Tag Archives: Jesus

Let God be True and Social Media a Liar

Today is Friday, August 30th, 2019. Winding down and the summer and heading into fall. Much like I feel about life right now! How did I get here, you know… 57 years after the picture of me graffitiing my Mother’s belly? Time is swift and not for the faint of heart. Beauty is fleeting, it’s a good thing I never felt that I had it. (Not asking for compliments or pity, just being real). It wasn’t something that I put a lot of stock in as a young person.

Now I attempt to beautimitize myself (totally a made up word) as I travel about and I am concerned a little more about the flavor of style when I’m up in front of people. But none of the frilliness of life ever interested me or caused me to want to do make up tutorials and style videos. Those things were not things I was purposed to do.

My immediate family consists of a dozen, myself and husband, two grown daughters with husbands, and six growing grandchildren. Five boys and one girl. The little girl I get… I raised two of them, the five boys! Oh my stars they are so different from girls for obvious and not so obvious reasons. But mostly because God designed their hearts differently from the womb. So when I read a verse like Romans 9:11 it causes me to ponder what God will do with them, and me!

(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth;)

It draws me back to one of my favorite verses, 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.

For me, that verse answers the abortion debate. Before we were even in the belly, God had a plan for us. So, nobody will ever tell me that a little fella or gal in the beginning stages of formation in the momma’s womb isn’t somebody. They were somebody, before they were a body! Glory!

But back to my point of God’s plan.

While I would love it if my plan for each of my children and grandchildren were God’s plan, I have to look at the very real potential that it’s not. But understanding that their potential is God’s to do with what He will.

Paul was teaching the Romans, and the Jewish people in these passages, that no one can claim to be chosen by God because of his or her heritage or good works. God chooses who He desires to choose to use, and He uses those who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Jew or Gentile. God uses them all. He can use anyone lost or saved to accomplish a task, but no one will live up to their potential unless their in Christ.

Three Prayers for my dozen

So that is my first prayer for those that I love and myself. A right relationship with the Lord. It’s the beginning of every good plan.

My second prayer is the will of God for our lives. As I said, “I have many ideas about direction for theses kids.” But if I project my plan onto their life, I may have them headed down a road to destruction. So, I have to leave well enough alone, and boy is that hard! But what I always fail to remember is that it’s hard enough to keep myself in check with God. I’d do well to leave everyone else to Him before I rurally mess things up.

And my final prayer is that our potential is made known so that God can be glorified through us. It’s where I feel parents (myself included) can discourage their children and their selves. Trying to put anyone into a position that God did not ordain for them, really is like putting a square peg in a round hole. It will not work.

Social media is the bomb. Until it explodes in our face. Looking at the seemingly perfect lives of people and their staged photographs will put unrealistic goals into the minds of anyone. Yes, me too! I follow artists, speakers, singers and I love it! But then I hate it. Because I begin comparing myself to their look, style, design and I feel like an unworthy dirt dog.

I need to stop. If you’re doing that, you need to stop.

That crazy baby in the womb, who loves graffiti. That’s me for realsy. I need to love her. And so that’s my prayer for all my peeps. Let God be true, and social media a liar. He determines our destiny. Not the numbers or the masses.

Rewired for Christ

Romans 6:18-23

If you had to describe your state of mind, pre-salvation what one word would you use?

I would use the word “tumultuous.” Meaning unbridled and unrestrained. I wasn’t connected to anything solid and so I was flailing around like a windsock going what ever direction the wind blew me in. I didn’t have direction and things good or bad seemed to jolt me into a new direction without any thought to where I was going.

So think about your world pre-salvation for just a second. What did it look like?

Coming to the knowledge of who we are in Christ is a game changer for the child of God who happens to be in a place where they can grow in grace and under discipleship and solid doctrine. But prior to that life seems to be …

Short Circuited

At birth we have a disconnect from the Creator. The reason I could be jolted in any direction was because my wires were not connected.  

I thought the definition of “short circuit” was fitting for a person of a lost nature:

[in a device, an electrical circuit of lower resistance than that of a normal circuit, typically resulting from the unintended contact of components and consequent accidental diversion of the current.]

It was never God’s intention for mankind to have contact with the low side of life.  And once we were, we were diverted from God’s control. We were severely disconnected. We fell short… as in “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23

What happens if you grab ahold of a short circuited wire? Nothing good, right? We’re shocked. That too is a reaction to sin. As a child we know when we’ve done wrong. We generally feel bad about the transgression, even thought we seldom confess. The more we do it, is like getting shocked by low does of electricity. We get used to it. Maybe our nerves get seared and no longer feel the guilt that we once did for committing sin. So in order to get a jolt that makes a difference, usually something drastic has to take place.

What took place in Paul’s life that made such a drastic difference?

Acts 9:3-9

 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?  And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

I love reading the story of Saul becoming Paul. That’s what happens when we reconnect with God. We become an entirely new person!

Romans 6:19

 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Apostle Paul is helping the Romans to understand that he understands. He totally gets where they came from. Prior to salvation they were following their sinful fleshly ways, but now, there should be something new that they have a connection to – righteousness. They should be drawn to it.

John 12:32 says “And, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

Praise God for that drawing.

A great illustration of drawing electricity is the power between water and static electricity.

It’s in a like manner that we are drawn to Christ. The Water of life! But also prior to salvation, you were not only short circuited there was a

Circuit Breaker

20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

The sin that was in our lives is what kept us from coming to Christ. We felt the draw, but there was a break in the connection. Sometimes ever after the jolt of reality that we’re lost, it’s years and years before people come to Christ.

Why do you think that is?

There are probably as many excuses as there are stars in the sky, but the truth of the matter is rebellion. It’s the same reason that Satan and the angels fell. Everybody wants to be in charge. The ol’ “You are not the boss of me attitude.”

It’s a funny comment when a parent says “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.” But that’s illegal. Else it might happen more often. But with God it’s very much the truth! He kicked Satan and his crew out of Heaven, and He will now allow those who have rejected His authority to be in Heaven.

Praise God for

Conductors!

Romans 6:21-22

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Conductors conduct electrical current very easily because of their free electrons. Insulators oppose electrical current and make poor conductors. Common conductors and insulators:

What would be a conductor of the Christian faith?

Pastors, teachers, social media posts, evangelists, ministers of the gospel, songs…

So many! You and I, if we’re doing what we should are conductors of the power of God. People see it in our lives, we touch people with our actions and words, just like the wires that carry electricity. We too can jolt people into the reality that they need Christ. They may break the circuit by rejecting it, but they can’t stop us from sharing it. Because we are

Hardwired

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our decision to accept what Christ did on the cross creates within us a hardwire to the Lord. We can’t disconnect from it.

Verses of reminder:

John 10:27-29 – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 6:37 – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 10:28 – And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.

John 5:24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 11:29 – For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.

Jude 1:24 – Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

1 John 5:13 – These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

2 Corinthians 1:22 – Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:

It’s important for us to remind ourselves that God is in charge of the connection. Not us. We might walk away from God, but He will never walk away from us.

He will continue to call His children home when they stray. Because that’s how He loves us.

The Beautiful One

As I read down through the upcoming text, my heart was filled with joy! Thinking on the beautiful salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ and what that means to me personally.

That’s how we must look at it in order to understand what it was that God did for us. For me. For you. For the one and the many that you love. Oh, glory to God does that not make you ever so grateful today?

We look back in frustration at Adam and Eve’s very simple sin; the sin of disobedience; and we try in our best pious way to imagine we would not, in truth knowing we would. We’re all that weak. That’s why scripture says “for all have sinned,” in Romans 3:23. That’s every “one” of us. We are all disobedient to death.

But read about the beautiful “One….”

Romans 5: 17-21

17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jesus Christ our Lord, that beautiful One. As I’m continuing my study in Romans, slowly making my way through these pages, trying to get a closer, deeper relationship with the Lord, and wishing I didn’t fail so miserably at it, verses like this that stop me in my track and cause me to say, “Thank You. I wish I was better at life-ing.”

The Lord deserves better. His time on the cross not only took the sin of this one Shari, it took the sin of a world of people, generation after generation, and it’s that thought that causes me to hear His cry, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46b)

And I hear within my own heart, why have you forsaken Him? Why do you fail? But then I recall His word that says I’ll reign in this life because of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ll have victory in this life. Satan may think he has won the battle with this girl, but he has not won the war. The word reign is to have supremacy, power, control over! That’s what we have in Jesus Christ. It’s not that we won’t mess up, but it’s those messes that are covered by the blood. He did that so we wouldn’t continually live in defeat. He didn’t die for the righteous (Romans 5:6-8), He died for sinners. Every “one” of them.”

I’m the one. You’re the one. But Hallelujah! He’s the ONE.

Just Give Me Jesus

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Job 13:16

It’s not that I don’t feel like a hypocrite on a relatively regular basis. But for years I have felt like this was my message for the world. Not in judgement, but rather in tender compassion and pleading to the soul playing church on earth, and missing Heaven in eternity.

There’s a vast difference between being in church and being in Christ. But for too long the religious crowd has preached (and I use the term liberally) that all the world is fine, so long as they’re in the building.

Iglesia ni Cristo

When I visited the Philippines several years ago there was a huge church that was the size of a small West Virginia city. It had pointed steeples and ornate architecture that gave it a castle appearance, but not in a good way. It just looked cold and evil. It was the Iglesia ni Cristo (meaning Church of Christ) but not as the American Church of Christ. They believe that they are the one and only true church called out of Isaiah 43:5. It’s a very formalized methodical religion. All who are not a part of their church are Hell bound. according to them. That doesn’t sound any crazier to me than those who preach what many churches are preaching today, which is just show up occasionally, continue living in sin throughout the week, and you’re fine. It causes me to wonder if even the Pastors are saved who preach a message that is anti-relational with Christ.

I can’t help but think that my message today will be viewed as judgmental. But I promise it’s not. My heart breaks for church leadership as well who don’t have a deep enough relationship with Christ to understand its importance and their purpose. They’ve been deceived by this world too.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

This is my friend Chuck McDonald’s life verse. Because when he got saved, he became a new creation. And anyone who knew him, seen the evidence in his life. That’s the key, and it’s the missing piece of many people in our own churches. Evidence. They walk out the door on Sunday morning and walk back into the world looking no different. There’s no evidence that church made a difference.

It’s not that the message doesn’t go out of many churches, because it does. There are many, many good preachers. So what makes the difference? Church leadership.

It’s not just the Pastor’s job. What made the difference in my friend Chuck McDonald’s life, and in my life is that there were people who stepped up and took me under their arm as a disciple of Christ. I keep saying it, but I’m not living it any better if I’m honest.

My formative years as a new Christian were spent in fellowship almost every day with people from our church. We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, we spoke on the phone, we were in constant church services of some sort, somewhere. It was amazing! If our church wasn’t holding a revival I was looking for someone else’s.

Does it have to be that extreme? I don’t know. It worked for me. And it worked in the days of the Bible.

Acts 2

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Steadfast, in doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread and praying! Glory to God if only we had that kind of time.

Well, in this modern day of technology, do we not? We can be across the globe, and still be in constant fellowship, and yet we don’t.

I joyously speak with my friend Dewey Moede from New Mexico most every day. He is who God sent into my life to follow up where others left off. You too are that person who is in need of a Dewey, or perhaps you are the Dewey.

My point being is this; we should be living our lives, wherever we are for Christ. So that people know we’re there for them and that a relationship with Him and them is an important part of our everyday.

I’m not about what denomination is over the door, I’m about what your relationship is with my Lord. Are you truly a brother or sister in Christ?  

Only those who are will be Heaven.

Just give me Jesus.

Have You Sold Him Out?

Zechariah 11:12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Believe me when I say, that I could have gotten in the flesh so easy when I read this scripture this morning in Zechariah. There is no irony, it was deliberate, as is every word in the word of God. Nothing just happens, and nothing was just written for the sake of taking up space or embellishing the Book. It’s there on purpose.

Before I began reading, I asked God to speak to my soul through Zechariah. I about half believed He would. I’m just being honest. Sometimes the Old Testament prophets are either too meaty or too dark for me. They’re not about the ratings. They don’t care what I think. Zechariah was preaching the truth to Israel, they had not been in a good place with God. He’d taken them to the wood shed so many times the splinters had splinters. And at this point He’s telling them like it is, one final time “If you won’t listen, I’m giving you a serious time out.” (Yes that’s the Bible according to Shari) This is about 518 BC. Jesus doesn’t make the scene for greater than 500 years and Israel’s time out is long and silent.

My stomach just turned thinking about the times that God has been silent in my life and how hard it was. I didn’t hear from Him until I got into a place that had me wanting Him more than I wanted the world.

During Israel’s silent time, many people went on to the afterlife having never experienced God. Oh, how sad.

So, back to the scripture. It’s all too familiar to Matthew 26:15

And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

If you know much about the bible, you know that that was what Judas received for betraying Jesus.

Shari “in the flesh” wanted to write about Washington D.C.’s betrayal of the Lord. I wanted to name names, and parties. And I may or may not have been justified. I wanted to name news stations, and denominations. Yes, I was feeling very fleshly indeed. Until God brought up my own sell out. The times I could have spoken up, showed up and stepped up and did not.

Speak up

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ve failed on multiple occasions to speak up in the face of adversity when dealing with non-believers. But when a President, who clearly has not lived at the foot of the cross, does more for the cause of Christianity and speaks the name of Jesus in more sincerity than some backslidden politician  who refuses to speak up on behalf of Christians who elected them because of their stand on Christ, something’s wrong and they should be called out.

Show Up

It’s an odd thing to me that people will go to great lengths and expense to attend a secular event without regard for the day of the week, or the way they feel. But come Sunday church, or Heaven forbid a revival or Christian concert and suddenly they just don’t have the energy, money or time.

Stop lying to yourself and to the unsaved. Because you know better and so do the lost. Show up.

Step Up

The hardest one of three most likely because it requires commitment.

The saddest part of the story of Judas is the fact that Jesus would have gladly saved him. He repented of the money he took and gave it back, but couldn’t admit he was wrong about Christ and humble himself, but rather committed suicide.

He had weighed the price of his sin at 30 pieces of silver. That’s what he said the life of Christ was worth. Even though he had spent all that time in His presence.

The children of Israel had spent time in His presence too, but still failed.

I fall in that category too. Every time I fail to speak up, step up or show up I’m letting the world see how much I truly value Christ. Not nearly as much as I should.

Praise God for grace.

Before I throw anyone or any group under the bus I need to examine my agenda. Is it self-righteous Shari, self-promoting Shari or possibly even self-denial Shari who would rather bring attention to someone else’s issues than face my own head on.

Once that’s clear. I and you, need to speak up, show and step up into positions of authority that will give us a voice for Lord. And when others in authority weasel out and don’t defend Him, we need to call them out and set it right.

According to the Promise

In this day and age where promises are so easily broken, I can certainly understand the hesitancy of the unsaved to believe anything Christians say. Many Christians don’t have any more of a testimony of honesty and purity than the unsaved.

That truth was an “ouch” moment for me. I certainly haven’t lived a life above reproach. There are no stones in my pocket. If anything I’m forever in a state of waiting for someone to hurl one at me.

So on this Holy weekend I’m ever conscious of what my Lord has done, as well as conscious of my ingratitude and lack of understanding of the depth of His love.

Last night was our Good Friday Communion Service at Victory Baptist church. Lifting that bread and cup to my lips is difficult. I’m never sure that I even should. That’s the depth of failure I feel. But Praise His Holy and wonderful name He does not intend for me to stay in that state.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:1

Not your typical Easter scripture. But for me it reminded me of what the cross meant…

The Promise of Life

That promises is only found in Christ Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Not Shari’s work, not the preacher’s or the deacon’s or anyone else in this world, but Christ alone.

It’s the life that the unsaved long for but they don’t even know it. It’s a life that can only be experienced by accepting what the blood of Jesus did that day on the cross.

Red Makes White

As an artist I’ve on more than one occasion mixed a strong pigmented color in with a lighter color and ended up with a gallon of paint trying to fix it. Yes that’s an exaggeration. Red into white would certain cause that effect. But not with Christ.

In reading this scripture this morning that’s what happened with me. All my failures and sin were covered with that promise Christ made at the cross. And it’s what gives me the strength to go on. I understand Paul when he said that “by the will of God, according to the promise.”

It is God’s will that we continue on serving even on the days that we don’t feel worthy. It is His will that His children continue His work. The work that He died for on the cross.

Stir it Up!

That was Paul’s advice to Timothy in verse 6 of Chapter 1:

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

Paul had laid hands on Timothy and ordained his service for the Lord. And while that is a wonderful testimony and service of the church, it doesn’t mean that we who have not had the hands of man laid upon us are not ordained for a work in Christ Jesus. Start searching your heart for the truth of what it is God has called you to do and you will stir something inside of you that you may or may not have felt before. But it’s the work, and it’s a specific work that God has called you alone to perform. I believe that.

I don’t believe there is anyone else who can or should do what I’ve been called to do. But I also am painfully aware that I have taken on other people’s callings because I was too impatient to wait for them to step out in faith and do it.

Don’t let me or anyone else rob you of the blessing that comes from serving Christ. Let God stir that gift up in you as He did Paul and Timothy!

Paint the Town!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

My tendency to fall into a vat of guilt keeps me from doing the work I’ve been called to do. It stops my productivity and creativity in the Lord. What a sad statement. But that’s Satan’s goal when he reminds us that we are unworthy. Which if it were only of ourselves would be a true statement; but not according to the promise of life which in in Christ Jesus!

In that promise we can paint the town red. By sharing what the blood of Christ has done in our life. But only if we ourselves believe it to be true, and live it like it is.

It’s Not about Us this Morning

A quick drawing and a quick thought this morning as I prepared my heart for church. I needed to remember, and perhaps you do as well, that God’s idea of mercy and mine are two entirely different notions. Mine has limitations, His goes higher than my mind can fathom.

As I prepare my heart for worship, Satan loves nothing better than to bring my failures into view in hopes that rather than glorifying God, I’ll remember me. But the fact of the matter God has thrown them as far as the east is from the west.

Now let’s go to church and praise Him for it.

It is the Power of God

I feel foolish a lot. There are days that every dream and imagination I’ve had seems like the dumbest ideas ever. True story. Not an exaggeration. But the one solid foundational belief within me is that the cross made all the difference in my life, and when the rest of my world falls apart the cross still stands.

This morning I needed that truth. I guess I need it every day, but today more than ever. I don’t want to give credit where it’s not due; and there are times that I’m pretty sure it’s me attacking my mind and not Satan. My self-doubt is running haywire today. So I turn to the one sure thing in my life. The cross.

The world may view it as foolishness but my work in the ministry I’ve never doubted. I’ve never doubted my purpose in that place because I always stand in amazement at what God has done in my life and it’s all because of the cross.

The Cross brought Communication

I love the image of the veil being rent from top to bottom (Luke 23:45)

And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

 As Jesus “gave up the ghost” and the work was finished on the cross, the final price was paid so that we could have a relationship with God. So that I could talk to the Creator. I have no need to go through a priest. The High Priest is at the right hand of God saying “that child is mine, she can approach the throne any time she needs.”

I have never been turned away.

The Cross brought Comfort

John 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

When the world says I’m foolish, the Holy Spirit say, “You’re fine.”

That comfort that comes from within cannot be explained, it can only be experienced. It’s heartbreaking to think of the world who does not have it because I know what it’s meant for me to have the indwelling of God. Especially on days like today.

Please don’t think that I’m asking for sympathy or a pat on the back for what I do. I’m just sharing with you what you too have probably experienced. Doubt is a powerful tool. It’s the avenue of quitters and I have a hard time not traveling down that road.

The Cross Brought Compassion

It’s what keeps me going. I know the world needs to see more of it. It’s the reason I can kick doubt out of the way and keep on keeping on; because I have compassion for the people of God who need words and images of encouragement. I don’t know what the future holds for the Jesus Chick, but as the song says “I know Who Holds” it.

With the Easter season upon us and the many worldly images of the season, it’s good to have a reminder set before us. God created the bunnies and the chicks, but He communes with this chick, and I am so grateful for the cross that made it possible.

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!