Tag Archives: community

Chief Reasons Everybody Works

C.R.E.W. ~ Chief Reasons Everybody Works!

From the Book of Nehemiah Chapter 3

The book of Nehemiah is such a great book for the child of God that desires to make a difference in the Kingdom, as every child of God should. It’s a prime example of someone living in a fallen world and fighting back to take care of his own. That was Nehemiah.

He was the king’s cupbearer. A man trusted and fearless enough to make sure no one was going to poison the king. He, for certain, was somebody, and yet he was under the authority of a world ruler. Not a spiritual leader. But his burden and passion for his people is what got him into a position that they, nor the world could deny him opportunity to rebuild what had been broken down.

That’s how I look at our community. It’s falling apart. Our city is unkempt, our communities are filled with broken homes and broken lives, our churches have breaches that should not be, and all the while, God’s people stand by watching it happen, and in need of leaders that will rise up and start the rebuilding.

We’re God’s crew. And using that acronym we’ll discover “Chief Reasons Everyone Works.”

That’s how we’ll have success in the little kingdom we call home in the hills of West Virginia.

In the journal art for today’s blog I pulled words from the entire chapter of Nehemiah 3. It’s one of those chapters that can cause you to zone out if you’re not careful. It’s filled with names, roles, titles and jobs. We can read scripture like that and miss the little things that are the big things. Like beginning in verse of chapter 3 it says that “Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brethren the priests and they builded the sheep gate.”

It’s Our Church

And they were church leaders, willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in where needed. And their place was the sheep gate. That’s the role of our church leaders too; they’re responsible for the sheep. Under Nehemiah’s leadership he rallied the troops to begin to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and a portion of that wall was where the sheep were lead through the sheep gate and into the temple.

What was once a sacrificial offering is now how God reference’s His children. Church leadership is not only responsible for leading the sheep into the church, but once they’re in, they’re responsible for making sure they’re safe.

How do we do that? How do we insure that our people are sheltered from harm?

STUDY THE WORD

  1. 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

SHARE THE WORD

  • Romans 15:1-5 ~ We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

As members of the body of Christ, it’s our job to help grow the church. While it’s a different day than in the days of Nehemiah, membership is still by the blood. (The blood of Jesus) And while they were the tribes of Israel, we are the congregation of God.

Just as they had gone astray from the way they should have been living, which is what created the position they’d found themselves in, with not only a broken city, but a broken relationship with God; we too can identify with that analogy. From the age of accountability, when we understood right from wrong, we had a broken relationship with God. Church leadership, and us, need to be repairing the gate where the sheep come into the fold. We need to make the door of the church beautiful. And we do that by allowing them to see the beauty of God, right from the beginning.

It’s Our Community

Hassenaah sons were in charge of the fish gate. Then there were other’s under them. It doesn’t say they were fishermen. Just men, willing to work.

Jesus told Peter (who was a fisherman) in Matthew 4:19 ~ And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

_____________________  

It’s important that we understand the references and parables that Christ shares with us in His words. Fishing was an important part of the communities along the sea. It was their livelihood. Well, it’s the livelihood of the church too! If we’re not out fishing and building our church, it will eventually fade away.

What fish do you have on the hook to build your church? Write them down, commit them to prayer and think on them as serious as Hassenaah and his friends took the building of the fish gate.

It’s Our Children

The work crews on the wall were every bit as diverse as the crews in our church. Everyone, regardless of their life roles, had an important role in the church.

Nehemiah 3:12 ~ And next unto him repaired Shallum the son of Halohesh, the ruler of the half part of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.

Commentary says of the “daughters” that they were possibly rich widows or heiresses who employed men to build at their own expense.  Halohesh must not have  had sons. This would have been the culture of the day, and while we have certain roles in the church as men, women and children, the point is, we all have a role and a responsibility to set the example for others. Especially the young. Children need to have a voice and role in the church so that as they grow in the Lord and become adults, they continue on serving. If they’re never allowed to serve when they’re young, how will they know that they can as they age?

What are jobs can they do:

Toddlers?_________________________________

Elementary?_______________________________

Pre-Teen?________________________________

Teen?____________________________________

College?__________________________________

Everyone who desires to serve needs a job. When Hannah brought Samuel to the temple, he was but a child, yet he served. Again, we know the culture was different, but the message is still the same. We need to point children into the direction of service as young as possible.

What’s your earliest remembrance of service?

Psalm 127:3

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

It’s Our Responsibility

What if Nehemiah had stayed with the King? What if the community had stayed at home? What if nobody did anything? Well it’s unfortunate that many churches are facing that dilemma today. We have to accept the responsibility we’ve been given, and everyone has been given something to do.

What is your part of the wall?

  • The sheep gate?
  • The Fish gate?
  • Cleaning Crew?
  • Guarding the wall?
  • Providing materials?
  • Entertaining the troops?

So many more! We have to show up! It’s our responsibility!

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 See it?

I’m not sure who it was, but from a testimony in the back of our church during Sunday worship I heard, “See the Need.” It was like the Lord put a post it note up on the bulletin board of my mind and said, remember why you’re here.

Lord: Get my Attention

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day of life and forget the purpose of Christianity. Above all it’s to see souls saved, but Christ didn’t only preach, he encouraged and taught the disciples how to take care of the people left in their charge. The world has been left in our charge with a service we’re to provide, can you see the need? We can’t fix the world, but we can one by one, see a need and fulfill it.

A burden on my heart has been the waste in my life.

  • How much food do I throw out in the course of a week that someone, living alone would appreciate?
  • How many clothes do I have that I never wear that someone could use? Not taken to a thrift store (which is fine) but hand delivered to someone so that they could know I care.
  • How many times have I wasted time when I could have called on someone that was sick, provided food or ran an errand?
  • How many times has God laid the prison ministry on my heart and I’ve failed to follow it through?

Matthew 25:35-40 lays it out plain and simple:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Lord help me to see the need.

Lord: Give me an Action

I am the queen of good intentions but if I don’t make a plan, it goes in the pile of other unfinished projects. Now that God has my attention, I need to take action. I need to make a list of the needs I see.

  • MHHS Nursing home visitation
  • CRJ Prison ministry evangelization
  • Elderly alone that could use encouragement
  • Clothes that need given away.

These are needs very much in my wheelhouse of completion. I’ve made my list now to get it done. Who or what is on your list?

Lord: Give me Ability

Working in the ministry takes stamina, finances and opportunity. All of which is the Lord’s will and supply and in the discipline of my living. There are things I can do better, rest more, spend less and look for or make opportunity. And by all means prayer should be in every step of the path. Today will be Nursing home visitation, guitar class, and bible journaling. These are God’s plans for me. You’ll have to decide your own. But I can almost guarantee God has laid a burden on your heart already and you’ve seen the need. Let’s get busy!

The Ugly Side of the Church

chick pork

The Ugly side of Christianity. Why that was on my mind this morning I do not know. I actually haven’t dealt with it for a while. “There’s an ugly side to Christianity,” you ask? You likely didn’t because we all know it’s there, it’s just usually not the topic of conversation unless someone’s upset, and then it’s ugly! Well let’s just say up front, I’m not upset. I’m just tired…

I’m tired of the church focus being far left, far right and the ones in the middle make God and I both puke. I’m tired of Methodist, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals, and yes my own beloved Baptists. I’m tired of  Bapticostals,  Presbythodists and yes those are made up names, but let’s just call it like it is, the church of the living God didn’t have a name over the door when it came to be.  Acts 11:26 said “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

There are some very notable characters in the eleventh chapter of Acts.

The chapter begins with Peter witnessing the first Powerpoint presentation on earth. It’s true! Verse 5 says “I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:” Clearly that was an automatic screen! And upon it was a sermon outline for Peter.

Vs. 6-9 ~ Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Point number 1 – It’s all good. Even bacon.

Point number 2 – Let’s argue about it.

Point number 3 – I said Shsssh. Eat more pork.

Okay… that might be a stretch, but it’s in there. Peter had been preaching and teaching Christ to the Jews. He loved his people, and there’s nothing wrong with that! I love my people… But God was about to take him outside of his comfort zone into the land of the Gentiles and those people eat bacon!  For us that argument sounds silly, but for a man brought up to have no communion with those outside of the Jewish faith, this was a huge deal and the church folk were upset and demanding answers. So Peter answered and not only that, he brought witnesses, those who had been saved as God had said they would. I won’t expound on that I just encourage you to read the book for yourself.

But here’s my point. Peter stopped labeling people and just viewed the people as sinners needing saved by grace. And through that preaching and acceptance that God’s grace belongs to all people, the word of God went further and the church grew.

Now… I’m not suggesting that we all link arms and sing Kumbaya. I’m not saying we ignore sin.  But it’s time to eat more pork, or chicken or just cut a slice of bread in two and agree that even though we may differ in some ways, those  of us who preach Jesus, crucified, risen the third day and the only way to Heaven can love on one another outside the church.

Let’s get rid of the ugly side of the church, it’s so unbecoming. Preach Jesus! Love one another… it really is a Great Commission!!!

How To Deal With An Idiot

chick idiot

Do you ever have those days where you’d like to jerk a knot in someone? I know… that’s not very godly is it? But I’m being honest when I say that I’ve had multiple lately. I will confess that often times it’s entirely me, but other times there are people who I fully believe need a knot jerked in them. I’m not sure where that phrase came from, and although I’m pretty sure it’s just an idiom and you cannot literally jerk a knot in someone, it still leaves room for fantasy and makes me feel better when I imagine I’ve done it. Especially when I’m in the presence of an idiot. I know… I know… another ungodly word but the world is full of them! At least since the 14th century when that word came into existence. And I need wisdom today on how to deal with them, and me. And there in God’s word, at Biblegateway.com was the answer in the verse of the day! God didn’t even make me look for it, He laid it out in pure sight as if to say… “Yes Shari… you need some help.” Perhaps you do too!

James 3:17-18

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

How to deal with an Idiot:

  1. Remember first that in comparison to God, none of us are even close to intelligent! But the wisdom that is from above is first pure. However, the Creator of all the universe saw fit to infuse us with His wisdom through the Holy Spirit, therefore we have access to that pure wisdom from on high, but fail to access it. That is idiocy. We rather trust in our own though process which most usually ends in disaster or at least a lesser blessing than God intended.
  2. Seek Peace and speak Peace. Then peaceable, gentle… When I say idiot, I’m not referring to a person’s mental aptitude, I am more often than not speaking of a person’s moral attitude. In the political climate of today it seems that idiocy was a prerequisite for office and the nation just blindly follows along as if we have no say in the matter. Dear gussy…. I’m an idiot too! It’s frustrating, is it not? But God instructs us to live in peace with all men. Meekly… anger in control. Getting up on a soapbox with contention and hatred toward people won’t fix America. Getting down on your knees in prayer would be a good start. That would be seeking peace. Speaking peace would be to stand on the Word of God boldly, but meekly (gentle).
  3. And easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits. A sure fire way to stop a productive conversation is to assume those who disagree with our opinion have nothing good to say. Sometimes their adverse opinion is there because the Lord’s good Words came out of a foul Christian’s mouth.
  4. Pick Apples. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. If you sow peace with your words, you’ll reap peace in your soul. If we go to the Word of God, and eat of the fruit that God provides, and take the seeds that God plants in our souls and replant them in the world… how awesome will our harvest be!

It really is so very simple, that even the simple minded can understand it. Christ is the answer.

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Little League Christianity

chick league

It’s Little League Baseball Season and my grandsons have our family right in the thick of it. It’s exciting stuff to watch the kids smack the ball and run the bases and it’s heart wrenching when they strike out or don’t play as well as they’d have liked to. Yes, I’m their “Noni” and I don’t view the game in quite the same manner as do the parents and coaches. For me it’s a cuteness factor, for them… it’s serious business.

Last night’s game had me thinking on the purpose of this stage in the game. They’re not pro ball players, although you’d never know it from a few of the parent’s reactions. You’d think there was a major league scout in the stands. If you’re one of them you’ll have to forgive me and this really isn’t about you, it’s about the church and Little League Christianity.

When I was saved in 1996 our church had one thing down to a fine art, and that was how to disciple young converts. We met as a group for breakfast at a local restaurant before I went to work. We met for lunch. It was an active time in the church, in that if we weren’t having a revival we’d find someone else who was and attend theirs. I couldn’t get enough of the word of God. This wasn’t a mandated thing for new Christians, it was our desire because we wanted what the old timers of the church had! Oh the Spirit of God is such an awesome thing when it’s on display in the saints of God. We were the little leaguers of the day. It was a training ground before we hit the big league of soul winning and serving on our own. We were not six and seven year olds, we were grown men and women from twenty to seventy who just happened to be in the growing years of faith. We were shown mercy when we made a mistake, and weren’t cast out of the game because we didn’t perform up to par.

This is where I see so many churches missing the mark for church growth. They leave the coaching to the Pastor who’s trying to keep up with a half dozen teams in the church, all at different stages in the game. If you’ve been a child of God for more than a year or two, and you’ve been serious about it, it’s your turn to step out and find you someone to disciple. It will not only encourage them it will encourage you.

John 10:10 (one of my favorite verses) says  

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Stolen Bases

They don’t steal bases in Little League, but I guess they still do in the older leagues. But the base stealer in the game of Christianity is Satan; he removes the base completely out of the game by getting our eyes off the intended purpose. The purpose of the game is to get home by running all the bases, but we get busy and want to skip a few. So Satan obliges by removing it from our site. If God’s only purpose was to get us home, when we got saved we’d just fall in the floor at the altar and our soul would go on to glory. But that’s not the case, the game is still being played out and God has a purpose for our lives.

First Base

Learning the game. It’s our time to sit under preaching and teaching and learn how to live and share the gospel.

Second Base

Take a new convert under your wing and begin teaching them what you’ve just been taught. It is then that you’ll know it deeper by having to prepare to share it with others.

Third Base

It’s at this stage in your Christian walk that you should be in full blown service for the Lord and reaping the abundant life! You should be helping to disciple new converts, serving in the local ministry and have a testimony in your community as a servant of God.

But what I see out of most people is that they’ve never left little league. If it were a real game we’d have sixty year old players. How ridiculous would that be? Almost as ridiculous as the child of God, who has never left the stands at all, yet expects a trophy at the end of season. There’s going to be some sad Christians at home plate.

Tweet This America!

CHICK TWEET

I was searching the trends this morning to see what the world thought worthy of speaking of and low and behold, although unfortunately not the number one conversation, but trending at 942 tweets was the hashtag #SimplyJesus2015 from a Christian Conference in Denver, Colorado this weekend. It was far behind the other trends which go from both ends of the spectrum of sadness. The number one tweet this Saturday morning was #BruceJenner and the second on my twitter feed was #Nepal and the earthquake that killed hundreds of people this morning. I’m not going to comment too much on Bruce Jenner, other than he needs Jesus, and the world needs a reality check on what’s worth promoting. And I’ll close with God doesn’t make mistakes and it’s not our right to reconfigure His creation.

The story of Nepal should drive us to our knees for those precious people and cause us to realize that Mount Everest may not be above us to fall, but our world can come crashing down just as easily. I’ve witnessed it in the lives of people over the past few weeks who are facing their own tragedies and upsets in life. And yet Bruce Jenner is on the minds of America. I highly doubt the residents of Nepal are following or caring what the trends are on Twitter, nor do the families who have lost someone or struggle with life.

I just realized that I didn’t close that Bruce Jenner thought. Sorry about that… it just never ceases to amaze me of what America can get infatuated on and come to the defense of while in the background there are so many people with real heartaches and issues that deserve our attention.

These thoughts brought me to Matthew 22 this morning. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees tried to entangle Jesus in His words. And although they may not be labeled as such the Pharisee and Sadducee spirit is still alive and well questioning Christ’s people and promoting their own agendas.

Verses 15-16 say of the Pharisees:

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

Their disciples… I hadn’t noticed that before. There is still a training ground today for wicked religious people’s disciples. Jesus said they were wicked in verse 18 when the scripture reveals “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?”  They were asking if Jesus thought it was okay to pay tribute to Caesar. Jesus showed them that the penny had Caesar’s picture on it, so let him have it. But render to God the things that are God’s. For the religious, it’s all about the materialistic things that can get the world sidetracked. That penny of Caesar’s won’t mean a thing in Heaven, neither will the all mighty dollar we strive so hard to earn. It will burn up in the last days in the hands of someone else. But our families and friends… their souls are going to live eternally somewhere. And they are the only thing that matter in the scope of eternity to Jesus.

The world would have you deceived by their disciples as to what is important in life… look at the   trends. 942 posts for Jesus and 687K for Jenner… that makes me nauseous. Stop following the temptations of the hypocrites who would have you believe that Jesus doesn’t care for you. What a lie! He died for everyone so that we may have an eternal life in Heaven and escape this wicked place we view as home. The world is still trying to entangle the words of Jesus. But… I love the last verse in Matthew 22

And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

When they had tried their best to prove God’s word as false, Jesus not only proved that He could still the waters of the sea, He could still the tongues of the trouble makers! Hallelujah! And that’s what I’m holding onto this morning when I look at what’s trending by those disciples of the wicked…

Today they may mock, and draw our minds away from the things of Christ but there will be a day when He’ll silence them one final time. Until then… keep your trends focused on Jesus Christ. #JesusWins #HeavenIsReal #EternityIsALongTime #AreYouReady #JesusLovesYou #GodKnowsYourNeeds #ThisWorldIsTemporary

Something Happened at the Church House!

chick church house

It is just a little past Palm Sunday, Monday as a matter of fact, but my mind is still on Sunday. Yesterday evening our choir performed the Cantata, “Jesus Saves.” I wept through much of it, tried to sing because I thought surely my big mouth would be missed, maybe not… but I was so caught up in the moment. My littlest gradbaby played Jesus with Mary and Joseph. Mary, who had forever wanted to play that role, but was never chosen as a child, yet as a young woman, God fulfilled her desire. I inwardly snickered at Joseph who was worried about OSHA regulations in the carpenter shop and refused to wear sandals but insisted on wearing his work boots. And then Jesus… played by a man our church had come to love as interim Pastor and continues to play an encouraging role even now. He came down the aisle to shouts of praises and Hosanna and in a twist of irony, his real lie daughter who played Mary had just left the stage. He was portraying Jesus, but more importantly he knew Jesus. There was a sense of worship on the platform, he broke the bread and shared the cup, pondered that day in Jesus’ life. He knelt and wept… and my heart was broken. How did that crowd go from shouts of praise to shouts of crucify Him?

Matthew 21:15-16

And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased, And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

The children were crying in the temple. They were praising God and having a shoutin’ good time. Kids can do that because they have no concern for appearances, they live in the absolute moment. I have a feeling it was young and old alike who were living in that moment as Jesus made His way down the streets of Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” John 12:13

But something happened at the church house.

Jesus had made it to the church house; and what did He find? Greedy religious people making money and unconcerned about anyone but self.  He threw them out of the temple and justifiably so. But inside the temple there were still a few of them left. The children were in the temple praising God and celebrating the King and it upset the stiff necked religious leaders. So Jesus reminded them of the Old Testament words in Psalm 8:2 –  Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

One sure fire way to tick off religious people is to catch them up in their own game. They were so wrapped up in the law and spouting off scripture that they stopped feeling it. They were now the enemy of the cross and were about to be stilled. Christ’s presence had Spiritually moved the crowd. They knew He was different but when it came to the church, they knew He changed things and religious people hate change. So they decided they’d get rid of the problem and changed the cry from Hosanna! To Crucify! By silencing the child, the one who has no concern for appearance, only truth; but not for long. The church was silenced for a few days…

But then something happened at the church house!

It changed no locations. It was no longer in a building but it dwelled within the people and it could not be silenced.

The tears that flowed down my face during last night’s Cantata was that inward child; the one in the temple crying “Hosanna, Blessed is the King Who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Don’t lose sight of that inner child this week…

Do you know Grace?

chick grace

The story has been told (and now embellished by me) about Goldie, the church gossip who took it upon herself to be God’s eyes, ears and unfortunately mouth (if only she’d have ask God if that was okay.) Most churches love new folks and encourage them into the fold without so much as a question about their past, knowing we’re all sinners saved by grace, but not Goldie. She scrutinized each new attendee like an FBI interrogation only slyer and watched in their little community for the tale tell signs of a sinners life. The church’s newest member, Sawyer, joined unaware of Goldie Gossip’s tactics until she approached him in the church vestibule one Sunday morning and informed him that she had seen his blue pickup truck at the local tavern and the whole town knew that he was drunkard and womanizer for sure because of where he had been. She assured him that she’d be praying for his heart to become right with Christ but until then, he needed to know, that she knew.

Sawyer smiled but replied nothing in return. A week came and went and on Saturday night Sawyer parked his blue pickup truck in front of Miss Goldie Gossip’s house and left it there all night. Sunday morning he came back to church and sat right beside her.

That’s not a true story of course, but it’s real close. Every church more than likely has a “Goldie Gossip” or a few of them actually. Compound that by living in a community the size of mine, where everyone knows everyone and their sins and transgressions and it can make for some interesting Sunday mornings. We used to have party lines for people to pick up on and gather information but now we have Facebook! O Glory to God if my Mommaw Vada would have had Facebook she’d have thought Jesus had returned because it would have been like Heaven on earth!

Ephesians 4:29

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I grow weary of gossip. Sometimes because I come in on the tail end of it and don’t get the whole story! We live in such an “informed” day where you can find out anything with the click of a button, or the touch of a smart phone and secrets are a rare commodity and worse than that is the people who don’t want their sin’s kept secret so they post it on Facebook themselves! And then you have the church folk, who wouldn’t dare make their sin public but they wouldn’t mind sharing someone else’s sin under the guise of “Pure Concern” of course.

The story of Goldie Gossip is fun to imagine and I can’t say I wouldn’t like to have seen that blue pickup truck parked in the driveway of a few self-righteous people that I know; but I better be careful about throwin’ roks lest one breaks my “windor.” The point of this topic today is this… on the day before the Lord’s day, I’d like to see a few new sinners come my way at church in the morning. I’d like to pray for them today, and pray with them tomorrow. I’d like to love on them and remember that I was them 19 years ago this month. Do you know grace? Boy I sure do…

Colossians 4:6Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Titus 2:11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Titus 3:7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 4:10As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

But Now… a little LIP service please

chick lip service

Job 16:5-7

But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased? But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company.

It appears that the winner of the “But Now” award would go to Job. There is still a few more “but now’s” in his book and there is no doubt in my mind that we all feel like we’re suffering the afflictions of Job in our life occasionally. Although in reality ours are likely none to compare, but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. We still have issues and we still serve a God who cares as much about us as He cared about Job. Scary thought though, because look at what He allowed Job to suffer at the hands of Satan.

In these verses I can hear Job’s frustrations with everyone!

There are days when I get into a Job mode and would “like” to say, “But Now, just shut-up and  go away.” I’m tired of listening to Satan, I’m tired of listening to “negative nelliies”, I’m tired of listening to myself! I think that’s where Job had gotten to at this point. His friends had all but driven him to violence and he just wished they’d go away. But even if they went away, Job would still be there in his miseries. So what’s a fella to do?

In reading chapter 16 it’s another dissertation of doom, and Job is crying with voice and tears that he’s aged far beyond his years, he’s been forsaken by all and done nothing to deserve such agony. He has friends who are arrogant idiots  He feels as though he’s been trampled to death by giants and death will come as a relief, but he gives one last plea in verses 21-22,  “Will somebody please pray!”

O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour! When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.

Today may or may not be a “Job” kind of day for you; so you are either the prayee, or the prayer. But you’re one or the other. I think we’ll be shocked when we get to Heaven and God plays the movie reel of our life where we discover what we’ve been spared, or how we’ve been encouraged because of the petitions of a friend, or the prayer of an unknown. There are prayer warriors out there who utter the prayers of saints, they know not who, but  they know someone’s in need.

Prayer is a failed resource. I know it is in my life.  I’m the Job, I’m the crier, o woe is me! I know prayer warriors; I’ve called on them. But even that is a rarity with me because I want everyone to think I’m fine. Besides the “Dear God, I’m stupid,” theme song, my other one is “I’m fine.” It’s what I tell everyone who asks how I am because I either don’t  think they really care, or if they do really care and I don’t want them to know because I’ll then be their burden.

I may need to add a new theme song into the mix… “Are you crazy?”

Job’s friends did need to shut up and pray. It’s the one time we need to give lip service as children of God.

Listen, Intercede, Petition

Listen to what someone says.

Intercede on their behalf.

And petition God for their needs.

We’ll all need it someday, and someone will return the favor. Maybe someone you don’t even know.