Category Archives: Christian Service

I Traded Jesus for Amazon?

Baby Jesus for free 2

It all began yesterday as I prepared a devotion for the teen Christmas Party and ended this morning as I prepared to write my blog. I told the teens about a woman who stepped out of her car and noticed that her Baby Jesus had been stolen from the Nativity set on her lawn. At first she was angry, and then she began wondering who it was that would have done such a thing? She first thought it was surely menacing teens, then her thoughts went much darker about certain religions that would take it symbolically. So the teens and I discussed who they thought would have taken that Baby Jesus and they basically came to same conclusions that the owner did. But for the rest of the story…

The woman was angry for a little while and then decided for the sake of Christmas she really needed to get past this, so she created a sign and placed it in the manger where the Baby Jesus once lay; it read “You may have stolen the Baby, but you can’t steal Christ! He was crucified, but is risen again and He is alive and well in my heart.”

Well played! And how true!

Nobody can take Christ from us. Romans 8:38-39 reads:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And yet, my computer gave me a wake-up call this morning I hadn’t anticipated this Christmas. When I open up Google Chrome, there are about 8 pages that I can click on in the order of my most visited sites. Forever and a day, possibly less, my number one visited page is one that I use for my blog and bible studies, www.biblegateway.com. It’s where you’ll find the scripture links I use and it has very useful commentaries and such that are handy when studying the Word.

But today that was not my number one site, it was (I’m ashamed to say) www.amazon.com.

What! How did that get there?

I’ll tell you how it got there. That’s where my Christmas focus has been. Rather than running like a mad woman all over the country to Christmas shop I’ve been on Amazon.com ordering, ordering, ordering, and then checking the status every day. And in all my shopping and checking, I’d traded Baby Jesus on amazon.com, or at least that’s what it felt like when Google Chrome ratted me out this morning.

I haven’t been blogging for the past few weeks because of multiple responsibilities elsewhere, all of which allowed me to let my own immune system to get run down and allow a virus to attach itself to me, to the point I actually considered going to the doctor! But that was way too radical an idea, so I toughed it out, getting to the point of death or so I thought one day. But today I’m on the mend and sick of myself. I had not allowed the Baby Jesus to be stolen from my manger, I had given Him away on Amazon. I’ve not only been physically low I’ve been spiritually low for about two or three weeks with no one to blame but myself. I have allowed the temporary frustrations to take a permanent hold on me. Sad truth from the Jesus Chick.

So today I’ve set myself back on the Jesus journey. The one that puts the Bible back on the front row of Google Chrome and my life and puts my focus back on the whole meaning of Christmas which is Easter! Ha! Bring on the Holidays!

Did you think that God had forgotten you?

isaiah 40

I must confess there have been times that, although I didn’t think the Lord had forgotten about me, I may have thought He was tired of hearing from me. After all, I grow weary of people whining, just think about how many whiners the Lord listens to each day! I was in one of those modes yesterday… whine, whine, whine… I got sick of listening to myself. Praise the LORD it’s Sunday! I needed a spiritual kick in the pants and Isaiah gave me one this morning when I read his words in chapter 40.

Isaiah 40

21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

Have ye not known? That was a real bell ringer for me this morning. “You know the answer to this Shari, you’ve heard it again and again from the beginning of your salvation and from the beginning of time God has preached it to men. I understand everything you’re going through.”

And He does! The ignorance of men never ceases to amaze me, self-included. We think we catch God off guard by our day to day musings of life, and the scientific world thinks that the answers to creation lies in a text book, when there in verse 22, long before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and they thought he would surely sail off the end of the earth; Isaiah proclaims that God “sitteth upon the circle of the earth.” Hmmmm…. and exactly how did he know that. And how is it that Job said that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” In Job 26 verse 7? That coming from the oldest book in the Bible. Oh how I need this reminder this morning!

God knows everything I’m going through. He doesn’t mind if I whine… well maybe He does, but He tolerates me just the same, I’m not the first He’s heard. You really should read all of Isaiah 40 for your own encouragement today, but by way of brevity to start our day I’ll skip to verse 28-31. The latter of which is one you’re most likely familiar with. But listen to the words leading into it…

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Have we not known and heard that that God is eternal? You can’t get to be eternal by growing tired… that’s a long time. We grow weary, even the young grow weary and some just collapse along the way but God does not. He is there listening to us, encouraging us and cheering us on until we reach the day that we shall be with Him.

Are you waiting? As in serving not as in sitting. It is those who serve God that renew their strength. I’m headed to church today to serve Him in whatever capacity He will allow. It is there that I get my battery recharged and refueled for the week to come. I hope today finds you in the house of the Lord!

Going off the Grid

off the grid

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

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

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

Jesus’ grid must not have been very big either…

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

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

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

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

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

Just three words away…

Jesus save meIt’s Sunday morning and my heart is filled to the brim with the goodness of God. I understand what David meant when he penned the words…

1 Chronicles 17

19 O Lord, for thy servant’s sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all this greatness, in making known all these great things.

20 O Lord, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

His words encouraged me this Sunday morning and I rejoice that God has made this day for me…and you too! What a privilege to go into the house of God and hear the word of God. It hasn’t changed, though men have tried; God’s message is still going out, day after day, week after week. It is unfortunate that it is still being rejected in the same fashion. There will be a day when many will wish they had taken the time to go to church, especially with their families.

This morning my heart is filled with gratitude, for God has shown His great mercy for this “servant’s sake.” He has given me another day that I might serve in His house and share the gospel with young people who need to know the world’s a liar. This evening if the Lord wills I’ll travel to a prison to share the gospel in song to men who are paying the price for believing the lies of the world.

What’s the lie?

That there is peace, contentment or great gain in anything other than Jesus Christ, that is the lie. Men, women and children seek for it every day only to discover at life’s end they were always just three words away…

“Jesus Save Me.”

Feeling Hurt or Betrayed… this post is for you!

God's favOne of my greatest defeats in life is the heartache of betrayal by friends and family. It takes me forever and a day to get past what happened and get on with life as God’s design intended and I have a feeling I’m not alone. If a stranger speaks ill of you or does you harm you can shrug that off for you are no better or worse without them in your life. But if someone for whom you have invested love, energy and time betrays you; it’s as if a piece of your very heart has been torn asunder. There is no salve that will heal it, nor bandage that can conceal it. Everybody in your circle knows that you’ve been hurt, which for me is worse than the hurt sometimes. Because then I not only have to deal with the pain inflicted by the person who hurt me, but the shame I feel around those who know that I was betrayed. It’s a double whammy kind of day.

It’s been a little while since I have been in that position, but as I read across 2 Samuel 19 this morning the times that it occurred came flooding back into my mind as if someone had opened a gate.  I can still find myself wallowing in the pain like I’ve stepped in mucky miry clay in my favorite shoes; ruining the shoes and causing me to slip and fall back into that despair I felt when it originally happened. What I fail to understand in times like these is that I’ve not only gotten myself stuck in the mud but those around me are being splattered as well as I stomp and kick my way back to dry ground. Even the unsaved know the scripture about turning the other cheek in Matthew 5:39. They may not be able to quote it but they know it’s supposed to be a Christian characteristic that practically every Christian fails.

In 2 Samuel 19, David has just won the battle, but in the process his son Absalom is killed. He’s been betrayed by friends and family. He’s mourning not only the loss of a child but the agony of his son’s betrayal. Joab, the commander of his army has to have a heart to heart about his role as leader and the effect his mourning is having on his nation. They feel they’ve done something wrong by killing his enemy. David sent the whole nation running into their tents like thieves; as if they’d done wrong for doing right. He does make amends and in the process makes a statement that every child of God should know.

After the battle, Shimei, who had been on the opposing team comes to David in great remorse for his behavior begging forgiveness. Abishai, David’s comrade and nephew (his mom was Zeruiah) tells David to forget Shimei’s apology and put him to death because he had “cursed the Lord’s anointed.” Oh how many times I have all but ask God to kill those who have betrayed me. I didn’t want God to kill’em but if He’d have maimed them I’d have been okay with that. But David answers him in royal style and forgiveness.

2nd Samuel 19:22

And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel?

To country quote that for myself … “The battle is over, the damage is done and I’m still God’s favorite.”

That’ll put a shout on you! That’s how you victoriously get past the hurt. Regardless of what someone has done, or what the end result is, they cannot remove you from your station in life that God has given you. If we’re wallowing in pain, we’ve stepped down from our position. That’s an awesome word for someone today… Me for one!

Quick Wit and Slow Ears

quick wit slow ears

I do not know exactly how God placed the Holy Spirit within my heart,  I only know that one day I was feeling hopeless and alone and the next day I found myself sitting in a church that I didn’t want to be in, listening to a preacher I didn’t want to hear, and obeying a whisper from without that would soon be within. And almost 19 years later that whisper still resonates in my soul, bringing a joy that I never thought possible. If you too are saved then you “get” what I just said, if you are not saved (meaning you’ve never accepted what Jesus Christ did for you) then you think I’m a babbling idiot; and that’s okay. Read on either way!

John 6:63-64

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Funny thing about God, none of us fool Him.

Quick Wit

When the Holy Spirit quickeneth a soul, He brings to life that which was dead. That which we didn’t even realize was dead. Nobody threw a funeral, it was just born that way. As we grow up we begin knowing right from wrong and there are conscious decisions being made every day. Do I tell my parents that I broke it, or do I sweep it up and throw it in the trash, hoping they’re none the wiser? Do I study, or cheat?  Do I drive fast or like I’ve got some sense? Those are decisions made with the conscience, it knows what’s right. And so do we, but we have the will to choose what’s wrong. This for me is the part of the evolution theory that has me asking those who believe it “How can you be so smart, and yet be so dumb?” How can a “bang” create a conscience, love, passion, desire, etc. etc. etc.? A bang cannot. Only God can. We are born with quick wit. A toddler knows when Mommy and Daddy say no, they shouldn’t do it again… but they have to try.

The first Non-Profit

The flesh profiteth nothing, meaning it’s no better for having made a right decision; for tomorrow it might make a wrong one if it thinks that it’s more advantageous to do so. It gains nothing in Heaven by having made the right decision, although it may gain in the world because of it. We grow up thinking that the riches of this world are the prize, only to discover that rich or poor, heartache is the same and there is a missing piece of our heart that is never satisfied with the world.

The Life of the Party!

We’d like to live life in the party zone where everything is happy and care free but life happens. We have misfortune, we lose people we love, we’re angry, sad, broken and distraught a great many days, but there can be a party in your soul even in the midst of those times if you have the Holy Spirit within you.

John wrote “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.”

Whether or not you believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, I believe that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now either from within your soul if you believe, or from without if you do not. I believe that because the Lord led me to this passage this morning and said write, and His work never goes unfinished.

In 1996 He spoke to my soul and said… “You need saved or you’re going to Hell.” This morning He speaks to my soul and says write, it’s time to share the party! Life is only complete with Jesus Christ. If you have Him, perhaps you’re like me and you’re not allowing Him to work in your life to His full potential. He has so much in store for us if we’d only spend more time listening and less time “doing.” He gave me quick wit… I have slow ears. What’s He’s telling you today?

A Thread of Hope

thread of hope

Joshua 2:18

Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Threads of Hope…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been privileged to be a part of a Facebook Messenger thread involving about eight people. Various prayers and concerns come down the line and prayers and petitions are spoken on their behalf. It’s been an encouragement to my soul to watch their concern for the members of the group, many of whom I don’t even know other than through this thread.

It reminded me of that thread of hope that Rahab threw out the window to Joshua’s men spying out the land of Jericho. The same thread that was used to help the men escape was the same thread that would later save her own life and that of her family. Should not that be a message to the hearts of the church that we very well could be a thread of hope that saves a soul from destruction?

2 Corinthians 4:8-9

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

We all face troubles. Today we may find ourselves in excellent shape without travail but that may not be the case tomorrow. How awesome it is to have that thread of hope from Christian friends that we can turn to in our hour of need. God could have saved the Hebrew spies in any number of ways, but He chose to use a harlot who happened to own a piece of real estate right in the heart of trouble. Her life wasn’t easy, she could have given any number of excuses for not helping them out. But she put her safety and well-being aside to help the men of God… and great was her reward!

We don’t do things for other people so that we may obtain the favor of God, but it is for certain that nothing done with His name attached will be forgotten. I’m grateful for the many prayer warriors that God has placed in my path, and I’m humbled that I have the privilege to return the favor because God opened the windows of Heaven when He saved my soul.

No more Pew Puke… a Monday Message from the Amen

bible in the pew

Revelation 3

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

These things saith the Amen…

The Amen being the steady and unchangeable Lord Jesus Christ, the faithful and true witness who from the beginning of time has watched over His creation. I have to wonder what yesterday was like for Him, or any other recent Sunday. How excited were His people to come into His house?

15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The unchangeable, still excited to love on you Lord Jesus Christ knows that the most of His church sat in their pews without so much as an amen or glory hallelujah, they were a pew full of spue. He seen the few that were willing to raise their hand and amen the message… I was one of those, but I could have done better too. I awoke this morning with a determination in my heart to light a fire under my own feet like the one that John saw on the isle of Patmos when he looked at the Lord Jesus. We’re getting a new roof on our church this week, I want to blow the roof off in praise. I want the kids in my youth group to say “that crazy woman is our leader… and she loves us.” I have from now until Wednesday night to stir my heart so that I can stir my Wednesday night class and encourage a few adults in the other classes and churches to jump on board with me.

Enough of being pew puke.

17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, th at thou mayest see.

Sunday morning our church was blessed to give the Pastor a go ahead and have the roof replaced on Victory Baptist Church. No debate, no argument over color, just get it done Pastor… we are blessed. We have need of nothing… the Lord has provided for us! Hallelujah!!! But Christ goes on to say you need to buy of me gold tried in the fire. We need an eye opener, some godly wisdom and it starts with a reality check. Yes I love you, but you need a trip to the wood shed.

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Be Zealous! Get excited for crying out loud. Stop sitting in your pew with your Bible in your lap making notes for another day… today’s the day. Christ has just knocked on your door and mine.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

This verse is so often to referred to as the verse that calls sinners to come. He’s speaking to the church, not to the lost. It’s we who have locked Christ out of the dining hall to where He has to knock to come back in. How ridiculous is that… He has the food!

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

That’s all of us… red, yellow, black and white, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc., etc. you are precious in His sight. He said He loved us…

We can do better this week. Open the doors wide to what Christ wants to do with you this week. I’m ready! Who’s with me?

The morning after… and the Ignorance of Politics

politics

Politics are Satan’s playground. I’m proud to live in a country where we have the right to vote, I wouldn’t want to live in the dictatorship that many live in persecution under, however, my heart grows weary of the antics of the winners and losers. Satan knows just where to attack and who he can use to tear at the core of Christian faith. He knows if he can discourage us and imprison our thoughts with anger that our focus will be off the gospel of Christ. I write to myself this morning for in the midst of the political nonsense I find myself in need of hearing the encouraging words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:11

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

What better tool can he use than the political realm that stirs up the hearts of men and women with passionate pride for their cause and turns brother and against brother, friend against friend? We are so all consumed with the “pride of our cause” and yet the supposed cause, which is our homes, family and freedom is being cast aside so that we can win a battle of politics. Satan wins, and we are ignorant.

Mine will likely not be a popular opinion this morning because people would rather argue and cast fingers of blame than take responsibility for the mess this country is in. I cannot say that my lips did not turn a little upward when the republicans took back over the Senate, but only because they are the more conservative of the lot, not because they are sin free. I’m disgusted with Washington as a whole, every party on the ticket. I’m just as frustrated on a local level because somewhere along the line it became politically correct to blame the voters for not wanting to give hierarchy carte blanche with finances and poor decision with no accountability. I won’t park there lest I be ignorant.

The same people who are “so concerned” for our children and nation care not that Hell is on the horizon and Satan laughs all the way to the gates because he has them distracted with politics.  A quick glance through Facebook this morning left me weeping on my keyboard at the children and families hurting because of illnesses and brokenness, and yet the next post would be someone cutting to the core family and friends because they disagreed over politics. I so wanted to get on their post and give them a piece of mind… at least what’s left. But then I decided to read more of Paul’s letter…

2 Corinthian 2:7-8

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.

Paul spoke of a man who had been disciplined by the church for sin. He asked the church to love him back into the fellowship of God with forgiveness, not continue to beat and berate him to the point of breaking his spirit. I see Christians too often taking a road so high that no one could possibly achieve it so that they can continue to “look down” at the sinner as though they were not one themselves, especially in politics.

Here’s a news flash: God’s not in your party.

God is Holy and just and will hold accountable every decision of every decision maker. He will not allow His name to be taken in vain and the sanctity of the family mocked. And when I say “taken His name in vain” I don’t speak of cursing. I speak of people who use God to further their agenda.

I don’t want to be ignorant of Satan’s devices.  He’ll use me as well as anyone to get someone’s mind off of what matters. Eternity. If your candidate or cause went down, it may or may not be a bad thing. But if a soul goes down into the pits of Hell, and is separated for all eternity from their family and friends. Nothing is worse. Hell is real… but it’s not a playground.

Stolen Hope

image

It happened because of an act of obedience by me during the ladies retreat yesterday. I know right? I was shocked too! I was mostly shocked by my obedience, not that God showed up and did something in a miraculous way. While studying for my session God had laid it on my heart to speak on testifying (which is great!) But then God went one step further and asked me to ask for testimonies.

That is a completely different story. That puts my session out of my control and into the control of who only knows that might stand up. Don’t hate me for saying that… you know that we’ve all been in one of those meetin’s where somebody stood up to testify and 40 minutes later you were praying that God would shut them up. Well that was my fear. But this wasn’t about me, it was about God, so reluctantly I agreed. Well when that time came and the words came out of my mouth and my stomach roller over… Heaven came down. Two of the sweetest testimonies ever and not a dry eye in the house.

it all stemmed from the thought “If I don’t testify, I very well could rob somebody of hope.” Powerful, is it not?

So me and my briggety ways had told God before I went to bed last night that I was gonna rest my mind a few days after this ladies retreat… I felt as though I had just come out of skillet and it wasn’t sunny side up. So when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, my email notification also buzzed with a devotion series that I have sent there. My weary eyes slid my iPhone open and I read the scripture from Philippians 1:14 “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

And God said write…

Obedience to testimony time is not always easy. We put restraints on the service times and wonder if what we have to say really needs to be said. But Apostle Paul said in this scripture that because of his afflictions in prison his friends were BOLDY proclaiming the Word of God. Because they could see how God was bringing Paul through his trials and blessing him at the same time they were compelled to tell someone about Christ. Paul had given them hope.

As we go to church today.. don’t deny a friend hope through disobedience.

God also told me to sing the song “Testify” by the Talley Trio during my session. For days I argued with God that I had other songs that I could sing better and that I hadn’t practiced that one enough. I could have spent the time rehearsing and been prepared in stead of arguing. In even greater reluctance I sang the song. And it was just what was needed to get people fired up to testify! Who knew? God! So when I flubbed up a line in the song I could almost hear God say… you should have practiced like I told you. 🙂

Don’t deny hope.