Tag Archives: trials

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.

 

How to Survive the “Not Yet” Moments

EASY BAKE FAITH

There was a group of Jesus’ brethren, said to be distant relatives of Mary’s, who didn’t believe He was the Christ. They desired proof that He was or proof that He wasn’t. I know folks like that. But Jesus’ response to them was “Not yet.” I don’t believe curiosity in Christ is a motive God cares to honor. God has nothing to prove. And yet continually mankind tries to prove that He is or is not who He says He is.

In times of trouble my weakened flesh will seek to prove God’s power by pulling me out of what I consider to be a fiery furnace. But I can feel the Holy Spirit roll His eyes and say “Seriously Shari… that compares to a fiery furnace like the ankle deep creek on Philips Run compares to the Grand Canyon. I certainly make light of scripture sometimes. Rather than in a fiery furnace I am perhaps in an Easy Bake Oven where God is seeing how I withstand the heat. I’d rather be removed like a half-baked cookie but God’s leaving me in until I’m golden brown and firm in His foundation. It’s a trying time. But timer still says “not yet.”

Jesus’ brethren desired that He go to the feast of the Jews in town and prove himself in front of -the religious leaders and the naysayers of the day. But Jesus wouldn’t even walk with them. He told them to go ahead, He wasn’t ready. His time had yet to come, and then He said “but your time is always ready.” Jesus was speaking of His death, which it was not yet time for, but for their death, it could be anytime.  Just like our can be any day.

I felt a little more relational with the brethren than with Jesus this morning. How awesome would it be at my next Jesus Chick event to be able to speak of the fiery furnace that God plucked me out of. I mean, really who wants to hear my crybaby Easy Bake Oven story of how I whined and whined every time the heat was turned up until God finally took me out of the fire. No dramatics. Just cookies and cream.

So Jesus waited and went to the feast alone. It was there that He went to the temple and left them in awe of His wisdom. They couldn’t understand how this “unlearned” man could speak with such authority. The people were in awe of His miracles and the Jews were in awe of his mind, but they were missing what mattered. They were in a “not yet” moment. God wasn’t going to prove Himself to either party. He wanted them to awe in who He was. He was God.

Those “not yet” moments in our lives are like that. When God is waiting for us to possibly mature into the responsibility He’s about to give. Or become willing to trust Him beyond what wisdom allows. A few weeks ago I was hit in a tender spot of my ego that continues to be an Easy Bake moment in my life. Not being a college graduate in my field of work can bring judgmental remarks from people about my qualifications for life. They sting… because I know where my wisdom is from.

Jesus’ third not yet moment brought that to remembrance for me.

“But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” – John 7:39

But that Spirit has now been given and He has been glorified; which we celebrate this week. I’m grateful for that reminder today that all “not yet” moments in time have a purpose in Christ Jesus. And if we allow His plans to thoroughly bake, it will be well done!

***

I’ll not complain when the power and blessings of the Holy Spirit bring unexplainable and unspeakable joys in my life for my service through the studying of His Word and the sharing of the Gospel. That is a gift of unmeasurable worth! 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. 

If you’d like to know more about what I do, send me a message and I’ll be happy to share with you what God is doing and the direction we’re going!

It’s Only Bread

Bread of Life

Mark 6

Jesus had just left his home town where (vs) He marveled because of their unbelief, He as just a carpenter’s son after all, how could He be so wise and do such marvelous works?  It was from there that He began sending His disciples out two by two, He’d given them power over unclean spirits and instructed them to leave with  nothing  and rely on God for provision, which they did without question. But then one of the many strange stories that have me shaking my head, until I look in the mirror.

The disciples were in the inner circle, they’d seen His miracles, they’d no doubt felt His frustration when the folks from His hometown rejected His message and were offended, they were willing workers in the gospel movement and are our heroes of the faith for many reasons. They were there that day when Jesus had greater than 5,000 people sit down on the lawn and eat to their full from 5 loaves of bread and two fishes, and then took up  the remnants of the meal to the tune of 12 baskets of bread! Glory to God what a service!

Jesus then sent the disciples in a ship to Bethsaida while He went to the mountain to pray. As evening comes the disciples were in the middle of the sea in high winds, and as they fight the storm they notice someone walking on the water, and they cried out in fear. That doesn’t surprise me. They’re human after all and that no doubt was a pretty scary time.  It’s what happens next that bothers me.

Jesus begins to talk to them and says Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.” (Vs. 50) He gets into the boat, the storm stops and they’re amazed, but they don’t know its Jesus, and then the scripture says its because  (vs. 52) they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.

The mirror flipped on me. How many times have I seen the miracles of God, witnessed them first hand in my life, watched God do the undoable, and then later sit in fear because of circumstances that are beyond my control. How many times have I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and not recognize that it was the voice of Jesus? Too many…

It was only bread.

I hate the thought that my heart is hardened.  I want to believe that I am tender and pliable for the Holy Spirit to do a work in, but then struggles come and I sit in fear having the many miracles of grace and mercy in the recesses of my mind, ready to draw upon for strength, but it’s only bread. That was yesterday, this is today. Sad and true. My heroes of the faith are just like me. The present storm had taken their mind to place where they failed to recognize the voice of Jesus until they reached the safety of the shore.

God knows I’m human. He knows when I’m in the middle of the storm my attention span is short. He’d like me to be more faithful, but His word reminds me that it’s not the first time His people have let Him down. The question is, what are you going to do when the waves stop, or the dust settles?

Vs. 53-56

And when they had passed over, they came into the land of Gennesaret, and drew to the shore. And when they were come out of the ship, straightway they knew him, And ran through that whole region round about, and began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.

Get to work! God understands our human nature when the storms rage around us, but when the waves die down and the dust settles it’s time to remember that it wasn’t just bread. It was the Bread of Life making provision for our way and there are countless other people who need to see that God can bring them through too! When the disciples made it through the storm they hit the streets running, and didn’t just give lip service for the miracles of Christ, they brought the people to Him. And as many as touched Him were made whole. How many? As many… numbers are nothing with Jesus. 5,000-5 million… God can!

A Spiritual Check Up for a Hard Day

chick check up

This morning, after another Muslim attack on our nation, I was ready to rale at anything that looked political. I’m tired; physically, mentally and emotionally on many levels and for many reasons. It’s not a good day for me to get in the flesh. But it would be an easy day for me to do it. That’s when the flesh likes to react the most, when I’m weak in the Spirit. Let’s be clear, the Spirit is not weak, but I’m weak.  It’s a good day for a Spiritual check up!

1 Peter 2

1 ~ Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

Spirit check one… check your attitude Shari. When evil occurs as it did in Tennessee yesterday it’s easy to want to lash out at the political nonsense around us and the acceptance of evil as “the norm.” But God said to lay all that aside and rely on Him. Sin abounds, not just in the world but in our selves. The day to day hypocritical living, coveting and speaking in frustration is enough to keep me humbly aware that I have no right to point fingers.

2 ~ As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Stay in the Word! In Bible College if I heard it once I heard it dozens and dozens of times, “The Bible is a Spiritual ‘warsh” cloth, it’ll clean you up!” (West Virginia colloquialism inserted for “wash”) How true that statement is. Reading the word is like a mirror to the soul. Every sin shines brightly when the Holy Spirit begins working through the Word of God.

3~ If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

The Bible is not only a “warsh” cloth it’s food to the soul. Reading wisdom that is pure and true and always a right word in the right season of life is addicting and amazing. As I read the scripture for this blog I’m more than a little aware that God was sending me a warning this morning that I needed to get my attitude in check, especially before taking a group of impressionable young people to camp in a few days. Glory to God that He provides my every need. Even a swift kick in the pants.

4-5~ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

I am chosen, precious child of God, and so are you! Men may not allow or understand the wisdom and purpose that God has for our lives. But we who were dead in our trespasses and sins, are now alive through the Spirit of God. I love the scripture in Luke 19:40 that says “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.” God can not only bring hardened Christians to life, but the rocks in the hills as well if we won’t praise Him. Praise is the Spiritual sacrifice expected of every child of God. And when you start praising God, it’s hard to complain about the world.

6 ~ Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

God gives understanding to those who love and seek understanding through Him. We are blessed in a world that has no clue about the spiritual significance of the modern times and troubles, all of which point to our Lord’s quick return.

7-8 ~ Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

To us the Lord and His Word are precious, but to a lost world around us, who rejects Christ and His Salvation they are stumbling all over themselves searching for answers. And God has appointed them as well to be a part of the story. Nothing that has happened caught  God off guard. Nothing in my day will either. So for me, in my hurried and worried way… I’m going to rest in the arms of Jesus, believing the house will wait, the hubster won’t starve without me, the birthday party will be blessed, the grands will be good, the church bus will roll and camp will be amazing! Amen!!!

That’s What Makes You Strong

CHICK STRONG

James 1:1-4 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Not once have I ever said to a friend going through trouble, “Wow, your life is a mess and this is a reason to party! We should break out the pop and chips because today is a celebration day. You’re in trouble!” Not one time have I said it, it’s absurd is it not?

But James is telling his friends who are facing trials, tribulations and persecutions the likes of which we have never known to celebrate the day. He doesn’t stop there, he at least tells them why; because that’s what makes you strong. There’s a Claire Lynch song that I’ll post below that I love it because the words are powerful

If you love somebody, Then that means you need somebody
And if you need somebody, that’s what makes you weak
But if you know you’re weak, And you know you need someone
O it’s a funny thing, That’s what makes you strong

That’s what makes you strong, That’s what gives you power
That’s what lets the meek come sit beside the King
That’s what lets us smile, In our final hour
That’s what moves our souls, And that’s what makes us sing

That’s what makes us sing! Nobody likes trials, but man alive I love the other side of them. Because it’s there that we discover the provision, the power and the plan of God. It’s there that we’re made stronger through the exercising of our faith muscles. If we never had to depend on God, if we never needed Him, we’d never appreciate Him. The truth of the matter is, in this wicked world, we’re lion bate. Satan is just waiting to devour us. But God’s swoops in, in His supernatural ways and delivers us out of the mouth of the lion and stands us back on safe ground.

Trials prove the Power of God

Who but God could prove to Satan that trials only draw us closer to the Creator, not further away. Satan heaps trouble upon us in hopes of us being angry at our lot in life, but to those of us who know Christ it just causes us to cleave tighter to the Lord knowing that it is He alone that will bring us through.

Trials prove the Plan of God

It is often times through the trials that our course in life changes. Putting us on a path of greatness that we never imagined. Sounds almost like a Hallmark Card, but it’s truth. Often times we’d never even look in a direction for another way out if God hadn’t blocked off the way we were traveling.

Trials prove the Provision of God

The wanting of nothing. When you’ve made it through a real hardship, the illness or death of someone we love, our own health or financial struggles, whatever it is… once you’ve made it through you realize that God truly provides everything we need. And it’s not possible for any person to provide it. He alone is the Giver and Maker of life.

I hope you’ll listen to this Claire Lynch song… she’s a dandy!

Going off the Grid

off the grid

Some may or may not have noticed that my posts have been somewhat sporadic of late. Although family responsibilities have attributed to some of my time away, it has more often been an intentional time off the grid. I needed some time to reconnect with the creative side of me that social networking sometimes consumes. I’ve painted a little, gotten to know a girl named Miriam, worked on some book material, wrote a song, picked and grinned and just overall enjoyed the time…it was long overdue… and not yet finished.

In Matthew 14:22 it says “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.” Constrained meaning He had to force them to go.

Jesus had just lost His cousin and friend John the Baptist, He’d had compassion on the multitude and healed the sick, He’d fed 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes…. I’m exhausted just writing the words. He’d been through the wringer in His personal life and in the ministry and so had His friends. The day to day issues of our lives are much the same if you’re involved in ministering to people; there comes a time when you just have to get away. It’s unfortunate that I don’t have a mountain to steal away to, I have a kitchen table; so that has to do and it does. My grid’s not very big, so it doesn’t take me too long to go off the grid and get back.

Jesus’ grid must not have been very big either…

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

Jesus wasn’t gone very long until His friends were facing contrary times again. That’s life, is it not? We’re coming out of one trial and going into the next. There’s an occasional reprieve but they’re rare; granted most are minuscule  in comparison to the trials of other people, but they’re ours and it daunting none the less. It takes its toll on you emotionally and physically and above all spiritually. So what’s a gal to do?

Go off the grid for a little while, and not just 15 minutes or an hour. Find yourself some serious time, get your bible and gather your gifts… and allow God to minister to your soul. Gifts? Mine was a paint brush and canvas, a guitar and a computer. All things that I already had… God’s generally already given you what you need. Just go. Take the phone off the hook, or at best check caller I.D. You know the calls you shouldn’t answer!

As I said… I didn’t have a mountain or a hotel to go to… although that would have been nice! All I had was a kitchen table and it was very nice. I really didn’t even go off the grid, just to the edge of it away from the hoopla of life. You can do it! Let me know how it goes.

Another Lesson in Faith: Reset

reset_button

Faith. I say I have it, I truly try to live it, but it’s not evident unless it’s tried; and tried it is again and again. I try not to whine for my trying of the faith really is piddly by comparison to so many others I know. My trials of faith are for the most part about provision and my stress level is about a 3. I often wonder if my stress level is so low because I don’t have sense to know how much trouble I’m in. Insert grin here. I know that’s not the case. My God is Jehovah Jireh; my Provider! Its an awesome thing to know God as a personal friend and have that continual abiding presence in your life. I write bold but my heart is humble.

Three things about faith that keeps my stress level down:

1. Faith in God Alone

1 Timothy 1:4-6

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Godly edification comes from reading and studying the Bible, going to church and Christian fellowship. Those are the things that fuel faith in God alone. We were certainly meant to have relationship with people, but its those very relationships that can get our eyes off God’s design and onto the world agenda. There has got to be a stable force in ones life that you can hit the reset button and come back to that place where security lies and that is our relationship with God alone. Where you tune out the world and their agenda and get into the solace of the Savior and stop trying to control your own life. Let Him lead.

2. Faith unfeigned is untainted

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

A pure heart in this world is hard to come by.  We’re bombarded with the vulgarity of media that draws our minds in directions God never intended and each time it occurs it draws us further away from God and that security is now a broken trust in people and God because we’ve allowed our minds to view things in good conscience we shouldn’t have. Faith is hard to maintain when our focus is off of God’s design for us which is to serve. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another, John 13:35. By serving people in the relationships that God has entrusted us with our minds are refocused on Him and our soul revitalized. The world would have you believe that satisfaction comes in serving and appeasing self, when the truth is charity with a pure heart thrives on serving others.

3. Faith Janglers are everywhere, even in the church.

From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

The importance of knowing and studying the word of God cannot be stressed enough to me. I need to hear it everyday, else I take the lazy way out and trust men (and women) to fuel my faith. The number of people who call themselves Christians and yet never feel compelled to study the Word and attend church is staggering. And what happens is that the world fills their heads full of “vain jangling” (nonsense) and when trouble comes they don’t even know where the reset button is located. They trust in man’s ideals to get them through.

This is a new day for me, full of the unknown. Today I began unemployment again. It’s a good thing I work for God, His grant funding is called grace and He has an unlimited supply.

Reset! Ahhhh, there You are God…

When the enemy’s close, God is closer!

Camp is three days out for the teens at Victory Baptist Church, and I don’t know if they’re more excited about it or me! I have a few first year campers who are uncertain of what to expect; they just know that the other campers are excited so they are too! Me, I’m always excited to see what the Lord will do. So this morning as I searched God’s Word for a word about camp I found a word about camp and life.

Exodus 14

1And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:

20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.

Who hasn’t known what it was like to have that enemy closing in on them? Just when you think life’s under control and then suddenly on the back of your neck you feel that hot, nasty breath. My stomach churns just to think about it. You’re in a predicament, you’ve prayed and have direction… and now this. Why? I wonder what the children of Israel are thinking as they leave in amazement with the enemy paying their way, there is rejoicing and gladness and then from behind them they hear the hooves of the enemy’s horses. Good grief I hope we get to watch the real movie on IMAX when we get to Heaven, I’ll bet it was a sight to behold.

When the children left there was no doubt the glory of God was on their journey, after all His presence in the cloud hovered above them and guided them out. Now all they needed to do was move forward, but there was the sound in the background…clickety clock, clickety clock, clickety clock… it was if their time was running out. They were on foot with babies and belongings, how could they possibly out run those horses?! And then in real time that cloud moved. What was once above them guiding the way now moved between them and the enemy and while it still provided light on their side, the other side was pitch black and confusing.

The Word of God is proven much the same way today for the sinner and the saint. On the sinners side it’s darkness for there is no light for their path, no guiding force, just a dark path of uncertainty without hope. But on the side of the saint, Glory!!! We have the light that not only guides our way but shields us from the darkness behind. The enemy may be close, but God is closer and above all mightier!

That’s the message I want for my teens this coming week. I want them to understand that they serve the God of Israel, and what that God did for Israel, He’ll do for them. I’ve had my own clickety clock, clickety clock this week. That feeling of impending doom… My God is going before me, and He’s got my back. How’s your week going? In need of prayer, I love the opportunity!

 

About that Wall

wall

If you’re going through uncertainty, change or trials, this blog’s for you.

I’ve had a few years of changes in my life. It’s reality that life cannot stay the same, which is good else I’d grow bored. But with some of the changes have come major construction or reconstruction projects in my life. I’ve built, I’ve torn down and sometimes I’ve just hunkered down close to the wall and rode it out. So for the past few days walls have been on my mind. Believing it’s there for a reason, I’ll share with you today what I discover when I get an up close look at scriptural walls that I believe God will apply to all of our lives.

The walls of Exodus – “Exit right please”.

Exodus 14:21-22 ~ And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

When drastic changes began to occur in my life a few years ago I felt as though I was in captivity. Every day I was a little more broken at the end of the day than when I went in in the morning. I worked for the courts and all I seen was the same ol’ same ol’ every day. Broken lives with a generic salve being slapped on them and a cheap Band-aid and then sent back out into their world for a reoccurrence a little further down the road. Nobody was ever “fixed.” I knew I had the answer, Jesus Christ; but I wasn’t in a position to share that answer with them often and I knew I needed to be. Exit right please…. And so I did. Into the unknown without job security, some hard times I’d never experienced before, but I still believe it was right. There were days when the walls on both sides of me seem to be on the verge of collapsing, but I kept moving forward and eventually found my way to the other side. Side bar… I too was much like the children of Israel at that time, I didn’t always submit to the spiritual leaders in my life and it always lead to sharks in the water, a few years of back tracking and not near the progress I could have had if obedience had been in place.

The wall of Joshua – “Enter straight please…”

Joshua 6:20 ~ So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

At Joshua’s command, who had received the Lord’s guidance, they just kept walking. Seven days, around and around and around. Welcome to my life in church leadership without a Pastor. I want to scream, but God says wait, I’m not ready yet. “This is crazy God, should we not be doing something?”  – – “Just walk” is all I hear. And so I walk. I want to run, I want to dance, I want to do anything other than walk at a steady pace, it’s not my nature. There are hecklers on the wall and I’m expected to keep my mouth shut… again… not my nature. There’s leadership that I don’t always get; “shut up and just keep walking.”

Yes Lord…

My day to shout will come and I’ll enter in “Upward and straight.” Just like the children of Israel, but in the meantime I’m going forward with the work of the Lord, in my place. Somebody else gets to lead, and blow the really cool horns which at this point just sound like a noise to me, not progress.

Joshua 6:9-20 says ~  And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.  And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

Walk and wait… the wall will come down. And it will come straight down without loss of life. Whew!

The wall of Nehemiah – Dealing with what’s left.

Nehemiah 2:20 ~ Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

After 17 years of service to the Lord, I’ve discovered breaches in my walls. I’ve let little cracks turn into gaping holes. I’ve allowed the gates that once guarded my faith to fall off their hinges. Sounds pretty spiritual, huh? Let me tell you like it is. I just lived in the city (came to church, did what I was supposed to do, and went home) I didn’t notice that there were things that needed my attention. I wasn’t polishing the vessels of God and making them shine.

Proverbs 27:17 says Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

One sure way to fall apart is to stop working together. I was working solo because in my fleshly frustrations I’d grown weary and stopped working with others. But we’re in a new era, we’ve been shook up a little, we’ve seen the breaches and the brokenness and as a body of believers we’re working to build it back up. We’ve been reminded of the only wall that matters.

Ephesians 2:13-14 ~ But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

I remember the separation, that’s one wall that Hallelujah! can’t be built back. When Christ tore it down. It was final and my relationship with Him was forever. I hope you know Him today. If my words have stirred you, I’d love it if you shared how.

A Pearl Positioned by Appointment

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Matthew 13:44-46 ~  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

It is estimated that out of three tons of pearl oysters, only about three of them will have a perfectly-formed pearl. Given everything that is required in order for a pearl to develop, it’s not surprising that so few are produced. An oyster’s shell is made from an organ called the mantle. Using minerals from the oyster’s food as an energy source, the mantle expands, which leads to the shell’s growth. The interior of the shell is lined with a material called nacre, which is also produced by the mantle. In order for a pearl to develop, an irritant–typically a parasite of some sort–must situate itself between the oyster’s shell and mantle. When this particle sets in, it irritates the oyster and, in an effort to protect itself, the mantle begins to cover the foreign object with layers of nacre. As time passes, these layers eventually form a pearl. Typically, this takes about three to five years. (This according to ehow.com)

 Is it any wonder real pearls are so costly! A jewel in the house of the Lord is much the same.  Out of the congregation of the Lord it is said that only 10% are doing the actual work of the ministry, for which I tend to agree from my travels. They are rare and priceless. It is not to say that many others are not beautiful people making great contribution, but the pearls are those hand selected by God out of an ocean of possibilities.

 They’ve gotten there through great irritation!

 Be successful in leadership and you’ll understand completely how that pearl gets formed. Every struggle in the ministry, attack of Satan, complaint from the people, personal struggle, sickness and distraction is an irritant that has to be covered. There’s work to be done. So sometimes you wear a “slimy” smile that feels icky but it covers up the pain in your core. And before long that problem is smoothed over and you can rest a while until another issue arises and another layer of kindness or understanding is needed to get through. And much like that iridescent shine created on the pearl as layer after layer of nacre are made, a successful leader begins to shine too.

 Successful leaders are not people who have their world completely in hand and under control. Oh contraire! Many, if not most that I know, are exactly the opposite. They have the same issues as everyone else if not worse but they choose to put them aside for the greater cause; which is the people of God and service to the Lord.

 They’ve gotten there through many intervals

 True leadership is not appointed by position, it’s positioned by appointment. It takes experience to be a leader, and most of those experiences have been a divine appointment from the Creator to train His leaders. Often times because of the politics of the day people are appointed into positions they are not qualified to have, and it inevitably wreaks havoc on an organization.  It takes time to become a great leader.

 They’re not imitations

 Man can create a pearl that looks almost as lovely as the real deal, but the real pearls are rare, priceless, heavily sought and have gotten to that point by years of heartache and struggle. Successful leaders are those who use the irritants of life as a polish their personalities. They identify with and understand the struggles of those they lead because they’ve been there. Just as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ does.

Are you a pearl of great price? Perhaps you’re still in the formation stage. Use those irritants of life to polish yourself into a leader that can be used for the Kingdom’s glory. Amen!