Who Will Know You Care?

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I ventured out to do some early Christmas shopping with my girls on Thanksgiving evening, and it’s always a little surreal. Yes, I know it’s a family day. Yes I know it’s crazy, but I was with my crazy daughters, so it’s all good! Please don’t judge. The massive crowds eagerly awaited to spend their last dime on what truthfully wasn’t even a bargain and I watched as several disappointed and angry people vented about having missed the big deal as if their entire life’s purpose hinged on that one purchase. I’m not judging. Put me in a music store and I can be every bit as unglued as the Walmart shoppers of 2013, I just don’t have the financial means to back it.

It’s Thanksgiving and they’re afraid they’re missing Christmas. Now that’s crazy! This morning as I sit in the quietness of my home, my Christmas tree is up, gifts wrapped beneath it and the mantle is decorated, and I’m afraid of missing Christmas too. It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in the festivities and forget what Christmas is about.

There’s a new Christmas chotchky in my décor this year. An owl. He looks rather festive with his music note body and a little silver here and there for added appeal. He’s my thought behind this Christmas message this morning. Strange I know, but the Bible significance of an owl lead me to focus back on the true meaning of Christmas. And it can’t be bought. It’s the purpose of Christmas and it can’t be found on a shelf in any store in the world.

A relationship with God.

We were never meant to be alone. God created Eve for Adam as a help meet for the garden, He sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman and would call the church the bride of Christ, and what an abundance of joy in my heart this morning to serve the One who feeds my soul this message. Life is relational. But what happens when it’s not? What about those who may be in a crowded room full of family and friends but they’re still alone?

David felt that way in Psalm 102:6 ~ I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

He is silent in his affliction, alone, without friends or support, and yet David knew God. But the world had taken its toll on him. The sound of an owl in the darkness is lonely and wanting. Whoooo, whoooo. The very word is relational. I can feel the sorrow in my heart this morning for David who felt that everyone had forsaken him. Who would help, who would come to his aid… who really cared? I see that same cry in the faces of people I meet who may or may not know Christ. I want to do more to reach out to them and let them know they’re not alone.

That is the Spirit of Christmas. It’s building relationships with people so that they may know Who it is that cares. It’s giving hope in a hopeless time. Christ came to earth as a baby, but He walked the earth as man building relationships for the glory of God. So should we.

Who will know you care this Christmas?

Messed Up and Blessed Up… Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving morning. Wow, where did 2013 go? As I sit here this morning with my Jack Russell, Sam, curled up against my leg and a fire glowing across the room, I’m toasty warm and blessed with an abundance. I’m thankful for this platform that I’ve been given to share the gospel, encourage friends and make new friends along the way, (you can never have too many ya know). This morning I seem to be in an attitude of reflection and as usual Sam is not the only one on the couch. I hear him whisper, you’re an epic failure, so you’ve done some good… let me remind you of how you’ve failed. Ugh, does Satan never grow weary? I know I do. I’m almost ready to throw my hands up in defeat and walk away from the keyboard. What do I possibly have to say this morning…

Leviticus 7:15

And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.

Old Testament sacrifices were a temporary fix in more ways than one. Not only did there need to be another sacrifice another day, that sacrifice wasn’t going to last through the day. Igloo coolers weren’t in business nor was Frigidaire, so the sacrifice needed to be eaten right then. Tomorrow it wouldn’t be any good.

What about our peace offering for thanksgiving? Here’s a few Thanksgiving Thoughts:

  1. Whatever the circumstance around you, be at peace. I know, easier said than done right? Not if you determine that that is the ways it is. Satan can turn the entire day upside down but if your heart is right side up, looking up in gratitude and taking note of all you have, peace can abound.
  2. Be thankful today. It may be a family feud, a burnt turkey or spilled pumpkin pie kind of day, but be thankful. Be thankful the same day for what you have, for tomorrow it may be gone. Someone noted on Facebook this morning that there were some empty place settings at family tables. Don’t take the day for granted.
  3. Don’t leave it until morning. Don’t put off telling someone you love them, mending fences or sharing a treasured thought with a family friend. Sometimes it’s a sacrifice on your part to open your heart up in such a way, believe me when I say it won’t go unnoted or unblessed.
  4. Remember that though heartache and blessing alike are temporary, the sacrifice Christ made on the cross was forever.

I just about let Satan steal my gratitude today. Thank you who are reading that encouraged me to write on until I reached this place. What place?

Remembrance. That the ultimate sacrifice was made so that I could have that sweet peace 365 days a year, even though I’m so very “messed up,” I’m also very “Blessed up!” God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving. I pray it’s filled with love, laughter and safe travels.

About that Wall

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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.

Look How Far We’ve Come

Gettysburg AddressNovember 19th went by with little fanfare in the United States. It could have possibly been on the news, the likelihood of me seeing it there was slim to none. But as I read the Gettysburg Address this morning, my heart longed to hear a modern day political official speak with such eloquence and spiritual depth. It was a very short speech in comparison to most but I feel safe to say it had a far greater positive impact on our Country than anything coming out of the Whitehouse in current times. Note that I said positive impact.

He began the address with the words four score and seven years ago which much resembles Psalm 90:10 that reads “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” And he ends his address with a call to action of those gathered there. He acknowledges the honored dead  who were sacrificed so that our nation was given another chance, a new birth of freedom; a nation under God (Sovereignly ruled), and a nation  of the people, by the people and for the people that shall not perish. Showing his compassion and concern for those he served.

Look how far we’ve come. My heart is saddened for our nation, but not without hope, because I still serve the God of Abraham and Isaac, and Abraham Lincoln.

I’m not going to get into politics, it speaks for itself. Volumes. But I would like to offer you a suggestion of prayer for our nation as we go into the week of Thanksgiving.

Read the Gettysburg Address (it will only take a minute) and then pray the A.C.T.S. method of prayer.

Adoration – Acknowledge how good God is, and that it is His sovereignty that has allowed America to be the Great Nation it is.

Confession – Confess that as an individual and as a nation we’ve not done all we could to protect what we’ve been given.

Thankful – Thank God for the field of faith has gone before us to allow the freedom we still enjoy and for those who unselfishly continue to defend our honor, when we’re not always so honorable.

Supplication – Ephesians 6:18 says – Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Pray for each other and the leadership of America. An Abraham Lincoln quote from a speech in Chicago on July 10, 1858 said

Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it.

Amen. Pray on pilgrim.

And I stand corrected on tributes to the Gettysburg Address. Check out the Ohio State Video! If you love band music like I do, get you a hankee and enjoy!!! It’s 14 minutes long but worth ever second!

Ohio State Tribute

Don’t Fall for the Rock Seller

Once upon a time in a faraway land, there lived a Preacher. You likely thought it was going to be a prince or princess, as is the case in many popular stories; but no. My story this morning is not a popular one, but more along the lines of a reality series. In the era of Acts 20 of the Gospel, the church was booming! Thousands were being saved, many were being healed and there were several unhappy religious and big business people who were losing money on false idols and dead religion. They’d have given anything to drag people out of church and beat some sense into them, but in so doing they’d seen the church grow bigger. It was the craziest thing. Not at all like the sound mind needed to worship the rocks they were creating.

For hours on end the people in the city would sit under the Preaching of the Apostle Paul and then tomorrow they’d bring friends and listen again. Surely this was a cult! There was just one problem with that theory… their God had proof.

Acts 20: 7-12 ~ And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.  And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.  And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.  And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.  When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.  And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

Paul had preached forever, it was midnight and the service was still going strong. And there sat Eutychus, a little on the tired side who had fallen asleep. The problem with that was he was setting in a third story window! He was D.O.L., dead on landing. Pronounced dead on the scene until Paul arrived and gave him a holy hug and there was life in him again! So much so that they spent the night eating biscuits and gravy until morning; (a little creative license there) but it was a party until the break of day. And it’s concluded by saying that they were not a little comforted. In other words they were a lot comforted!

Now, to the guys selling rocks in the village and calling them gods, this was an issue. Their rocks could do nothing but provide a false sense of security. And so it is today, we still have rock sales in the village and for some reason the sales have gone up. More and more people are buying into the lie of the Devil that there is hope outside of the one true God. The rocks have taken the shape of houses, cars, electronics, position of life and the rich get richer and no one is comforted. People are falling out of church left and right and there is no one going to revive them. They just leave them lay, surely they’ll come back. Hello? They’re dead. They’re not coming back unless someone goes and gets them. I warned you it was a reality show.

The reality is it’s time the church went outside. As you go into your church this morning look around you at the empty seats and I pray that God will bring to remembrance the soul that sat there in times past.

Luke 14:23

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

If you’re the soul that once sat there let me ask you one question. “Have you found comfort outside of Christ?” If your last church experience was not one you care to have again, allow me to compel you to find a new place. Don’t fall out the window and just lay there. Find a good King James Version Bible believing and preaching church and stick to it. If you’re in my neighborhood, stop by Victory Baptist Church in Grantsville, WV. You’ll be welcome

Hunting for Happiness

This weekend is almost sacred in West Virginia, some treat it as such, I won’t give that thought much comment other than to say it’s serious business. Millions of dollars of merchandise is sold to make the catch easier and greater and overall make the hunt more enjoyable. And such is the quest for most lives. We want the best, we want it easy and we want it now. We want happy, happy, happy!

As I read the story of the one of the greatest hunters in the Bible this morning, my “Mothering emotions” were at both ends of the spectrum. Yes I was frustrated that he treated his birthright with such disregard as to trade it for a bowl of soup, and Jacob… what a little enterpriser to take advantage of his brother’s weary state to obtain his inheritance. And then the blessing of their father Isaac, what a debacle that was with their own mother conniving Jacob’s way into fooling her husband into thinking Jacob was Esau, thus getting the rest of Esau’s inheritance. My heart broke when I read Esau’s reaction that …he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father.  Only to hear his father say “Thy brother came with subtilty, and hath taken away thy blessing.

Good grief is this not dysfunction at its finest from the grandsons of the great Abraham. Why would God allow the prosperity of Jacob at the expense of Esau? I think it goes to the heart of the matter. When we look at Esau’s life, he not only knowingly gave away his birthright, but he also caused his parents great grief by marrying into a Canaanite family (who were strangers to the blessings of Abraham) not once but twice. Esau’s behaviors proved that he not only did not respect the blessings of God, but did not fear the curse of disobedience.

So God allows Jacob, who He knows to be a deceiver, to receive the greatest blessings, although his life was not without heartache as well. Both brothers wanted happiness, but he who received the greater was the brother with a heart for God. The more I read and the more I understood Esau’s disrespect of God and family the less I wondered why the birthright ended up in Jacob’s hand.

I’m always hunting for happiness too. I want that ease of life that comes from the blessings of God. But as sure as my name’s Shari, I’ve likely missed out on a lot of it because I’ve haphazardly handled the things I’ve been given. I guess I have a little of both Esau and Jacob characteristics. In the hunt for happiness it comes down to one thing. Outside of God and His plan we may have “stuff” but we’ll also have strife. It’s only in the confines of God’s will and grace that we’ll have happiness and contentment. None of which have anything to do with “stuff.”

In the conclusion of this story we find peace between the homes of Jacob and Esau.

Genesis 33:9 ~ And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

It’s my prayer that I’ll learn “I have enough.”

Happy, happy, happy!

They Know Who You Are

In the book of Romans, Chapter 16 there is Paul’s version of a Church Banquet, although there may or may not have been food involved; but he has a roll call of saints who have been used by God to bless Paul and the church of God. He mentions several men and women who were key players in his ministry, some seasoned saints and other new converts; and then in the middle of dinner he lays out a warning of the unnamed un-servers. I know, it’s not a word, but it’s certainly an idea.

Romans 16:16-20 ~ Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

And then he goes back to the roll call in verse 21. So why put a damper on the commendation service? Because it’s reality. In most every church there is a great work going on. There are saints of God who are dedicated to the service of Christ and seeing souls saved, they love serving God and have no desire to be caught up in the middle of church drama, but it can happen. And it’s detrimental to Kingdom. That is why Paul’s lays the charge to his people. He wants to protect them from what he’s experienced again and again as he traveled.

Mark them, avoid them, know them. Because they’ve done as much to you. Paul said that their obedience is come abroad unto all men. Meaning their reputation had proceeded them, and he was glad for it. But evil doesn’t change, it’s pretty simple actually. Thousands of years and Satan’s plan hasn’t changed, divide and conquer. It worked with Adam and Eve and it still works in the church today. If he can but twist the word of God “just a little,” not enough to hardly be noticed he can set an entire congregation at odds with one another. And there’s always weaker (simple) vessels ready and willing to fall for Satan’s lies. They’ve not studied the word of God and they’re apt to take it out of context. Although scripture makes a great Twitter post, it’s not been to be a sound bite. 2 Timothy 2:15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Satan knows the key players in any church and it’s there he launches the attack. Christians aren’t the only church planters. Satan sows his seeds as well. In Proverbs 6 among the seven things that are an abomination to the Lord is he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 6:19. Old Testament or New, it hasn’t changed.

Stand guard Christian soldier, because if you’re serving God you’re in the cross hairs of Satan. Put on your armor this morning.

Ephesians 6:13-16 ~  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

 

A Suspended Blessing

A suspended coffee – a Facebook post which touched my heart with yet another desire for God to use me to bless others. The premise is to pay in advance for a coffee for someone who could use the help; they can order a suspended coffee free of charge should a restaurant allow it.  I long for the day that I’ll live daily with a “suspended coffee” frame of mind. Not just Holiday time which always brings it to mind, but 365 days a year, edifying through word and deed the body of Christ and the lost. As I read Romans 15 this morning I realized that Jesus had paid for a suspended cup of my own. My first thoughts in the morning gravitate to that splendid brew and aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen as I prepare my mind and heart to write this blog. I’m serious about coffee, and not the fru-fru k cup stuff. Just give me a plain ol’ cup of coffee with cream, no flavors other than that of a God created Arabica bean in a medium weight ceramic cup. Back to my free cup…

Romans 15:1-5 ~ We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:

My reproach fell on Him. Only Heaven knows what I’ve been saved from, what it was exactly that He paid for. I have no doubt that I’ll stand with jaw dropped silence when I discover what Christ shielded me from in this life. But here it is written in the scriptures for me this morning, to stumble upon that suspended cup of comfort and hope, the same cup that I’m to offer my neighbor who is weak.

  • A cup of encouraging words to warm a troubled heart…
  • A literal cup of coffee to warm someone who can’t afford it…
  • A coat to warm the body of a child in the cold…
  • A cup of compassion to someone who thinks nobody cares…
  • A shared cup with someone who’s lonely…

There’s a long list waiting for me because I’ve been given so much. I hope the words from Romans 15 encouraged you as they did me this morning, and that something written here edified your soul. I encourage you to look for a way to pass that cup today into the life of someone else today. Christ will be well pleased and God will be glorified, and that’s what it’s about.

Mark 9:41

For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

I think it goes for coffee too.

I Was Once God’s Weird Science Experiment

The story goes of a young woman who has another broken relationship in her life finalized and she’d concluded in her heart that she’d had enough. There was no way she’d have anything to do with God again. But, not long after this she finds herself standing in the Jewish Holocaust exhibit and before her the pile of Holocaust victims bones. That settled it, no loving God would allow that to happen! If she’d ever doubted it before she knew it now. But then she heard a still small voice whisper in her soul, “Don’t leave Me… This is what happens when I’m rejected, darkness reigns and lives are destroyed, please… don’t leave Me.”

The story hit me like a ton of bricks as I was driving down the road yesterday listening to a podcast. I’ve asked that question myself. “Why?” Especially over broken relationships or harsh conversations when a dull knife stabbed into my soul and twisted would surely have been less painful. But looking back on those experiences they were nothing in comparison to the Jewish Holocaust. Not even worthy of being in the same sentence.

It is said that Ezekiel 37:1-14 the story of the dry bones, is a prophecy of the Holocaust and the rebuilding of the Nation of Israel. Whether it is or not, I’m not a Theologian, so I’ll leave it to their debate, but regardless the similarities are there.

Verses 1-5 ~  The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:

Those bones that God brought back to life, rewrapped them in muscle and breathed life into their bodies may look like something out of a science fiction movie but it’s very much how God works in our lives. Only God can take broken lives that are shattered beyond recognition and restore them. It wasn’t happenstance that God revealed Himself to the woman in the story at the Holocaust exhibit; it wasn’t happenstance that he revealed Himself to me at Victory Baptist Church in 1996. God manipulated the circumstance in my life that caused my dead, dry bones (that did not know Jesus) to walk into a valley of restored bones in a church that was alive.

Perhaps that’s too “churchy” of a conversation for us to have this morning. Maybe God manipulated your bones into this cyber place this morning because He wanted to conduct a little science experiment on you. Have you all but given up on God, life, love, or family? God’s telling you right now, “Don’t leave me. Without Me there is no light to be found, only darkness.

That morning that God manipulated me (and that’s a whole other story!) into Victory Baptist Church, I didn’t realize that there was no life in me, until the Spirit of God began to stir in my soul. I didn’t know what that was either, I just knew I felt “something.” And as I heard the Word of God preached it was like there was an inner strength welling up inside of me. I found three things in that valley that caused me to never want to leave it again.

Strength (the struggles were not over, but I had the power to fight)

Connection (my bones knit with the bones of other believers and I had stable support)

Breath (I found air to breathe that had not been there for years. The pressure of the world on my chest more often than not felt like a literal weight shutting down my ability to breathe and move. I just existed)

That’s what God does. He takes a weird concoction like me and makes sense out of it.

Listen… are you in that valley this morning? Hear the Savior calling… Don’t leave me.

I can promise because I’ve experienced it, He’ll never leave you!

A True Come to Jesus Moment

In a secular setting a few weeks ago I heard a woman discussing something that had happened in her office that had upset her. She was displeased with a staff member and as she put it, they were going to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting. My first thought was “If only you would.” (insert rolled eyes here) Her come to Jesus meeting had nothing to do with the Lord, and more to do with her yielding authority. The world takes the name of Jesus far too lightly. A real come to Jesus moment has nothing to do with anyone yielding authority, even under chastisement God’s Word is not condemning; convicting… yes. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery “Go and sin no more.” The stone throwers walked away with no entitlement to casting even one. Her “come to Jesus moment” was not the Lord berating her for a mistake, but rather the Lord lifting her up from ground with compassion and the defense of a Father who had just shielded her from being stoned to death. She knew she’d done wrong, He knew she knew. That was enough.

There’s a song lyric from Daystar that says “When I see you standing near me, shining with compassion in your eyes;” that is the image I have when I think of a “come to Jesus” meeting. That’s the meeting I have about every day when I’ve let the Lord down in service and I’m beating myself up and frustrated that I don’t live nearly as close to the foot of the cross as I should, or when I’ve let yet another person down and I’m just waiting for someone to hurl the first rock and then Jesus steps in. It’s actually the same look that we should have in our eyes when someone lets us down, but because we are so often in the flesh, that’s seldom the case.

Acts 15:10-11 says Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

At this time in Acts there were saved Jews adding back in law to the grace of God and confusing the members of the new church. Even though that’s still happening today I’m not speaking of that in this context. We’re not so much adding works to salvation but rather adding works to our conditions of grace. We have expectations of friends, family and coworkers and when they’ve fallen short, our “come to Jesus” moments don’t look anything like Jesus but border more on the Pharisee rock throwing. Where is the compassion? Sometimes the yoke we put upon people has been hand crafted by us with unrealistic expectations or people just flat out fail us. Either way God has expectations of us.

If we expect grace we must give grace, else how will anyone ever have a true “come to Jesus” moment?

Guard your witness today… Satan’s out to get it.