Tag Archives: Heart

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!

Myself ~ My Service ~ His Sake

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Every day is a struggle for me spiritually. The closer I try to get to God, the harder the battle, and quite often the more I fail. Add to that mix a servant’s heart, a selfish heart and the Savior’s heart, and I’m a mass of confusion.

The Servants Heart

I don’t know if everyone is born with a servant’s heart and many suppress it, or if there’s just some of us who have been called and are painfully aware of that calling. But I can’t not serve. Sometimes to the point of pondering why. I don’t want to sound whiny, needy or ungrateful for people who depend on me, because I am, but there are days when I have to wonder how much stubble and hay I have loaded on my wagon for Heaven? My servants heart has always been worn on my sleeve, and easily accessible by some folks that I’m not so sure would return the favor, or even genuinely appreciate what I’ve done. I hesitated today to even write this post for fear of those I love to serve feeling they’ve over taxed by heart. Which is not true. Or that my children wouldn’t always feel welcome to ask my help. There are responsibilities that are for certain eternally valued from the stand point that God is a family man… He understands their needs and I want to as well. God was a friend who supplied the needs of the people, not only Salvation. And I want to too. But then there are times that I feel so overwhelmed, and my ability to say no is defined as “no, I wouldn’t mind doing that for you,” but my heart screams, “I don’t have time for this!” And so this morning I talked to Jesus for a little while about it. And His words as always were salve to my hurting soul.

You are too valuable to be squandered in the world. Everyone seeks their own gain, it’s human nature. But when you begin to seek mine and mine alone… it is then that you’ll realize your potential. I don’t’ need hours to accomplish my Word in you, I just need focus. Take it off the world today, put it on me.

Isn’t that the most amazing a heart can hear from God?

The Selfish Heart

The world around me isn’t the only one vying for time. Oh … my … stars. I’m the worst. I long to be a better servant and yet I’ll squander away valuable time on wasted breathing. Somedays I’ll just collapse and rather than focusing on encouraging myself spiritually I’ll turn on the world. Youtube. Television. Social Media. Games. You name it and I can be an addict! And pour time down the drain with nothing to show for it. It’s not even hay and stubble. It’s rubbish.

The Savior’s Heart

The Savior’s heart is what I long to have, and yet in my many weaknesses and distractions I lose focus. There’s that word again. Focus. It’s in most every conversation with the Lord… “Focus Shari. Just Focus on Me.” And deed I try. And deed I fail.

And so it is with Human nature.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

I love what Paul tells the church of Corinth. If we preach, it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. And if serve, it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus. Wow! What an amazing vantage point to launch a day with.

Regardless of what I speak… is it what Jesus would say? Would He speak on the subject for which I speak, would He broach the subject or would He change it completely? Do my words sound like something Jesus would say, or something Shari would say? Do they speak peace or do they stir strife?

If I’m serving someone, is it something Jesus would do? Or would He tell me I’m casting my pearls before swine.

Paul’s wisdom came from experience, and I can well heed it.

When he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:16-18 he wrote this:

16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

My take on Paul’s advice:

  • Men will forsake you… Let God deal with them.
  • The Lord will never forsake you… stay with Him.
  • Evil’s out there… Get Satan’s goat. Let God find glory in it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever learn how to say no. But I pray that as I grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, I’ll seek His gain, for His glory so that I can live up to my potential for His sake.

Myself ~ Your Servant – Jesus Sake

Questions to ponder…

The Servant’s Heart

I long to serve…

The Selfish Heart

I feel that I am serving my selfishness when I…

The Savior’s Heart

When I ask Jesus where He desires me to be serving I hear…

Don’t Wear Someone Else’s Armor

armor

He was the runt of the litter, his brother said he was an arrogant, bad hearted, rubber necker and the enemy said he was as threatening as a stick. That’s the “Shari version” of I Samuel 17 as David is about to face off with Goliath. How on earth did he get there? Nobody had any faith in him, his Dad gave him the worst job on the farm and used him as an errand boy to find out what the real soldier boys were doing. I love any story of David, but the history of his battle with Goliath is no doubt in my top three favorite reads. By all accounts of his peers, he shouldn’t have been there. The sum of who David was is written in the words of Abner in verse 55:

And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.

O king, I cannot tell… Abner had no clue who David was. But God did. The day that Samuel anointed David to be King in Saul’s stead, obviously his brothers took no note of it. Does that not strike you odd? It did me. If someone had come to my house and said one of my siblings was going to be President one day, I think I’d take note of that day. Abner wasn’t there when Samuel anointed David, so he’s excused of his ignorance, but not his brothers, they should have known there was something special about David. David was the forgotten anointed, the waylaid leader, the king in coming and nobody too note… except God!

Scripture is clear that God does not look on the outside but on the heart of man. That scripture too was from the anointing of David. Samuel looked at David’s rugged big brothers and thought surely they were king material. But king material is more looks, its being in touch with those you serve. David shows up on the battle field and hears Goliath mouthing his country and his blood boils!

That’s how I feel about America. That’s how I feel about my church. That’s how I feel about my family and friends. I take it very personal when someone is attacking my people. It’s even worse, when it is my people who are on the attack.

Goliath wasn’t one of David’s people. He was flat out the enemy. His disdain for Israel was to be expected. But David’s brothers… They may not have been mouthing Israel but they weren’t defending her either and they were mouthing their brother who was defending Israel. Unbeknownst to the brethren their little annoying brother had a King sized heart that got him noticed by the King of kings.

God’s not looking for a king but He’s still in the business of noticing hearts.

I have days, multiple lately, when I think my work is in vain. I feel like I have shown up on the battle field of life and one of my people called me an arrogant, bad hearted, rubber necker because I was on their playing field. (For the record, nobody has) that’s just how I feel. I talk a lot… and I’ve been known to say “Is there not a cause,” and be frustrated when nobody was taking off Goliath’s head.

And this morning I heard through God’s word… “I see you. Yes, you annoy the brethren. But I know your heart and I know that you want to help. But you need to spend more time defending the fold before you face the giant.”

I don’t know exactly what that means. But I know in my heart that there was a day when God anointed me to do what I do, and some took note, and some didn’t. I have a King sized heart because the King gave it to me. I can’t shut it off like a water faucet, it flows freely. Unfortunately so does my mouth.  All I know right now is, I have some rocks in my pocket but I need to be careful about where I’m throwing them.

My lesson today was this:

  • God knows my heart and sees my frustration, the people need to see the victory, not the complaint.
  • When I throw stones, I need to make sure it’s at the enemy and aim well.
  • Don’t wear someone else’s armor. God created me just the way I am. Vocal.

From Wreck to Rest

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Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I have often heard and occasionally said the statement, “God knows my heart.” Those words usually come at a time in a person’s life when their purpose or intention is brought into question. And as a rebuttal to the doubt of another soul they will say “God knows my heart.” And I can almost hear out of Heaven, “Yes, yes I do.”

When I truly take those words to account it weakens my knees a tad bit if I dwell on the knowledge that God knows me inside and out; dividing asunder (meaning into parts) of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It’s why my knees weaken, because when the Word of God convicts the soul and the spirit speaks to the heart, and the body reacts in kind. I told my teens Sunday that the Bible is a spiritual wash cloth, it will clean you up! But perhaps I should have also said that it was a sword to dissect your day and your ways. The word of God is amazing how it can expose what we’d rather stay covered.

I hate dealing with life. Many, many days drain me. So when I write, as I did a day or so ago on fleeing from God, I’m not blowin’ smoke. If I could get into my car and drive somewhere that God would not be, I would likely try. But that is not possible. And so I trudge on through life and daily get into His word and ask God for mercy on my soul to bring me through a dark time.

Sound dramatic? I have a feeling that the air over my head is dramatic and that there are angels battling the demonic forces of the night to keep my mind focused on the word of God. Else I’d be in the car. The spiritual world is as real as the chair I’m sitting in and this morning I can feel it. But I can also feel the Word of God slicing through the discouragement and fears in my heart to expose the tender part to words that need to be soaked in and rested in. Word like the preceding 3 verses in Hebrews 4: 9-11

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Working for rest? Sounds pretty oxymoronic. But getting to the point of resting in God is most definitely work. I’ve had to unpack Hebrews 4 and repack it a time or two this morning to find my rest. I had to wrap my mind around the fact that I have to cease from my own works and rely on the works that was done on the cross by Jesus Christ. In verse 13 it says that 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Exposing yourself is laying everything on the table with God. He knows it anyway, but it’s putting it out there and saying “God, help me with this. I can’t do it.”

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

God does know my heart. It’s full of infirmities (deteriorated vitality, feeble, weak of mind, will or character is how Merriam Webster described it.) I’d describe it pretty much the same way. And God says “I get it. I understand because I’ve been there and have overcome. So bring it boldly not ashamedly. Lay it out before me and let’s work on it together so we can get you to a place of rest.”

I needed to hear that today. I need to remember that God knew how very messed up I was and He chose to call me into His service anyway. But the only way to get to place of rest in my life is to rest in Him.

Rededication – Getting back to God’s Plan

chick bethelIf I asked you this morning how your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is, what would be your answer? It’s not a comfortable question, because if we’re truthful, none of us are walking as close to the Lord as we should be. At the end of Wednesday night teen class last night all the teens had cleared out with the exception of a few girls who wanted to talk (such an honor!). One of those young ladies had made the decision to rededicate her life to Christ and her friend encouraged the way.   She wanted to put a marker down that she could look back at and say “This is the day I moved closer to Christ.” While the renewal of our mind should be an everyday occurance because of the garbage that travels through it in the course of a day, rededication is a more serious event. I think of it much like the time in Jacob’s life when he left home. In my mind’e eye I always picture him as a young man, but in truth he was past the age of retirement when he left his parents home heading toward Haran (Genesis 28:10). That puts a some what different perspective on his behavior and a certain need for a getting his heart right with God.

He’d lied to his father, deceived his brother, and his mommy made him run away at 70 years old… I think it was time. His first night on his own wasn’t in an apartment in the city it was on a hillside with a pile of rocks for his pillow and there he found himself with night dreams, visions and a lot of time on his hands. It’s those harsh nights that get me too. When your mind won’t stop reeling of the things in life that are not as they should be and darkness has a tendency to bring things to light… Like the need for a right heart with God.

Jacob’s dream: (Genesis 28:12-15)

And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.

For me that was the equivalency of arriving at church, and at the end of service saying, “Wow! I had no idea God hung out here.” I’m pretty sure there are some folks who still don’t know… but I digress. God had met Jacob there and he didn’t know until he awoke from his sleep. That’s the time of rededication! When you wake up and realize that God is trying to move in your life and you’ve been so far from God’s mindset that you had no idea. When He created us, He spoke a plan but then we get off track. As a child of God we all want it… you know… God to do something great in our lives, but we start going through religious motions. We can do it in our sleep. Don’t cuss, don’t chew, don’t date the guys who do (especially if you’re married), go to church, treat people right and so on and so forth. And then church becomes less of a priority, but we still treat people right! Jacob didn’t even do that. He likely felt as low as a snails belly! He knew he’d messed up.

God wanted to do great things in his life, but first Jacob was going to have to come to terms with God, on God’s terms.

Vs. 17-22

And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Jacob put that stone down as marker in Bethel (which means house of God) as a reminder that he and God and renewed their relationship in that place. Do you have to be in church? No, but it sure helps set the tone! My young friend had come to church last night with the need to lay a marker down. I can’t wait to see what God does with her life! She’s entering her first year in high school and was ecstatic that a church across the street from her high school was opened once a week by the senior class for a prayer lunch. A group of young people returning back to the place God began dwelling many years ago… What do you think might happen there? Revival!!!!! I hope.

Let’s all go to the Rock! Age doesn’t matter, but God needs us to get back to the plan.

Quick Wit and Slow Ears

quick wit slow ears

I do not know exactly how God placed the Holy Spirit within my heart,  I only know that one day I was feeling hopeless and alone and the next day I found myself sitting in a church that I didn’t want to be in, listening to a preacher I didn’t want to hear, and obeying a whisper from without that would soon be within. And almost 19 years later that whisper still resonates in my soul, bringing a joy that I never thought possible. If you too are saved then you “get” what I just said, if you are not saved (meaning you’ve never accepted what Jesus Christ did for you) then you think I’m a babbling idiot; and that’s okay. Read on either way!

John 6:63-64

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Funny thing about God, none of us fool Him.

Quick Wit

When the Holy Spirit quickeneth a soul, He brings to life that which was dead. That which we didn’t even realize was dead. Nobody threw a funeral, it was just born that way. As we grow up we begin knowing right from wrong and there are conscious decisions being made every day. Do I tell my parents that I broke it, or do I sweep it up and throw it in the trash, hoping they’re none the wiser? Do I study, or cheat?  Do I drive fast or like I’ve got some sense? Those are decisions made with the conscience, it knows what’s right. And so do we, but we have the will to choose what’s wrong. This for me is the part of the evolution theory that has me asking those who believe it “How can you be so smart, and yet be so dumb?” How can a “bang” create a conscience, love, passion, desire, etc. etc. etc.? A bang cannot. Only God can. We are born with quick wit. A toddler knows when Mommy and Daddy say no, they shouldn’t do it again… but they have to try.

The first Non-Profit

The flesh profiteth nothing, meaning it’s no better for having made a right decision; for tomorrow it might make a wrong one if it thinks that it’s more advantageous to do so. It gains nothing in Heaven by having made the right decision, although it may gain in the world because of it. We grow up thinking that the riches of this world are the prize, only to discover that rich or poor, heartache is the same and there is a missing piece of our heart that is never satisfied with the world.

The Life of the Party!

We’d like to live life in the party zone where everything is happy and care free but life happens. We have misfortune, we lose people we love, we’re angry, sad, broken and distraught a great many days, but there can be a party in your soul even in the midst of those times if you have the Holy Spirit within you.

John wrote “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”

Whether or not you believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, I believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now either from within your soul if you believe, or from without if you do not. I believe that because the Lord led me to this passage this morning and said write, and His work never goes unfinished.

In 1996 He spoke to my soul and said… “You need saved or you’re going to Hell.” This morning He speaks to my soul and says write, it’s time to share the party! Life is only complete with Jesus Christ. If you have Him, perhaps you’re like me and you’re not allowing Him to work in your life to His full potential. He has so much in store for us if we’d only spend more time listening and less time “doing.” He gave me quick wit… I have slow ears. What’s He’s telling you today?

What’s on your page?

blank page

Often time my writing begins before I’m out of bed in the morning. As soon as my eyes open thoughts begin to flood my mind, praise His Holy Name! when those thoughts are on His goodness, but other times, try as I might the world won’t seem to get out of the way; and when I do get up I’m staring at a blank page praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit. This morning I was not staring at a blank page, I was thinking about the blank page between the final Words in Malachi 4, verse 5-6 ~ Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. And the first Words in Matthew 1 ~ The book of the generation of Jesus Christ.

400 years separate those two pages. That’s a long time to look at a blank page and hear nothing from God. I panic if it’s just been a few days. But for generation after generation they sat in silence waiting, waiting, waiting… and then many of them missed it. He didn’t come as they thought He should, He came as He said He would. There’s a lesson in that for me this morning as I wait ~ I’m without excuse for direction. God’s presence is clearly felt in my life and I may choose to ignore it but I cannot say He is silent. Sometimes I think I mistake His silence for His patience with me. If I’d be still a little sooner, stop running day in and day out I’d hear, see, and experience the Lord in greater, deeper ways.

Christmas season goes by me in a whirrrrrrrr! I just about miss it every year as I run to and fro, from event to event, meetings, rehearsals, shopping, dinners, all in celebration of what I’m missing. My page is not blank, it’s not read. But thinking back on those 400 years of silence, I’m not sure how they survived. Yes, I get caught up in the mundaneness of the day, but because of His faithfulness I still hear Him. He speaks to be in snippets throughout the day, He is so patient with me.

So… what’s on our page today?

For me I hope it’s a little more focused on Christ.

As some of you have noticed my blogging has been sporadic this week… Too many irons in the fire. I can feel it spiritually as well. Time to get focused. Just 5 days until we celebrate the birth of Jesus and I want my heart ready! Maybe you could share with me how you’re preparing your heart this season… what has God written on your page today? Post it below!

Messed Up and Blessed Up… Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving morning. Wow, where did 2013 go? As I sit here this morning with my Jack Russell, Sam, curled up against my leg and a fire glowing across the room, I’m toasty warm and blessed with an abundance. I’m thankful for this platform that I’ve been given to share the gospel, encourage friends and make new friends along the way, (you can never have too many ya know). This morning I seem to be in an attitude of reflection and as usual Sam is not the only one on the couch. I hear him whisper, you’re an epic failure, so you’ve done some good… let me remind you of how you’ve failed. Ugh, does Satan never grow weary? I know I do. I’m almost ready to throw my hands up in defeat and walk away from the keyboard. What do I possibly have to say this morning…

Leviticus 7:15

And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.

Old Testament sacrifices were a temporary fix in more ways than one. Not only did there need to be another sacrifice another day, that sacrifice wasn’t going to last through the day. Igloo coolers weren’t in business nor was Frigidaire, so the sacrifice needed to be eaten right then. Tomorrow it wouldn’t be any good.

What about our peace offering for thanksgiving? Here’s a few Thanksgiving Thoughts:

  1. Whatever the circumstance around you, be at peace. I know, easier said than done right? Not if you determine that that is the ways it is. Satan can turn the entire day upside down but if your heart is right side up, looking up in gratitude and taking note of all you have, peace can abound.
  2. Be thankful today. It may be a family feud, a burnt turkey or spilled pumpkin pie kind of day, but be thankful. Be thankful the same day for what you have, for tomorrow it may be gone. Someone noted on Facebook this morning that there were some empty place settings at family tables. Don’t take the day for granted.
  3. Don’t leave it until morning. Don’t put off telling someone you love them, mending fences or sharing a treasured thought with a family friend. Sometimes it’s a sacrifice on your part to open your heart up in such a way, believe me when I say it won’t go unnoted or unblessed.
  4. Remember that though heartache and blessing alike are temporary, the sacrifice Christ made on the cross was forever.

I just about let Satan steal my gratitude today. Thank you who are reading that encouraged me to write on until I reached this place. What place?

Remembrance. That the ultimate sacrifice was made so that I could have that sweet peace 365 days a year, even though I’m so very “messed up,” I’m also very “Blessed up!” God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving. I pray it’s filled with love, laughter and safe travels.

A Suspended Blessing

A suspended coffee – a Facebook post which touched my heart with yet another desire for God to use me to bless others. The premise is to pay in advance for a coffee for someone who could use the help; they can order a suspended coffee free of charge should a restaurant allow it.  I long for the day that I’ll live daily with a “suspended coffee” frame of mind. Not just Holiday time which always brings it to mind, but 365 days a year, edifying through word and deed the body of Christ and the lost. As I read Romans 15 this morning I realized that Jesus had paid for a suspended cup of my own. My first thoughts in the morning gravitate to that splendid brew and aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen as I prepare my mind and heart to write this blog. I’m serious about coffee, and not the fru-fru k cup stuff. Just give me a plain ol’ cup of coffee with cream, no flavors other than that of a God created Arabica bean in a medium weight ceramic cup. Back to my free cup…

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:

My reproach fell on Him. Only Heaven knows what I’ve been saved from, what it was exactly that He paid for. I have no doubt that I’ll stand with jaw dropped silence when I discover what Christ shielded me from in this life. But here it is written in the scriptures for me this morning, to stumble upon that suspended cup of comfort and hope, the same cup that I’m to offer my neighbor who is weak.

  • A cup of encouraging words to warm a troubled heart…
  • A literal cup of coffee to warm someone who can’t afford it…
  • A coat to warm the body of a child in the cold…
  • A cup of compassion to someone who thinks nobody cares…
  • A shared cup with someone who’s lonely…

There’s a long list waiting for me because I’ve been given so much. I hope the words from Romans 15 encouraged you as they did me this morning, and that something written here edified your soul. I encourage you to look for a way to pass that cup today into the life of someone else today. Christ will be well pleased and God will be glorified, and that’s what it’s about.

Mark 9:41

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

I think it goes for coffee too.

The Part of Salvation that I Didn’t Ask For

Galatians 6:12-14

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Few battles have been harder and more sorrowful fought by me than those with “religious” people. Religion is so easy, but faith… woah baby! There’s nothing easy about it, although it should be the other way around. The Abrahamic Covenant of circumcision was commanded in Genesis 17:7-14 as an outward sign of a man’s participation in Israel’s covenant with God.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.

The covenant still stands, but no longer by an outward observance, but by an inward commitment. And yet, the world is constantly in need of an outward sign that we have an inward Savior. Something, anything that they can do. They want the law because that makes good sense to them; but when you think back about the road leading to that Abrahamic Covenant, are they willing to follow through? The point of the whole Abrahamic Covenant was that Abraham was willing to kill his own son, his only son because God had ask it. And because of his faith that God would take care of him, God covenanted with Abraham to insure that his descendants would forever be provided for. I’ll take faith any day!

Faith is not hard for me when I look back through history and see that God has indeed done everything He promised for Israel. Jesus didn’t come to break the covenant, He came to fulfil it! And because of His sacrifice, Shari Johnson, the non-Jewish girl has been grafted into the family of God. Mercy and Grace, that’s what I call it!

So, regarding my comment on battling the religious… The religious I’ve battled have been those who look at me in the flesh, the sinful, mistaken ridden Shari who fails God daily. They criticize my zeal and mock my stand for separation from the world. They cannot see inside my heart is a passion for their soul regardless of whether or not they love me. It is only there because of what Christ did on the cross for me. It came with salvation. What they don’t understand is , I didn’t ask for that part of salvation; the “unconditional love for others part” that sometimes I’d like to give back. But it was a package deal. And I’m glad, because I too need it.

Because I’m an utter failure there are often things in my life that don’t point to the cross, except one – the covenant of love for God’s people that makes me want to see every one of them heading towards that land… the Promised Land.