Tag Archives: success

The Church Bones

A Facebook friend posted a question last night for speakers asking “If you had to speak for 45 minutes without preparation what would you speak on?” My response was “Church Bones.” Although the title is somewhat cryptic, it’s a subject that I feel I’m somewhat an expert on after 21 years of studying people. I’m somewhere between a friend and a non-creepy stalker with ministry people. I love watching to see what works and what doesn’t in a ministry. What floats my boat and draws me to Christ and what’s just “oooo that’s shiny” moments. I also like watching the congregation. Especially that in my own church because I’ve been there when many of them began their path in our church. It’s exciting stuff when you see God working in peoples lives.

What I don’t do is look around the church at those who “don’t do.” What could I possibly gain besides an ulcer?

The body of Christ is the bones of the church. And there’s a lot of bones that I won’t mention that are crucial joints in the church. But the ones in my illustration are the movers and shakers of the group. They’re what makes it work… or not. Depending upon the church. I could actually put names beside every bone in my illustration. God has been good to our people. So I’ll tell you in brevity about a just a few.

The Attitude Bones

Glory to God, that’s one of the most important ones! A smile seems so small, but when someone new has just walked in a church a smile goes a long way. When someone old walks in a church a smile goes a long way! We need to let people know that we’re glad they’ve arrived. I can tell you of way too many times I’ve walked in a church (to which I was invited to sing) only to be greeted (if you want to call it that) by people who look more like I’ve walked in on them in the bathroom. True story! Check your attitude when you get to church and make sure you’re a welcoming sight!

Shoulder the Load Bones

The spiritual load of the church is a heavy load for those who work in the ministry, especially the Pastor. We often times do not see the heaviness that someone carries because they’ve got the attitude bones in check. Their load would break the back of a normal person. But because God’s given them an added strength, they carry on. That doesn’t mean that we as the congregation of the Lord and friends shouldn’t try to shoulder any of the load we can to help out. We can make calls, we can bring supper for a busy family, we can tuck a dollar or two in the hand of someone for encouragement. The list is long of ways to shoulder the load.

Leadership Bones

The direction of church is turned on the leadership bones. I heard it once said that the church rises and falls on leadership. It also goes right or wrong. Leadership isn’t for the faint of heart and those in leadership will answer to a greater degree when they stand before the Lord.

Discipleship Bones

Countless people put their arm around me and steered me through the beginning of my walk with Jesus. It’s probably the greatest neglect of the church today. We see a soul saved and we’re so excited but we leave them in the deep water to drown. Sound dramatic? I usually am, but it’s the truth none the less. You wouldn’t leave a newborn beside the ocean unattended and you certainly shouldn’t leave a new convert to be attacked by every shark in the sea of Satan. It’s why they don’t stay and why they go astray in life. They need to be discipled just as the early church did.

Funny Bones

Oh my stars! A sense of humor is a necessity in a child of God! For the reason of stupid people (those who don’t have a filter and can cut you to the core) and to lighten the load that many of us carry in the door. I know Jesus laughed. I’m pretty sure I’m responsible for His laughter much of the time now when He sees me trying to make it on my own.

Back Bones

If you’ve been in church any length of time at all you know them by name. They are those who will stand flat footed and tell you like it is without wavering biblically. They’ve been there a while and have stayed standing through every storm.

Hug Bones

So, so very important. And also it’s important to know who’s a touch me not. But I’m a hugger because I’ve known many days when I just needed to know someone cared. Being cautious about folks who hurt and those who don’t like touched is important though because you can just as well run them off or physically hurt them. We often don’t know our strength and for someone with arthritis or fibromyalgia the lightest squeeze can send shock waves. So hug, but maybe with just your smile sometimes.

Work Bones

Most churches do not have an abundance of work bones. Another quote I heard was that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I fear that a more realistic number would be 5/95. If you just show up at church on Sunday morning, get your message and go, you’re clueless on the background of your church. Hours and hours of preparation goes into a good service. Floors don’t clean themselves, dinners don’t get planned and materials don’t just show up un-ordered. We need more work bones!

Praise Bones

God desires it. You need to experience it and the folks behind you need the encouragement to join in! Raise them hands to the Lord all ye people!

Prayer Bones

Another neglected anatomy part. The altars of America are not well attended. Prayer is a formality at a few tables and an act of desperation when times are tough, but seldom relied upon for survival of everyday living.

Visitation Bones

What’s visitation? Exactly. It’s a lost art and it’s why churches are not growing.

Tail Bones

Every church has them. They’re pew sitters. And it’s not a bad thing unless that’s the only thing you do and you leave no better than when you came. But the very fact that people come to church is wonderful and shows that they have a heart for the things of God. Celebrate every single one, even if you sometimes have to check pulses.

That’s just a few of the many, many parts of a church. As my Facebook friend said last night, there’s some squishy parts too. They’re the kind hearted souls who come, worship and encourage us just by their presence. I love the body of Christ. Every one. Even the tails bones.

1 Corinthians 12:20

But now are they many members, yet but one body.

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.

Too Stressed for Rest?

stressed

This morning found me taking a nostalgic trip back to a simpler time in my life when all the cares and weight of the world laid upon the backs of my parents who were more than capable of handling the load. My Dad went to work and my stay at home Mom labored to keep heart and home in check throughout the week. Saturday’s came, and for me it meant cartoons on the couch or an occasional chore, but for my mother it meant preparing as much as possible ahead for Sunday. The Lord’s Day. Not just any day but a day of rest. Saturday was preparation day so that after church, even Mom could rest a minute.

Today Saturday’s are filled with housework, yard work, trips to the store or weekend getaways and preparation for Sunday begins at 9 a.m. Sunday morning for most families as they rush to get ready for church, if they’re even going. I’m not throwing stones, just stating a fact (one for which I lived out for many years prior to salvation.) Sunday for me was the day of guilt. I was raised better than to stay at home on Sunday, yet the freedom of adulthood allowed me that privilege and I took advantage of it at every possible opportunity. After all, I was in the workforce now, I needed the rest; and well, Sunday was better than Saturday, because Saturday I had things I wanted to do – like play. Ahem…. I’m preachin’ now!

I’m not a preacher, but King Solomon was when he penned the words in Ecclesiastes 12:10 ~  ”The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.”

Solomon searched to find words that would be both acceptable in the ears of man and right in ears of God that would encourage the congregation of the Lord. Words of truth. I seek those same words this morning as I write in hopes of encouraging a believer (or non-believer) to reconsider the purpose of the weekend.

I know lives are busy… hello… look at my own! I have something practically every day and evening of the week. So I get why someone, especially a young parent says, I need the rest. But the problems come when they miss the rest. The rest is Sunday, in the Lord’s house. The rest is what comes from hearing the preaching of the Word of God which puts balance into our lives. Even the babies as they go to Sunday School class and interact with other families of faith realize that there’s a purpose in Sunday. And bit by bit seeds are sown into the entire family that makes life better Monday through Saturday.

It’s my prayer as you read this, that it stirs your heart for Sunday morning and today you’ll begin preparing and determining that there will be a difference in Sunday. It will be set aside for rest for the body and soul. Perhaps you’ll even share it with someone else that you know has been to stressed for rest.

Here it is, you likely knew it was coming if you’ve ever heard the verse… Hebrews 10:25 ~ “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.”

Exhortation! Encouragement! Who doesn’t need it? Hope to see you in church tomorrow!

 

Sin Runs That Deep

rootsEphesians 2:3

King James Version (KJV)

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

The roots of sin run deep. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has issues in life. Whose old nature pulls back so hard at times I think my arm is going to disconnect from my body. Nothing would make Satan happier than to see me back slide in a very public way. There’s more bang for his buck if the unsaved can see a saint fall and then with glee straight from the pits of Hell say, “I knew it wasn’t real.” You don’t even have to fall far. Say the wrong thing, be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or get caught in a weakened condition and have someone rub you the wrong way and watch the old nature of man rear its ugly head.

When I seen this tree picture this morning on the web my first thought was “that’s sin, those roots grow deep.” Somehow or another we’ll find ourselves staring the old nature in the face, Satan will make sure of it… or so he does with me. Maybe you’ve moved past that point.

So what’s the answer?

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

This is why I’m crazy about Christ. This is why I talk about Him all the time. Why I awake in the morning desiring a day of fellowship with Him. Because as deep as the roots of sin ran in my life before salvation, I have to run the new roots of salvation even deeper into the things of God, else the old nature will take over.

It was the nature of that tree to seek out dirt beneath the surface, but above the ground it reaches toward God and grows strong in the sun and rain. It’s metaphorical for certain, but we all know there’s truth in it. Beneath the surface there’s that sin nature that could go back to looking for dirt in a heartbeat. It’s important to be very conscious that it’s there, else you get caught off guard.

I don’t want to give Satan anything to cheer about…

Conversations with Satan

I enjoy my long trips to work (provided it’s not on ice) because it allows me to get at least one sermon in as I start my day listening to some of my favorite preacher’s pod casts. But there are occasions that I like to ride in silence. Sometime I pray or converse with God… but before you put me up on some pedestal I’m bound fall off of and break a hip let me tell you what generally happens. I start thinking about life’s circumstances, some good… some bad. And then Satan begin to chime into the conversation.

“So, you thought you nailed that meeting, huh… well you didn’t…. Those same people in your space again, judging you, and you failed… it’s no wonder…you can’t even keep the kitchen clean, and the laundry, what’s up with that? Every other woman can do it, you’re an epic fail…

Okay, whatever Satan. I need to think of something else, he’s got my number on that one… Easter’s coming up. I need a new dress…

Yep, but you don’t need a new size… hahahahah….

Okay bad idea… Teen camp planning. That’s safe. I need to get the curriculum out to the counselors, and get someone to do the activities, gee, I hope Nan will cook….

Let’s discuss last years camp…

And that’s within the first five miles of the trip. Silence is not always golden. Sometimes it’s stainless steel (cold and unbending).

It shouldn’t surprise me that I’m a target, he knows Christ is living in me and nothing brings him greater joy than to mess with Jesus’ house. Although it did not work with Christ when he used the same tactics:

Matthew 4:1-11 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

He waits on those vulnerable moments that are evident. I don’t believe Satan is all knowing, only God has that power, but I believe through he and his crew of fallen angels they can hone in on what they see as breaks in the armor. Be cautious of what you verbalize or make visual, and if there’s a crack in the armor fill it with the Word of God.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Temptations come in all forms and most likely it’s the things we’re looking at. I’m a very expressional person. You can read my feelings on my face including those things I desire. How very easy  I make it for Satan to understand what my heart wants that perhaps I should not have; to buy, do or say something that I should not and put my life or my testimony at risk. And the conversation starts… We need to learn to recognize the temptation and speak the word of God over it.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Stuff… I’m all about it. And Satan knows it. He knows if he can convince me it’s a justifiable purchase I’m in like flinn, and then once I’m in… he’s the first to jump on the criticizing band wagon and start railing on me for wasting money. There’s no pleasing the guy! Jesus’ focus was back on glory and the fact that only God fulfills the desires of the heart, not things.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him

Satan finally bugged out of that battle field, but he was far from gone. His focus was no longer on tormenting the Son of God personally but using the only thing he could… us. But the good news is we have the same weapons Jesus used, we just need to remember to pull them out of our arsenal. Before you go into the world today, make sure you’re packin’… the Word!

3 Things God Needs You to Know

Isaiah 43:18-19 ~ Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 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.

What encouraging words this early morning! We know spring is on its way because we’re all likely dragging from the loss of another precious hour of sleep. But in West Virginia this morning it’s a balmy 32 degrees and I’m still feeling the effects of the harshness of winter, and in Isaiah 43 the Israelites were still feeling the effects of the harshness of captivity of Babylon; so God inspired Isaiah to pen these words of encouragement that continue to give hope to the captives of today. Captives of what?

Things.

I love bible word studies because they’re often like an unforeseen journey; a vacation from the typical way of thinking. Isaiah said not to remember the former things and the old things and upon further searching out those words I discovered that the “former things” were ancestor related, and the “old things” were places where they had went before. God didn’t want them dwelling on past mistakes and places that didn’t hold the best of memories, He had “new things.”

This morning as we’re on the edge of springing forth into a new season, we’re ready to don the fresh colors of the spring, short sleeves and flip flops! You’ll likely not find anyone wearing the cumbersome wool overcoats, boots and hats in a few weeks but in the scope of life there are many people who have failed to leave the old seasons of life behind when God gave them a brand new one! They’re stuck in winter grays when God provided a whole new palate of beautiful color. Too metaphoric?

Past mistakes of ourselves and others can haunt our future and prevent us from living the successful lives God intended. Rehashing the places we’ve been will create an epic fail in the new places God wants to take us. I’ve witnessed it and I’ve lived it; when people won’t let go of what someone did and continuously bring them or the event into a conversation of today making it a fresh wound all over again. When God said “No, I’m giving you a fresh new life!” Just as it says in II 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.

As spring approaches it would be a good day to bring in some fresh new thoughts… stop allowing Satan to keep you captive in the harsh winters of life. It’s a brand new day!

Perhaps you’re still in captivity. The children of Israel were at the time Isaiah wrote these word of encouragement. They’re to serve as a reminder that as a child of God He has a new plan for you.

God went on to say in verses 20-21 ~ This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel.

God made you for praise and He desires to give you reason, but if you’ve failed to call upon the name of Jesus for salvation or help you’re still captive. God’s not going to drag you out of captivity until you have taken the first step.

Spring forward child!

Graduated Thinking ~ Less Than What? ~

cap

This morning I’m here to share with you something that’s been on my heart to share for years, and I’ve not had the courage until today. When I read a post from a teen in my youth department who Satan was thumping on and who had the nerve to fight back, publicly. She’s a senior in High School who beyond a shadow of a doubt has the talent to do or be anything she set her mind to, but she’s choosing at this time not to go on to higher education but rather focus her life on being a woman of God, and perhaps a wife and mother a little further down the road. And because of her decision the world is berating her that she is less. My question to them is “Less than what?”

Here’s my story. Unlike her I wasn’t saved when I graduated High School, therefore I did not have the Holy Spirit within me giving me guidance, but that’s not to say that I didn’t have the Holy Spirit guiding me, because I fully believe He set a path in motion that would have been easier if He were within, but was fulfilled from without. I hope you got that. God had a plan… Jeremiah 29:11 says – For 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. ~ God had a plan that He allowed to come to fruition because I eventually did get saved; which God knew I would, that was the expected end He could see. And I believe the plan would have come together much nicer if I had gotten my heart right with Christ sooner.

But like this young lady much of my life was lived feeling inadequate because I didn’t measure up to the world’s standards. And some well-meaning people… and some, quite frankly, mean people contributed to that inadequacy with questions as to why I didn’t continue my education, and still yet today ask that question of me. And still today when the question arises I feel less. Less than what? Less than God intended?

This is not an “anti-higher-education” blog. Praise the Lord for those who seek wisdom in specific fields. I don’t believe any of us want a doctor or nurse who got their degree by filling out a form and paying a fee. No. We want well educated people. But I’ve seen plenty of well-educated miserable people who rather than following the Lord’s will and plan for their life chose a profession based on status. Who felt that they’d never measure up in life unless there were some ABC’s behind their name. And there were some who when having achieved the ABC’s forgot the fundamentalism of life’s purpose.

I’ve wanted to write this blog for months, but every time I put fingers to keyboard the fear of someone saying “You’re writing this to justify yourself in a field you’re not qualified for,” came to mind and I just shut it down. Because the world had convinced me that they defined me. If I didn’t have their piece of paper somehow I was less. Less than what?

This morning as I sought for answers I ran across Psalms 139 and discovered that I did indeed have a degree. Psalm 139:16 ~ Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

My name is written in a book in Heaven under “Child of God”, but not only my name… “all my members were written down before I was born.” My fingers were written down, they have a purpose, my eyes were written down, and so was my mind, and my legs and my toes…. Every member of this body has a purpose and a talent that no man can define. A degree is a unit of measurement, and I, Shari Johnson have abilities measured in Heaven which are limitless. So lesser than what?

If I fulfill the will of God in my life; His purpose… then when I get to Heaven and receive my final reward it won’t hang upon a wall, but will be a crown of pure gold that I can lay down at the feet of my Savior.

Read on in Psalm:139 verses 17-18 ~ “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum o f them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Something Beautiful & Good: You!

I have about as much of a clue on why God tolerates my antics as I do on figuring out what makes the world tick. My attention span is that of a two year old (I kid you not). I’ll apologize ahead of time or behind time for a conversation in which my eyes glaze over. It’s not you, it’s that ol’ ADD, which can stand for Attention Deficit Disorder, or Adult Defiance Disorder which I have no medical diagnosis of either, but I’m pretty sure I have both; and they could be treated with a big stick.

I’ve been working on a guitar piece that was humming softly in my brain when I got up this morning. It’s a chorus by Bill Gaither titled “Something Beautiful.”

The lyrics are:

Something beautiful,

Something good;

All my confusion

He understood;

All I had to offer Him was

Brokenness and strife,

But He made something beautiful

Of my life.

I “get” that song, or better yet God “got” me when He inspired Bill Gaither to write it. My world has been filled with confusion since day one, it’s what makes me, me. And it’s what frustrates anyone who has to deal with me. Even in reading what I just wrote I can imagine your eyes glazing over! But please bear with me as I let you in on something God shared with me this morning in my confusion…

Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11 ~ He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

In His Time

So, you’re not feeling beautiful today? Me either, inside or out. But God said He made every thing beautiful in His time… not mine. In Heaven when God created Shari, He created me just the way I am. His time is eternity past, present and future – and because I know (because scripture tells me) that He knew me before I was born I can be rest assured that my ADD behavior did not catch God off guard. ~

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.

Somehow, someway, God has a plan for me. Not a new and improved version, this version. And in God’s time, where He is, where He can see yesterday, today and tomorrow He sees and loves me as He created me, as I am. In His time, age, size, hair color nor any other human elements matter. He sees us as He created us… beautiful. Who are we to argue?

In our Heart

God has set the world in their heart. He has placed within us a design, and inner working that allows us to know we are a part of His creation, but we must wait with patience (again… not my strong suit) to discover what that complex plan is from beginning to end. If we made a delectable baked dessert and took it out of the oven half way through it wouldn’t be eatable. But, wait until it’s done and it’s the delight the creator intended. I don’t know what God’s plan is for me… and that frustrates me to no end that He didn’t discuss it with me, but in truth He may have discussed it with me prior to my appearance on earth. The desires in my heart may have come from a conversation in eternity past, that’s why they’re my desires today. Interesting thought… But another truth is, that confusion comes from the fact that there is no good in me, except the goodness of God through the Holy Spirit. I have this old nature that continually battles with the new nature that came from Salvation. But in spite of it God gave me a job to do and it’s a gift. Listen to verses 12-13 ~ I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

The desires of my heart, the person God created me to be is a gift meant for enjoyment. So rather than living in discouragement we should remember that we came with a purpose instilled in our heart.

The Bible is your user manual… crack it open and get some direction for the day!

Second Generation Awesome

I met the first generation awesome as a new convert in the 1990’s. She was a frail looking little lady with a heart the size of the State of West Virginia. She was your typical grandmotherly looking woman with a pocket book dangling from her arm. She didn’t wear any bling that I can recall; she just arrived, listened and left. You’d barely notice her at all were it not for the way she pushed people outside their comfort zone with her obedience. The Pastor would at various times make mention of something the church or someone in the community needed. He’d say it in passing, not to act upon it at that time, but that this was something we were going to do. Before he would finish his sentence you’d see a rustling in back right hand corner of the church, and out she’d step with pocket book in tow, fumbling with the clasp. And then you’d hear those awe inspiring words, “Preacher, I’d like to give the first twenty.” If she did it once she did it one hundred times and it would catch the whole congregation off guard! Because she lived in income based housing I knew she wasn’t rich, but she gave in abundance to the needs of others.

She came to mind this morning because I had a meeting with second generation awesome last night. She probably wouldn’t like it if I called her by name but God and I know who she is. Like her mother she would go un-noticed by most, but not because of her style, because she’s got it goin’ on there. But because she’s a gentle soul and a soft spirit. She’s seldom out front but always the first to step up and do something; whatever it is that the Lord lays on her heart. Like her mother she probably pushes people out of their comfort zone because obedience is not a strong suit for most of us. If God tells us to give twenty dollars, we’re counting the bills to makes sure we have enough to spare, maybe only giving fifteen for fear we’ll need lunch money. But the truth is if God tells you to give twenty, you can’t afford not to, and you might want to consider giving thirty just to let God know you’re serious.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

“Second Generation Awesome” took the example her mother set before her and applied it not only to finances but to life, and every day she lives with a dangling pocket book in her heart, ready to step out and say “I’d like to give the first twenty.” It may be twenty dollars or twenty minutes but she’s ready to offer herself up for the service of the Lord. Her life is not perfect, she’s not without heartache or concerns, but I believe that because of her gift of generosity God has blessed her.

I didn’t write this today to make you or I feel less than adequate in the giving department. I wrote it because I think we all need a reminder that God’s storehouse doesn’t sit empty. It sits full of things we could give and do for the Lord, but don’t for any number of excuses. And because of that we’re missing out on the blessings of being a new generation of awesome. What’s in your pocketbook?

It’s good to be here…

There’s a quote that people say when something bad happens in life, ~ “It left a bad taste in my mouth.” The polar opposite of that is found in Psalm 34, when David said in verse 8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” At the time this was written, David had just fled from Saul. A man called to be King, chosen by God, a servant of servants and yet he finds himself under attack and on the run for no other reason than King Saul’s fear of losing power; which David, though he was entitled to it, had no desire to take. David fled into the enemy territory of Gath, the home of Goliath who he slew. Saul’s fury was so great that David felt safer in the land of the enemy than at home, but he was far from safe.

As a child of God in America, allegedly the “Home of the Free,” there are days I feel somewhat like David. I love my country and the foundation for which we stand, I have respect for authority and no desire to overthrow the government, and yet with the economy in such a state, the attack on the Word of God and the embracing of the vulgarity in society I too want to run into the house of God for refuge. David wasn’t afforded a house of any kind for refuge but rather in the cave Adullam.

I Samuel 22:1-2 ~  David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

And in the cave of Adullam, David is joined by four hundred misfits just like him and he is on a strange new training ground preparing him for leadership of Israel, “And it tastes good.”

It tasted good because he “spoke good”

David said in verse one “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Praise encourages the soul and blesses God, Who, by the way, won’t be out-blessed. Proverbs 28:20a says A faithful man shall abound with blessings…” I fully believe that those men who were in distress, debt and discontent were drawn to David because he encouraged their souls too. If you’re in trouble spiritually or emotionally the last thing you need to do is hook up with a negative Nellie. Find yourself a faithful servant of God who speaks good of “all” circumstances and you’ll find yourself encouraged in the journey.

It tasted good because he “shared good”

Verse 3 ~  O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. David and that ragtag bunch of men were in that cave under attack and they were having a Worship Service. If it were not for the fellowship of like believers I’d be in trouble; and by like I mean they too have a desire to serve God and are focused on the purpose of God. We encourage one another, we share the goodness of God, not the corruptness of the world. We have negative people within the congregation, but I love on’em and move on. Scripture says magnify the Lord, not Lucifer.

It tasted good because he “sought good”

Verse 10 ~ The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

David sought good in his circumstances. He knew God allowed him to be in that place, at the time for a purpose and the same is true with the condition we’re in. (or the Country we’re in). As frustrated as I get with Washington, there is no other place I’d rather be than here. I still have the freedom to worship. God is King and Ruler in my world.

I have a desire to be a greater leader in 2014. I want to encourage the believers and I can think of no better way than to study those who God used. David’s words to his men are word’s I’m taking to heart today and sharing with you:

Verse 11-14 ~ Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

Speak good (guard your mouth), see good (guard your eyes), do good (Let God guide your work)…. Wise words.