Tag Archives: Jesus

That’s a Good Funeral

Proverbs 17:27

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.

One might think (and often correctly) that me and the phrase “sparing words” would never be in the same sentence. It is however a family trait.  While I have no problem speaking what’s on my mind, there are times (sometimes days upon days) that I’d rather say nothing to anyone. The ringing of a telephone causes my stomach to go nauseous and even messages on social media overwhelm me. I like silence. Because I know that in those times is when I am most likely to hear God speak. And then there are other times, if I’m honest, that I am drawn to the noise of the earth around me because I know in the silence I’ll hear God speak, and that scares me too. It’s crazy, I know! But it’s me being real.

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a sweet cousin who’s epitaph verse was Proverbs 17:27. He was a very well educated man with much to say, but seldom said it. His daughter said it best when she said “if he spoke you should listen, because his words were weighted.” What an awesome testimony he had.

As I sat there and watched his children work through their grief in front of an audience and do it so God glorifying; it did what a funeral should do, it caused me to reflect on my own life and the cause and effect of silence. Silence can be good, or silence can be bad, there must be balance as in everything in life. Even Cheesecake. I know that’s random… but it’s true.

The Racket

Three times in Psalm 46 the Psalmist says that “God is our refuge.” Refuge being a safe haven, sanctuary or shelter. As a child of God I understand that. I have run into that place to escape the sorrows of the day so very many times. I’m in that place right now. I needed this word this morning to send me to the feet of Jesus to speak to Him about the many burdens in my life. They accumulate so quickly. Too much, too often and I’m consumed by it.  They’re a racket in my mind. God understands. That’s why He spoke this Psalm into David. Not only for him, but for us.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

Those roaring waters and trembling mountains that feel as though they’re going to bury us in defeat are exactly what runs us into the refuge. If it were not for that trouble, we’d think we didn’t need help. We’d be sure that it was us who could get us through the issues of the day. God doesn’t make the trouble, but He’ll get His glory in the midst of it!  I witnessed that yesterday.

My cousin’s death was not a death of God’s timing. But God knew the heart of the man and used the occasion of his memorial to quiet the noise in my life and probably many others. Death has a way of putting life in check.

  • This is important. √
  • This is not. √

The River

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

I sing a song titled “Tell Me One More Time About Jesus” and in that song there is a line that speaks of the Pastor’s words being like a “cool drink of water.” The Psalmist’s words are such. So were the words of the memorial, because they all point to Jesus. Jesus is that river, that makes glad the city of God! When a child of God comes home, whether timely or not, you better believe there is rejoicing in Heaven! Should there not be on earth.

I told my cousin Duke last night when he called to see how the funeral went, that “I love a good funeral!” We laughed, but he knew what I meant. Because we both know Jesus. And there is joy in knowing that a loved one’s struggle is over and they are sitting beside of Victory! Glorraaaaaay! That puts a shout in my soul.

The Refuge from the Rage

The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

You can better believe that Satan was not a happy camper at Gassaway Baptist Church yesterday. He expected worlds to fall apart when he moved “his kingdom.” But this world is not our home, and this world was not what my cousin’s children had their eyes on.  They were standing in the refuge of the God of Jacob. The same God and Savior who gave Jacob a new name when he wrestled with God in Genesis 32.

Every battle of a child of God ends in Victory, even if it doesn’t always appear that way.

My cousin was described as a man of few words, yet he was a writer, a thinker, a ponderer… and he and I had many times talked about our ponderings of God. He left his testimony with us through his children when his daughter said, “Our dad was a humble man who wouldn’t want you to focus on his education, successes and the many things he did that no one knew. He would want us to tell you of the day he made Jesus his Savior.”

That’s a good funeral.

The Christmas Dance

Luke 2:20

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

When I think about the characters of Christmas, it is the shepherds that I feel most relative to. And although I’ve never been in the presence of an angel, I’ve certainly been in the presence of the Holy Spirit. What an amazing feeling. It makes me think of David when they were returning with the ark in 2 Samuel 6:14. It had been a long time since the ark, representative of the presence of Almighty God, was in their presence. There’s a reason to rejoice! There’s a reason to dance!

Sometimes, it’s a long period of time between dancing for me too. It’s why I can relate to the shepherds.

The Lowest of the Low

That’s how I feel much of the time. But the shepherds in the eyes of the general public and careers of that day, truly were the lowest of the low. Bible scholars (for which I am not) have said that shepherds were societal outcasts, a despised people. Said to be dishonest and unclean, those for whom Jesus came.

So, the shepherds becoming one of the “characters of Christmas” truly was amazing; for them and everyone else. Why would God send His heavenly messengers to people so far off of the “A” list of society? The same reason the Kings received the word as well. Because everyone needs Jesus from the lowest to the highest and in between. And in the eyes of God the souls of the shepherds were every bit as equal of importance as the Kings who came bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So why do I relate more with the shepherds than kings? Economically for certain, but more so for the feeling of unworthiness. I know what a sinner I am. I know how often I fail the Lord, and while I won’t confess my faults to you, the Lord knows them. And I’m sure the shepherds felt the same way. Why would God choose to come into their presence and bestow upon them such a high honor? Why would He choose me?

As I drew the little shepherd boy dancing with his lamb, I could feel the Spirit rise up in my soul. I know the “outcast” mentality all too well. It’s not warranted, but it’s very real. God has gifted me with so many encouragers because if it were not for them, I’d be so far out in the field even the angels couldn’t find me. I don’t need people to puff me up in arrogance, some days I just need them to lift me out of the muck and mire I’ve sunk into because of depression and anxiety.

The Highest of the High

Not the Kings of earth, but the King of Heaven only reserves that title.

This Christmas I want to dance with the shepherds in high praise and honor that God chooses to be in my presence. Isn’t that amazing? That the Creator of all the universe wanted to hang out and have coffee and frosted mini wheats for breakfast. He could, and likely does dine with Kings in the richest of palaces. But He’s just as much here at my cedar kitchen table in the midst of the hills of West Virginia. Glory to God in the highest!

An Unusual Thanksgiving Message

Book of Wars Journal entry and Poetry by Shari L. Johnson

Although I know it was a word search that lead me to Numbers 21, I don’t remember what word I was searching for. I got so caught up in verse 14 and wondering just where is that book? And why do I not remember this scripture?

Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord, What he did in the Red sea, and in the brooks of Arnon.

I did a quick web search on the book and read that it was a “missing book,” a “canonical book” not included in the scriptures and a book spoken to a man by an angel just a few years ago! None of those intrigued me enough to search any further for the book, but rather I decided just to let the Holy Spirit speak to me this week of Thanksgiving on what that book meant to me. And why I was lead to the book of Numbers, chapter 21, and verse 14 this morning.

I imagined the wars that God had penned in that book for me. Penned much like I do in journaling, for the purpose of reminiscing and to look back on a time in my history that something amazing happened. Something worthy of documenting. And what will it be like when I get to Heaven and discover in that long, lost book, all the times God rescued me.

Ephesians 6:12  says

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Are those wars written in that book? I don’t know.

But I know this. I know God is worthy of far more gratitude than I give, Thanksgiving or otherwise. I’ve had to fight a lot of battles within and without lately, and everyone was won with the Word of God. I had to fight them again usually because I let the flesh take over and remind me not of the win, but of the battle.

Today I’m grateful, first and foremost for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who fought every battle for me on the cross of Calvary when He died for my sins, and yours. I’m thankful that He continues to sit on the right hand of the Father, and watch over me, comfort me and strengthen me through the Holy Spirit.

I do not know what battles have been written down, but I know that the battles above my head in the spiritual realm are real. And I know they’re not mine to fight, else they’d be lost.

Every time I write, draw, speak or sing for Him, I know there’s a battle above me to squelch the praises worthy to God’s name, a battle I must fight. Today, it’s a battle I’ll win on my Lord’s behalf.

THANK YOU JESUS. Thank You for that sacrifice on the Cross and thank You for speaking to God on my behalf. I’m sorry it’s necessary. But I’m grateful You are there.

THANK YOU GOD. For listening. For allowing Your Son to make that sacrifice on the cross. I can’t, nor do I want to, imagine the pain You experienced that day.  But I’m grateful that You had a plan to save my soul so that I could thank You in person someday.

THANK YOU HOLY SPIRIT. Thank You for being with me every single day. Guiding me. Strengthening me and encouraging me. Without You I know my creativity would be naught. Without You I know I’d be so overwhelmed. Thank You.

Win your battle, Thank Him today!!!!

Let’s Talk About Us

Notes from Monday, October 1, 2018 live feed. Video Below 

If you ask me where my “Happy Place” is in the word of God, I would tell you John 14. Verses 1:6

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.

Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

So I give you three points to ponder today as we start the new work week. Help, Hope and Happiness and they’re all found in those verses.

Jesus begins by telling us “Let not your heart be troubled.” Whatever it is you’re facing this week, Jesus has it under control.

In Psalm 121:2, David wrote “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”  I’ll put these scriptures in the comments below when we’re done.

David understood and we need to remember that at the Creation of the earth, God the Father and God the Son were there. The Creator of all the earth. The Scriptures said “Let Us make Man” Genesis 1:26 The “us” was God and Jesus.  If He can speak a tree, an animal an ocean into existence, what is any problem that we have.

If He can speak life from nothing, can He not speak over your problems, and either take you through, around or out. God has the power to do all three.

The rest verse 1 says “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

That’s the “Us” again that from the foundation of the earth.  David said in Psalm 119:114, Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.”

John 1:1 says In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Sometimes that gets confusing; how can God and Jesus be one? Well to confuse us further, They’re actually three. And I don’t profess to have it all figured out. But to help my mind fathom what it means I have to understand the Word that was written.

Isaiah 48:13 says “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand together.”

The universe cannot contain God. But the Son walked on earth. That helps me to understand the roles the two of them play in Creation. And the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, I feel within my soul.

It’s because of that I have Hope, and know that God is my protector. He is within m and understands everything I’m going through. He knows my every thought.

Verse 2 of John 14 reads, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

This earth and all the sorrow in it, is temporary. God is preparing us a world beyond what our imaginations can fathom!

Another verse in Psalm 144:15 b (meaning it’s the latter part of the verse) says “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”

Those who understand verse 6 when Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

The only way you can have true happiness is through Jesus Christ. And believing in His finished work on the cross. Jesus Who walked as a man, and died as a man on this earth that He created, did that on the cross to pay the price for our sin so that we could go to that happy place He is preparing.

I made that decision in 1996. I lived 34 years in fear of Hell. Also a very real place. But praise God, I got saved! I hope you know Jesus today. And if you don’t, please, private message me and you and I together will walk the road to salvation.

If you know Him, I hope you’ll write the verses that I gave you down somewhere you can see them this week and hang on to the hope that comes from the Word of God.

One Generation can change the World

I watch as my 83 year old Mother mows her lawn, weeds her flowers, quarrels because the deer eat them, and continues to feed them by making sure her beds are filled with new flowers each year. She cooks Sunday dinner for her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren to the number of 20-30 every other Sunday. Her work ethic is not dampened by the fact that her legs don’t function nearly as good as they did a few years ago. Her generation is still an example set before us that is so very much taken for granted and discarded in the lives of many. They are often the weakening back bones in most of the church across America while the generations below them are too busy or too apathetic to make church a priority.

In 2 Chronicles 27:1-5 we have an example of Generation Builders.

Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord. And the people did yet corruptly. He built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.  Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers. He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.

Jotham was a leader with work ethic, however not so much in the backbone department evidently. There was much said about the attention of detail he gave to rebuilding the city and House of the Lord. His battles were fought and won and yet one sentence in his story speaks volumes in the coming generation.

“And the people did yet corruptly.”

His leadership took care of the materialistic and defensive matters of the day, but the ethics were sorely lacking. Sound familiar? Continue reading in 2 Chronicles and you’ll discover that his son Ahaz was a wicked, idol worshiping, child sacrificing moron that God punished by allowing his captivity as well as Judah’s. God had had enough and the entire nation paid the price. Why would we think that America would be any different? It’s purely speculation on my part, but I have to wonder if Jotham failed to be vocal and forward about teaching his values.

I didn’t realize that my Momma’s generation was called “The Builders,” but I believe that’s an appropriate description, while Baby Boomers is a good description of mine because we’ve blown up quite a bit. We are failing the next generation in leadership by following in the ways of my speculation of Jotham. We are not vocal enough about the ways and expectations of the Holy God we serve.  Yes, our buildings are beautiful, but there’s not very many people in most of them.

It only took one generation of mealy mouthed leadership in Jotham’s day to become a fallen nation in the day of his son, Ahaz. We were nearing that point just a few years ago when we sat silently idle as our country’s leadership embraced every false religion and scorned Christianity. We are raising a spoiled generation who believe they are entitled to the freedom of immoral beliefs and our children are being sacrificed to the gods of this world which are at their fingertips.

However, I believe that God has given grace to our nation because of those of us who are willing to speak out against the “Ahazian” (my own word regarding Ahaz) leadership that still remains in Washington and Hollywood who are trying their best to destroy the work God is doing in through the current administration. No the current administration is not perfect, they’re sinners just like the rest of the world, but at least the name of Jesus is back in our White House! Praise God!!! Our soldiers are supported and our flag is respected.

I pray you are vocal to your children and grandchildren about the Lord Jesus and why we need to let the world know He Saves! Because that is what will save our Nation.

A Skyrocketing Revelation!

The chaos of unbelievers and naysayers changes nothing in the order of God. If the saved could get a hold of that, it really would be a skyrocketing revelation. Myself included. In this free country where freedom of speech tears at the very fabric of our faith and causes us pain, fear and confusion, it does nothing to change Who God is. This world may be full of utter chaos and it may have gone drastically downhill since the ages of old when churches were filled, but it still does not change God. The God of the 1850’s Great Awakening is the same God of the sparsely attended American revivals of today. He didn’t change, we did. Our priorities as a nation and our personal allowance of outside interference to our own relationship with God has squelched the Holy Spirit’s moving in our churches. Revivals have become nothing more than annual “events” with very little (if any) change in the lives of those who attend.

On this Fourth of July, when we’re celebrating the birthday of our nation, founded on Christ, whether or not anyone wants to confess that fact, I felt it was a good time for me to remember that the God of order is not out of order.

Isaiah 24:6-9

Only One Big “G”

Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

Allah, Buddah, Venus, Aphrodite or any thing else the world calls a god, still doesn’t get a big G. They can pray to it, dance for it or swear by it and it changes nothing. But as a child of the Living God, my prayers are heard, answered and in the Lord’s will they’ll change things! Capital G makes a difference.

Only One God Who Can See

And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.

Prophecy after prophecy has been fulfilled in the Bible. If God speaks it, it’s going to happen, and that bother’s people. Nobody wants to hear the worlds going to end and God has an order for it. He has appointed people into places of authority since creation and He’s still appointing people who will no doubt have their share of cause and effect in the end time events. Add to those prophesies fulfilled, God’s promises made, and we should be rejoicing like no body has ever seen. As scary as times can be, if you are a child of God this should be a time of excitement too knowing that your God is going to see you through it all.

Only One True Peace

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.

All the “delectable” things of the world that appears to satisfy the souls of men means nothing. We know it, and yet we still desire it because we are so very human. As I struggled with my computer again and again this morning I could very easily fall into that mode of vanity where I thought I was justified in my desires. But in my heart, I could hear the Lord saying, “Shari, you have the one thing that everyone in the world wants. Peace. You have been given the privilege to be my witness and share that with a lost world. When those in the world stand ashamed because they denied me, you shall receive My Glory.

That’s a Skyrocketing Revelation for me! It makes fireworks inside my mind to think I serve the God of the universe Who is the only true God. The only one who has an order and a purpose for everything in this world and I’m a part of His team. I hope you know Jesus Christ as Savior. He was the finishing touch of God’s final plan for order. There had to be a sacrifice worthy to pay the price of all our sin, and the only sacrifice that would pay that price was God’s Son, Jesus. He died to pay the price for every sin we commit, so that on our final day, when all is said and done, we will be found worthy to enter that Holy City where our God dwells. No body else’s gods promise anything close to what we will receive.

Only One!!!! Glory! He’s mine.

Getting the Spirit Back Where He Belongs

I refuse to be a judger of men when it comes to how other people and churches conduct themselves in services. I will only stand before God for the manner in how I conducted myself, and how I, as a leader, lead others. A lesson King David learned when he attempted to bring the Ark home from Kirjath-jearem. Uzzah lost his life because of David’s error in leadership. Uzzah was a Levite, but not a priest, who had been ordered to carry the Ark. One stumble of the oxen, one touch to the hallowed property of God and a man was dead. God takes order serious. (1 Chronicles 13)

Now I realize we’re not in Old Testament times, we no longer live by the law, but when I looked at the original church (Israel) it reminded me very much of the mega churches of today that so many people are critical of. I have to wonder if they’d be so critical of a mega church if it were theirs? But back to my point: be it mega or a little country church up the hollow, God still expects order.

David finally caught onto that the second time he brought up the Ark when he said in 1 Chronicles 15:13, “For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.”

So the order was fulfilled and the Ark and the presence of God was back where it belonged! Is that not what we want in our churches? The presence of Almighty God! Certainly it doesn’t require an Ark, but I still think it requires order.

The presence of God is carried within each child of God. What Uzzah couldn’t touch, because of the blood of Jesus, we are allowed to carry. My how things have changed.

Titles have changed within the church; we no longer have Priests but Pastors, Bishops, preachers, teachers, deacons, trustees and others who are put into place to hold order inside the church. The New Testament is clear about the order of the church (1 Tim. 3:1-12) with Christ always as the Head of the church. And those things will often be in line (for the most part) and yet the Spirit of God will not be felt. Then other churches will not have all things in line, and yet the Spirit of God will be felt. What’s the deal?

That was my question to God this morning?

Then like a brick off the brick yard being hurled at my mind an answer came.
“I’m no longer in the box. So stop putting Me there.”

God, through the sacrifice of His Son has made Himself personally touchable to everyone who has accepted Him as Lord. The problem is, those who carry Him into the church, don’t touch Him. They don’t stir up the Spirit within, they just let Him sit there inside of them, waiting for church to be over, all the while the Spirit cries “I want to be loosed!” And it is those who find criticism for the wild behaviors in mega churches, which I too believe may cross a line not intended by God. So who’s right and who’s wrong? I’ll let God decide.

I do however know in my heart that God intended for no man to take the Spirit of God for granted. When David returned with the Ark, there was music, dancing, instruments and shouting and it upset Michal, David’s wife. There will likely always be someone who “doesn’t get it.” It didn’t stop David and it shouldn’t stop us.

God’s mega church of the Old Testament had order. It had leadership and small groups, and all things had honor and respect for God. God is still every bit as Holy today as He was then, the only difference is we are granted far greater access as commoners by the cross. How we treat Him matters and the world needs to see a difference in how we approach Him and how we react when we get there. Less He be considered no different than the gods of this world.

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!

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.

How to Apply the Balm

Why is it that the people of God seemed to be so continually perplexed when it comes to the things of life? Parents have no concept on how to raise their children without the help of books by authors they’ve never met, the school is left to discipline and teach manners of those that don’t even read the help books, and the moral decay of our schools is evident on the evening news. It is for certain a scary world we live in. The adults aren’t any better off than many youth; morality is situational and objective for themselves, but yet they believe it should all means be defined by the law for all others. Police are viewed as the enemy, there is no respect for authority from the White House to the Church house and in the words of a man who once attended our church but fell out to world “We’re in a mess.” So what’s the answer? Before you think this is a blog of discouragement and chastisement, read on.

This is a word that will sooth your soul…

Jeremiah 8:22 says:

Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

Israel’s idea of the law had become subjective and their world was in a mess too. And so Jeremiah, the weeping prophet; who preached repentance to God’s people, had the same questions that I had at the beginning of this blog. I have those questions because I see so much heart ache and pain in every direction. Parents want to be good parents, children want a home filled with love, employers want trustworthy staff, churches want committed members, but it all seems to be unraveling because nobody is asking the right questions.

Where is our healing? Where it’s always been… in the Balm of Gilead. Jesus.

I know, I know, His name is on billboards, social media memes and in every sermon you’ve heard preached, and yet your world is still a mess. I think I know why. Because we’re not applying the balm.

The Acknowledgement

God has been after me for…. Ever… to use my talents in a greater methods. You see, I know I have the abilities… I just don’t apply them. You know your own issues, but when have you actually applied Jesus’ word to it? And what does that look like?

The Accountability

Israel needed to repent. They thought their ways were good enough and God would take care of them, because after all, they were the chosen. Don’t we each feel sometimes that God will cover us, come what may, even if we’re not exactly where we should be? Or is it only me? Repentance doesn’t necessarily mean that we have some massive sin, (although it could). But it could mean that you have a spirit of rebellion by not seeking God’s solution before mans.

I see more and more frustrated parents who seldom if ever darken the door of the Lord’s house with their children and yet they want good kids. Good kids need to know the only One who is good. Jesus. He is the balm that can sooth the heartache in the homes that are filled with disrespect and unruly children.

Another often heard conversation I have is with people who are hurting because friends and family have let them down and left them broken. I see people who have been abused in ways that I can’t even imagine and they have no desire to seek the One who can apply a balm to their heart and soul that will heal that hurt for eternity and love them as they long to be loved. He’s a cry away.

The Application

The Balm of Gilead known as Jesus, isn’t available online or in the store. It’s freely available for the asking. Salvation is immediate upon the request to ask Jesus to come into your life and accepting His work on the cross as payment for your sin. But peace,direction, guidance,  contentment, happiness and a wholesome life is only found in those who continually seek a relationship with Jesus for their home. Now… everyone may not be saved in the home, but the one who is can seek the guidance and wisdom of God, and to the best of their ability, live it. As it’s lived, the healing balm is applied. And sometimes it even gets onto the ones who have rejected the Lord and they too feel it’s soothing effects and desire to know the Lord of all, Jesus