Tag Archives: James

Don’t Look Back!

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Unbelievable!  We’re teetering on the edge of 2016,  and although my body feels another year older, my mind is saying “What happened?” It was just New Year’s Day 2015 yesterday! It’s like we’re on a Nascar track headed for the finish line and we’re not even slowing down for crashes. Troubles beset us round about but our eyes are on the next pit stop in life.  Try as I might, I can’t slow it down and it will do no good to look back.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Forward Ho!!!! Well I guess I just went back from the race track to the wagon train. Today on the Eve of 2016 I’m scheduled to sing at the funeral of a dear child of God who lived a full life and to her too it no doubt seemed like but a day. To her children they surely long for more time but it’s not possible. We’re on the course and the time allotted is known to no one but God. So what do we do when we’re teetering on time passing and the future? If we’re wise we’ll go to the Word of God!

James 3:17

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.

James 3:17 is a good reflection point that provokes anticipation. Sounds like a great verse for New Year’s Eve!

Reflection

Wisdom from above – From the creation of all, the Word, which was authored by God has been pure and infused into the soul of a child of God through the Holy Spirit. That same purity produces purity (not perfection) into our lives, our conversation, and intentions, by driving us forward to a better life in Christ. The purpose of reflecting on 2015 is not to look back on the failures (although they can be good lessons) but rather use it as a gauge on where you’ve been and where you are at this point in time so that you can determine where you want to be when you stand on the eve of 2017, if God allows. Looking back for the purpose of counting failures is detrimental to your purpose. It causes doubt and confusion… neither of which bring anything good to the banquet table. They bring stale leftovers from a dinner you didn’t even enjoy the first time… throw them out and move on!

Peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (treated) full of mercy and good fruits. Sounds like a place I’d like to be in 2016! A day spa that lasts 365 days of the year and at the end of the day has the Lord rubbing your shoulders like a player on the field of life, telling you what a great game you played. That game is well played by extending the mercy we’ve been shown by Christ. We’re not on the field to crush our opponents, we’re on the field to win them over to our team and then they become the fruit of the banquet table! Glory to God isn’t it wonderful how God uses food analogies. Because He knows we’re a hungry people… be it for physical or spiritual food… we long for it… and lots of it!

God is no respecter of persons, nor should we be. Without partiality, and without hypocrisy. He loves you just like He loves me, although sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m His pet, just sayin’. In the words of my sister Sarah…. God is soooooooooooooooooo good! And so very real. We need to share that message with every soul that crosses our path… or race track… or trail.

Anticipation

As I anticipate 2016 I’m looking forward to the Lord doing great, unusual, mighty things in my life and ministries. What are you looking forward to? Don’t look back unless you’re using it as gauge to see how far the Lord takes you next year. Forward, ho!!!!

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How’s Your Hinges today?

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There are days when I write that I think I’m writing to read what I have to say. Then I am reminded of the preachers of little country churches who preach Sunday after Sunday to a house of  a half dozen filled seats and a dozen or so good intentions who didn’t show up; it is then that I count it a privilege to have a place that I can share what God speaks to my heart. Every soul that reads the words I write, and are encouraged by my thoughts are soldiers in the field of battle that I’ve had the opportunity to support. God knows each one and I’m encouraged by that. It still however does not stop me from counting and complaining. For myself as a writer and speaker, and for the Pastors that labor and study to fill the pulpit on Sunday, preaching to more air than mass.

Ecclesiastes 12:8-11

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

It reminds me of that song “I’m working on a Building.”

Church attendance is not proof of salvation, but the lack of church attendance is evidence of commitment issues. If people attended work like they do church they’d be fired. And before you say that you have to work to survive and pay bills, let me call to remembrance the scripture in Ephesians 2:17-22 (speaking of Jesus)

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Sunday is the day we go to the hardware store! While that job that pays the bills is important for survival and filling your house with the necessities of life therein, it’s a temporary housing unit for life. Our permanent dwelling isn’t finished yet. (Lest we’d be in it!) And the building material necessary for that life is found in the house of God and in the Word of God.

Solomon said that all was vanity. We spend so much time living for ourselves that we forget our real purpose. Solomon the preacher was wise and taught the people. The people were wise in that they showed up! He reminded them that this life is short… James 4:14 says ~ It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

The words of the wise (the preacher) are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. He’s talking about the building, that’s us! Paul in verse 22 of Ephesians said “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” That’s the church! The men and women of God who share His word have got the construction material for you to build your house, and if you don’t  show up at the hardware store on Sunday, and read and study His Word the rest of the week, your doors may fall off the hinges, or your pipes might break! The preacher is a goad… it doesn’t sound very flattering but I hope I’m a goad to. Someone that pokes you and prods you into living closer to cross of Christ. That was the first thing He built for us… and then He died on it. So that we could live in this house of flesh and serve Him where we are.

Glory to God! I’m workin’  on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’ for my Lord, for my Lord!

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Is it Real Religion?

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A little reflection is probably good for the soul, but it certainly needs to be balanced. As I wind down 2015, I’m first of all shocked that I’m winding down 2015! Somebody put my life in fast forward mode and I can’t slow down. Do you feel that way too? But as quick as it went, this morning had me thinking about what I did with the past 323 days. Were they productive for the cause of Christ? Some were, some weren’t but for a fact they are both un-re-doable. Should you double hyphenate a word? Life is short… let’s walk on the wild side.

A little food for thought today from the book of James caused me to ponder the question “Has my 323 days been real religion.”

RELIGION MAKES ME NAUSEOUS

You can be “religious” about anything. I was raised in “religion.” A theory of theirs was religiously going to church was “enough.” Saying you are a Christian was “enough.” Don’t overdo church, once a week is “enough.” Well enough already! There is no point in rehashing pre-salvation failures, those are under the blood! Glory to God!  Lukewarm Christianity that makes my Lord want to puke and spew us out of His mouth isn’t good. So when I start “going through the motions” of Christianity it concerns me. I want to arrive at church with great expectation of what the Lord is going to do, I want to get up in the morning and say, “Reporting for Duty Sir!” to the Lord… and mean it. I want there to be excitement in my life every day for the opportunities before me. I don’t want to be religious, I want to be as spontaneous as a fire on a windy autumn day, igniting everything around me. Yes I’m getting fired up! How about you?

James 1:22-25

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:   For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

My second point is this

RELIGION MAKES ME NERVOUS

And it’s why I’m reflecting today. Not living up to my potential as a child of God can cause eternal damage and a friend to be in that fire that cannot be quenched. If I get lacks on my responsibilities as a Christian, and concern myself more with the affairs of this world and not the cause of Christ, who will I not see in Heaven? I look around at friends and family and I’m nervous for them. Because I don’t see Christ in their life and I have no assurance if they were to die today that they’d be in Heaven. I don’t want to go through the motions of Religion, I want a relationship with Christ which will motivate me to share the gospel. Reflection and reading God’s word blesses and readies my heart for service.

James 1:25

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

RELIGION MAKES ME NEGATIVE

It’s a line I have to try so hard not to cross, and one that I see so many good people crossing. They spend more time setting fires of destruction with their negative attitude and critical spirit than lighting a fire for Christ. They’re constantly (religiously) concerning themselves with what’s happening in another church, rather than concerned about the lost and those in need.

James 1:26-27

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

As I wind down 2015 I want to be wound tight for 2016. I want to be busy in my relationship with Jesus and the people I meet every day. I want to open my “Big Stinkin’ Mouth,” in the words of a recent sermon title I heard. I want people to see the love of Christ, and that I am religious with my relationship with Him so that they’ll know it’s real!

Join me! And if you feel so inclined… share me. Post this blog link on Social media or share it with a friend!

Love ya… mean it!

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3 Habits of the Heart to grow in Faith

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See a need, fill a need

Galatians 6:10
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

The world is certainly filled with people in need, and so is the church house. The bible is clear that it is the responsibility believers (who God has empowered with ability) to fulfill the needs of certain people. Now… the sad part of this story is, there are people who take advantage of good hearted Christianity and cause us to question whether or not we are lending a hand or enabling someone who could have taken care of it themselves. I could tell you dozens of stories from my own church of less that reputable people staging themselves for assistance. But that’s where spiritual discernment comes in. A twenty year old begging at the door of the church may need help with diapers for her baby, but she also needs help learning to provide for her family and most importantly needs the Lord in her life. A hand out should always be a hand up. I have more concern over the needs of the elderly. Most of which will never darken the door of a church, will not ask for a hand out or a hand up but will suffer silently because that’s how their generation was raised. As a church we’re instructed to take care of the elderly… and to teach the young. Make it a habit to be aware of the elderly who cross your path.

Look more within than without

James 1:22-24 ~ But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

If I spent as much time preening myself spiritually as I do physically I’d be a much better woman of God. A post it note strategically placed that reads “Who were you today?” where you see it often would serve us well. Did you help or hinder. Show love or hate. Did any see Christ, or only you?

Give More, Take Less

Matthew 10:8 ~ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

What has God gifted you with? Money, time, talent? Likely all three if truth be told but assuredly He has gifted you with the power of the Holy Spirit if you are saved. If every day we made it a habit to give something away, imagine the blessings that we’d receive each day from God. Are you in the medical field… what a gift to stop by and check on an elderly person who will feel loved and honored that a person of your stature thought enough to stop by. Child of God… you have His Word, give it to someone today in some form. Have a few dollars in your pocket, or a cake mix in your cabinet? Why not share some food with a person living alone who never takes the time to cook.

These are not notions that we think of as  habits. Because they take a conscious effort to make something happen. Making something happen regularly is what we call a habit. It’s how Christ lived His life… what a novel idea! Is three too much pressure? Try just one!

Paying off Jiminy Cricket

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Why is it, that if it’s not Christmas, our minds are not on giving. Another Francis Chan study has me pondering this question this morning. At Christmas time the extra dollars seem to flow from our fingers much easier when we see the need of someone, time seems readily available to volunteer to help the down and outers. The needs of a child are first and foremost in our mind to insure that they have the best Christmas ever… and then it’s over. We go back to our mundane lives and there are no more bells ringing at the entrance of store. No more reminders that we need to think of the needs of others.

And then Francis Chan comes along and throws me outside my comfort zone. Actually I had been there for several weeks, because that’s how God works. Then He adds a series like “Crazy Love” into your life as if to say, why are you not listening? Life is about serving others, that’s how I did it and that’s how I’d like you to do it.

1 John 3:16-18

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

Nowhere in that verse were the words “at Christmas time.” It is during that season that our excessiveness goes out of control, does it not, or am I alone? We buy in extreme for those we love, we expect in extreme from those we love and we soothe our guilty souls by dropping a few Benjamin’s or perhaps it’s a Jackson or Lincoln. It matters not, it’s often times for the purpose of paying off Jiminy Cricket. (our conscience in case you were not familiar with Pinocchio.) But God is not Jiminy Cricket, He’s the Holy Spirit and so much wiser… and bigger. And He’s around 365 days of the year, not just holidays or movie nights; and He has a much greater purpose than just telling us we’re doing wrong.

James 4:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

I feel that I should buy the James 4:17 tee shirt, because I’ve earned it. And not in the good sense. God has been so very good to me. I would be ashamed to tell you how good, in that everything I’ve ever truly wanted I have, and almost every time it came in the form of a gift. The passel of instruments sitting in the chair and on the floor across from me attests to God’s goodness to me. People have invested in my love of music and my love of God. I continually am the recipient of words of encouragement that are priceless and yet cost only a second or two of someone’s day.

  • To him/her that knoweth to speak words encouragement and say nothing to him/her it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth to tip the box boy and doeth it not, to him/her it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth that child needs new shoes and buys them not, it is sin.
  • To him/her that knoweth that elderly person needed groceries and bought them not, it is sin.
  • To him/her that threw away food rather than sharing it with a neighbor, it is sin.

That list could go on a few miles or more, but I won’t. Mainly because my heart can’t bear the reality. Those “to him/her” comments are things I know I’m guilty of, they are not necessarily things you are guilty of. God speaks different purpose to different souls… are we listening?

That’s What Makes You Strong

CHICK STRONG

James 1:1-4 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Not once have I ever said to a friend going through trouble, “Wow, your life is a mess and this is a reason to party! We should break out the pop and chips because today is a celebration day. You’re in trouble!” Not one time have I said it, it’s absurd is it not?

But James is telling his friends who are facing trials, tribulations and persecutions the likes of which we have never known to celebrate the day. He doesn’t stop there, he at least tells them why; because that’s what makes you strong. There’s a Claire Lynch song that I’ll post below that I love it because the words are powerful

If you love somebody, Then that means you need somebody
And if you need somebody, that’s what makes you weak
But if you know you’re weak, And you know you need someone
O it’s a funny thing, That’s what makes you strong

That’s what makes you strong, That’s what gives you power
That’s what lets the meek come sit beside the King
That’s what lets us smile, In our final hour
That’s what moves our souls, And that’s what makes us sing

That’s what makes us sing! Nobody likes trials, but man alive I love the other side of them. Because it’s there that we discover the provision, the power and the plan of God. It’s there that we’re made stronger through the exercising of our faith muscles. If we never had to depend on God, if we never needed Him, we’d never appreciate Him. The truth of the matter is, in this wicked world, we’re lion bate. Satan is just waiting to devour us. But God’s swoops in, in His supernatural ways and delivers us out of the mouth of the lion and stands us back on safe ground.

Trials prove the Power of God

Who but God could prove to Satan that trials only draw us closer to the Creator, not further away. Satan heaps trouble upon us in hopes of us being angry at our lot in life, but to those of us who know Christ it just causes us to cleave tighter to the Lord knowing that it is He alone that will bring us through.

Trials prove the Plan of God

It is often times through the trials that our course in life changes. Putting us on a path of greatness that we never imagined. Sounds almost like a Hallmark Card, but it’s truth. Often times we’d never even look in a direction for another way out if God hadn’t blocked off the way we were traveling.

Trials prove the Provision of God

The wanting of nothing. When you’ve made it through a real hardship, the illness or death of someone we love, our own health or financial struggles, whatever it is… once you’ve made it through you realize that God truly provides everything we need. And it’s not possible for any person to provide it. He alone is the Giver and Maker of life.

I hope you’ll listen to this Claire Lynch song… she’s a dandy!

Stop! in the name of Love

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Last night I taught our teens from the Francis Chan study on Crazy Love and managed to heap huge conviction upon myself. I hate that! But it’s necessary in your walk with Christ to look at life through the eyes of God, not the eyes of self. I measure up pretty good next to me… as a matter of fact we’re dead even. But line me up next the disciples, or Who we should be lining ourselves up to (Christ Himself) and I’m not so hot. I fall far short of who I should be. I don’t fall in to the completely lukewarm category but I have tendencies that no doubt make God’s stomach queasy.

Going through the motions:

Isaiah 29:13 says “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

Does that not describe the church of modern day to a tee? Everybody’s a Christian (just ask them) but their lives certainly don’t back it up. SMO’s. “Sunday morning only folk.” If you’re one of them, I’m about to get on your last nerve. If we feasted on food like we feast on the word of God you could count our ribs. It’s truth. How on earth do we expect to survive in perilous times, when the only thing that’s going to get you through is the promises of God? And we don’t’ have them. I’m so proud of my group of teens at our church. Wednesday night we’re packed out! But the truth is, we could do better. That’s why I’ve been doing this Crazy Love series with them. I don’t want lukewarm Christians in my class, I want crazy kids who are sold out for Jesus Christ and they don’t care who knows it. I want them to look at their friends and understand if they don’t tell them about Christ, there’s a good chance no one else will either; and the end result is their friend will go to Hell.

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 7:2It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” A funeral is better than a party? Yes, because a funeral brings the reality that our lives are like a vapor.

James 4:14

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

If we lived what we say we believe we’d be telling someone about Christ. As a gospel singer I’ve sang at a great multitude of funerals. They’ve not all been for saved people. As a matter of fact the very first funeral I sang for was for a lost soul. His family asked me to sing “Hello in Heaven,” because it was too late for the one whose funeral was being held, but it was not too late for the rest of their friends and family. That was a real eye opener for me as a young convert. I’ve been blessed to be among a congregation of people who try to live for Christ. We all fail. Daily. But we’re trying.

I encourage you to live for Jesus today and tell someone about His saving grace before it’s too late. Live the crazy love that we’re taught the disciples lived.  God likely will not ask you to give up everything you own and serve Christ, but are you willing to use what He’s given you to serve Him? What friend or family are you willing to let go to Hell? You’ve likely said none… but what are you doing to stop it?

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