, oh my stars! I have this idea, I’ve got to run with it, which way do I go? Sometimes it works out, and sometimes Satan takes me down before I make it to the next yard line. But the goal is, don’t let him get the ball.

I need your prayers, and if possible I can always use your support. That’s not what this blog is about. It’s about understand that if God has called you and anointed you into a position for the Kingdom, you’re going to have oppositional times. Lots of them. But stay committed.

Believe me when I tell you… I am not receiving Baptist welfare, or any other kind. I’m just an American missionary bringing the gospel of Christ through word and song to my part of the world. I believe that America needs us on our soil.

Why Will You Die?

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

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

Ezekiel 8:31

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

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

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

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

The Word tells me.

CAST IT

Cast away from you, all your transgressions.

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

But the weight gain was not.

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

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

So what did I need to cast off?

Addiction. Self-Condemnation. Irresponsibility.

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

Psalm 103:12

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

CREATE IT

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

So how do I do that?

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

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

However there’s something in the heart called automaticity.

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

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

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

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

COMMIT IT

…for why will ye die,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Field of Dreams

Windom, Minnesota. I leave every year with new, and sweet memories. Every year it’s different and yet the same. I leave wanting to stay longer, that’s the same. I leave with new friends, that’s the new. I left with a deeper respect for folks like Loretta Jackson, whose tiny little frame stood on the platform of the BARC and gave the gospel, glorified her Savior and let the city know, God makes no mistakes. Even allowing her to battle cancer… again.

My new friend Nita Killabrew, wife of Minnesota Twin Player and Baseball Hall of Fame, Harmon Killebrew blew me away as she proved that God uses humble, God glorifying people. Both of their struggles were awe inspiring and evidence that we are all without excuse for being happy in the Lord and allowing the world to see how He works in our lives! I learned so many that I will forever treasure. I learned the power of humility.

Pastors Rick Frederickson and Phil Anderson preached messages of hope but not without conviction that stirred my soul deeply. They shared the salvation of Christ in a manner that many ministers of today have failed to do because in a world blinded by political correctness and niceties, preaching like that is forbidden and considered offensive. Both men preached on! As well as FGGAM.org’s own Dewey Moede who never fails to share Jesus! I am proud to have been a part of this team. Because the platform may have been filled with varying denominations, but no variance in belief. Jesus. That’s it. Nothing else for salvation!

The Windom Revival touches lives each year and restores the relationship of Christ with His people. It reminds us all that there is a home for which we long for, where we’ll all have the same address. Made possible by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It’s not Minnesota or West Virginia, but that glorious place called Heaven.

Below is my first night’s message. Windom, really was a field of dreams. It’s where hope came to encourage those seeking. I hope you enjoy the message, and I pray you have people in your life that encourage you each day. God Bless! ~ Shari

FIELD OF DREAMS

1 Corinthians 9 King James Version (KJV)

Minnesota. Driving through this country is not like anything in my part of West Virginia. If there’s an acre of flat ground where I live it’s a miracle. And it usually has a house built on it. Everything else is rolling hills and mountains, which is what I love about West Virginia. But in Minnesota, you can see forever, which is what I love about Minnesota. One field flows into another of crops that someone stands in hope of reaping the blessing of their work. That is my hope for Windom.

John 4:35

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

I came here with hope that the fields of Windom are ready to harvest! So what are we hoping to harvest? I’m glad you ask. Because what I want to see harvested in the fields of Windom is some pretty exciting stuff.

I know Dewey is a huge baseball fan. And I must confess, sports ain’t my thing. I go to games to see the people in the crowd, not the athletes. People go to games to see the players. In the life of the church, I’m the player. I’m the one out in the field either striking out, or hitting a homerun for Team Jesus. I’m the one who has the crowds cheering me on in Heaven, and sometimes on earth. And tonight, I’m a player on Windom’s team. In 1st Corinthians Chapter 9, the Apostle Paul says this:

Am I am not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

The Windom Minnesota team has worked for months on this event. You being here tonight is our work in the Lord. I don’t ever believe that something just “happens.” There is purpose in everything that is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not an apostle but I am a servant for the Lord Jesus Christ. And tonight Windom Minnesota is my field and I’m gonna work it just like Harmon Killebrew did for the Minnesota Twins. I want the victory!

I’ve come tonight to share my field of dreams for Windom. In that same book of First Corinthians 9, beginning in verse 9 the word of God says this:

For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

Your response to that likely is, “What on earth are you talking about?”

The farmers of today, especially with the size field that Minnesota has, likely don’t use an ox to plow the field, they use the technology of the day. But in the time scripture was written, oxen was the technology of the day. And Paul used them as an illustration on taking care of the ministers of the gospel.

You weren’t supposed to muzzle the ox, you were to let him eat of the field, it was his pay. And the same is true of the ministers of the Gospel. They too deserve paid. But this is not about ministers getting paid. This is about why two West Virginia girls would drive 1000 miles to plow the fields of Minnesota that we may or may not even get to enjoy the harvest. Revival may happen after we leave. And that’s okay. I’m here to stoke the fire! My key verse is verse 10

Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

I came to Windom to plow the field by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is my field of dreams. And I’d go anywhere else the Lord lead me to experience a revival. Paul said later on in chapter 9 verse 16

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

There were some people in West Virginia that were seriously not happy that I came to Windom. Six grandbabies for starters and my 83 year old mother who may or may not forgive me for missing my family reunion this weekend. Whose closing argument was “Well, I guess we know who you love more.”

I don’t love you more, but I do love you as much. And I came to plow this field for 3 reasons:

Because I’m committed to Christ

17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

I don’t charge anyone to come to Windom. I believe that God will take care of me. And He’s never failed. I come to Windom because there’s a group of people here who want revival as much as I do. Not only for their town but more importantly themselves. Salvation is not about coming to a church service on Sunday and leaving the same way you went in. It’s about a 7 day a week, 24 hours a day relationship that gives you hope in any situation. Apostle Paul was –imprisoned, beaten, and eventually lost his head and he counted it all joy. Nobody here is having that bad a day today. But we all have bad days. How many of you stand in need of hope for something in your life? Me too! And I have the answer for you and me both. Jesus! But we have to work our fields. You cannot get the blessings of Jesus without serving Jesus. That has nothing to do with salvation. You can get saved and sit until glory. But you’ll be a honey dipper in heaven. That’s what they call the people who clean outhouses.

I plow the fields I’m given, and Windom is one,

Because I’m committed to Windom

20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

23 And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

I fell in love with Windom in 2016. That wasn’t hard. You are genuinely good people. Minnesota Nice! I became, in my mind, a citizen of this city. Paul said he was a Jew for the Jews and a Gentile for the Gentiles. It doesn’t matter what city or state we’re in if we’re children of God we are all working for the same thing!

Because Commitment will Win us a Crown

24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I keep running this race and working for the Lord because there is a crown of victory at the end that I can’t wait to reach. I almost did this year when I had three heart attacks and ignored the symptoms until they landed me flat on my back for a double bypass. Just two months ago! I shouldn’t be here for a number of reasons, but one of them is an 8 scar down the front of my chest that healed at a miraculous rate for me to get here. I shocked doctors. And I was privilege to tell them, my Jesus did that! He’s got work for me to do.

It wasn’t easy. But when Harmon Killebrew determined he was going to continue on regardless of what the world threw his way, it wasn’t easy either. But we’re celebrating his life tonight and he is celebrating in Heaven.

I don’t want one Windom friend to miss out on meeting Harmon Killebrew face to face. But more importantly I don’t want you to miss out on meeting Jesus face to face. It’s why I’m plowing this field tonight. I came believing that the fields of Windom were white and ready to Harvest!

If you came here looking to win victory over anything in your life. You’ll find it through Jesus Christ. But first you have to be saved. You have to be one of His children.

That happens only by you accepting Him as Lord and Savior of your life. No works. No field plowing. I plow out of gratitude. Not to be saved.

You are saved by admitting you’re a sinner who needs a Savior. We know as children, crime brings a punishment. Sin was the crime and Christ paid the price of death so you didn’t have to.

Jesus is that Savior and you have to believe that lock stock and barrel. Virgin born, crucified on the cross, risen the third day and now He’s in Heaven as your public defender. And for every sin, past, present and future He tells the Devil. It’s under my blood they’re forgiven.

You have trust what He did as enough.

If you believe that you have won the greatest Victory in your life. If you believe that do something about it tonight. If it’s your first night. Tell somebody on the Windom team. If you’ve been on this team for a while, commit to a deeper relationship and greater service, and tell somebody. Don’t keep it a secret that will keep it from happening.

 

Fixed Faith

Once we’ve grounded ourselves in the gospel of Jesus Christ through His salvation, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and determine His plan for our day to day living as well as our future.

Last November I had fixed my mind on ministering to the folks in the nursing home in our area. I kept putting it off and putting it off but the burden never left me. I knew this was something that God wanted me to use my talents for. So 2 p.m. on Mondays was established with the long term care unit of Minnie Hamilton Health System as my appointed time to minister to the residents. So I loaded my Bible and my guitar into the car and off I went, not knowing what to expect. And what I didn’t expect was the way the power of God came over that service. I sang and shared what the Lord had done with my life, and the residents began to praise Him for the things in their life and share their testimonies of faith. They sang with me and listened to me and had such grateful hearts for the 40 minutes of time I was there. We had church! I don’t think my feet touched the floor when I left their unit and walked back to my car. My soul rejoiced that the Lord had been glorified through my service. And I was somewhat shocked as well! I never understand why God is so good to me, even after it took me 3 months to become obedient.

God honors even delayed obedience. Who knows what blessing I would have received if I had begun back in November when He laid the burden on my heart? Or perhaps I wasn’t ready then and God is satisfied with my journey now. Regardless, I need to stay committed to the service God has given me.

Serving God takes commitment. It’s not for the willy nilly in faith who are on again off again at church or serve when it’s convenient. Especially when dealing with people who are believing in you like those in the nursing home. God’s word reminds us to take care of those that are weak. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 ~ Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

God did not put us on this earth to soak up sunshine. We have purpose. What is yours?

Fixed in talent

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. – Psalm 57:7

David had a multitude of talent. Not just singing and writing. He was leader, a musician, an encourager of the people of God. He was a warrior and a man after God’s own heart. He was committed to the purposes of his life, even though he too failed. He’s a favorite bible character of mine because I can identify with him on so many levels… starting with his failures.

So what does it mean to “fix” your heart?

The definition of fix is – 1. To correct or set right. 2. Is to make ready for a specific purpose. 3. Is to place securely, make stable or firm. All good ideas when preparing our heart to serve God.

So in preparation to make life right in our service for God. Make a list of your talents. Every single one. Please don’t say that you have none. I’ve never believed that and I’ve proven it wrong in everyone that’s told me that excuse.

Your talent may not look like what the world views as talent. My husband David cannot sing, but he can teach like nobody I know in a manner that makes it understood. He’s extremely focused and committed to the completion of any task in front of him. He’s skilled at fixing and repairing almost anything electrical or mechanical. God created his mind that way. How many ways could God use those in the operation of a church? Perhaps you like to create. The house of God needs creative people. Organization may be your passion. There are so many places that God could use you. Talent isn’t just singing or speaking in the house of God. So make your list and think inside and outside the box on how God can use you.

Fixed in testimony

O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. – Psalm 108:14

David was a talented man, but he never failed to give God the glory. By praising God for your talents, you’re fixing them, placing them in the hands of God, not to be removed by Satan who loves to steal God’s glory; and if we fail to recognize Who it is that gives us our talents, Satan does just that.

Make sure you give God the glory due when someone comments on how beautifully you did something or how beautiful you are. Never miss an opportunity to praise God in the congregation of the Lord. He loves it. It’s like a gift you can hand to God from the earth. Isn’t that an awesome thought.

Fixed in trust

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. – Psalm 112:7

Once we’ve made our list, we have to trust God to open the doors of opportunity and then give us the power through Him to put those talents to use.

Before going into the nursing home on Monday, I really didn’t know how God was going to work it out. What was I going to sing, should I speak in between songs, etc., etc. Well, from the moment I sang my first song, the Holy Spirit took over that time and lead me from one song to a word of encouragement, to a testimony from them… it was just amazing how God had that whole time planned out. All I had to do was be faithful and committed to what He ask.

Do you hear God asking? Be faithful!

 

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.

 

Why Baptist don’t do lent… and other things

chick dance

Baptist don’t drink, dance, cuss or chew… okay, yes they do. They’re either really bad at hiding things or they just don’t care. Or perhaps they consider themselves liberal Baptist. Is there such a thing? Yes… they’re called backsliders. Oh dear, did I even go there? I’m not going to get into a debate about the morality of those things or any other things, or get up on a Baptist high-horse and say those things are the ruination of a nation. The ruination of our nation is a sin problem… enter your sin here [          ]. We’ve all got them. So what does that have to do with why Baptist don’t do lent?

Here’s my theory. And this is the theory according to Shari and carries no weight in the world, but I found it to be an interesting thought this morning, encouraged from the Facebook post of a friend of another denomination who was giving up social media for 40 days. My first thought was… God bless her! I’m glad I don’t celebrate Lent, or I’d feel bad. Because I’m a social media junky. I have a love/hate relationship with people disciplined enough to give up the things they love for a period of time. Because for me this is a big spiritual issue. I know there are things that need more discipline in my life and those people make me feel bad. And then to counteract the guilt I have about them, I think about the legalistic people who do “things” 365 days of the year and look down their religious noses at failures like me and I don’t feel bad anymore about not “doing” something. Because Jesus is not about the doing.

So why don’t Baptist do Lent? I personally think it’s because it’s a little too Catholic. I’m not going to get into a denomination bashing blog. I’m not about that. Do I think there will be Catholics in Heaven? Yes. So long as they get there the way Jesus said. But much of the Catholic faith is based on ritualistic living and not Christ relational living and that’s just wrong any way you look at it from the Bible perspective.

Now, back to my failures.

In Luke 4:1-13 we read that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of fasting and temptation in much the same way God led the Israelites into the desert for forty years of wanderings. Lent is forty days of self-denial, although I don’t see any one doing it on the level of Christ. (Luke 4:1) Cut off from all of society, no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. #HashtagAreYouSerious? (4:2-4) In the wilderness. #HashtagItsCold&BearsBite! Tempted by Satan, without preacher and church support.  #HashtagSinWaitingToHappen? Without food. #HashtagDoYouDeliver? (4:5-8) No Position in life. #HashtagIt’sNotAboutMe? (4:9-13) Facing the temptations of life without giving in. #HashtagDidIJustDoThat?

Lent is serious business. And I respect the decision of those who determine to do a Christ honoring denial of something. It’s not a Baptist thing… it’s technically not a Methodist, Catholic or Episcopalian thing. Anything that we give up in honor of Christ is a child of God thing. It’s not necessary, its “another way” to worship. The issue comes when it’s done for discipline sake and not relationship sake.

The harsh reality for me is I could use some discipline in my life in a number of facets. Building a relationship with Christ is a 365 day trek in the wilderness. Satan doesn’t limit it to 40 days. For those of you celebrating Lent, I love you… but you’re making me look bad. I pray today finds us all in relationally living with the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Contact me if you don’t, I’ll show you where to meet Him!

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The Key to a Blessing

 So call me crazy… again. Over the years I’ve been blessed with a few musical instruments, most as gifts and some I’ve purchased. But through a couple of friends I was taught to dedicate those to the Lord for the purpose of glorifying the Kingdom. When we’d get a new instrument we’d meet with the preacher or have a time of dedication as musicians and it has always been a blessing. So scroll forward from those days to this past week and the purchasing of a new used car for myself. I realize that I could have likely purchased someone else’s problems, I am still “jump and the net will appear” Shari. I think sometimes there is a fine line between faith and stupidity with me. It is not beyond me to make a decision based on a twenty minute time frame, and for the record, God doesn’t always like time constraints. Sometime He’d like us to ponder a decision, mull it over in our minds and chew on it a while to see if the flavor is just right.

Unfortunately, that’s not how I work.

I pass by a car lot, something shiny catches my eye and I’m ready to purchase. Then reality sits in as I look at the price tag. But before I could get back in my car and off the lot the vultures have circled me and they’re pretty sure that they can hook me up with something within my price range. To top it all off, my car (which had a really bad owner, namely me) has an engine that sounds like a busload of Baptist at a housing project on a soul winning mission. It’s knock, knock and knocking and before you know it, I’m driving off the lot in something shiny. Bada-bing-bada-boom, that’s how life works.

Now I’m driving down I-79 in my Jeep Compass with slightly higher mileage than should be on it thinking… what have I done? In my defense  (I feel like you’re judging me) I’d been praying to the Lord about my car; He and I were on the same page I’m pretty sure… it needed to go. I just wasn’t sure that this was the lot it needed to go on. But so it was in true impulse buying fashion.

The Lord has provided me with a car! Thank You Jesus! An instrument of service so to speak which I’ve determined needs to be dedicated to the Lord. So Sunday morning I approach our interim Pastor and asked him if he’d mind dedicating my car that evening. I think he thought I was joking, but in true seasoned Pastor form, he caught himself before he laughed out loud and said “You’re serious?”

So Sunday evening, in a little bigger dedication service than I had planned, he dedicated my car before the congregation of the Lord. They too probably thought I’d lost my mind. But that’s okay because I knew it was the right thing to do for a number of reasons.

First – Because God knows how I take care of a vehicle. It needs blessed.

Secondly – Because that vehicle is an instrument that’s going to be used for the service of the Lord. Instruments of service are not limited to the cups and offering plates in the sanctuary of the Old Testament temple. That car gets me from point “A” to point “B” on many ventures of the Lord’s service as well as secular service. My motor oil needs the anointing of God to keep it running in top form.

Brother Dennis prayed and God poured His blessings down upon me, and my soul was satisfied that the Jeep Compass in the parking lot was now the property of God.

Micah 4:13 says  ~ Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.

My hoofs aren’t brass, they’re likely some other form of metal but they are consecrated to the Lord. I believe it’s biblical.

The blessing didn’t only ask for a commitment from God to take care of the instrument of service but it also put a responsibility on me to take care of the Lord’s property. Call me crazy… it’s okay. My family already knows it. But I don’t mind being a fool for Christ. That’s biblical too.

In Need of Anointing

Psalm 52:8-9

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

It’s Sunday. I’m humbled and grateful that I can go into the house of Almighty God and be used by Him in the manner for which He chooses. The world doesn’t understand the grandeur of being in the presence of He Who created the earth, else the house would be full today. Like David, I too want to be like the olive tree in the house of God. A fruit bearing tree that God looks upon with favor, planted and rooted by the river’s edge and soaking up the Water of Life. As I read through scriptures this morning related to the olive tree, its importance in biblical history was evident and so was my need to reflect upon it.

The Oil of Anointing

In Leviticus, Chapter 8, Moses anointed the tabernacle, the vessels, and the people who were used of God in service. If this morning you are found in the service of God you need to understand the importance of having that fresh anointing that comes through the Holy Spirit; whether it’s the nursery, the music, the sound booth, the pianist, or the Pastor, each one needs the anointing of God upon their lives to reach the full potential and effect that God desires in a service. A church service is not an afterthought. Much preparation is needed to usher in the Holy Ghost. Preachers and teachers study, the people pray, those in service study their chosen field of service so that they may do it well and orchestrate the service in a manner that pleases God.  I fear that the excitement in many services today is only a fraction of what it could be because it was a fraction of time that was given in preparation. I know I speak truth, because I’ve seen the effect of my fraction of time in times past.

The Oil of Offering

In Leviticus Chapter 7, verses 11-12 the various offerings of Thanksgiving were “mingled with oil.” Whatever it is that you bring to the table this morning in the house of the Lord needs to be “mingled with oil,” an attitude of gratitude for what the Lord has done in your life. Thanksgiving can also mean confession (of sin, of faith in response to God’s goodness and mercy that He’s extended to you) of the blessings in abundance we take for granted. One thing certain to get the attention and presence of God in your life and in your service today is a humble thankful heart.

The Oil of Healing

Isaiah 1:6 says ~  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

Believe me when I say I understand the wounds of ministry. I’ve got a few battle scars of my own. But there is one thing for certain; if you do not apply the healing balm of the Word of God your wound will stay infected with the world. You see, I also understand that whether a wound is self-inflicted, saint inflicted or sinner inflicted, it hurts just the same. But in reading and hearing of the Word of God there is soothing that occurs and mends that brokenness in a supernatural way. I can’t explain it, I just know its truth because I’ve experienced it.

I hope you experience the fatness of the olive tree anointing in your life today. I pray that from the beginning to the end of your day your thankful heart will feel the Holy Spirit flooding your soul with His anointing. If there is pain in your life I pray that you feel the balm of Jesus healing that brokenness and that your servants heart will be restored. ~ Blessings! From the Jesus Chick.

Just Shy of God’s Intentions

Numbers 32:5-7 ~ Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.  And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?

I love a preacher that challenges me to live better. It was hard at first coming from a fairly liberal attitude into a conservative church that preached Hell hot and Heaven real and both 20 seconds away. I have no clue what it is like being on the battlefield of a foreign country, but I know quite well what it feels like to a foreigner in my own land. When I stepped out for the cause of Christ I became an adversary to many that I had stood in agreement with before salvation. When I heard the truth about Jesus and understood the sacrifice He had made I couldn’t turn back. I was moving forward to that land I’d been promised. I was excited. Heaven was real and I’d not have my mind changed. But not everyone shared my enthusiasm.

Many Christians today live contently on the edge of Jordan. They’re satisfied living just shy of God’s intentions, because that would take commitment. Rueben and Gad parked their families on the land east of Jordan and went halfheartedly over to help take the Promised Land for Israel but only because Moses made them feel guilty. I say they were halfhearted because they left their family on the other side; while they were willing to fight for the cause their minds had to have been on how things were progressing at home. They knew going in that this wasn’t their land, they were going back to the other side.

Halfhearted Christianity has taken its toll on the church. It’s hard to stay committed in church leadership when the army doesn’t even bother to show up. What a fine example the children of Rueben and Gad were given when their father’s left them on the other side. It must have spoken volumes toward their need to be involved in the battle.  Summer time is a real good time to have this conversation when Sunday after Sunday attendance is down, and while family vacations are understood and needful, few people have 3 months of vacation.

Rueben and Gad were unwilling to relinquish their old ways and be fully committed to Israel’s cause and because of it they and their entire family lived just shy of the Promised Land. Just shy of having everything God wanted them to have. The same holds true when we fail to commit to church attendance and involvement in the ministries, we’re living just shy of having everything God wants to give us. It’s an honor and privilege to serve in the army of God, but you can sense Moses’ frustration when he has to say to them “Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them?”

Don’t for two seconds buy the lie that nobody notices when you’re gone. Folks like me notice! Not because I’m a busy body but because I love you! And your family.  It’s discouraging to church leadership and to the Pastor when half of our heart is missing. Stay faithful! And go all the way for Jesus. Don’t stop just shy of the Promised Land.