Tag Archives: unity

Mutual Faith

For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. ~ Romans 1:11-12

It’s what’s kept me going for 23 years. I believe with all my heart that it is the most undervalued superpower of the church today. It’s why pews are sitting empty and saints of God are living defeated lives. God never intended for us to go through this alone. Even He had 12 friends.

Mutual faith is a beautiful thing. Let me tell you what it looks like in my life.

Mutual Desire

On Sunday morning I’m with the local church. A body of believers that I stand doctrinally in agreement with. We don’t argue. Haven’t for the 23 years I’ve been there, (which for some churches is unfathomable). We’ve not argued because we’ve had strong leadership and a mutual desire to keep Christ as the Head of the church. He’s in charge, then we fall in line accordingly – Pastor – Deacons – Church.

If everyone is doing what they’ve been designed to do, you don’t want to do what someone else has been called to do.

On Saturday my heart begins to desire my Sunday morning time with God’s people. It’s genuine and I know that I’m called to serve in that place in my multiple positions. I don’t want anyone else’s! Believe me, God has placed enough on my plate. That’s what He does when you share His mutual desires.

Mutual Foundation

When Victory Baptist church was established in 1992, it came to be out of heartache. A church split that was never desired, causing division among God’s people, which was never intended. I came on board 4 years later. After the dust had settled.

I came in from a church that had been established for decades. A church that loved each other but had lost their mutual desire. There was no Kingdom purpose. No foundation. (I don’t say that lightly) it makes my stomach turn to think about it. But it is unfortunately what is happening to most churches of today.

The foundation of the church is to edify the body and seek souls to be saved. Victory was built on soul winning, something we too have lost sight of over the years. It’s easy to get complacent and become very comfortable with those we have.

Peter sent thousands out from Pentecost. Can you imagine? These people in Rome were of that lot and they were excited, and Paul was excited to meet them. He loved where he was, but he desired to go where he had not been.

That’s a lesson for us! I so desire to go where I have not been.

Mutual Faith

It doesn’t matter where I go, I find those of mutual faith. Or perhaps God sends them my way. I seldom ever go anywhere that I don’t meet up with God’s children.

My husband David and I went on the hunt of yard sales in the city last weekend and low and behold, one after another I met with God’s people. What a blessing!

I drew strength from them. They perhaps did not even know it. Or maybe they too drew strength from me.

By the same token at those sales I also met people that my soul bore witness that they did not know Christ. I feel like I missed the boat because I didn’t take the time to tell them about Jesus. I have friends who you’ll not be in their presence, but a few minutes and you’ll know that they have come to tell you about Jesus. They do it unashamedly, with bold conviction!

I have bold conviction, and a big mouth. I know that I’m failing to use my spiritual gift to do what God designed me to do. Tell the world about Jesus… better.

I don’t take lightly the web platform, after all, how many people has Paul reached and continues to reach for the cause of Christ through the written word. It too is a superpower. The point is, there is not only safety in numbers there is power in numbers! Together we are an amazing team.

I pray this has encouraged you! Feel free to share it and invite people to your church. Let them know you’re a part of a great team too!

Today’s the day!

Or I guess tonight’s the night – that our church will vote on a new Pastor. For nine months we’ve waited… I find that amount of time ironic, perhaps it’s symbolic of a new birth of new ideas and new direction for my beloved Victory Baptist Church. For me personally it’s been a knot in my stomach that I’ve been waiting to untie. I want this chapter of the unknown closed. We’ve had nine months of leadership that was crème de la crème. As the scripture said in Isaiah 49:10

They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

We’ve not thirsted, nor been exhausted; we were led by the sweetest waters of the gospel and guided by the Holy Spirit. But it’s not the same as having a full time, committed man of God to oversee the flock. The visionary of the congregation. One of the wisest men of all times, King Solomon himself said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18.

A Pastor sets the vision, the goals of the congregation for growth of the Kingdom and the longer we were without someone in that position the further away we became from the previous vision. Although we had great temporary leadership, the uncertainty of what the new leadership would bring always made the direction we were going hesitant.

So what now?

Tonight we vote yay or nay to the new man. If you are a person of prayer, please take the time today to lift our congregation up to the Lord for wisdom and unity. This journey has not been without bridges to cross. There has been more than one side, but the river of life clearly flowed between them both. Wow… I guess I’m speaking very metaphorically. A church the size of ours, and as vocal as we are in a small community gets attention; and it’s not always good. People from the outside look for cracks in the armor of God and it doesn’t usually take them long to find it. We’re not a perfect people, we’re a perfectly loved people. We don’t always agree and sometimes things are said that should have never been said. We’re human and most importantly we’re family. I’d challenge anyone to look me in the eye and say they’ve had a perfect relationship with everyone in their life or that you’ve never stood in need for grace.

Am I saying there is a great division among our people? Nope. I don’t know that there’s any division among our people, but I know that if Satan has his way, there can be.

Here’s my prayer request for you:

  1. Pray for direction
  2. Pray for a unified church
  3. Pray for the Pastor candidate and his family

My prayer for you is that you are a part of the body of Christ and are serving in the congregation of the Lord that He has chosen for you. Being an active part of a local church is vital to your spiritual growth. Choose wisely!

You’re Welcome on my earth… but not my island?

island

I’m never more sickened than when I see a Christian (myself included) snarl their nose up at another person in disdain for their behavior, circumstance, opinion or position in life, but I see it so often. We tend to use a person’s station in life to judge whether or not they should be allowed entry into our world. I’m not talking about entry into Heaven; no Christian in their right mind wouldn’t want every soul in Heaven, but many don’t want them in their space down here. Believe me when I say “I get” when people make you uncomfortable for any number of reasons. Their language, their demeanor, their culture, their attitude… it’s a long list! But as children of God it is unacceptable to not accept them; and not just on your earth, but on your island.

In 2 Corinthians Paul was counseling the church of Corinth (in the Bible according to Shari, and we know that’s dangerous) But as I understand there had been a man excommunicated from the church, the reason not known. And I believe that’s because for future reference God wanted you to be able to fit it to your circumstance, so He left the reasoning broad. But none the less many people in the church had punished this man. So much so that he was at risk of being swallowed up in sorrow. So Paul advises them to prove their love to him by forgiving everything he did and giving this man a fresh start at grace.

2:6-11 ~  Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

I dare say that no Christian is immune to falling into the snare of Satan when opposite world’s collide: Sinner/Saint, Rich/Poor, Democrat/Republican, Bold/Meek, Zealot/Passive, I won’t even go in to denominations! It’s not so much forgiveness that I’m talking about as much as it is acceptance. Sometimes we’ll be forgiving but will not be befriending. We want them on earth, but not on our island. At a distance they don’t make us uncomfortable.

When I began to pray and search for a topic this morning the word comfort came into my thoughts because that’s what I personally am in need of. But a trip down that path lead to a fork in the road and then as only God can do it came back to the original path. As if to say “I know you need comfort Shari, but you can’t have it without finding the source of the discomfort and getting rid of it.” So we went off my path to His own and then back to mine, and in so doing I found what I was looking for.

Paul told the Philippian Church in Philippians 2:1-4 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

There will never be comfort in any body of believers unless there is unity, and not just among a single church, but the entire body of Christ. (Those believing that Jesus is the way the truth the life, and no other).

God’s advice to me… you’ll find not only the comfort you’re searching for, but the answers you’re searching for when you love my people… all of them.

When I Grow Up I want to be a Sonflower

Ephesians 4:11-15 ~ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

This morning when I was creeping on somebody’s Facebook page that I didn’t even know (a friend of a friend) I found the sunflower picture. My immediate thought was, “Wow, that’s love.” My second thought was a question. “Why isn’t the church in love like that?”

The reason I creep is godly (most of the time). I like to see what’s going on in the lives of other Christians and their images generally tell a story a bout what’s important to them. I run across lots of family pictures and plenty of comedy! I occasionally run across some off color image that shouldn’t oughta be there on a Christian’s page (just sayin’) But mostly I run across pictures of people they love. So it has me thinking today, if God took a snapshot of the American Church today what would it look like? The body of believers is so fractured into denominations and then sects within the denomination, then clicks within the sects and Jiminy Cricket, God Himself probably doesn’t have enough film to take as many pictures as necessary because we can’t be included in that group because they don’t believe like us.

In the beginning of the New Testament Church it had already begun; the need for Paul to reign them in. Paul was trying to put the unity back in their communities. He wanted them to know Christ’s ideas (knowledge of the Son of God); he wanted them to un-know man’s ideas (be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men). He wanted them to grow up into a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Perfection doesn’t mean without sin, not until we come to Heaven will we know perfection. But we are made perfect through Christ in the unity of our faith in Him. Contrary to popular belief, when God pulls out His wallet of baby pictures, certain denominations are not on top, but there are some baby pictures. Crying, whimpering, selfish believers that don’t play well with others. Always tattling on the other believers to non-believers, telling them why they shouldn’t join so and so’s church rather than letting them see Jesus and deciding on their own. Paul tells them to grow up. Know what you believe and live it, stop creeping in other peoples churches, it’s messing up your own doctrine. I guess it was the Facebook of the day.

God has given us (in our church) where like believers are, our own preachers and teachers of the gospel for the work of the ministry. It’s time to get to work. That’s what people do when they grow up. They work. And we need to be edifying the body of Christ (that’s each other). I know it’s just an image, but when I look at the sunflowers faces I see the love of the artist that created it. It’s with that love that God created us to love one another. (But speaking the truth in love, may grow up). When I grow up I want to be a Sonflower and love people just like that.

Unity of Community

welcome home candle

I have lived in small communities for all but two years of my fifty years of life. And with little complaint… other than occasional inconvenience, lack of privacy and choices with regards to shopping. But overall the blessings of living in a small West Virginia community outweighs the city any day of the week for this girl. But one thing I’ve noticed as I’ve been blessed with an opportunity to travel to other places in the United States and across the sea is the church community is the same regardless of location, and where ever I’ve gone I’ve been home!

The word “community” is derived from the  communité which is derived from the Latin communitas (com, “with/together” + munus, “gift”).

The church community is ever on the decline in America because of lack of priority in families and a failure on the church to live in a manner that differs from the world, but it’s still the best thing going!  It’s a gift indeed to walk into a congregation of people that you’ve never met before and within five minutes feel like you’ve been there a life time.

Philippians 2:1-5 ~ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Paul wrote to the Philippian Church with a few small, cost free requests. Get along. Help each other out. Have mercy. Perhaps that’s a part of the reason the church is on the decline we’ve stopped taking the time to live out Paul’s instructions.

To follow Paul’s example you must first be “in Christ”, having accepted His salvation and having the Holy Spirit dwell inside of you. That is how those people that I had never met before felt like old friends. Because the Spirit of Christ within us bore witness to one another. It’s an exciting thing! It was to Christian friends that Paul speaks to and I in turn am sharing his message in hopes of seeing at work in our churches today the unity of the community of believers. There were three things Paul mentioned that was necessary for unity.

  • Consolation – relief or support. A feeling of hope! The gospel of Christ is a full service gospel. The same words that convict the soul of a need for salvation, soothes the soul with a feeling of hope. But it is of little effect without legs to walk beside someone or arms to hug them tight in a time of trouble. That’s why the church was established so we could help one another through the hard times of life.
  • Comfort – security or relaxation. A feeling of home! When I walk into the sanctuary of Victory Baptist Church there is a joy that leaps within me. It’s my Father’s house, and as His child I feel as much at home there as I do in my living room at the house. That’s how it should be for every believer that walks through the door, whether or not it is their home church. There should be a feeling of belonging.
  • Mercy – forgiveness or compassion. A feeling of humanity! We’ve all been in need of forgiveness; and essential for a feeling of unity in the believers is mercy. As someone once said “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.” Everyone who walks in the door should feel the acceptance of the Lord to come “just as I am.

Philippians 4:1-5 is a church that understands the J.O.Y. of the Lord.  ~ Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

When you walk into your church on Sunday morning, I hope you walk in looking for that soul who needs to link with yours for consolation, comfort and mercy and a feeling that they’ve just arrived home.