Tag Archives: life

Why Our Conversations with God are Lacking

Below is the video link as well as my notes for the “Not Another Manic Monday” Video Blog published October 8, 2018. Tune in  live every Monday at 10 a.m. on Facebook as I share what the Lord has laid on my heart to encourage us for the coming week. 

VIDEO NOTES:

To begin with, it’s hard to begin a conversation with

  • Someone we’re not familiar with or perhaps may not even know.
  • Someone we’re angry with (if we’re honest)
  • Someone we’re afraid of, or
  • Someone we don’t understand.

It’s sometimes helpful if we have a conversation starter.

Prayer needs are obvious conversation starters. I used to think I was prayer warrior until I realized all my prayers started with “Lord help me.”

Who wants a friend who only comes around when they need something? Don’t get me wrong, God wants to hear everything we need. But He’d like to have some talk time with us just for the sake of getting to know Him better. Not hearing just hearing about our problems.

1 Timothy 2:5  says “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

Conversation Starter

So if by way of a conversation starter you heard God ask “Why don’t we talk more often?” How would you answer?

Which one of the excuses would you have, or perhaps another one. But be honest with yourself and ask, what causes me not to have a closer relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you fear Him?

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.”

So let’s break that verse down.

If God hasn’t give us the spirit of fear, who has. Easy question to answer. Satan loves it when you won’t talk to God. Because he knows without a good relationship with Jesus, God can’t work in your life to the fullest extent. So he whispers lies in our ears to keep us apart and a way from a three fold promise.

The Power of God. The Love of God and the Strength of having a sound mind. Power to make it through any problem we’re facing. Love, not condemnation which Satan wants you to have, and a sound mind, meaning that you worry and stress less. Is that not something we all desire?!

So take the time to have that conversation with God today. What’s coming between you and Him?

Tell it to the Scapegoat

Anything that prevents you from having a conversation with God is a sin. Even if you don’t view it as a sin, it is because it’s keep you apart from your Creator.

In the book of Leviticus, an Old Testament ritual was that the priest on the Day of Atonement would take two goats before the people at the temple. The first he would kill which symbolized the blood sacrifice that Jesus would make in the future. The second goat he would release into the wilderness, symbolizing that the sins of the people were carried away.

I love the scripture which says “As  far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Everything that causes you apprehension with God, is gone. You can visualize it on the scapegoat, running into the wilderness never to return.

What an awesome way to visualize our sins! Running away from us.

The last point for today is to have a

Tell it to Jesus

It’s a conversation that I had last night in the preparation of this morning’s video blog. I needed somethings to go away. I had to get very honest.

I’ll share those with you, because I need to get them out in the open and perhaps your struggle is similar.

  • I feel every burden of my family on my shoulders. Everyone’s. And I most always think that it’s my fault.
  • I don’t ever feel that I measure up before God or man and that I’ve failed everyone who loves me.
  • I feel that my value is tied to my pay. Which for someone in the ministry, (not a paid ministry) that makes my value “0”.

That may or may not be your issue. But something probably is that keeps you and God from having in depth conversations.

I hope that today you’ll take the time to talk to Jesus. Tell Him the truth about why you and He don’t talk as much as you should. And let’s start this Monday on the right foot, getting closer to our Lord.

God bless ya!

Why Will You Die?

Another milestone in the zipper club (heart bypass) journal was the completion of my first week of cardiac rehab. Also another  reality check on the lack of care for myself over the last several years of life. Following my decision to stop smoking on May 26th, 1997 (with the prompting of the Holy Spirit after a year of salvation) I traded my addiction to tobacco for an addiction to all things tasty. Gradually I blossomed into the well-rounded person I am today both spiritually and figuratively.

The criticism and judgement of sometimes well-meaning people (sometimes not) served me well in the department of discouragement and depression. The added pressure added extra weight. However, before anyone thinks I blame others for my blessed figure status, the answer is no. I’m the one who lost her will power. And so today as I read Ezekiel 18, I remembered my week at cardiac rehab. The struggles that I had as I pushed through each piece of equipment and so did not enjoy it. As I tried to clean up the mess I had created over the past 21 years.

Ezekiel 8:31

“Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”

I believe Israel had gotten on God’s last nerve. They’d sinned, worshiped idols and used their children as sacrifices. What a mess they’d gotten themselves into because they’d gotten their eyes off the Lord and put them onto the things around them. I won’t throw any stones in that department either.

But the end result of a life without God, is always death. And no matter what I try to do in life without God as the central focus, it will surely die, because I am His, and He is mine and He expects to be a part of my life.

So how do I make sure that’s the case when living everyday life and making decisions that can change my future? And how many times have I gotten on God’s last nerve by not listening to Him.

The Word tells me.

CAST IT

Cast away from you, all your transgressions.

Easier said than done, right? Well, yes and no. We know that nothing is impossible for God! But we must first allow Him to have it. For me and my transgressions… there were many. The overeating and desire for food replaced an addition that had begun when I was a child. I smoked my first cigarette at 13 years of age. I had been addicted a very, very long time. But when God got involved the desire for that substance was replaced with a desire to be better for Him. But the cigarettes had also come with a stigma of non-acceptance by the world, both saved and unsaved people alike. So it wasn’t hard to not desire it. But everyone loved food!  It was acceptable.

But the weight gain was not.

Add to that the fact that God had called me into ministry work and I was now standing before people every week, I became very weak emotionally.

I allowed the pressure of that judgment, whether real or not to get the best of me and I ate all the more because it made me feel better.

So what did I need to cast off?

Addiction. Self-Condemnation. Irresponsibility.

If Jesus had cast my sins as far as the east is from the west, I needed to cast my transgression to Him so He could take care of them. Because when I threw them down, they never failed to land out of arms reach and I would pick them up again 

Psalm 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

CREATE IT

…and make you a new heart and a new spirit:

So how do I do that?

I have to change somethings about my life. Beginning with my mindset. Your brain tells your heart when to beat.

In the course of the day, your heart will beat somewhere around 100,000 times and over a calendar year might beat up to 35 million times. Over the course of a lifetime then, your brain and your heart have to work together to engineer 3 billion heartbeats.

However there’s something in the heart called automaticity.

Meaning that the heart, even if it’s disconnected from the brain, will continue to beat at a set rate.

For me that shows that there’s a thought controlled side of the heart and a God controlled side of the heart. Praise God! He knows when to kick His side in.

But when it comes to decision making He leaves that to me for the most part. So I need to create within myself a new heart and spirit. Basically new desires and passions that align with God.

I can only do that if I focus on godly things casting those things that are unhealthy to Christ so that He can help me get them out of my life.

COMMIT IT

…for why will ye die,

Commitment was something that Israel didn’t have. They’d make and break promises as fast as the ink would dry on the paper.

I’m not any different. I yo yo diet, and I yo yo commit to the promises that I make God that “I’ll do better.”

We take commitment too lightly. Forgetting that God doesn’t take it lightly. Over time, God allowed many of His chosen people to be killed because they couldn’t keep their commitment to live for Him.

When I quit smoking, I partially did so because I believed God was going to allow me to die a dreadful death because of the effect of smoking. He warned me to quit… and so I did.

The transgression of poor health was not so easy for me to commit to overcome. I allowed emotions and lack of self-respect to play the major role in controlling my diet. Scroll forward to May of 2018, three heart attacks, open heart surgery and now cardia rehab and I am beginning to think I should have listened sooner.

Duh. I’m a Slow learner. Israel and I have a lot in common. Most of all, and Hallelujah, we have God’s grace in common.

But eventually God’s patience runs thin and we get on God’s last nerve. Before that happens, it would be much better to give those transgressions to Jesus. Everyone has them, and their personal to them.  

There’s a 3 step plan for it. Cast. Create. Commit.

God’s final verse in chapter 18 was  For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.  

There is life in Christ! And a much better, more rewarding life. Live it! And live it well. 

Somethin’s Got a Hold on Me!

It’s a time of confession. If you notice an absence of me from social media, blogging or life in general, it can often be attributed to a stronghold in my life. Such has been the case for the past few weeks. Anytime I am about to embark on a speaking or singing engagement I can expect an attack from somewhere. Sometimes I’m better equipped to handle it, and sometimes I’m ill equipped to handle it. When I had my recent surgery, I was just flat out ill. But once the recuperating time was over (or at least what time I had allotted myself) I thought I’d be out of the woods and away from the attack of my emotional and psychological condition. Yes, I am that foolish mortal. I was relatively sure that I had survived the worst part of it, the actual surgery. And physically that was the worst, but not psychologically. There was still plenty of time for Satan to get inside my head.

I felt alone, although I was daily surrounded by people who loved me. I felt as though my ministry time was coming to an end. Although my heart had been fixed it was still broken spiritually. I told no one of this state of mind because I am after all “the Jesus Chick.” I bear His name because He bore mine on the cross. I can’t allow anyone to see me as a failure. Though I surely am on so many levels, beginning with that manner of thinking. But it’s who I’ve always been and the theory of life I adhere to. The “I’m Fine Theory.” Unlike my biblical hero King David who wore and bore his heart on his sleeve so that all who read his God inspired words would know we are not alone.

Psalm 142

Confession is good for the Soul

1 I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication,

David wasn’t holding anything back. At the time he wrote Psalm 142 he had been forced by Saul into hiding in a cave with people he had no faith in at all. If you read 1 Samuel 22 you’ll discover he was surrounded by family who had never had any faith in him and some very needy men he described as in destress, debt and discontent. David had to wonder if they weren’t there just for what they could get from him as a known leader and successful warrior.

I hesitate to confess the thoughts that have run through my mind over the past two months. But they were akin to many of David’s. And not for the same reasons. I’ve always had a great support system in my life, but I’ve also had some very needy people in my life, for which I honestly didn’t mind helping but they were not of the lot that would have been there if I needed them. So following the heart attack I had to re-examine some things in my life. And it began by considering what was holding me back from my service to God.

Complaining is okay with the Savior

I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

I always feel guilty when I complain, whether it’s to God or my sounding board Gloria, who is my number one fan and closest friend. But Gloria encourages me to share with her the problems of life because I know that that conversation will not go any further. But even still it takes me a long time to get to that point and it’s usually when I’m on the verge of blowing up also known as “overwhelmed.” God doesn’t want us to get to the point of being overwhelmed. He already knows we have a complaint. Perhaps if we’d take it to Him sooner, it could get resolved sooner. He is after al the best friend of all.

Who hasn’t felt that way on more than one occasion and as times gets worse, those occasions are more frequent. When you feel that no one could possibly understand what you’re going through or why you feel consumed by it and tied down to the point of being unable to move to the left or right! That has been the condition of my heart for weeks.

But David knew, even in the midst of that struggle that God knew his path. What comfort in those words that God knows the path I’ve taken and the path I’m headed to, and He has me covered in both directions.

Confidence is found in Salvation

I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living. Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.

It has not only been emotional challenges but physical and ministry work related as well that has taken a toll on me. I did cry to the Lord and each time He brought me through with a victorious end. God has dealt bountifully with me as He did David.

When David was crying in that cave, he had no idea that that rag tag bunch of men, who he no doubt feared were there for what they could get, not give; those same men would support him in battle all the way to the throne! Glory to God!!! And those same struggles I have faced have caused me to count the blessings of those around me who support me and encourage me to be “The Jesus Chick.” That confidence can only be found as a child of God. The world will let you down, but God and His people, are there for the long haul…

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A Word to the Frustrated Believer

In general, I stay more frustrated with myself than with others among the church. But I must confess that I too can grow weary of people.  For some strange reason the Mac Davis song, “Oh Lord it’s hard to be Humble,” is now playing in my mind. If you know the song, you remember the next line “when you’re perfect in every way.” Now, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “I beseech you,” meaning I beg of you, to understand I’m as far from perfect as the pendulum swings! But human nature being what it is causes my mind to focus on the errored way of others, and when I do I am brought to a message like this in 2 Corinthians 10.

It comforts me to know that even the great Paul had to talk his way through the frustrations of dealing with stupid people.

2 Corinthian ds 10:1-2

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.

Remember Humility

Paul said that he was base (the lowest) among us. How could that be?  A man who was beaten and imprisoned for preaching the gospel and died a martyr for the faith. How is it that he would say that he is less than anyone else? Because he remembered humility. It’s a character trait of those who are most used by God.

Paul’s past, pre,-salvation was spent having Christians murdered for the same faith that he now defended. That no doubt weighed heavy on his heart. And though it was under the blood of Christ, it would not have prevented Satan from using it as a tool of discouragement in Paul’s ministry. Satan doesn’t have any new tricks, he doesn’t need them. He always has plenty of ammunition in the line of guilt in my life even after salvation. I can either allow him to tear me apart, or I can face the world in humility as the Apostle Paul did, knowing that I am a sinner saved by grace. It’s in that humility that I’ll learn to extend grace and mercy to those who frustrate me.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Avoid High-mindedness

Paul said to cast down every “high” thing that puts itself above God. I think of that as those self-righteous moments of mankind when we look upon the faults of others and forget our own. Oh, the saints of God love calling out sin, so long as nobody opens their closet doors.

It is so easy for me to look at someone else’s life and assume that they should have known better, or that no excuse was worthy of the transgression they committed, but justify my own blunders. Paul lay a reminder before us that that kind of high-thinking is detrimental to the children of God. It makes someone feel less and someone feel more and that is not the way Christ did it. Christ never justified sin, nor did He execute the sinner.

2 Corinthians 10:6-8

And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? if any man trust to himself that he is Christ’s, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ’s, even so are we Christ’s. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

Understand it’s a Matter of the Heart

When we’ve been hurt, or we’re in disagreement with someone else, it would do us well if we’d consider the heart of the matter. While my weakness may not be yours or vice versa, we cannot say for certain that we understand every underlying condition that created our frustration. I only have to recall an issue that I had with a person who seemed arrogant and prideful. My frustration with them grew to the point that I’d cringe when I’d hear their voice in the distance. They later became one of my best friends and what I discovered was that the arrogance and pride was a shield that they placed before them so that people couldn’t see the insecurity and lack of self-confidence that they garnered inside. Once I understood that about them, my frustration quickly turned to compassion and the realization that everything wasn’t always what it seemed.

Paul could have boasted in his authority with God and his wisdom of men. He was right. But he chose rather to look on others with compassion and allow the love of Christ to be exhibited rather than the pride of man.

I’ve learned that most people eventually realize the error of their ways, or I recognize mine. And when they don’t I need to leave them with Christ and move on to matters I can control.

Placing it in Christ’s hands in indeed the cure of the frustrated believer.

5 Ways to Stop the Coaster

I don’t know the year that my life turned into a roller coaster ride but I seem to have been on it for quite a while. Whoever sold me the ticket is losing money!

I probably don’t need to ask if you’ve ever felt that way, because I’m pretty sure we’re all in the same theme park. Perhaps “Stress Me Land” would be a good name for it. Every second of my day seems to be filled with unachievable goals pointless meanderings. A breather for me is usually the time, when at the end of the day, I sit down with my phone to play a mindless game, and wake up two hours later and go to bed. Life is exhausting! There’s so much vying for my time, it’s hard to know when to say when.

So when I once again woke up feeling overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion before the day even started I knew of only one remedy. The word of God.

5 ways to stop the Coaster

Get Still

Isaiah 41:1-10

Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.

We know the scripture that says “Be still and know that I am God,” and yet finding that place of stillness is seldom ever sought. Isaiah is speaking to Israel, their life is in turmoil and which one of us can’t identify with them and often times for the same reasons. We’re not obedient to God, we rebel again and again, we fail to serve Him as He should and yet we want Him to care for us and patch every booboo in our lives with a superman Band-Aid ®. And when we’ve road the coaster of life ‘til we’re ready to puke we finally hear the word of God say. “Silence!” That’s point one. Get still.

Get Real

Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Isaiah’s asking them the question “Who raised you up in the first place.” In that day there were many idol worshippers and Isaiah is challenging them to compare their idols to God. Can your idol raise up a man, stand him before you and make him ruler. Can he make a man from dust? That scripture challenges us to compare our own idols that seem to have control over our lives. Think about “that” in comparison to the God of creation. Who wins the battle?

Get Ready

The isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid, drew near, and came.They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved.

Funny thing about the word of God. It doesn’t take you very many words before you see the Lord at work and the power of His Word.

Glory to God!!!! How I needed this message today.

All those anxieties and fears that have been rummaging through my mind looking for something to latch onto are suddenly shaking in their boots because they know Jesus has just took hold of the coaster switch, that it should not be moved.

Get Set

But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.Thou whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called thee from the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away.

Isaiah calls the people of God to remember that they are a chosen generation. Israel was handpicked by God and we are saved by the crucified hands of God! Does that not put a shout on you? Yes we fail and yes we let God down, but God has never and will never fail us. He will not cast us out which is the greatest lie of Satan to believe that He would. And yet… every time I let God down, (though I know I’m saved) Satan beats me up with that lie over and over until I get here. And God reminds me that my footprints have been set in Heaven already, and their waiting for this body to meet them there.

Now Go!

10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Start the day a new. Knowing that God is with us all the way.

 

The Answer to Every Problem

I have no idea what the Lord Jesus might look like, but I for certain know what He feels like.

I had three of my grands at the house this morning and was fixing them their favorite comfort foods before school; pancakes and hot cocoa with baby marshmallows melting all up in the cup. Yes, I’m aware that is not the breakfast of champions, but it is the breakfast of Noni. They don’t stay that often, so when they do I like them to leave with the feeling that Noni’s is always a place that they are loved and gone the extra mile for. That’s how I’ve always felt with Jesus. That’s how I feel with my family and my friends. Those that God has placed in my life are placed there for the “extra mile” experience of a child of God. I am blessed.

I am painfully aware that not everyone experiences a pancake and cocoa life. If I’m truthful, not every day of mine is so sweet and wonderful either. Life is harsh. And pancakes and marshmallows usually won’t fix it; but understanding the comfort that comes at the greatest of cost but the smallest price is a worthwhile endeavor. It’s knowing the God of “all” comfort.

I was speaking with a friend this week about the tragedy of people in our lives who don’t experience the peace God affords. Most of them are not saved. They’ve never known the peace of salvation, which is the sweetest peace of all and the only true peace. They try to achieve it through Pancakes and cocoa, which is at best a temporary fix. Jesus isn’t temporary. Jesus is eternal! Even so, Christians too often forgo seeking His sweet, everlasting peace in exchange for the pancakes and cocoa version. Color me guilty on that on more than one occasion.

How many times have I sought to remove a heartache by rewarding myself with a new something or another? A cup of coffee and a piece of apple strudel? It matters not the place of comfort we seek, if it’s not in Christ Jesus it won’t fix the problem.

2 Corinthians 1:3b says that He is the “God of all comfort.”

All.

Those three letters are fully inclusive of every problem in life.

  • Did someone hurt you? God loves you. Romans 5:8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Did you lose your job? God is your provider. Philippians 4:19But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
  • Did your marriage fail? Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
  • Did pressures of life overtake you? Jesus has the peace that passes understanding. John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
  • Did you lose someone to death? Jesus promises eternal life filled with no sorrow. 2 Corinthians 5:8 – We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
  • Did you fail miserably? Jesus will give you the opportunity to start fresh, without condemnation. Isaiah 43:19 –  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
  • Did you sin? Jesus died so that you could be forgiven. Colossians 1:14 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
  • Do you have uncertainty in your life? Jesus is certain. Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

No hurt or trouble is uncovered. Jesus is the God of “all” comfort. He is the God of all “grace.” 1 Peter 5:10But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

What you discover upon reading the word of God is that the common denominator for every problem is that the bible has the every solution. ALL.

Three very powerful little letters because God controls “all.”

 

The Backslider’s Gospel

backsliderAs I read the opening of Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians this morning, I felt as if I should start this blog:

Shari, a servant of Christ (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead:) and all the brethren (and sisters) who are with me, unto the churches of Calhoun County. Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.

What a regal introduction. We take, or should I say “I take, my calling of God for granted.” Paul was writing to the churches of Galatia because they were believing a polluted form of the gospel.  Paul marveled that they were “so soon removed from him that called you unto the grace of Christ unto another gospel.”  (Galatians 1:6b) And as I read across those verses I thought back about the people that I have seen give their lives to Christ at an altar of grace and tsmhen were so soon removed. Those who I had watched walk and serve Christ. Not as those do who get saved and vanish. Which is often the issue with a soul will who comes searching for a temporary fix to a permanent problem rather than a permanent fix to a temporary problem. Whew! That a good word right there! But the folks I think on are those who I served with for years sometimes; and then one day they were just gone. Believing another gospel? They’d likely say no. Because they’re not serving in another church. They’re absent without leave, and believing a gospel for which they aren’t even aware.

The Backslider’s Gospel

A backslider’s gospel is perhaps what I would call it. For some reason or another they found their time could be better spent outside of the church. They occasionally come on Christmas and Easter. A funeral attendance will heap conviction upon their shoulders for a good thirty minutes after the service. But then they determine that Sunday is like any other day. And they can love God on Monday just as well. They have nothing to prove by being in church.

Just as I need to be reminded Who it is and why it is that I serve Christ, a backslidden Christian too needs a reminder. Paul said in verses 15-16 “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to which were apostles before me ; but I went to Arabia, and retruned again unto Damascus.”

While Paul didn’t go to where the other Apostles were, he was still in the ministry. He was preaching and teaching the gospel as the Holy Spirit revealed it to Him. He wasn’t called to follow the church, or the leaders, he was called to follow God. So be it when someone leaves our church and moves on to serve in another, I’m not concerned for their soul. I miss them, I’m like a mother hen I want all my peeps in one place, but I’m spiritually mature enough to know that’s not always the way God sees it.

But when someone leaves church for the house… no… that’s not God’s plan. That’s a backslider’s gospel. That is the one that allows you to believe that you can be “be just as good at the house as you can in church.” No you can’t. You’ll tell yourself that you’ll read your bible and listen to the word of God. For a while maybe, then you won’t. You’ll tell yourself that you don’t need Christian fellowship. Yes you do. All these things serve a purpose in your life that you don’t want to live without. You can survive. But not nearly as well.

The gospel not only convicts the soul of sin, but it soothes the heart.

Sin may not be continuously on your door step after you leave the church, but Satan will be. He’ll place things in your life to assure you stay away from God’s house, because even Satan knows you’re better off in church.

The fellowship of believers may cause a disagreement now and then, but there is no truer friend than that of the body of Christ if you’re in the right church.

The Backslider’s gospel is the most deceiving of all. Because it tells you “You’re okay.” And you’ll be okay until you’re not and then you’ll be away from everything and everyone that can help you make it through the rough patches of life. And then Satan will convince you that nobody cares. What a liar!

If you’re away from God. Get your heart and mind set for Sunday morning. Be in your seat. If you’ve not yet left, but you’re contemplating it, hang on to the back of that pew with every ounce of strength you have and then hit the altar and ask God to help you through. Don’t go to church for the sake of other people. Go to church for you.

How To Make a Lemonade Life Out of Lemons

life

Solomon is said to be the wisest man to have ever lived, and I don’t doubt it. His words were salve to my troubled soul this morning. I don’t understand why God chooses to allow this world to continue in the state that it’s in. I’ve never seen so much evil. I’ve never felt the fierceness of sin trying to turn my own mind away from God such as I do right now. The closer I try to get to God the greater the oppression of the enemy on my soul and the vexation of my spirit. So to hear that even the wisest of men struggled with that understanding gives me some comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in my search for peace.

There is something about the tartness of a lemon that has always been a metaphor in life. Very few people would bite into that fruit and pleasure in the experience. It’s a jaw puckering, eye quivering, taste like no other. But squeeze the juice out of those babies into a pitcher, dilute it with water and add the sweetness of sugar and it’s a whole new day! The sour is overcome, the taste buds dance and the soul is made happy in a beverage. The lemon is no longer looked upon as a painfully sour fruit but rather something to be savored.

A bite out of life sometimes yields the same result. A piece of my day viewed from the perspective of just a brief period of time is bitter, and harsh. The pain sears my spirit. It’s too much to consume. Broken dreams are like an unsweetened lemon. I try to grab hold of faith, reign in my thoughts but the bitter, sour taste has my eyes closed and teeth clenched. I can’t see anything sweet, I only taste the lemon.

Ecclesiastes 5, the words of Solomon, had a lemonade making effect on my life today and wise advice:

Living the Dream!

Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.

We all long for the dreamlife; the one without heartache, sorrow and struggles. But that dream is almost always mingled with a few nightmares. Stay focused. Keep your footing in the house of God where the Word of God is preached, a support system is in place and an accountability program in effect. Listen more and talk less. Work harder and be idle less. Satan is full of ideas that he loves to share with busy people trying to make things happen. Be not hasty with decisions, it almost always leads to heartache. I have worn that shirt many times!

Leave the Lies

Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.

So, so many times I’ve dreamed dreams and said to God, “God, if only You’ll do this, I’ll do this.” God’s not in to empty promises.  Solomon words advise us to keep our dreamlife in perspective. Fear God more than fearing failure. Failing isn’t always the problem, refusing to admit you failed and moving on is often the problem. When God doesn’t allow a dream to come to pass, perhaps that was your dream not His. Or perhaps you didn’t work hard enough at the dream. “That” is life in perspective for me. Be honest with yourself. God already knows.

So what then? What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we anticipated?

Learning the Lesson

A brief and incomplete summary of verses 8-17 is that even when we do life as best we can, reality can still be harsh, heartaches can still come, and the dream may or may not be fulfilled. Money won’t buy happiness, life is brief, and we’ll take nothing with us when we die. But understand that God was there through it all and through it all there was a purpose.

The lesson to be learned is this, the dream is not the achievement, the dream is the process that leads to success.

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 ~ Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Faith Is… Dancing in Army Boots

army boots

Nobody who’s been a Christian for more than twenty minutes would likely say “Faith is easy.” Getting saved is easy. That’s just a matter of accepting what Christ did for you. Staying saved is easy, that’s just a matter of accepting what Christ did as enough, because we can’t do enough. Living faith… well that’s another story. Just after the words “I can do this!” come out of my mouth, Satan drops by with words like “Or so you thought…” Dancing for the Lord is great, until you try to do it in Army boots.

That was the thot on my heart this morning as I look at my life and the lives of friends and family who struggle every day with “real life”, but keep on praising! “Real life” is heartache, financial issues, illness, death, sin, brokenness, hurt…” that’s the things that life is made up of on many days for mane people.

I’ve been continuing on in the book of 2 Samuel, slowly making my way through the life of David. He fascinates me. He was man after God’s own heart, but a man none the less. He was a lying, adulterous, murdering man. So how could God refer to him as a man after His own heart? In 2 Samuel 6, he danced before the Lord and got in trouble with his wife Michal, in 2 Samuel 11 he’s committing adultery with and impregnating Bathsheba which lead to the decision of killing Bathsheba’s husband, which lead to the death their child. David’s life was certainly “real!”

In less than a dozen chapters of life David had been a hero, a lover, a fighter and a down right scoundrel. So in chapter 12, verse 20 as he’s given the news of his child’s death, it says he “arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him and he did eat.

The staff thought that strange, to which David responded “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; for I said Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Heartache doesn’t stop in life even if you’re a man (or woman) after God’s own heart. Life happens. We struggle, we sin, we grieve, we get angry… and when it’s over we dance. The victory will come for a child of God but not always in the manner we’d like. And sometimes the outcome is beyond what our imagination could comprehend. You just can’t explain God. Only He can.

But we can dance in army boots.

Because the battle is real, but even in the battle God is worthy of being praised! ~ The Jesus Chick

 

When Is Nothing Enough?

contentTo tell you “I struggle with contentment” could quite possibly be the understatement of the year. And while there is a spiritual truth in the fact that we should be constantly growing toward Christ and never content with our spiritual state, there’s also a very humanistic ideal that nothing is enough. What an oxymoron! How could nothing ever be enough?

I’ve heard it again and again that God put the emotion of desire in our hearts, but the first mention of desire in scripture is in Genesis 3:6 where woman saw that the tree was “a tree to be desired to make one wise,” and so she took the fruit. Well… that didn’t end very well for us did it? Obviously there are boundaries for which our desire should or should not be acted upon. The world tells us to “go for the prize,” which I guess that’s okay if it’s the “prize of your high calling which is Christ Jesus” spoken of by Paul to the Philippians, but what about the desires in life of a non-spiritual nature. It’s where guilt enters the picture for me.

I am blessed beyond ridiculousness when it comes to having the desires of my heart met. And yet I have things in life that seem to be out of my reach at all times. Spiritually speaking I feel like I need to “drain the swamp” in my own life and get rid of some things that have me bogged down and fighting to stay afloat. As you can tell, my mind this morning is a battle between the principalities of the air and the Holy Spirit within. God set me on a journey and in this present state of mind I feel like the path is a thick brush that I’m having to hack my way through; I’m so tired from hacking away at it that by the time I get to a clearing I collapse… and the brush has time to grow again. Dramatic? Yeah, I guess so. But that’s life too, always dramatic! So I determined this morning to slow down… not let the monotony of life take the few minutes that I have this morning, and make it mayhem.

Hebrews 13:5-8

Look at what you have

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Looking around my home this morning I can tell you that there are things I want. I can also tell you that there is nothing I need. That statement can lead a conversation in two directions: covetousness or contentment. One will lead to a feeling of resentment and the other will lead to a feeling of resolve. It’s not hard to see which conversation is healthy, but we know it’s not that simple. It would have been healthy for me this morning to have oats and toast for breakfast, and yet I chose a cherry ®Pop Tart. Healthy isn’t as convenient is it?

Look at Who can help you

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

My time lately hasn’t been mine. And I’m not speaking of the time I spend serving others… although that is a decent portion of it. But I speak more to the time that I spend trying to figure out life. Oh my stars! It’s insane how much time I waste pondering what to do, what not to do, what I should have done, how I’ve failed, how I’m going to fix my life… Ha! And then I read verse 6 and see “the Lord is my helper.” Boy, have I missed the mark.

Look at who you’re listening to

Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

I spend way too much time listening to Satan and his minions tell me I’m a failure to which I reply, “Yes, yes I am.” Why do I do that? Because it’s convenient. I can go there and it costs me nothing. But in order to hear the positive words of positive people that God has sent into my life I have to put forth an effort. Read the word of God, find a sermon podcast, etc. Church is a no brainer for me. I wouldn’t even consider not going to church, but come Monday… it’s Satan’s playing field.

Look at the Real Reality

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day3, and for ever.

Back to my first thought, “how can nothing be enough?” The reality is, no “thing” will ever create contentment. Only Christ leads to contentment because He never changes. There’s always an upgrade on the things of life, but it gets no better than Jesus. So this morning as I try to make sense of the chaos I call life I need to look:

Look at what I have – Jesus (all knowing) He understands where I am

Look at Who can help – Jesus (all powerful) He understands what I need

Look at Who I’m listening too (all present) He understands I am weak

Look at Reality – Jesus is all. He Understands