Don’t Look Back!

Unbelievable!  We’re teetering on the edge of 2016,  and although my body feels another year older, my mind is saying “What happened?” It was just New Year’s Day 2015 yesterday! It’s like we’re on a Nascar track headed for the finish line and we’re not even slowing down for crashes. Troubles beset us round about but our eyes are on the next pit stop in life.  Try as I might, I can’t slow it down and it will do no good to look back.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Forward Ho!!!! Well I guess I just went back from the race track to the wagon train. Today on the Eve of 2016 I’m scheduled to sing at the funeral of a dear child of God who lived a full life and to her too it no doubt seemed like but a day. To her children they surely long for more time but it’s not possible. We’re on the course and the time allotted is known to no one but God. So what do we do when we’re teetering on time passing and the future? If we’re wise we’ll go to the Word of God!

James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17 is a good reflection point that provokes anticipation. Sounds like a great verse for New Year’s Eve!

Reflection

Wisdom from above – From the creation of all, the Word, which was authored by God has been pure and infused into the soul of a child of God through the Holy Spirit. That same purity produces purity (not perfection) into our lives, our conversation, and intentions, by driving us forward to a better life in Christ. The purpose of reflecting on 2015 is not to look back on the failures (although they can be good lessons) but rather use it as a gauge on where you’ve been and where you are at this point in time so that you can determine where you want to be when you stand on the eve of 2017, if God allows. Looking back for the purpose of counting failures is detrimental to your purpose. It causes doubt and confusion… neither of which bring anything good to the banquet table. They bring stale leftovers from a dinner you didn’t even enjoy the first time… throw them out and move on!

Peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (treated) full of mercy and good fruits. Sounds like a place I’d like to be in 2016! A day spa that lasts 365 days of the year and at the end of the day has the Lord rubbing your shoulders like a player on the field of life, telling you what a great game you played. That game is well played by extending the mercy we’ve been shown by Christ. We’re not on the field to crush our opponents, we’re on the field to win them over to our team and then they become the fruit of the banquet table! Glory to God isn’t it wonderful how God uses food analogies. Because He knows we’re a hungry people… be it for physical or spiritual food… we long for it… and lots of it!

God is no respecter of persons, nor should we be. Without partiality, and without hypocrisy. He loves you just like He loves me, although sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m His pet, just sayin’. In the words of my sister Sarah…. God is soooooooooooooooooo good! And so very real. We need to share that message with every soul that crosses our path… or race track… or trail.

Anticipation

As I anticipate 2016 I’m looking forward to the Lord doing great, unusual, mighty things in my life and ministries. What are you looking forward to? Don’t look back unless you’re using it as gauge to see how far the Lord takes you next year. Forward, ho!!!!

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Don’t Look Back!

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Unbelievable!  We’re teetering on the edge of 2016,  and although my body feels another year older, my mind is saying “What happened?” It was just New Year’s Day 2015 yesterday! It’s like we’re on a Nascar track headed for the finish line and we’re not even slowing down for crashes. Troubles beset us round about but our eyes are on the next pit stop in life.  Try as I might, I can’t slow it down and it will do no good to look back.

Jesus said in Luke 9:62 No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Forward Ho!!!! Well I guess I just went back from the race track to the wagon train. Today on the Eve of 2016 I’m scheduled to sing at the funeral of a dear child of God who lived a full life and to her too it no doubt seemed like but a day. To her children they surely long for more time but it’s not possible. We’re on the course and the time allotted is known to no one but God. So what do we do when we’re teetering on time passing and the future? If we’re wise we’ll go to the Word of God!

James 3:17

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17 is a good reflection point that provokes anticipation. Sounds like a great verse for New Year’s Eve!

Reflection

Wisdom from above – From the creation of all, the Word, which was authored by God has been pure and infused into the soul of a child of God through the Holy Spirit. That same purity produces purity (not perfection) into our lives, our conversation, and intentions, by driving us forward to a better life in Christ. The purpose of reflecting on 2015 is not to look back on the failures (although they can be good lessons) but rather use it as a gauge on where you’ve been and where you are at this point in time so that you can determine where you want to be when you stand on the eve of 2017, if God allows. Looking back for the purpose of counting failures is detrimental to your purpose. It causes doubt and confusion… neither of which bring anything good to the banquet table. They bring stale leftovers from a dinner you didn’t even enjoy the first time… throw them out and move on!

Peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated (treated) full of mercy and good fruits. Sounds like a place I’d like to be in 2016! A day spa that lasts 365 days of the year and at the end of the day has the Lord rubbing your shoulders like a player on the field of life, telling you what a great game you played. That game is well played by extending the mercy we’ve been shown by Christ. We’re not on the field to crush our opponents, we’re on the field to win them over to our team and then they become the fruit of the banquet table! Glory to God isn’t it wonderful how God uses food analogies. Because He knows we’re a hungry people… be it for physical or spiritual food… we long for it… and lots of it!

God is no respecter of persons, nor should we be. Without partiality, and without hypocrisy. He loves you just like He loves me, although sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m His pet, just sayin’. In the words of my sister Sarah…. God is soooooooooooooooooo good! And so very real. We need to share that message with every soul that crosses our path… or race track… or trail.

Anticipation

As I anticipate 2016 I’m looking forward to the Lord doing great, unusual, mighty things in my life and ministries. What are you looking forward to? Don’t look back unless you’re using it as gauge to see how far the Lord takes you next year. Forward, ho!!!!

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Encouraging the Weary Warrior

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Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary of Psalm 108 that by our heart’s conviction our tongue becomes the pen of a ready writer. (reworded slightly for my own better understanding) I have so much to thank God for and testify of His goodness and yet I fall short when the Holy Spirit says tell them what I’ve done in your life! But my raisin’ tells on me again, because I was brought up by humble parents who taught us that boasting was a sign of arrogance. While they encouraged us in talents we were reigned back from pride. Which is good, except for me who takes that a step further in my spiritual walk and I have difficulty telling the world how good God is to me because I feel that I’m bragging about myself, which ends up neglecting to give God glory.

Consider this past month. I received a good doctor’s report. And to put that in context I hadn’t been to see a doctor for 15 or so years… don’t judge… it’s not nice, and yes, I know I’m an idiot. But praise God He takes care of stupid people. And my reports came back that I’m in good shape for the shape I’m in. Well after a few weeks of fretting over what the results of some of those test might have been, I really wanted to shout it to the roof tops; but I couldn’t. Or I should say wouldn’t because I thought it sounded like bragging in light of how many people around me had recently gotten bad doctor’s reports. So I told a few family and friends, but my tongue wasn’t writing a book, merely a post script. And the Holy Spirit was grieved, after all He and I both new that He had worked some miraculous things in this body of mine considering how I’d taken care of myself.

But Sunday night I pushed aside my fear of boasting and decided that I needed to brag a little on the Lord by testifying to my home church about His goodness. Oh, God was pleased. But it’s still heavy on my heart that I do not tell of His goodness enough; which often causes a lack of confidence in many areas of my life that I struggle. So for my scripture reflection and study today I landed in Psalm 108. A baker’s dozen of verses (13) where David’s confidence in the Lord soars!

David begins praising God early.

1O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.

When our eyes open in the darkness of the room or the light of day a song of praise should be on our lips. That’s how it is with nature. Come spring the birds outside my window chirp loudly in the sweetest refrain. So should a child of God who’s been given another day.

I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations.

David praised God in his community. He encouraged them through sharing his faith. How wonderful it must have been to have a leader who glorified God and even in the worst of times had songs of praise on his heart. Oh… for such a leader.

For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;

Like myself, David had let God down, but God had never once let David down. His goodness and truth stretched from earth to Heaven; David couldn’t say enough about what a great God He served. And God was pleased.

David prayed as he praised but he still exalted the name of God by acknowledging God’s protection and provision. Would that not have been an encouragement to his weary warriors. How might we encourage the weary warriors in our life today by reminding them of the mighty God we serve? Faith can rejoice in what God has said, although it’s yet to be done. If God said it… it’s a fact.

6 That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triump. 10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom?

I love that! David not only gave a list of what was already his, but what would be his in the name of Jesus! He was assuredly going to mop the floor with Moab. Can you hear his people cheering and standing to their feet with arms raised high? What a cheerleader!!!

David’s next verse almost sounds like he’s questioning God but it’s more of a reminder of what God has done in the past.

11 Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts? 12 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. 13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.

God is faithful!

What a great Psalm of encouragement for the day. I’m facing battles, are you? Go with the same confidence David shared with his friends and share it with yours,  because we serve the same God! Amen.

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How’s Your Hinges today?

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There are days when I write that I think I’m writing to read what I have to say. Then I am reminded of the preachers of little country churches who preach Sunday after Sunday to a house of  a half dozen filled seats and a dozen or so good intentions who didn’t show up; it is then that I count it a privilege to have a place that I can share what God speaks to my heart. Every soul that reads the words I write, and are encouraged by my thoughts are soldiers in the field of battle that I’ve had the opportunity to support. God knows each one and I’m encouraged by that. It still however does not stop me from counting and complaining. For myself as a writer and speaker, and for the Pastors that labor and study to fill the pulpit on Sunday, preaching to more air than mass.

Ecclesiastes 12:8-11

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. 10 The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

It reminds me of that song “I’m working on a Building.”

Church attendance is not proof of salvation, but the lack of church attendance is evidence of commitment issues. If people attended work like they do church they’d be fired. And before you say that you have to work to survive and pay bills, let me call to remembrance the scripture in Ephesians 2:17-22 (speaking of Jesus)

17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Sunday is the day we go to the hardware store! While that job that pays the bills is important for survival and filling your house with the necessities of life therein, it’s a temporary housing unit for life. Our permanent dwelling isn’t finished yet. (Lest we’d be in it!) And the building material necessary for that life is found in the house of God and in the Word of God.

Solomon said that all was vanity. We spend so much time living for ourselves that we forget our real purpose. Solomon the preacher was wise and taught the people. The people were wise in that they showed up! He reminded them that this life is short… James 4:14 says ~ It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

The words of the wise (the preacher) are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. He’s talking about the building, that’s us! Paul in verse 22 of Ephesians said “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:” That’s the church! The men and women of God who share His word have got the construction material for you to build your house, and if you don’t  show up at the hardware store on Sunday, and read and study His Word the rest of the week, your doors may fall off the hinges, or your pipes might break! The preacher is a goad… it doesn’t sound very flattering but I hope I’m a goad to. Someone that pokes you and prods you into living closer to cross of Christ. That was the first thing He built for us… and then He died on it. So that we could live in this house of flesh and serve Him where we are.

Glory to God! I’m workin’  on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’, I’m workin’ on a buildin’ for my Lord, for my Lord!

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Managing Your Mission

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If you’re a child of God, the second you step your foot to the floor  in the morning you’ve entered the mission field. The mission field varies from child to child but it’s a full time job wherever you are or whatever you do. Look around you right now, and look around yourself later… there you are on the mission field. God has a plan for you in that place and at that time, and Satan has his own strategy… foil God’s plan.

My mission for today is to create a battle plan that is road worthy. One that I can take on the road via this blog and share with other leaders to encourage them and myself as well to be prepared for this day of battle. I found the battle plan in Deuteronomy 20

You’re going!

Like it or not, if you’re in the leadership of the church, meaning you carry a position of any sort, you’re the enemy of Satan and his minions. But God says “Be not afraid.”

Deuteronomy 20:1 – When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Forget the numbers and forget their method of transportation. It doesn’t matter if the enemy out numbers you or if they have greater means of getting to their destination, they’re not in charge. Oh my, how I needed to hear that today! I get overwhelmed when I start counting what needs done, or what obstacles are in my path. But then I read the Word of God and I am quickly reminded that my Commander and Chief sits high and looks low and He can orchestrate this army of enemies to part down the middle and allow my pathway to be straight, or He can give me strength for the battle, but either way my destination has been established of old provided I stay on the path. Oh… I’m going!

Your Pep Talk

Deut.  20:2-4 – And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.

Your High Priest, Jesus Himself comes nigh to you today and tells you… let not your heart faint. Is it not the Holy Spirit that dwells within your heart, Who has the original battle plan that was drawn up by God Himself in His hand? He’s right there with us on the battle field. He’s not sitting in some office passing out orders, He’s got His hands right in the thick of what we’re in working through it for our good. God says  don’t faint now, you’ll miss the victory party! The victory party starts before the battle is over. We celebrate each step along the way as we watch God’s providence have its way again and again. Everything we’re going through will be a testimony of  His presence in our life. Don’t faint!

Your Orders

Deut. 20:5-7 – And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.

Dedicate – when I get a new instrument I dedicate it to the service of the Lord.  I want that instrument to be an instrument of the gospel through music and ministry. I don’t want it used for vain purposes of building myself up but rather a tool of my trade. In verse 5 the scripture says that our entire home should be dedicated to the Lord. Have you dedicated your home to His service? I’m asking the Lord to use my home in whatever capacity He chooses. This morning it’s an office, this afternoon it may be romper room if my grandchildren are around, but may God be glorified through it. Amen!

Plant – Vs. 6, What’s in your vineyard? And will you enjoy reaping what you’ve sown? I pray that we are all sowing seeds of the gospel along the way, but as well as those seeds I’m also sowing things into my life and into others. If I want to harvest abundantly in my life I need to sow the right seeds in the right soil. Be it financially or spiritually I need to make sure that what I’m planting is what I want to harvest. I don’t want a job, I want to harvest a ministry, but I also need provision for my family so that I am not a burden. So I’m headed to the seed store to see what God wants to plant that will provide a crop of provision. What are you needing to harvest? And are you planting the right seeds?

Marry –verse 7 speaks of betrothal. That’s a commitment. Are you committed to the cause? It’s going to be a battle, you’ll be spending a lot of time together, and if you’re in it for the long haul you better be married to it. Get to know God’s plan for your life inside and out and don’t walk away from your destiny.

You’re Ready

Deut. 20:8-9 – And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

In closing, God says if you’re not ready, go back to the house before you discourage someone else. But if you’re ready, God’s got people that need you for a leader. These are exciting times! What’s God going to do with you today… Lead on!

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The Important Stuff

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It’s the day after Christmas, all the goodies have been unwrapped, our bellies are full and our eyes are glazed over from sugar and caffeine overload, or at least that’s the case in my world. My family is so blessed… and as my evergreen tree now stands bare on my porch it is the reality of the day that this year is nigh on gone and it’s time to put aside the stuff, and get busy; refocused and prepared to step it up in 2016. It’s been on my heart for weeks, I need to make some tracks in the coming year that not only leave an impression on the ground I trod but leave an impression on souls for God.

In the book of Ezekiel, Chapter 12, verse 7, we find Ezekiel preparing to give a prophetic shout out the children of Israel about what was to come.

And I did so as I was commanded: I brought forth my stuff by day, as stuff for captivity, and in the even I digged through the wall with mine hand; I brought it forth in the twilight, and I bare it upon my shoulder in their sight.

Command Ready

Ezekiel cheerfully did as he was told. He’s not complaining or offering excuses, clearly he’s not a Baptist! He just gather’s his stuff and does what he’s told. That is a command ready child of God. I have to wonder if God told me to gather my stuff and hit the road… walking… what I would gather. Would I even go? Where would I plug in my new electric pressure cooker? We really do load ourselves down with “stuff” don’t we? So much so that we’re nowhere close command ready! How can we go with all this stuff?

Captive Already

We are indeed a nation held captive by stuff and I am for certain a Shari held captive by stuff. iStuff. iPhones, iPads, gadgets galore and great tools of my trade as a minister of the Gospel, but I’m often held  captive by it. Even now my iPhone lays on the arm of my chair, an easy distraction if it buzzes or whistles like a dog’s owner calling it to the house for dinner. I’m held captive by electronics. Over the past month I’ve weened myself away from social media in hopes of regrouping my thoughts and preparing for 2016. I want a presence on social media, but I want it to be with purpose and vision.

Ezekiel brought forth his stuff as stuff for captivity. Only the essentials. Because of his captivity he couldn’t go out the gate… the easy way, he had to dig his way out through the wall. Even though I’m often held captive by the world I live in I want to spend my time digging in the Word of God and using my hands as tools for the ministry. Whether that’s on the keyboard on the mission field working to help another soul out. I want to be ready.

Compel Rally

Ezekiel was out to prove a point to the captive Nation of Israel. His prophetic act would foretell that the leader they’d relied upon was about to become captive himself. There is but One who we should depend. God Himself will bring us forth from captivity but as leadership we need to compel the soldiers of God to move forward. This world is not our home!

Are you ready to make a move in 2016? I am. I want to be command ready, so that when God says go, I’m gone.

So what’s the important stuff?

  1. The Word of God
  2. The Ways of God
  3. The Will of God

The tools may vary. Just  don’t  get too attached.

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A Few Reasons in this Season to be Thankful

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Christmas 2015… I’ve already been so blessed by friends and family if today were December 26th, I’d be a happy camper. Today I’m thankful. But not always. I can get so frustrated with the piddley  things in life that I miss out on what really matters. It’s the little things that are actually the huge things (or so they would be in many other people’s lives who have them not.)

This morning I wanted to take a few minutes to remind myself that little is much and I am blessed and if you’re reading this blog, you likely are too.

Today I have food and the necessities of life: While almost half the world — over three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

Today I have a home: On a single night in January 2014, 578,424 people in America were experiencing homelessness,  meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.

Today I am loved: But Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.

I am a blessed Mom and Noni: In 2010, about 920,000 children were being raised by grandparents with no parent living in the home

My Christmas tree burns brightly today while worldwide 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity.

I have clean water: but 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Six to eight million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Today, I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in, yet every day I personally know of someone facing illness and disease.

Before I speak a harsh word… I should thank God for that person in my life that causes me to care. Perhaps then I wouldn’t speak harshly.

Before I snarl my nose at the thought of venison or broccoli, I should remember the hungry soul who’d love to have even the juice from the roast or to devour that little tree.

Before I take for granted my gift of music or be in  frustration for my lack of ability, or even complain because I don’t like the song playing, I should remember there are those who have never heard anything.

Before I complain about the weariness in my bones, I should remember that there are those who grow weary not being able to feel.

Today I am saved, and have the promise of Heaven and seeing friends and family that I miss so bad again.

Today I am saved and have peace…

O my… I am so blessed.

Thank you Lord Jesus for that reminder today….

 Colossians 3:12-15

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

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Trust God to Take Care of the Powers that Be

chick in dcLuke 2:1-4

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” and each day that the Lord allows me to continue serving and studying His Word the more those words come to life. I see God’s purpose in the intricate threads woven through my day, people, conversations, events, all playing their part in the Lord’s purpose for each of us. A different purpose for different people heading to the same place. Heaven.

Prior to Luke 2, it was prophecy… but there in Luke’s telling of the events of the birth of Christ we see prophecy fulfilled and a few notable players that had no intention of helping. He was born at the time when the fourth monarchy was at the height of its glory and was known as a powerful, universal monarchy. It was called ironically (or not) Terraram orbis imperium – The empire of the whole earth. Luke called it “all the world,” and there was scarcely any part of the civilized world that wasn’t dependent on it. I could imagine that being the breeding ground for government arrogance.

Sound familiar? It likely does if you’ve watched the news lately.

Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 2:44) said that this would be the time the Messiah would be born. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

The kings Daniel spoke of were the Kings of the fourth monarchy, those in control in the days of Joseph, Mary and their soon to be Son Jesus, the Son of God Who would reign in the everlasting Kingdom of God. Mary lived in Nazareth, but for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled He needed her in Bethlehem as foretold in the Old Testament book of Micah 5:2 

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

And so it was that the seed would be planted in the mind of Ceasar, let’s tax the world and make everyone return where they came from. Who cares about the hardship on the people, we own them! Bwahahaha. I added that for effect. Ceasar wasn’t a man of God, he was man of his own power… and yet…. Unbeknown to him, God controlled his buttons like a remote control car under the Christmas tree. And for such a time and purpose, the very expectant Mary packed her purse and climbed on board the donkey, and she and her husband returned to Bethlehem and prophecy became the person of Baby Jesus.

The last prophecies to be fulfilled from the Bible are the end time prophecies and the same arrogance of Caesar (who thought himself god) and Herod who feared the baby King Jesus so much that he ordered boys born of that time period to be slain are alive and well today. The political factions of our day believe they are in full control of our fate, they tax and govern with haphazard results and all the while God sits on the throne with the remote, waiting in His time to push the buttons that finish what He started on that Bethlehem night. Although the political players are big in their own mind, it’s no game; it’s serious business. And the obscure people in the scenes of the story that is unfolding, are us! We are God’s people with purpose which is to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

Nobody was expecting God to use a little virgin girl to bring the King into the world. So to the little churches up the hills and hollers of West Virginia and other places across the globe, keep on keeping on… you have purpose, and it’s our time. Trust God to take care of the powers that be. He did it with Caesar Augustus, our leadership should be a cinch!

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A Sit Down Time with Jesus

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500 words… 5 minutes… you  owe  it to yourself for Christmas’ sake!

I have an hour or two before I’m headed to Build A Bear and into the big city of Charleston.  I love this time of year but doggone it goes so fast. Here it is the week of Christmas and I’m nuttier than a fruitcake with a thousand things on my agenda. I’ve attended Holiday parties and events and I’ve got a few more to go. I just want to stop. I want to be able to sit for more than a few minutes in the wee hours of the day and enjoy the rush of the season by feeling the rush of the Holy Spirit within me.

I hear Bing Crosby crooning in my ear…

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas
(Children laughing,
People passing,
Meeting smile after smile)
And on every street corner you’ll hear

Silver bells, (Silver bells) Silver bells, (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling),
Hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day.

Silver Bells was first recorded in 1950, greater than a decade before I was born, but Bing still crooned that song well into my childhood years. A simpler time, a time when we didn’t try to fit 37 hours into 24 and then wonder why our stomach’s in knots and our heart races like a race horse when we lay down at night. It’s likely because we run like race horses on the track of life, in circles round and round, for the prize of contentment that’s never achieved.

This morning I needed the rushing to stop (before it started) and let me ponder this man called Jesus for a while. Jesus, born in an manger to the virgin Mary, raised the Son of a carpenter, walked among us for 33 years, crucified on a cross to pay for the sins I’ve committed, risen from the grave the third day and now sits in Heaven making intercession for me with God… Creator of all. He’s not rushing… He’s sitting. I needed to sit with Him this morning and feel His precious Spirit rush over my body this Christmas week and stir my soul with His purpose.

Oh… Thank You Sweet Savior for that gift this morning.

Acts 2:2

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

I don’t hear the wind… only the whirring of the dishwasher running in the kitchen. But I feel a calm in my soul where I’m sitting. That calm that they experienced for the first time on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled them and gave them an understanding of the chaos around them. I’m thankful that in this chaotic season… God’s sitting on the throne…. And He has time to sit with me and rush into my heart and speak peace…. Sweet peace. Peace. That’s Christmas! I pray you’ll take some time to sit today. Just you and Jesus… get it all worked out.

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Don’t Dis Appoint Yourself

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Last night I watched as 100+ Marietta Bible College students presented 100+ roses to Dr. and Mrs. Guiler as they sang the tribute song of Ray Boltz “Thank You.” Needless to say the tears flowed like rivers of grace down my face and this morning my heart is still full as I sit in Salt Fork State Park in Cambridge, Ohio looking out the window of the lodge balcony. I too was an honorary mention last night at the annual Christmas event and my humility kicked in overdrive thinking of the unworthiness. God is so good… and I am so not. Yesterday’s drive up was filled with sermons from the podcasts of Hillsong Pastor Brian Houston, last night I was blessed by Dr. Guiler’s Christmas sermon, and this morning they’re all heavy on my mind. I’d  like to tell you each one and tell you that I’m that deep of a thinker, but you and I both would know that that’s not so. So likely some of each of those sermons will spill into my blog this morning and hopefully bless you the way it’s blessed me.

The year’s coming to a close and I don’t feel the least bit accomplished this morning. I feel undone. I’m nowhere close the caliber of Christian I should be for the blessings I’ve received and I feel like Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

I’ve seen the King present in my life too as He laid purpose before me and I stepped around it thinking that surely God meant that for someone else. Not unclean, unworthy, unfocused Shari. So when I listened to Brian’s sermon yesterday on “disappointment,” I thought, “Wow, that should be the theme song of my life. The queen of disappointment.” I have the continual feeling of grief for being a disappointment to self, others and above all God. But as Brian unpacked the word disappointment, God opened my mind in a way it’s never been.

God’s only appoints… He never disappoints. Dis-appointment is the hindrance or prevention of an appointment. Therefore if I am disappointed I’ve allowed something to stand between my appointment (God’s purpose) and me. While saying I’m unclean, unworthy, and unfocused is true, it’s also true that those inadequacies have been covered by the blood of Jesus. By believing those things to still be the case in my life I’m “dis-appointing” myself from God’s purpose, thus denying myself the opportunity to be used and blessed by the God Who thought I was worth dying for.

I tell my youth every time we meet that I want more for them. I want God’s blessings and riches to be poured into their lives and for them to realize who they are in Christ and what potential they carry within themselves because they’re carrying the Lord Jesus himself within them… and then I don’t live it myself. Glory to God what a message for us all.

Moses tried to dis appoint himself when he told God, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

After Jeremiah wrote my favorite verse in Jeremiah 1:5 saying “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.” He tried to dis appoint himself in verse 6 when he said “Ah, Lord GOD! behold I cannot speak: for I am a child.”

Gideon who was told by God that he was a mighty man of valour then tried to dis appoint himself from the task laid before him by telling God how disappointed he was in Him. Gideon said “Did not the LORD bring us from Egypt? But now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Moses said “I can’t talk.” Jeremiah said “I’m too young,” and Gideon complained that God had left them in a bind. None seen the potential that God had placed within them. But thousands of years later, we read of them and their miraculous purpose.

What has God written in my book that I’m trying to un-write? That’s my question for us today… how have I “dis” appointed myself from God’s purpose?

Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.

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