Tag Archives: service

Let Them Have It

Do you ever have those days when it feels like your entire self-worth was wasted effort? I get so excited about projects and life and then in a swift swoop, on a day when it feels that I can do nothing right, I find  myself falling into this pit of despair (I know dramatic right?), but it feels very, very real and it’s very heavy on my shoulders. And the end result is usually a total mind melt down, followed by God prying my mouth open like a rebellious sick child and giving me a dose of the word. And then, glory! Miraculous healing.

That’s this morning.

Quite often the prescribed dose for days like this is from the book of Psalms. I love the word of God from Genesis to Revelation, but the books of Psalms has a special place in my heart, because it’s so often my go to place for days like this.

Like today. When Psalm 138 was spoon fed to me by the Lord in just the right measurement…

They Can Have their god

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

What gods you may be asking? There is none but Jesus Christ our Lord, right? Right! But the world didn’t seem to get that memo. People themselves think that they are sometimes gods and deserve our undivided attention, even over the things of God.

Tears just flowed from my soul and out of my eyes because I’ve been there too often lately. Too many things, some of mine, some of others that have taken my mind off the Lord’s work. I haven’t been singing His praises like I should.

They Can Have Their king

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord, when they hear the words of thy mouth.

In that final day of earth, no man will bow before another man. We will all bow before our King. The One with a capital “K”. The One who resides in the Holy Temple of Heaven, who is kind, and honest and does not speak to me in a the condescending tones of the earth that I despise and it breaks my heart and spirit. Especially when it’s done by another Christian.

That was my day yesterday. Don’t feel too sorry for me. I’m fine. But it’s those days that we all have that the world takes it’s toll. And our focus gets off Heaven and I forget where my headquarters is. And they forget Who’s Boss.

They Can Have Their work

Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Glorrrraaaaaay! Those words stirred me this morning. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve said it myself that I serve the God who sits high and looks low. And there it is in the word of God! Psalm 138:6

Though I walk in trouble, and there is plenty of it in my world; it is God who will revive my soul. God will not only take care of my enemies, He will give me the energy to thrive in my purpose.

Verse 8 really spoke to me in a way that I needed so badly today.

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

God will “perfect” (finish) that which concerns me.

There is a work He has called me to do and He’s going to get it finished through me. That is such good news! I’m pretty sure I’m into overtime with Him but it’s okay, it’s in His time, not mine.

He has a work in you as well! And He’s going to get it done. But we need to stay focused on the One True and Living God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the world have their gods, show them how awesome ours is! Let me have their kings, they only “think” they have power. Let them have their work, show them what great and mighty things we can accomplish through Him. I hope your day is blessed with great eternal accomplishments. ~ Shari

Why We Need a Home Church

A Vacation Bible School lesson this past week has left me pondering the life and example Apostle Paul set before us in the scripture. What a story of conversion. The very villain of the day becomes a hero of the Christian faith. I love superhero stories! But Paul didn’t see himself as a superhero. Perhaps he did prior to Salvation when he was persecuting the Christians. But once he discovered the Person of Jesus Christ there was no superhero complex, only humble servitude. The very zeal that Paul used in his persecution of the saints of God, he turned around to use in the leading to salvation of those same people. Paul was placed before us as an example of church leadership and service. But there are very few Christians who follow Paul’s style of serving the Lord. He was bold, brutally honest yet humbly compassionate, he was real and he was committed unto death. Most Christians of the day are not even committed unto life. Paul fought for the integrity of the church. He disputed false doctrine and he encouraged the fellowship of believers as He was taught by Christ.

So where is it in this modern society that people have concluded that Christ is okay with people not finding it necessary to worship as a body of believers? As my friend Chief said in a sermon last week “Nowhere in the bible do we see that Christ sanctioned a renegade Christian.” Throughout the New Testament the believers were worshiping together and risking their lives to do so. I’m sure it would have been safer for them to just stay home. So why didn’t they? I’m pretty sure I can answer that from my own experience.

I’m Eternally Grateful for Christ and His Church

Basically since birth I’ve been in church, but not until 1996 was I “in the church” as a bona fide member of the body of Christ when I accepted Him as Savior. Until that point I had just been a church member with a vote. Which is far from the same. But suddenly I found myself in a spiritual family who took that role serious as they discipled me in faith, prayed for my struggles, counseled me in life and encouraged my soul every day. That’s what a church does, or should do. For that I’m eternally grateful that Christ placed me where He did. I need teaching and preaching and will until I enter Heaven’s gate because God’s wisdom is of a depth I’ll never obtain, but I long to explore. I cannot get that at the house.

Yes, there are television evangelist, and I do listen to more than a few of them throughout the week. But there’s not a one that I could call and say, “Hey preacher, I need your help,” and I’d get an answer.

I’m Evangelistically Gifted for Christ and His Church

And so are you! I have the gift of gab, song, music, teaching and art; all of which I use for the Kingdom. I use it both in and outside the church, so I will agree that you do not have to have a church affiliation to do so. But do people who have those gifts and are not involved in church use them to evangelize? Maybe a few, but very few. My gifts are an extension of Victory Baptist Church. I always make sure people know when I minister that I attend a home church and value that body for support. I minister to people who are not able to attend any church and would love to be able to. But because of health reasons they can’t make it. Our church sends and encourages missionaries both local and distant. That’s what the bible teaches.

I’m Eagerly Guided for Christ and His Church

I want to know the direction God has for me, but I would be just as eagerly guided for the world if I didn’t have the constant presence of brothers and sisters in Christ and a church that preaches God’s word to me multiple times a week. When I hear someone say that they can worship God alone, in their own place and without the church, I always wonder “but do you?”  Perhaps they’re more disciplined than I. That wouldn’t take much. But my experience with the church keeps me going every day.

  • They prayed me through countless heartaches, including my heart attack and open heart surgery.
  • They encourage my soul with their genuine love.
  • They support my ministry.
  • They bring joy to my soul when they allow me to minister to them.
  • They are real people, just a phone call away.
  • They are biblically sound people I can trust.
  • They’re more…

I need church. I think everyone needs a church.

Hebrews 10:25 says

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

It says that for a reason. We need it,


This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

A Moment of Confessed Reality

Perhaps you are of the outgoing nature like myself, or perhaps you are a recluse like myself. Can you be both? Oh yes. I have to make myself step outside of my comfort zone on a daily basis. Once I get there, the Holy Spirit takes over and I can be the crazy, loud mouth chick for Jesus that everyone sees. But in reality I would much prefer to shut the doors of my home and stay inside, away from what feels like an ever condemning world with my greatest critic in the mirror.

That’s a moment of confessed reality that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared on this blog. This morning just felt like that kind of day. I have to fight the inner tent staked self who wants to stay put and get my travelin’ shoes on. Else, my share of the Lord’s work, won’t get done.

In Isaiah 54:1-5, Isaiah speaks to the children of Israel about that very thing:

The Barren Bride

Vs. 1-2 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

The Jews returned out of captivity, and this is the prophecy of their increase after settling in their own land. Our land as Gentiles is settled too, but not on this earth. It’s in Heaven above where we are seated with Christ Jesus. And yet we tend to put down tent stakes like we’re staying here. My disappointment abounds this morning in my current state of affairs. So my only solution is to write my way out of disparity by reading the word of God and listening to His Spirit in my soul. I feel as though I’m one step from captivity. Perhaps that’s how the nation of Israel felt too. Captivity was fresh, they could still smell the stench of slavery. They didn’t feel productive, they felt bound. Isaiah is there to encourage them that the Lord is not done with them. He’s really not! Never count Israel out. They are God’s chosen. Isaiah told them to enlarge the place of their tent and stretch forth.

The only way we’ll ever make a difference in this world is to stretch outside of our comfort zone and go in the direction the Lord is leading. For me it’s the local nursing home this afternoon. I’ll sing for about an hour and witness of God’s goodness. They’ll bless me and hopefully I’ll bless them. But I first must go. Tonight I’ll meet with a couple of friends who struggle as I do and we’ll share that struggle together, searching for direction and then traveling on!

The Break Through of the Broken

Vs. 3-4 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.  

Israel is still the chosen people of God, but glory to God, we are the inherited lot that God has allowed to be grafted in. I feel as though the word “breakthrough” has gotten a raw deal. Too many prosperity gospel people have used it until it now leaves a bad taste in the mouth of those who understand that breakthroughs most often come from brokenness. Not the arrogance of ‘name it and claim’ it as though we control God. But an all-out, on your face experience begging God to move. That too would have likely been the state of Israel when they came out of captivity. They knew that God was in control and they were at His mercy.

This morning, I know that God is in control. And I am at His mercy when travelin’ on. I need His presence and direction. I need to believe that I am forgiven of my failures and move on in the His strength and power. If I am to see the fruit of my labor, I must not plant myself here, but sow my seeds in Heaven and allow God to give the increase.

The Beauty of the Betrothal

Vs. 5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

The bride of Christ. Me. Shari Johnson an unworthy sinner, is the bride of the Sovereign and Holy God through His redemption on the cross. Oh, how I long to see New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven; where once and for all the wickedness of this earth will be gone and the feelings of failure will be no more! But until then, I’ll prepare for the wedding by inviting more guests to the table. More brides who will know the feeling of belonging.

Until then, I will Travel on, even on days that I don’t feel like it…


This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

What’s in Your Tool Belt This Week?

Much like my counterparts of yesteryear there is a great deal of my Saturday preparing for my Sunday. Although mine is not to the degree of those of the past. I’ve heard my parents speak about spending Saturday’s ironing ‘Sunday go to meetin’ clothes, preparing things for Sunday’s dinner that could be prepared ahead. Getting done any normal daily work that could be done a day ahead so that Sunday was spent in genuine rest in the Lord Jesus.

Sunday’s are not so Holy for the church or the world either one.  I would be guilty of failure to “rest” on any given Sunday. Although I’m in church for morning and evening services, I’ve been known to spend those few hours in between at a store, or any other number of activities. But my Saturday’s are spent preparing Sunday School lessons, Powerpoint presentations for services and attempting to get my head wrapped around worship. The world takes its toll on me. Even though I’m home much of the week.

Saturday is not the only day I work on the building, but it does cause my mind to be more focused. Sad… but true.

What’s in your tool belt for the weekend services? That’s the question I ask myself.

HAMMERING IT DOWN

No self-respecting carpenter would be found without a hammer in his/her too belt. Jesus Himself learned the trade of carpenter from His earthly father and building the church is the foundation of Christianity. If Sunday services are no more than a lecture hall, we’ve missed the mark. God nailed down our purpose when He handed out the great commission for all believers. Not just preachers.

Matthew 28:19

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Contrary to popular belief He did not say sit on your hinder parts in the church on Sunday and accept no responsibility in the building process. Pastor’s need to pass out a few hammers on Sunday morning and remind the congregation as they leave the building to use the tools he’s given them for the week.

PRYING IT UP

I fully believe it would take a pry bar to get some believers up out of their seats, their hands out of their pockets or their voices out of the depths of their soul. Today we should be preparing out hearts for the services in the morning. Imagine if we took the time on Saturday to pry the sins and junk deep within us out and entered the building with a Spirit of freedom to worship. Wow!! What would that look and sound like?

King David knew that a clean heart was necessary for the freedom of fellowship with God when he wrote Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

It would be good if today we did a little cleaning before Sunday and pried some of the dirt out of the corners of our lives.

MEASURING OUR FAITH

My grandchildren love to find David’s tape measure and pull it out as far as the can only to release it and watch it zing back inside itself. I fear we often measure our faith in the same manner. A quick look at the distance we’ve traveled, the things we’ve done and then it’s back in the box with a pat on the back for a job well done. But what if we measured our faith by the word of God instead of by the world’s standards. Would our faith even make it out of the box?

In preparing for Sunday’s services I wonder what my faith looks like to God. Have I built anything substantial this week or is my work simply cosmetic. While the structure beneath is rotting inside.

SAWING THE WORD

2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we look at the New Testaments example of building the church, I’m pretty sure we’re not even in the same blueprint. And before anyone says “times have changed.” We must admit, “The Lord hasn’t.”

His word is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. If Peter could see 3000 saved, so can we, but not without a change of attitude toward the tools of the trade.

Nowhere in the book does it say there was a dress code to serve Christ.

Deuteronomy 22:5 reads:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

This scripture was written at a time when both men and women wore basically the same form of apparel. Although no doubt there was a difference between the two. Just as my jeans and my husbands are completely different. My pockets have bling! His pockets have a leather patch. I wear lace, he wears plaid. But people will read into the word things that just are not there. They do the same thing with worship, evangelism and ministering the gospel. Rather than focusing on building the house… they worry about the drapes.

There are rules. They still apply. But many of the rules for which we govern our Sunday’s with are not found in the word.

When you build a house, you start with the foundation. When you build a church you do the same. Every single word of God.

Isaiah 28:9-10 reads

Who shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.

God laid out the instructions for building His church. We need to stick to the plan.

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This blog is in it’s 8th year. Hosted on godaddy.com for the past five. Expenses incurred for the operation of this site are without complaint and with gratitude for the opportunity. If the Lord would impress you to give to help cover some recent technology issues, I’d be grateful. I’ve not been in the world’s workforce for 3 years and for that I glorify God. It’s given me the opportunity to not only write and work on music, but minister to nursing home patients, volunteer in the Christian School teaching art and help other ministries with marketing. All of which require technology, communication, time and gasoline. Again it’s without complainT… but just in case you have a desire to help, or have “extra money” 🙂 Know that I would be eternally grateful.

Here’s the Link

Freeloaders in the Flock

No automatic alt text available.Driving to play music with a secular crowd, I prayed that God would open the door to share the gospel.  Boy did He! He opened it wide open and in true “Jesus Chick” form I walked out on the porch of that opportunity with my mouth wide open and for an hour and a half I debated faith. The opportunity was great, my delivery I’m not so sure about. It’s the problem with being a “leap and the net will appear” kind of gal; not only do I leap and believe the net will appear, I also speak and believe the words will appear. This has on more than one occasion got me into trouble. Only because I don’t slow down to hear what God’s speaking to my soul.

Luke wrote in chapter 12, verses 11 and 12: And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Well, I didn’t give it any thought, I just spoke from my heart. I’m just so doggone passionate about what my Lord has done! I know He’s okay with that, God doesn’t need any freeloaders in the flock. It’s not a works salvation, but James said in Chapter 2, Verse 18 “Yea, a man say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  That too was a piece of my conversation. There is no works required for salvation, Jesus did it all, but there most certainly should be some evidence.’

 

My “freeloaders in the flock” statement came from a conversation I had with my friend Gloria about my new critter passion, the chickens. Sue, Glo, Butterscotch and Toffee and 4 everyday variety of chickens I’ve yet to give names. My husband wanted the chickens for what they produce, I wanted the chickens because they make me smile. The little babies “peep peeps,” and the antics of the grown chickens remind me in more ways than one of the flock of God. But my husband, in the confidence of a husband, said “No freeloaders.” I, in the confidence of his wife, smiled.  He knew what that meant. No, chicken killin’. But I understand his theory, if we feed them, they “should” follow that up by rewarding us with an omelet or two.

Well, I believe the same as a child of God. If He provides for me in every aspect of life, both physically and spiritually, should I not produce something in my life for Him?

3 WAYS NOT TO BE A FREELOADER

Win souls

It’s the most gut wrenching, fortifying method of serving Christ of all the ways we have to serve. Gut wrenching from the standpoint that you are standing toe to toe with the devil as he tries to undo every deed you do. For every statement of persuasion I would make for Christ, Satan would fuel the fire with human intelligence and logic. It is during those times that I am apt to speak before the Holy Spirit has a chance to get a word in edge wise. It’s not easy, but it is most assuredly worth the war.

Work the Gospel

I know we are a “no works” salvation. But Jesus worked, and if we’re to follow in His footsteps and live as He lived there is work involved. See a need, fill a need. That was His way and should be our way. We should be praying and watching for opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ so that others can see and believe He is Lord of our lives and a game changer for theirs.

Worship

In my human opinion one of the worst cases of freeloading is when able bodied children of God don’t find the time to make it to church. They make the time for work, every form of play known to man, they’ll never miss a hair appointment or an oil change in the worst of weather, but when it comes to taking care of their soul, and thanking the very God who created them and saved them, He is the last on their list. Oh, I know… I’m preaching now. But one of the hardest things to overcome when trying to win a soul to Christ is standing in the defense of freeloaders of the flock. There’s no excuses we can offer.

In Regards to Tadpoles and Quarters

There have been times in an introductory conversation with people in and outside of faith, that I’ve been embarrassed to say that I am an “Independent Fundamental Baptist.”  Before the Independent Fundamental Baptist get offended, I need to explain a little further. I’m not ashamed of the doctrinal foundation for which I’m a member, I’m ashamed of what is acceptable and expected behavior of certain sects of the denomination, as well as any other denomination who in the name of Jesus Christ, behave in a manner that Christ Himself would have no part of.

I attended a revival meeting at Brooksville Baptist Church in the greater Big Bend, WV area, and what a wonderful revival it was. Dwight Goff, Pastor of Camden Flats Baptist Church in Glenville, WV preached and hit the nail on the head on the subject of Christians selecting from a menu of what they want at “their” church. I guess you could call it “Burger King Christianity”, they want it their way, not God’s way.

Every denomination believes they have it right. And many of them do… on paper. It’s when the practice of faith goes from doctrinal statement to practical participation that there’s a problem. Pastor Francis Chan, who no longer Pastors, left his church of thousands because he realized, they in no way shape or form looked like the New Testament church described in the Bible. I don’t think that’s the answer either by the way, but I understand his theory.

Take a hard look at your church: Does it line up with scripture? Are your people taking care of one  another in the spiritual and physical sense? Do they even know who needs taken care of? Are your people sitting in the pews at every opportunity to hear the Word of God and then practicing the Word of God outside of the church in a manner that draws people to them with the question, “Why do you care?” Is there even any evidence that they do care? Do they categorize who should be saved? Do they make fun of those who they deem un-savable? Oh yes… I went there. How on earth do ever think that a person in sin will be saved if you’ve just belittled and made fun of them in the name of Jesus. Yes, the lifestyle of homosexuality, transvestite, transgender, etc. etc.  is sin. So is turning people away from Christ. Christ said He would draw men unto Himself, and He still does. But I have to wonder if the reason we don’t see more people saved isn’t because once Christ draws them in, we paint another picture of Christianity. Our version.

My Pastor closed his sermon on Sunday with the story of a young boy who was sent to the store to buy eggs for his momma. On the way out he tripped on the curb and broke all the eggs. He was so upset. The crowd gathered to console him and one elderly gentlemen took a quarter from his pocket and gave to the young boy (today it would be a couple bucks) but he ask the crowd, “I care 25 cents worth, how much do you care?”

Dwight Goff closed his sermon last night with the story of a wading pool full of tadpoles that he didn’t want to see perish by pouring them out in the yard, at which point God ask him, “Do you care as much about men as you do those tadpoles who don’t even have a soul?” Quarters and Tadpoles; how much do you care.

We are categorizing saints. Our Denomination. Our church. Our style. Our people. Our way. Our money. Our stuff… we want it neat and tidy without confrontation or concern. Yes! We want people saved. But only the pretty people. Not the ones that make us feel icky.

I had a come to Jesus moment the other day when I happened to be around an odiferous person and wished that I wasn’t. God quickly reminded me that that is how I smell to Him in all my worldly, sinful ways, but He hangs out with me. Suck it up butter cup and love on them.

So the questions of the day for you and I both are this.

  • In regards to tadpoles and quarters, how much do you care?
  • Are you more concerned with things that will burn up in eternity than you are the souls you are coming into contact with today?
  • Do you know who needs a quarter in your congregation?
  • Why are you in that congregation, to serve… or to sit?
  • Are you drawing people to Christ, or standing between them and Him with your “opinions?”

Jesus said this in Matthew 18:1-7

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

One of the sweetest things about a child is there are no categories (unless adults train them that way). But naturally speaking they just want to enjoy the people they’re with. They love learning something new. They may think you’re weird, but that’s okay too. They want to please those in authority, and they think those in authority rank superhero status. They love to serve. And if a superhero takes the time to come down on their level and understand their weirdness, then that superhero is someone to follow.

Those should be added to the doctrinal statements in every house of Jesus.

Just Shy of What God Desires

meet shari

2 Kings 17:38-39

And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.

It’s the early morning hours of the 2nd day of camp and all my campers are fast asleep in their beds and I’m alone in the lobby with nothing but the sound of the air conditioner kicking in and out and an occasional ba-ding from my computer from a missed command on the keyboard. I’ve read a few chapters in 2 Kings and again and again I read words like “and he did evil in the sight of the LORD.” Again and again God’s people suffer, and then they’d get a king who would semi live right but he would usually fail to take away the high places.

We’re always just shy of what God desires. And generation after generation we continue to pass that character trait along because very few, if any are sold out to God. And so this weekend we teach the byproduct of flawed thinking. American youth.

We’re just a little bit captive but we’re a lot creative about it. The high places for which the children of God worshipped idols were literally “high” places. Pieces of ground that were elevated with stone pillars, shrines or various shapes which were objects of worship. We no longer travel to higher ground to do our extra-curricular worshipping, we do that right at the house by elevating the importance of all things “not God.” God takes a close second for even the serious minded saint.

Worshipping God has been brought down to the level of common things and praise and shout worthy events like sports, music, etc. are placed upon the hill.

The word continues in the book of 2 Kings 17:40-41

 Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner.  So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.

Generation after generation continued in captivity because they refused to completely destroy the high places. They feared the LORD, but they served the images. Today’s church is no different. We fear God… we fear judgment, wrath, disappointment. We genuinely want to live right. Much like children we truly want to please our Father, but… we have this image to protect. The image in the high places. It’s kind of silly in perspective to the Heavenly Father, but the world says our image is important so we hold on tight and refuse to let go. The world says it’s okay to scream and holler at a ballgame or other event until you’re so hoarse you can’t speak, but Heaven forbid we lift a voice of Amen in a service. We’ll send kids to camp because it’s fun and wonderful, but we won’t send them to church on Sunday because it’s too early and it’s the world’s day off. We spend hundreds and thousands on the latest and greatest to make us happy but can’t figure out why those doggone kids won’t put up their iPhone in a service and listen to the preacher. The high places take priority.

When Satan took Jesus to the exceeding high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world saying “All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” Jesus told him to Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And then the Devil left. ~ Matthew 4:8-9

No images. No high places. Just God. We need to stop worrying about “our image” and just worship…

The Tough Subject of Ministry and Money

When I began ministering through music early on in my ministry, I felt so guilty when a church would offer me money. I wasn’t a professional, I was doing it for that purpose, I was just excited to serve the Lord. One night my Pastor came to me when I was about to reject an offering and said, “You’ll do this enough times for free, when money is offered, accept it and consider it a gift from God.” Well, he was right. I’ve done it for free many times, and for the record, I’ve never regretted it once. If you’re truly in the ministry, you know going in that it may or may not be a paying career, but it’s always a rewarding career. That being said… money is a necessity for survival in this world.

But when the subject is broached it’s almost taboo. So when the Lord laid this topic on my heart this morning I hesitated. Contemplated rejecting the notion. I’ve never been comfortable with regards to money and the ministry because I would never want anyone to feel that’s the reason I serve. But the word of God is clear on those in the service of God.

1 Timothy 5:17-18
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Preachers need paid. And the Word said if they serve worthy they’re worth a double portion! Why is it that folks don’t think twice about paying abundantly for services of skilled professionals but think a Pastor should work on fried beans and rice? Our spiritual needs fuel our fire and provide the strength to get done what we need to get done in life. Its value is immeasurable and without it all hope would go down the drain quickly. Preachers and Pastors are taken for granted until we stand in need and then they’re expected to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They earn their keep and then some.

But I’m not a preacher or a pastor. I’m the Jesus Chick. So where does that put me on the pay scale? It puts me in an awkward position when I’m ask what I do for a living. It puts me on my face before God when I’m trying meet my monthly expenses. It’s put some amazing people and opportunities in my life that fill in gaps and encourage my soul. And this morning it put me in 1 Timothy 5, verse 18.

Just like the un-muzzled ox that feasts on corn of the field it’s plowing; the rewards I reap from ministering the gospel fills my soul! I’ll not complain when the power and blessings of the Holy Spirit bring unexplainable and unspeakable joys in my life for my service. But through the coercing of others in the ministry, who see my work as worthy, and the coercing of the Holy Spirit Who says “Through His blood I am worthy,” I have added a ministry donation button to this site. If you do not have, or do not feel inclined to give, then please don’t feel obligated. But if I have encouraged you and the Spirit speaks, your gift of any amount would be appreciated and honored by God.

I do what I do because I’m gifted and afforded the opportunity by grace and feel that I am accountable for the ministry that God has given. This week God has been enlarging my territory. For that I am grateful. But for that, there is expenses. Thank you for reading my blog. It encourages my soul, I pray I’ve encouraged yours!

There’s some great things happening. Stay tuned for some awesome works of God!

What’s your ilities and what are you doing with them today?

ilitiesA quick message and words of encouragement from a friend last night brought to mind a much needed attitude of gratitude for the salvation I have in Jesus Christ and the peace He alone affords His children. Life is harsh, I have on every side of me friends and family suffering. I have issues of my own, we all do! And yet I have this responsibility that comes with accountability but praise God for the ability to use all those “ilities” in the ministry. Ilities is not a word… so if I drive you grammar checkers crazy I’m sorry. But Ilities should be word. The definition of “ilities” would be

Ilities: the enabling of a God given gift through the Holy Spirit, not to be ignored, and for the exclusive purpose of ministering and encouraging the children of God.

If you’re a child of God, you have ilities. You may not have discovered it, but you’ve got it! And just because you don’t know what it is doesn’t exclude you from the accountability factor because you should be looking for it and opportunities to use it. My friend did not have to message me and encourage me last night, but he chose to take the time out of his day to do so. He has discovered the many talents that God has given him in music and exhortation and he uses them.

I also received a message from a fellow who thanked me for the new song that I published this week “You Knew,” (see video below) because it had ministered to his soul on a hard day, and he returned that by encouraging me. Wow! An ility at work! For he and I both.

Apostle Paul, who was so much more eloquent of speech than The Jesus Chick wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

Believe me I’ve fainted a time or two, or a million. I’ve known that there were things I should have said and done and I chose to ignore the ilities that God had placed within me because I was fearful, uncertain, or just flat out lazy.

Paul continued in verses 7-8

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

That is why, even on my worst days, even on the worst days of other children of God, we can minister to one another. So…

The Unseen is not Unnoticed

lily work

It’s hard to believe sometimes that I’ve been on the road to salvation twenty years, but I was saved in 1996, so the math is there. But in many ways I still feel like a new convert. I’m ever so grateful that God’s mercy is new and afresh every day, for I need it every day; that’s the part of that new convert feeling I’m not so proud of. I still feel like an utter failure most days of the week. But another side to that new convert feeling is the absolute fact that I’m as excited today as I was the day I got saved, which is what makes serving God so easy.

I’m not one for accolades. I have no desire for men’s applause for work that I should be doing, but an appreciation is wonderful. So when Mickey Carter preached on the unseen lily work in 1 Kings 7:22 my soul smiled.

And upon the top of the pillars was lily work: so was the work of the pillars finished.

The Top

Where no one seen but God. Unless of course great effort was made to get up to it. For the record I don’t feel unloved or unappreciated very often. Seldom would be more like it. I must give glory that God has always sent encouragers into my life who climb to the top, look at the lily’s and say well done. But I’ve had days where the flesh rose, usually in exhaustion, when I felt as though all my unseen efforts were not for naught but went unnoticed. It caused me to wonder if anyone cared or understood the time I had put into a particular project. Was it necessary? Was it just busy work? And then Brother Mickey blessed my soul by allowing God to use him to tell me… it wasn’t for nothing. God took note.

The Lily

Another character trait for me is that I love, love, love a project. I’m project driven and it’s all about the details. But many times I’ve seen the “details” in the trash at the end of an event and thought… why did I put all that effort into something that was thrown away? But isn’t that everything down here? Nothing is going to make it through the end days, and if for a brief moment in time my efforts made someone’s heart happy and brought glory to God, then my attention to detail, the intricate work on the lily, was a worthy effort.

The Finished Work

The pillars were done, no names were inscribed as to the artist, just a beautiful workmanship that held up the house of God; which is exactly what we should be. Those of us who serve don’t need to be noticed, we need to be useful. Those pillars were beautiful, but they also served the purpose of being the strength of the church. Am I? Are you? It’s a point to ponder in our servitude as to whether our time is spent strengthening the house of God.

Just keep serving, using the gifts and talents God has given you to finish the work. It does not go unnoticed. You are loved…