Tag Archives: faith

Why We Need a Home Church

A Vacation Bible School lesson this past week has left me pondering the life and example Apostle Paul set before us in the scripture. What a story of conversion. The very villain of the day becomes a hero of the Christian faith. I love superhero stories! But Paul didn’t see himself as a superhero. Perhaps he did prior to Salvation when he was persecuting the Christians. But once he discovered the Person of Jesus Christ there was no superhero complex, only humble servitude. The very zeal that Paul used in his persecution of the saints of God, he turned around to use in the leading to salvation of those same people. Paul was placed before us as an example of church leadership and service. But there are very few Christians who follow Paul’s style of serving the Lord. He was bold, brutally honest yet humbly compassionate, he was real and he was committed unto death. Most Christians of the day are not even committed unto life. Paul fought for the integrity of the church. He disputed false doctrine and he encouraged the fellowship of believers as He was taught by Christ.

So where is it in this modern society that people have concluded that Christ is okay with people not finding it necessary to worship as a body of believers? As my friend Chief said in a sermon last week “Nowhere in the bible do we see that Christ sanctioned a renegade Christian.” Throughout the New Testament the believers were worshiping together and risking their lives to do so. I’m sure it would have been safer for them to just stay home. So why didn’t they? I’m pretty sure I can answer that from my own experience.

I’m Eternally Grateful for Christ and His Church

Basically since birth I’ve been in church, but not until 1996 was I “in the church” as a bona fide member of the body of Christ when I accepted Him as Savior. Until that point I had just been a church member with a vote. Which is far from the same. But suddenly I found myself in a spiritual family who took that role serious as they discipled me in faith, prayed for my struggles, counseled me in life and encouraged my soul every day. That’s what a church does, or should do. For that I’m eternally grateful that Christ placed me where He did. I need teaching and preaching and will until I enter Heaven’s gate because God’s wisdom is of a depth I’ll never obtain, but I long to explore. I cannot get that at the house.

Yes, there are television evangelist, and I do listen to more than a few of them throughout the week. But there’s not a one that I could call and say, “Hey preacher, I need your help,” and I’d get an answer.

I’m Evangelistically Gifted for Christ and His Church

And so are you! I have the gift of gab, song, music, teaching and art; all of which I use for the Kingdom. I use it both in and outside the church, so I will agree that you do not have to have a church affiliation to do so. But do people who have those gifts and are not involved in church use them to evangelize? Maybe a few, but very few. My gifts are an extension of Victory Baptist Church. I always make sure people know when I minister that I attend a home church and value that body for support. I minister to people who are not able to attend any church and would love to be able to. But because of health reasons they can’t make it. Our church sends and encourages missionaries both local and distant. That’s what the bible teaches.

I’m Eagerly Guided for Christ and His Church

I want to know the direction God has for me, but I would be just as eagerly guided for the world if I didn’t have the constant presence of brothers and sisters in Christ and a church that preaches God’s word to me multiple times a week. When I hear someone say that they can worship God alone, in their own place and without the church, I always wonder “but do you?”  Perhaps they’re more disciplined than I. That wouldn’t take much. But my experience with the church keeps me going every day.

  • They prayed me through countless heartaches, including my heart attack and open heart surgery.
  • They encourage my soul with their genuine love.
  • They support my ministry.
  • They bring joy to my soul when they allow me to minister to them.
  • They are real people, just a phone call away.
  • They are biblically sound people I can trust.
  • They’re more…

I need church. I think everyone needs a church.

Hebrews 10:25 says

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

It says that for a reason. We need it,


This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

On the Other Side

Proverbs 4:23

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

I cannot tell you when the heart issues began in my physical body, only that they had begun months before. I was having arm pain pretty frequently, but I would shush it as if to tell God, “I ain’t got no time for that Lord.” So on the busiest Sunday in a long time, of the busiest week in forever, in my most favorite place and haven of rest, I had a massive heart attack at about 9:40 a.m. Sunday, May 20th, 2018. I stole away to my class room at Victory Baptist Church, out of the eyes of the congregation and waited for the pain to subside. Yeah… I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. It did, and so I continued doing what Shari does. “Church stuff.”

I left church and a little later went to my granddaughter Paityn’s dance recital. Another “episode” and I walked out of the auditorium and away from people to let God know, I had too many things to do and the pain subsided.

Monday: another of my favorite ministries is the Long Term Care at Minnie Hamilton Health Care where I play and minister for an hour each Monday at 2:00 p.m. Once that was under my belt I had but to finish preparing for the departure of an African missionary that had been staying in our home, and the in the process of running an errand for that, the third and final, “Okay God, you win.” I pulled into the fire station where my husband is chief and said, I need to get to the hospital. And immediately everything was out of my control and there was no more shushing God. I was informed I had had a heart attack.

So what was my reaction? Typical Shari. “Hmmm. Now what? I’ve really messed up this time God. Are you going to fix it?

Things began rolling so fast: a friend staffed ambulance trip to Camden Clark in Parkersburg. A heart cath that showed a 95% blockage was over with before I even knew it. Literally I asked the doctor when he was going to start. I’d been joking and talking about music and Jesus with the staff and missed my own heart cath. I was assigned to a heart doctor that I was ready and willing without apprehension to trust for my heart surgery. But then, he fears I have a blood disorder and refuses to do the surgery in that facility. So to WVU in Morgantown I go. Another ambulance ride, constant chest pain and I’m as cool as a cucumber in the garden after the rain.

I had a 95% blockage in two arteries, one being the main. And so a team of the best heart doctors in our state commence to figure a plan for the surgery. They’re worried about the blood issue. I know it’s covered by the blood and so I lay there in waiting for a new start on life and all the while asking God, “Am I gonna come through this?” I kept hearing again and again, “You’re fine, you’re going to the other side.” So there I continue to lay for 3 days waiting for the boat. God had calmed the sea, but Jesus had hired drivers for this trip in the form of WVU medicine.

The boat arrived Friday, May 22nd and my double bypass surgery was scheduled for 6:30 a.m. My husband David, Pastor Steven, and salvation long friend Ed Eisley met with me before surgery where we prayed, laughed about life and off to surgery I went. I know… I’m a nut.

I was wheeled into a very sterile operating theatre where the show was about to begin and I was the star. I was very aware and oddly so that I had no fear. Two of the medical staff were from my mom’s home county, and as I joked and talked about like acquaintances we knew, the next thing I know my husband is saying “Shari it’s done. You’re good.”

My healing in the next few days was every bit as insanely miraculous. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pain free, but it was tolerable and passed quickly. And here I sit, on a Sunday morning at 4 a.m. two weeks from the day of my heart attack, preparing my mind for church and wondering how the game plan has changed for me in the scope of my service.

Fggam.org founder, Dewey Moede asked me a few days after the surgery “What’s the biggest lesson I learned through the heart attack?” At that time my mind wasn’t in a place to answer. The brain fog of drugs and anesthesia had my mind a jumbled mess, and I’m still not so sure my lesson is over. This has certainly sidelined me in a few ways. But what I am very aware of is the fact that God is faithful. I am not.

I am not some super saint with the ability to step out in faith every time and never ever question God. I did not maintain that Spirit of fearlessness in surgery by my own accord. God’s divine mercy saw fit to use me for six days for His glory and without human reasoning. Hundreds if not thousands of saints of God lifted my name to the Lord and I knew it because every prayer could be physically felt. God placed the best medical facility and staff in my path for six days. I left the hospital in record time and returned home to family who were frustrated that they didn’t need to take care of me as much as they’d planned.  If you played any part in my “episode,” I am so eternally thankful.

So for the lesson? I’m sure there are many, many to come. But the one in my mind right now is that God needed me to understand that my life was not my own and it would be used as a vessel for His glory and goodness, even when I tried to shush Him or do things my way. I pray you learn that lesson by my errors rather than your own. I look at the heart bypass as hopefully a bypass around the world’s approach to faith. You can give your heart to Jesus and be an honest to goodness child of God, but until you go around the worldly view of Christianity, which is so wrong, and give full control to the Spirit of God, you’re missing out on Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Children of God we are set apart and created with purpose. We do not belong to this world. When that boat of surgeons arrived to take me to the other side, I was ready. It’s not to say the world didn’t try to tell me the storms would overtake me, but I knew the maker of the storm! I will not allow Satan to take credit for any part of what I went through. I brought it on myself through disobedience and ignorance, case closed. God was glorified because as my friend John Powell used to say, “God takes care of stupid people.” Especially those with a desire to serve Him and be used by Him.

Here I am Lord, use me!

Secret Service Christianity?

2 CORINTHIANS 4:3

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

Is there such a thing as Secret Service Christianity? To some degree I would say yes when referring to countries where persecution with death as an evidenced possibility. But in America? No, not yet. And it’s gotten to the point of “not yet” because too many Christians have bought the lie that we should keep silenced unless spoken to about our faith. Very, very few times have people approached me and said “Hey, you look like a Christian, can you answer a few questions for me?” It has happened in simsilar fashion but it is almost as rare as a dodo bird.

What concerns me is the lack of desire and knowledge about sharing faith in the Christian realm and the “offense” taken when key Christian words are used in their presence. When I met my previous pastor twenty years ago or so, he came into my office in Magistrate Court and began talking to me about my faith. It made me very uncomfortable. Not because of what he said, but what I feared he might ask that would give evidence to the fact that I knew virtually nothing about the Bible. So when he ask me if I was excited about being a Christian, and if I ever shouted!? I informed him that my church was a on the “reserved side,” and no we didn’t shout. To which he replied “Maybe you should!”

Thats still one of my favorite stories! I couldn’t stand that man until he showed me who Jesus really was, and then I loved him for the 21 years he was my Pastor. Something about salvation changed my attitude. So it’s why I get scared when someone is offended by the word of God and consider themselves to be secret service agents for the Kingdom.

And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Can you be a secret Christian? Pehaps I’ve generalized it too much. When people are ask if they’re a Christian, most Christians will gladly answer yes, and usually it leads to an open and welcomed conversation. Many of those people just are not comfortable starting the conversation. I get that. It’s hard. But if you get on fire and begin to experience the power of God in your life, you’ll want to be very vocal about what’s happening. But it has to come from within and it has be to backed up with the action of reading and studying the word of God as well as making church attendance a priority at every opportunity. That means Sunday School, Worship, Sunday Evening, Wednesday Night and any special service in between. You cannot keep a fire lit by striking a match on Sunday morning. It will go out before the day is done. Life gets busy, I get it and I believe God gets it. But if it is so busy that you are too busy for God, you can’t be all He has purposed for you to be.
Complacent Christians are the best tools in Satan’s tool box.
If you find yourself offended by questions of faith, or without a desire to know more of God and His people. I’d check my salvation. Hell is too close to take it lightly.

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

The Difference Between Flatland and Mountaintop Faith

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

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

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

Hebrews 11:1-2

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

A Good Report

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

A Good Testimony

Hebrews 11:3-5

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

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

A Good Reward

Hebrews 11:6

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

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

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

Get excited! Our future is amazing!

———————————————————————————————————

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

 

The risk of dying before you’re dead

Perhaps it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to the privilege of traveling to multiple churches where I’ve seen both the dead and alive, and those in between. The live revive and the dead remind that I am just a rock’s throw away from being among’em as I witness those in between.
It doesn’t seem like much, but an “Amen!” goes a 4long way to a dry and dusty soul, and no doubt for the preacher in need of encouragement.

So, the question is, “How do you know you’re dying?”

Hebrews 4:1-2 – Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left of us entering into rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto u was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

No fear

Possibly the first sign of spiritually dying is that you’re not concerned that it’s possible. I fear it. I’ve seen enough lifeless churches to last me a life time. Revelation 3:15 warns the people of God when He says, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
I see the warning signs in the lives of others that make me fearfully aware.

• Church is a service on Sunday morning only. They’ve forgotten that they “are” the church.
• Church attendance is optional if something “better” comes along.
• Amen is said at the end of a prayer, or when prompted; seldom if ever spontaneously and obediently brought on by the Spirit of God.
• The altar is for fanatics, or those who “need” it.
• Bible study is on Wednesday only, and the preacher is the only one who needs to study so he can say what needs to be known.

If you’re on the list, be fearful, because you’re possibly dead.

No faith

James 2:17 – “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
Faith in God is the premise for Salvation. Believing that faith in Christ alone, without works is the only thing necessary for salvation. But getting saved isn’t the finish work of the child of God. There needs to be evidence that that faith is alive and well! Else, as James said. It’s dead.
Dr. Myron Guiler preached last night at Gospel Light Baptist Church in Wallkertown, NC. Dr. Guiler is well into his 80’s. He’s been near death multiple times in his life, and yet he continues on. He continues on not because he’s a preacher and pastor, but because God’s not done with him yet. He was visibly tired last night, as he’s preached every night this week and traveled many miles between churches. His message was pure, simple and yet so profoundly un-evidentiary in the lives of so many.

• To lead a soul to Christ you must know people need saved and know how to lead them to salvation, you must have compassion for the lost, and you must get involved in their life.
If those are not qualities in your walk with Christ, you are dead.

No fire

For me, this is possibly the most telling of all. I get that people can’t be on the mountain top every day of their lives. Things happen, discouragement abounds. But if I’ve met you on more than one occasion the evidence of salvation should be in your life and you should have omitted a few sparks for Jesus.

As I write this morning in the lobby of the hotel, the hotel desk clerk has questions of about who I am. I tell him about my blog and he checks it out. He comes back excited… he’s on fire. He’s funny. He makes me laugh and our souls connect in Christ. He’s not a Baptist. I’m not a Pentecostal. It’s cool. We serve the same Jesus.

If the very fact that I said I was cool with a Pentecostal gave you more concern than excitement about the fact that we were talking about Jesus in the lobby of a hotel. You might be dead.
Check your blood pressure. Because it’s only about the blood. Not about the denomination.

———————————————————————————————————

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

Even the Easter Bunny Knows

I have no qualms with the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus or any other fictitious character that has been created to give children happy childhood memories. It did not warp me, nor my children that we were told the Easter Bunny was watching in order to make us behave better, even if it were only for a few days. We gradually and gracefully grew into the wisdom that those characters weren’t real and there was no traumatization. My oldest grandbabies have figured it out too, but continue the charade for their younger siblings, even though any other time they’d love to squash their little dreams.  What baffles me is that the “logical” thinking world has yet to figure out what critters and new creatures in Christ have long since known.

Creation is by the Creator

Of all the things (and there are many) that point me to God as Creator, its critters. My chickens for example. I have plain ol’ ordinary chickens and then I have the “fluffies.” They’re actually called Silkies, and they’re the youngest of our brood. They recently just started laying eggs, and although there are no roosters in the vicinity it still doesn’t stop them from treating their eggs like there’s something other than breakfast inside. I have to fight her off to get the eggs. And she’s not happy about it.

I had been collecting several of their tiny eggs each day, but a few days went by and there were no eggs in the box. It had gotten a little colder and chickens tend to lay fewer eggs during those times, but I really would have thought that out of my four specialty chickens, somebody would have laid an egg. On the third day I went to move their water bin and discovered that everybody’s eggs from the previous three days were hidden behind it. I cracked up! That overprotective hen had pulled a good one on me.

How could that not be intelligent design? How on earth could an explosion create love?  I need to ask no other question for myself to believe in the Creator. Although there are the occasional critters who don’t have the instinct of parenting, (including humans) most understand their responsibility and the exact methods of taking care of their young. Birds know how to nest, and chickens know how to sit and all know how to protect.

Romans 1:20

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Regardless of whether or not someone professes that God is God, and Jesus is Lord, and the Holy Spirit dwells within the saved and convicts the lost, doesn’t change the fact that it’s truth. Creation attests to the Creator.

Long before I knew the truth as the truth, God was working in my heart and mind to understand Who He is and who I was. I recently wrote another song titled “Salvation’s Song” and one of the verses speaks of the how I knew I wasn’t saved, and how I knew when I was. Before I was saved… no peace. After I was saved…. PEACE. Only God can make an internal difference. We are created with sin coursing through us. That explains the world. But when God’s presence comes within through the Holy Spirit, Glory to God there is peace on earth. Not outside… but in.

Yes, even the Easter Bunny knows God. Do you?

There’s a link at the top of this page titled “the Road to Salvation.” If you don’t know or are unsure of your salvation, and that if you died today you don’t know if you’d be in Heaven or Hell. CLICK THE LINK. And let me know so I can pray for you.

__________________________________________________________

Comments and Contributions are always welcome

This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complain… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

 

Four Reasons to Stay on the Wall

In the book of Nehemiah, a mighty religious leader of the day received word of the remnant of the Jewish people that are left in Jerusalem. Their wall of protection is destroyed, the gates have been burned and Nehemiah sits down, weeps, fasts, prays, and then then begins his conversation with God.

Before we take our stand atop our wall there is a few preparatory measures we need to take. First talk to God, make sure it’s your wall to stand on and fight. I cannot tell you of the times I have climbed to the top of a wall that was built on someone else’s ideas instead of God’s. Second, take accountability for the brokenness if it’s yours. And third remember, you are one of the Redeemed! That in a nutshell is Nehemiah Chapter One regarding the state of Israel and Nehemiah’s prayer to God. If it’s your wall, don’t come down.

God is the God of Action. Unless it’s for a time of prayer or preaching, nowhere in scripture do you find God’s people sitting still and being productive. If they’re sitting still (like King David) they’re apt to fall into sin. Busyness isn’t always a sign of productiveness, but it’s certainly a better sign than never being found doing anything.

I cannot summarize the story of Nehemiah and the wall into a few sentences. So much happened and the entire book is so worthy to read. But for bit of encouragement for the both of us I’ll use this scripture from the book to encourage you to stay on the wall.

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry: for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Israel had just heard the word of God afresh. They were mourning for the state of their nation. But Nehemiah gives them (and us) these words of encouragement.

We have a Reason to Celebrate

If God’s people can’t rejoice, who can? The wall was rebuilt in spite of the opposition they faced. And for those of us on this side of the New Testament, we are blessed with the Word of God that has stood the test of time and has proven itself as truth no matter how many times an angry world has tried to tear it down. We can eat the fat and drink the sweet of His glorious word and feel the Spirit in our soul as we do. The world may not know… but we do. That is reason to celebrate! Stay on the Wall and Celebrate what God completed at the empty tomb.

We have blessings to share

Nehemiah reminded them that their blessings were not their own to keep. Neither are ours. I looked around my home this morning at all the goodness of God and His graciousness to me who is so unworthy and I feel shame that I don’t share more than I do. I feel shame that I don’t take the time to thank God and stay in constant prayer that His mercy abounds in my family and friends. You too no doubt have blessings uncounted and gifts in your life that you could encourage someone with today. Stay on the wall and share God’s goodness that world may see what He’s done in your life, and that even the unsaved will glorify God for you.

We serve The Lord Most High

I loved when Nehemiah said “Don’t be sorry.” I believe he was telling the Israelites to move past regret. I am so apt to stay in an attitude of unworthiness because of my failures. I do it to the point of yet another failure; because God has proven I am worthy by His death on the cross. Was not that enough? We serve a risen Savior who took every sin; past, present and future upon His shoulders at the cross so that we could live in victory! We serve the Lord Most High, there is no reason to be low. Stay on the wall and serve in the victory you’re afforded and don’t cower to the demons of Hell that tell you you’re not worthy. You are worthy by His blood.

We have His Strength to Go On

That strength is found in His joy and His joy is found in our service. There is engrained in the child of God a desire to serve. When that desire is fulfilled it brings with it a joy unspeakable and that joy floods the body and soul with strength to go on. Yes, we’ll have some days of doubt, we’re human. But we can look back on the joys of serving God and the fruits of our labor, just like Nehemiah and children of Israel must have looked back on the rebuilt wall. Look what you’ve done in the strength of the Lord! Can He not do more? And will you not continue to stand and fight for those who have yet to make it to where you are in Christ?

I have family and friends who have never experienced life atop the wall. They’ve never known the victory of Spirit filled leaving and confidence in Christ. I’m not done until God says I’m done. Stay on the wall and continue in His strength that others may experience it too.

The wall of Jerusalem was nothing more than bricks and mortar. The Rock for which we stand is indestructible. Stand Strong in His Might!

How Crazy is it?

The closer I get to Easter, the more my mind reflects on the cross. And the more I reflect on what God did that day the more I have to say that it’s got to be a crazy love that would be willing to do what Jesus did that day. When I look at the world we live in I think to myself “Why on earth would you have saved this wicked and rebellious generation?” For which I am one. I know my heart and how I can turn on a dime toward something sinful and ignore the Holy Spirit within in me that gives me more than enough support not to fall into it. And yet I do. And yet He still loves me. That’s crazy! But what’s crazier than His love is those who fail to accept it.

The Love of Jesus is Without Condemnation

While sin is not ever acceptable it is no less inevitable. 1 John 1:8 says If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” There is a difference between condemnation and conviction. Jesus will not condemn the child of God for the sins they’ve committed. That crazy day on the cross He died to cover every sin ever committed by His children. Is not that a worthy payment? Of course it is. Does that mean we can sin and not understand there should have been a penalty and yet may still be repercussions? Of course not.

If a store is robbed there is an earthly expectation of the penalty that freedom should be lost. If I hurt a friend without regard for them or our friendship I may lose that friend. But when I sin, regardless of the depth of the sin the penalty is paid in the eyes of God, and the relationship is restored the very second I turn to Him. That’s crazy love, but it’s how He works.

Sin is without condemnation but it is not without conviction. The Holy Spirit reveals to the child of God when sin is in the house, we know better. We may still fail but He has given us the power within us not to. If we fall into sin it is our choice.

The Love of Jesus Cannot be without Declaration

Matthew 10:33

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Professing Christ is more than just saying that you know Him. Satan knows Him. The demons of Hell know Him, but they are not children of God. I knew Him in my head from the time I was a child until 1996. But not until I declared Him as Lord of my life and trusted in Him to save me did I know Him in my heart. It was then that I truly felt the Holy Spirit guiding me and putting that conviction upon me when I wasn’t going in the right direction. It was also when I began to declare my love for Him. Even when the world thought I was crazy.

My friend Doyle Ballengee said it best when he said “Go ahead and call me a fanatic, when you or someone you love gets a bad doctor’s report, you’ll be looking for a fanatic.”

That’s how I feel about my declaration of love for Jesus. Go ahead and say I’m crazy when all I want to do is talk about my Lord and all that He’s done in my life. Because when your life gets turned upside down but this old world, someone as crazy as me can help you set it up aright by showing you how Jesus did that for me.

I know it sounds crazy to the world when I say that Jesus died for me. Because the world wouldn’t give you the time of day if it cost them anything of any magnitude. But Jesus will give you more than you could ever imagine in return for your declaration, acknowledgement of Who He is. God.

The Love of Jesus is Not without Expectation

I can hear the naysayers now, “Oh, there it is. I knew you had to do something.” No, you can sit on your toosh and do absolutely nothing and still make it to Heaven. Jesus paid the price once and for all at the cross. All who accept, believe and declare Him as Lord, that He died on the cross, rose again the third day, and ascended to Heaven to make intercession for you will be saved. But if you want to be all you can be for Christ, and have the reward of His glory, on earth and in Heaven, there is an expectation.

I sat at a table with three friends this past Wednesday, each with their own story of coming to the knowledge of Christ in their lives; four very different people with one common bond…Christ.

  • One came to Christ because she grew tired of being with people, and yet alone.
  • One came to Christ because the religion she had grown up with let her down when she needed it most.
  • One came to Christ when He realized the law wouldn’t save anyone.
  • And this one, me, came to Christ when I realized there was no peace in this world without the Prince of Peace. And “religion” wasn’t the same as a “relationship.”

Each one of us now serve Christ and desire to serve Him greater because He did that crazy thing on the cross.

How crazy was it? He was beat until His body was unrecognizable and said to have looked like hamburger, He was spit upon, and ridiculed, at the height of His pain had a crown of thorns rammed on His head and was mocked as King of the Jews. His earthly mother sat at His feet with her friends and wept for the Son God had allowed her to give birth to. Some of His final words were “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 in part) That’s crazy because it’s true.

He did that for you. Have you experienced His love? Declare it and share it! He is worthy.

Why Prayers Sometimes Go Unanswered

Matthew 17:14-20

A State of Despair

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

The father had no doubt tried everything in the world to get his son the help that he needed, and to no avail. He at last tried the disciples who he had no doubt heard had performed many miracles in the name of Jesus Christ. He came in humility, kneeling down in prayer.

A lesson to those who desire a prayer answered, there needs to be a humility factor at the altar when we’re desiring the grace of God in any situation.

A State of Disbelief and Discouragement

17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Jesus spoke to those who doubted Who He was. Perhaps even the father who desired his son cured, doubted that it would happen. He brought him to Jesus as a last resort. Just as we do our prayers and desires. Or perhaps I speak for myself. I always attempt every man made effort to get a task done. I may half-heartedly bring it to Jesus requesting Him to help me get it done, believing that it is “I” who make the difference.

A State of Deliverance

18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

It is never we who make the difference, but Christ through us. There’s a method to the mustard seed. It must be at first dead, then planted in the ground, fertilized and allowed to grow. Salvation is immediate. Spiritual growth takes time.

The child was cured that very hour. I have to wonder if “that very hour” wasn’t another 60 minute waiting period for the believers. It doesn’t say that his lunacy immediately stopped, it took a few minutes. God desires our patience when working a matter out.

A State of Devotion

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Even the disciples weren’t above discouragement and doubt. This caused their inability to heal the child.  When Jesus said that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” He was telling them that their devotion was lacking. They were continuing on in the way that they had been doing it, by commanding the demons and illnesses to leave the body. But this wasn’t just an ordinary demonic force, and there are times that we will face great trials of faith that will not only require our belief but a method in the mustard seed illustration. Prayer and fasting show a deep devotion to our relationship with the Lord.  It allows Him to see our level of commitment to His cause, and it’s rewarded with our ability to move unimaginable mountains. It’s then that we experience

A State of Devine Intervention!

The Playground of the Christian Faith

I was born a child of a Baptist momma, and a non-denominational daddy.  We attended a Baptist Church when I was born, a non-denominational church as an elementary child, a Methodist church as a pre-teen through young adult and I finally settled in and was saved in an independent Baptist Church at the age of 34. Which now brings you up to date with my Spiritual walk, denominationally speaking. This has no doubt sculpted me into the eclectic believer that I am today. That being said…

I know what I believe and why I believe it. I am a student of the word of God. Not the best one I’m sure, and not by worlds standards of education. I’m certainly not one in comparison to many of the scholars of the past and several people that I’m familiar with today; but I also feel that that works in my favor too. It causes me to depend upon the true Educator of the day which is the Holy Spirit, He who “giveth to all men liberally” if we but ask. (James 1:5) And so I ask, especially in the matter of denominational belief and association.

I ask, because I’ve been taught to ask. Which is good. We should always be cautious with our affiliations to make sure that those who we commune with don’t put things in our minds that cause us to question scripture.

So I’m going to use scripture to prove my point about why a multi-denomination friendship is healthy. You’ll note I didn’t say multi-denomination church. That’s not healthy. That causes confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

So, how do we learn to play well together, when we have differences of the way in which our churches believe?

Every playground has rules:

Rule number 1: Started in the Old Testament with Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” and ended in the New Testament with the final work of the cross: John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Those who fellowship “in Christ” should all believe there is one way to Heaven, through Jesus Christ. Not of works, lest any man boast. Jesus, plus nothing.

Rule number 2: There are no other Rules.

But there is a word from God about the fellowship of believers from the book of Mark chapter 9.

There’s a reason I titled this message “The Play Ground of Faith”

God refers to us as His children. We never fully grow up in faith. There is always so much to learn. But we are sometimes

Afraid to Ask

30 And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it.

31 For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.

32 But they understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask him.

33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?

Scripture told us that God will give answers to all men who ask in James 1:5, and we say we believe that God is the God of love, but we, just like the disciples fail to question God because He is after all. GOD. I don’t for two seconds think that Jesus would have minded if the disciples had said, “we don’t understand.” And He doesn’t mind if we say that either. But they were

Afraid to Chance it

Over the years I’ve questioned why Victory Baptist Church believed what they believed. Until recent years we were told it wasn’t wise to fraternize with other denominations because they believed different than we did. It wasn’t done with hate, but what leadership considered to be a protective mode.

One of the differences for our church is many other churches don’t use the King James version Bible. Our church does. But that’s not a part of this conversation. If I go to a  fellowship at another church and they read scripture from another version, I’m going to read it in my KJV. Case closed and no problem. I’m a visitor and happy to be there.

The Disciples didn’t ask God the question as to why He said He was going to die and be risen again, because they not only didn’t understand, but they also had their minds elsewhere; on leadership. Who’s going to be the boss?

34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Isn’t that often the case on the playgrounds of the school? One child is very dominating over who plays with who and what. Is church any different? So multi-denomination fellowships leads us to ask, who’s in charge?

Easy answer, Jesus is in charge, everyone serves. A hosting church plans the event, other churches attend, and hopefully they’ve allowed the Holy Spirit to be in complete control.

Afraid of the New Click

We should never be afraid to ask God anything, what parent doesn’t love it when their children come to them for advice?

36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,

37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

We come together as children of God. We receive each other and in so doing we’re behaving as Christ did.

Have you ever been the new kid in school? Nobody knew you, you didn’t know the rules or if they would like you. That’s almost how it is in church fellowships with different denominations. We each have our own click, and accepting new people into the click is sometimes hard.

God said if they were His children, we were to receive them. They can play too.

I have 6 grandchildren, my sister Shelia has 9, my brother Leonard has 8, and my sister Sarah has 3, but they live far away. Every other Sunday we gather at my 82 year old Mother’s house with our kids and grandkids; three tribes, up to 23 kids but usually more around 15. That is still a bunch! And they all range from 1 to 10. Lots of noise and lots of arguments about whose playing with who and what. Just like church folks.

What version of the Bible do you use? What kind of music do you listen to? What kind of clothes do you wear? “Christian clicks.” And not things that we should bring into a multi-church fellowship where it’s God’s playground where Christians are coming together to celebrate Him. Not to discuss their differences. Come together to encourage one another in the name of Jesus. No clicks.

Afraid to Change

That’s a big one. Few people like change. I happen to be one who loves it and embraces it. It’s my personality. But one thing I won’t change on is the doctrine of Victory Baptist Church. And you shouldn’t change on the doctrine of your church either, if that’s what you believe. And no one that comes into fellowship with you should come with that agenda. But fraternizing with other churches incites fear because they serve Jesus differently. The disciples were the same:

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

40 For he that is not against us is on our part.

He didn’t say don’t have anything to do with them. He said “forbid him not.” And that if he’s not against us, he’s for us. If you’re in fellowship with a church that uses the Word of God, and celebrates Jesus as the way, truth and life, don’t stress your differences. Celebrate your likenesses. When we all get to Heaven, there’s only going to be one playground. We might as well get used to it!