Category Archives: Leadership

The Danger of Walking on the Wild Side

I’ve recently watched a few Christian friends, and by watching I don’t mean “watching” in the sense of waiting for them to fall or judging their walk. I watch because they’re drawing attention to themselves and the fact that they are drawn to the wild side. To my knowledge, they’re not actively participating in a bad lifestyle, but they’re fascination of it brings me to the realization that I too, and likely every child of God, can be drawn into a desire to walk on the wild side. And there is a danger.

Romans 11:24-26

For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, untill the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungoliness from Jacob.

Apostle Paul is speaking to the Jews about the wild side of the Gentiles. They didn’t appreciate it. They’d always steered clear of the Gentiles; and now, this Gentile loving Jew was telling them that they should embrace them and call them brothers and sisters. What? That rebel nation is now God’s people too. Yes! Hallelujah. Because we were made new. We were not a heathen branch grafted into a healthy tree that would have weakened it. But rather we were a newly formed branch, not formed by nature which grows wild, but rather formed by the Creator with purpose. I just wrote myself happy!

The Jews were represented by the olive tree, a valuable, fruit bearing tree. But their focus wasn’t on the fruit, it was on their status as the original tree. Apostle Paul was trying to reintroduce them to the Fruit Bearer. Christ. The long awaited Messiah that they had rejected because they didn’t understand the mystery of the work that God had done. They didn’t want to understand. That would be key.

And sometimes we don’t want to understand the price God paid to turn us from that wild branch, into a Holy Nation. You see, there’s a side of me that can look back on the wild side of life and think “that was fun.” But then I remember what life was really like outside the True Branch. And nothing on the backside of where I am now, seems appealing. I don’t want to mar the beautiful Branch that I have been allowed to become a part of.

That’s what scares me about the friends of mine that find joy in reliving the wild side memories and walk dangerously close to marring the branch.

Glorifying Sin Mars the Branch

When someone speaks of the past life’s sin in a manner that makes it sound fun and exciting, it can cause the unsaved to think that we’re missing out on something by being saved. That’s a mark on the branch, because it is the furthest from the truth.

I lived unsaved 34 years. I had plenty of experiences in life that the world deems as fun. I also know the miserable state I was in at the time. That somehow gets forgotten by those glorifying those days.

But now… Glory to God I’m having more fun, and more excitement than I ever had pre-salvation. Hands down, it is not an exaggeration!

Glamorizing Sin Mocks the Branch

That thought makes me nauseous. But for me it’s what happens when I hear someone laughing and joking about sin. Whether it’s their sin from a previous life, or someone else living in sin. There’s nothing funny about it.

What someone views as a funny story about a drunk, reminds me of the lives I’ve seen ruined, absolutely destroyed because of alcohol. When a Christian speaks of alcohol as “not sinful,” when drank in moderation, I wonder who they’re trying to convince.

While few people joke about drugs, the legalization of marijuana reminds me of a night at 15 years of age, I almost died because someone laced mine with PCP.  You may say one has nothing to do with the other. I disagree. Because one is a gateway drug to the other. Just as beer is the gateway to a stronger fix for an alcoholic. And one time just may be the end to a life that wasn’t saved. It’s a game that is too dangerous to play, and certainly doesn’t need glamorized by God’s people.

Glossing over Sin Moves the Branch

Making light of any sin, or looking at the wild side of life as a fond memory causes an instability in the life of the believer not just the unsaved. I’ve watched it play out too many times.

I heard a preacher mock the “Baptist” about not being drinkers for months and months, and then I watched him fall to alcoholism. He did eventually win the victory over it, and I praise God for that, but he paid a high price.  

I watched as a woman made light of her indiscretions and almost destroyed her marriage.

I was broken hearted when a preacher friend fell to a sexual sin. I also remember his last sermon, the title of it was “Finishing Well.” He did not.

I didn’t get my 20 plus year badge of the Christian faith without being broken hearted, hurt, and yes, I too have fallen because I’ve walked too close to the wild side. It’s too dangerous to make light of and Satan loves it every time a Christian “fondly” remembers a day of sin. Don’t give him one drop of glory.

Remember what the price for that sin was. We are not heathen branches grafted into a healthy tree. We were made new! Let us act like it.

All that and a Bag of Chips

I try my best to keep life in perspective. My friend Gloria has a saying about vain people that “They’re all that and a bag of chips.” I don’t know where the saying comes from, but I like it. Because it sums many of us, including myself, who sometimes need an attitude check on life.

Apostle Paul said it like this in Galatians 6:3

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

The word “something” was on my mind when I woke up this morning. It was just there, lingering around, waiting to be searched out. I thought it odd that such a common word of today was only found eight times in scripture. But it only took one of those times to capture my mind.

The Perspective of Our Performance

Galatians 6:4

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another.

While our performance is not what gets us into Heaven, that is the acceptance of what Christ did and that alone, it is important to God. We just have to put our performance into perspective. Our performance should bring “rejoicing.”

That is so often not the case. Be it in the secular world or the spiritual world. Performance often brings with it a competition, frustration, or self-condemnation. My work isn’t as good as theirs? Why am I not where I want to be? It’s not good enough? I speak from experience, not judgement. Knowing that happiness (rejoicing) will not be found there.

Rejoicing only comes when we prove (demonstrate) our work for God. When it is done to please Him, not anyone, nor even ourselves. We don’t have to like it, although we should. We just need to do it for Him. That is the perspective of our performance, is it being done for Him?

The Perspective of Personal Accountability

Galatians 6:5

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Every single one of us have been given a role to play on this earth until God says we’re done. He did not say it would always be easy, but what we do for Him will be productive. While there is certainly teamwork within the church, we each carry a responsibility for the ministries of God. For some reason the church has lost that perspective. It’s the preacher, teacher, deacons or some other person’s job. Not the congregation. Their job is just to show up right?

Not according to scripture.

Galatians 6:6-8

Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

The Apostle teaches that we’re to take care of those that teach and preach the gospel. The word “communicate” means to “provide.” This also brings reward. The word sowing has such a negative connotation in this modern day because of television preachers who have greedily used scripture for their own gain. Not the Lord’s.

My husband David fell asleep with the television on a few days ago and when I woke up I could hear a TV evangelist shouting for $100, $500, $1000 seeds that he assured the listener would come back 1000 fold. Are – you – serious! I was angry. I quickly turned that charlatan off.

God guarantees that we will never out give Him. But He didn’t say it would come back monetarily. And Jesus didn’t look like Mr. T with gold dripping from His neck. That’s a perspective we need to understand. But ministry work costs money. And for those who cannot go and do, God may have called them to provide. Some way, some how, every child of God is called to be a part of the ministry. Not just a pew sitter.

The Perspective of Perseverance

Galatians 6:9-10

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

It’s easy to lose sight of the goal. Again… I speak from experience. While I spend every day in some way in service for the cause of Christ, sometimes it’s me trying to survive and that’s not how God intended His children to live.

God’s plan for His kids is to do good; take care of ourselves, take care of each other and rejoice in it all. I must confess that somedays I’m not rejoicing. But when I think about how good God has been to place me in the place I’m in, with the people I’m with, I can rejoice on the worst of days.

I pray you have a blessed day, and that you understand that in and of ourselves, we are nothing, but in the Lord’s eyes you really are all that and a bag of chips!

Stepping Into the Unknown

When I think of the Bible characters that stepped into the unknown at the instruction of the known, my heart is encouraged. When I get ready to take my first step, it’s always a flutter. It’s usually followed by nausea and fever blisters. Weird right? That’s what stress and nerves do to me. Once I get past the first step and start walking on the new ground I settle in pretty quickly. But those first steps often feel like a cliff.

When Abraham stepped out of the Ur of Chaldees he may or may not have felt a little apprehension. The Bible just says he went. But in the book of Shari it will say, see went… but she didn’t feel good.

When Moses was told to step into the leadership role of Israel, He argued with the Lord that he wasn’t very good with a bullhorn. So God gave him a mouth piece named Aaron. But it didn’t take him out of the role of leader.

When God made David King, he was in one of the lowest positions of the day, a shepherd boy. But God used all that position to make him a mighty defender and a man who could lead people with the same passion he lead sheep.

When Christ picked “Team Jesus” from the crowd, He picked a variety of twelve characters with a variety of talents. We know their names 2,000 years later because of the impact they had in their work.

I just wrote myself happy.

I’ve never really got to experience a comfort zone, because God is always doing something in my life. Sometimes it’s because He’s fixing what I broke, and that’s very uncomfortable! Today is no different. A new ministry direction is on the horizon with doing things I’ve had a passion to do for 20 years. But this time it’s on God’s terms. So it makes me feel a little better about taking the first step.

I hope that in sharing my thoughts on my zone, that maybe it will help you navigate yours a little better.

Please make the following a matter of prayer when it comes to the new Jesus Chick direction:

  • That God would open the doors (not Shari)
  • God provides a team of people with a passion for the work.

The work will focus on the following areas:

  • Promoting the Gospel (always first and foremost)
  • Youth programs
  • Adult programs
  • Women’s programs
  • Senior programs
  • Substance abuse educations programs

That would be why I need a team. There is a huge amount of work on my plate. But I want to reach as many people as I can with this ministry and give them the tools to reach more.

Big Step… but I’m ready.

Crash Test Christianity

That’s the thought that came out of the teen class lesson yesterday as my co-teacher Doug taught our youth. My brain goes strange places sometimes and either like honey or mud, it’s stuck in that place until I dig around and find out what the Lord needs me to know about that word.

The word was “prove”. Meaning to demonstrate, show, give evidence or verify something.

It’s what most of us want on the everyday front of life; we want evidence that we’re going the right direction, that God is pleased, that we’re forgiven. And God tells us that’s okay. He wants us to prove Him.

But sometimes proving Him leaves me feeling a little like a crash test dummy. Not that God wants me to be that. He’d rather I be the evaluator. Not the demonstrator. But I hit the wall again and again. I’m no different than the original crash test dummies, they however were on camels not Kia souls.

Behavior Lessons

In Exodus 15:24-25 it says

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink?

There third day into the trip and they’ve already found something to complain about with leadership. They’d arrived at Marah and couldn’t drink the water because it was bitter. And that was Moses’ fault.

Yesterday, my grandsons Luke and Parker were wrestling in the floor and knocked something off the table. Within a second of the crash Parker yelled, “Luke did it!’

We’re always looking for someone to blame for our problems in life rather than taking responsibility for it ourselves. I’m not apt to throw someone under the bus, though I might, but more than likely I’ll blame circumstances for my errors. Knowing it was my fault.

But God gives Israel the bitter water to prove something about Himself.

Verse 25:

And he cried unto the Lord and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them, and said, if thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth you.

Praise God for grace! We are not bound by the law. But that doesn’t make the law nonexistent. It’s still there. But now it proves that we cannot keep ourselves. We depend on that grace to clean us up when we crash and burn.

And He does. The name of Grace is Jesus.

Faith Lessons

In Exodus 16 we find the children of Israel complaining again, but this time its about the food.

Verse 3

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

For some reason that scripture struck me funny. Although I don’t find it funny when my provision isn’t coming in like I wish it would. If you’ve ever lacked (and we all likely have), you can understand the children of Israel’s mindset. We often chalk them up to being a bunch of whiners, but if you’re a million strong in the wilderness and you’re not seeing a Walmart, you’re worried. But the Lord intervenes in the conversation:

Vs. 4

Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

More evidence. More being tied to the law. Again… praise God for grace! Our provision is not tied to the law, it’s tied to faith.

Philippians 4:19 ~ But my God shall supply all your  need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 9:8 ~ And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:6 ~ Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God

Verse after verse we’re given about the provision of God. And yet ye all know that there have been times when we’ve been without. Is that a lack of faith? Perhaps it’s just another way God proves Himself to us. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Sometimes it’s about learning that we can survive without it.

One of my nephews crashed a motorcycle one time and once the downed bike stop sliding and he stopped rolling, he jumped up and said, “I’m fine.” No one was any more surprised than he was. He learned that sometimes we can crash and not burn.

The last place I want to talk about being a crash test dummy is in Exodus 20:20

Grace Lessons

 We just talked about it through Paul. So how does grace work with the laws of God.

And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Moses had just given them the Lord’s Ten Commandments. They had seen God come down as lightening, thunder and the noise of a trumpet and they wanted no part of it. They wanted an intercessor. So do we.

Remember, this was before the days of sci-fi and special effects. This was the real deal and I probably would be afraid too. The only one not shaking in his shoes was Moses and that was because this wasn’t His first rodeo with God. He’d been in conversations with God before.

But now. Glory to God!!! We don’t need an intercessor. We have a more excellent way. There is no need to go through a priest. Christ took care of that on the cross.

Matthew 27:51 – And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Ephesians 2:18 ~ For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Second to the Resurrection, which proved my Lord’s power over death, my favorite part of that story is the renting of the curtain in the temple. The very thing that kept the common man out of the Holy of Holies was gone. Torn in two from top to the bottom, and opening our way to have direct access to God Himself through the Holy Spirit.

God proves that every day to His children by showing them His presence in their lives.

While the children of Israel felt condemned by the law, there is no condemnation in Christ, only grace for those who come to Him.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

There is no crash and burn for the child of God. Just like those crash test dummies, we my crash, but  we’ll be fine. Because the Lord is on our side!

What Matters Most

World arrogance. Oh… my… stars. It’s why I don’t watch the news and I avoid negative conversations around me. This world actually thinks that they can do whatever it is they desire, without repercussion and without accountability. Well, they thought the same thing in the days of Ezekiel. Which for me I found great solace in. Perhaps you need to hear this word today too.

Are you tired of seeing evil played out on an international, national and local level? Me too. It’s why I don’t miss my days of working in the courthouse of our not so fair county. I witnessed evil first hand, and grew weary and discouraged with each passing day in those halls. Not everyone was evil. But there was enough to suck the life out of me.

Ezekiel no doubt felt the same way. But when you’re a servant of God, which he is, and I am, it’s like being a fire fighter. You can’t just walk away. You have to do what the Lord tells you to do or there could be casualties on your watch. I don’t want casualties on my watch.

So as I read Ezekiel 38 this morning, determined to hear a word from the Lord that I could pass on to you, this is the word…

Names don’t matter, Positions don’t matter, and Numbers don’t matter. God’s promises matter. Just like the sparrow… God sees it all and He has us covered.

Ezekiel 38:1-3

1And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him,And say, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:

Gog and Magog. Interesting names and there is some debate as to who they even are. I won’t even attempt to guess. And truthfully, it’s irrelevant to me for the word that God has given me. Because God’s first point for me to ponder is

Names Don’t Matter

How many times do we hear people say that someone was trying to make a name for themselves in a certain sphere? While obviously God and Magog thought they were of great power in the days of Ezekiel, scholar’s debate who they even were. So how important were they in the scope of those days? And when all is said and done how will we remember those who are our adversaries today?

I love that my grandbabies associate me with Jesus. Glory! That’ll put a shout in my soul. Because I know if I’m doing something in His name, it matters. If it’s in the name of anything or anyone else, not so much. So when I apply that theory to the world around me that is filled with so much evil, what I’m doing is so much more important.

Positions Don’t Matter

Ezekiel was speaking to the chief prince. I’m sure he thought he was all that and a bag of chips. But when the dust settled, it did not.

While I do not ever glory in anyone falling, I can’t say that I may not inwardly smile when evil is defeated. Even if evil has a name and a position. I’m tired of the arrogance of elected officials who do not regard the position’s for which they were elected to as an opportunity to do good. Woah… I may have went right into preachin’.

Numbers Don’t Matter

Scroll forward in chapter 38 and Ezekiel’s still laying it on.

15 And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:

I’m sure those mighty armies came with great confidence. So does the world and the political rhetoric when they make decisions on behalf of our Nation that causes God to go red in the face.

I actually just discovered that God does.

Verse 18 says “And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.”

I don’t think any of us wants to witness that. People who get red faced are usually about to explode. If God explodes, it’s going to get ugly quick! And no matter the number, you lose. So when I look at the odds that are against America on so many different fronts, it sometimes discourages my soul. But then I think about the fact that God hasn’t wiped us off the map yet and I believe it’s because He still has enough people who care. There are still a few Ezekiel’s out there willing to say what needs to be said. And that’s not our word, but rather the Word of God!

God’s Promises Matter

Ezekiel 38:19-23 sums up the matter. If God said it, it will come to pass.

19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; 20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. 21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man’s sword shall be against his brother. 22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord.

Even in the face of today’s evil we can take heart that God will be glorified. So turn that frown upside down! God has us covered church! We are covered by the blood of Jesus and He will have victory, and through Him, so will we.

Beware of Christians

It’s pouring the snow down in Calhoun County, West Virginia today, and the odds of me making it to our morning service are growing slimmer. Praise God, I was in church with the teens for fellowship last night, else I’d be even sadder.

I don’t know how people make it without a church family for encouragement.

The teens and I watched a film called “Beware of Christians.” It was documentary by four college boys who wanted to know what lies beyond “religion” who went by faith on a journey to Europe to witness for Christ.

As most movies it started out a little slow, and I’m sweating it because I want the kids to enjoy it and have a good time. Well let me tell you, when teens applaud at the end of a movie, with nobody to hear their applause but each other and God, you know the Spirit has moved and I’m not a failure as a youth leader J

When the title speaks of “Beware of Christians,” it’s not what you initially think. Or at least not what I thought. It’s speaking primarily of religious Christians which in the context of this film, I personally think most of us fit into. I’ve witnessed very few people in my life who live their lives to the extent of the disciples and by the instruction of Christ through the word.

These young men warn of the cause and effect of religious church goers who talk the talk but their walk doesn’t back it up. They interviewed people in the many cities they traveled, often times ending up in cities they never intended on going to. But God has His methods! They asked tough questions of young people regarding their sexual morality and spoke candidly about their own struggle. They delved into materialism and so many other topics that few Christians dare to ask themselves. Such as “Are you prepared to give up everything to serve Christ?” What does it mean to be a Christian? What things do you “need” and what things do you “need to get rid of?” Are you willing to walk away from some people because they’re unhealthy for you?

I’ll leave much of it for you to experience should you decide to watch the movie. You can rent it on YouTube for $1.99. This is not an endorsement, but rather an opportunity if you’re interested.

Link: https://youtu.be/ebEc73IYdyU

What I wanted to accomplish by this post this morning is to ask you what I had to ask myself last night? What good are you for the cause of Christ? How much of an impact are you making? What will you do differently this week because I ask you these questions?

Because I’m not going to make it to our services this morning, I’m going to spend some time pondering these questions myself. If you’d like to share your answers or your thoughts I’d love to hear from you!

Be Thou my Vision

Bible Journaling Art by The Jesus Chick

Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

One of the very familiar verses often quoted from the Bible, and quite often completely out of context. I have no doubt been guilty of the same. But this morning this verse caught my attention and gave me the desire to dig a little deeper into its meaning for my own personal application.

I consider myself quite the visionary when it comes to life. I love new and exciting adventures and I’m open to the Lord’s leading down unfamiliar paths without hesitation. The problem with me is that quite often it’s a Shari vision, not a God vision. So those paths have many times lead to disaster!

The Word of God is a book like no other in the world. It’s the living, breathing, Word of God that can speak life into its reader. Another book may excite you, and inspire you, but it can’t speak life. It’s also why we shouldn’t read the Bible in a haphazard manner as to take scripture out of context or apply our own definition to it.

When Proverbs 29:18 is quoted, the word “vision” is often thought of as a prophetic vision that renders itself to personal direction. But in this context vision is “an inspired revelation of wisdom from God.” Which may be personal direction, but in its full context, which people tend to ignore, it is followed by “keeping the law.” So… when you take someone like me who is apt to be a free spirit, the law has a connotation of control. And that doesn’t fit well with my application of the freedom of vision.

I’m somewhat telling on my rebellious heart. But it’s good to be real, because it will help you and me both. Nothing is worth doing unless it is the will of God. And the will of God will never be outside the Word of God. So if we want the reality of it, we can’t just say we have a vision without searching the Word of God for the truth of His will. Woah… that’s a pretty deep thought for me.

2019 is on the horizon, and I have big plans, as always. But are they God’s? Good question.

Three points for me to ponder, and perhaps you as well, from Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

No Instruction leads to Destruction

Proverbs 1:5

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:

I received a call from my good friend Dewey last week, who asked if I minded some counsel. The Lord knew I was in need of it, and He even sent the messenger, so who am I to say no. And so I listened. But I’m not always that wise. Some of my greatest failures in life have been not seeking or heeding the counsel of others. It’s not that I feel I know best. It’s usually that I just don’t know and I’m too excited to slow down.

But not today. Today I’ve taken it slower and asked God for some insight into the vision He has given me for 2019. The year of our Lord 2018 has been quite difficult. For more than the obvious health reasons. I had an appointment with my cardiologist today and was discussing the frequent, steady chest pains that cause me concern. After listening to me, and running the appropriate tests, it was discovered that I’m under too much stress. Shocker! 2018 has been filled with stress, and I need a reprieve in the coming year. That will require some changes in the vision of The Jesus Chick Ministries.

First… I need to treat it like a ministry. Not a hobby.

Godly Instruction leads to Construction

Council can often be constructive criticism, and that’s okay with me too. So long as it leads to construction and things get built rather than being torn down. The problem with my ministry is I’ve been building it alone, and as God told Adam, it’s not good for man to be alone, or woman as the case may be. I’ve partnered with many others in their ministry work, but I’ve soloed my own, missing the counsel of Christ where He told the disciples to go two by two.

So I need to build my ministry so that it’s more productive. I need to expand my ministry reach, and believe God that my ministry work will be rewarded with financial provision; which has been most of the stress of 2018. I need focus. I need counsel. It’s why I appreciate ministry friends like Dewey who love me and feel comfortable to follow the leading of the Lord to say things like, “slow down.” Or encourage me to seek a 501c3 which would make the Jesus Chick a bonified ministry for contributors and provide me with counsel through a board of directors.

Vision is God’s Provision for the Journey

And so I search His word for direction.

Proverbs 12:28

In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

There is but one job one pathway for me, and the way of righteousness is through Jesus Christ alone who will be my vision. There is a song written by Ian Lynn entitled “Be Thou My Vision.” It’s words stir my soul today.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

And so that’s my prayer today. “Be Thou my Vison Lord.” I seek not riches or man’s praise, I seek a pathway that will allow me to share Christ through the talents that God has given me.

I covet your prayers and would love the privilege of praying for you.

The Deceiver

I cannot count the times I’ve heard people say, “I no longer watch the news.” There are varying reasons, but they all boil down to a lack of trust, myself included. The news industry is more of an entertainment industry; even Fox News, which I trust a smidgen more than others, have a tendency to spin their own opinions at times on things that I don’t agree with. So I choose to wait until someone comments on social media about an event or a person that’s in the news and then I go in search of information believing I’m likely only getting half the story.

But praise God! There is a place where the news is fresh every day and even the Old Testament can read like a newspaper headline. Difference being, the Word of God is pure truth.

Ezekiel 12:22-25

Rejected Vision

22 Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?

Those words sound all too familiar. Even the times that they’re not spoken, I feel that the majority of earth have fallen lacks to the idea that time ends for everyone, and so will the earth.

2 Peter 3:9 says it plainly that The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Yet because of God’s longsuffering and wiliness to allow us to get our hearts right with Him, man has been deceived by Satan into thinking that there will not be a judgment day.

The beautiful faces of the media, who often are snakes in bunny clothing, spew lies as fact and the world buys in.  Ethics are at best situational if there are any ethics at all. It’s considered the norm and acceptable and the next generation will be worse because of it.

And before any Christian cast stones, the church as a whole isn’t much better. If we truly believed God’s word as fact, (and it is) that He can come back before the period is put on this sentence, why then are we not more diligent about soul winning? I don’t have any stones in my pocket. 

Reality Verified

23 Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.

God warned Israel, His very own, that judgement day was on the horizon, and it was. The false prophets and idolaters were condemned and Israel was judged as a harlot for betraying our Lord. (Ezekiel 16:35) Will He do any different for those of us who have been offered grace through the blood of His precious Son? No.

In the days of Ezekiel, judgement was by the law, which I personally wouldn’t have lasted a day under. But by His grace I am saved and protected from the judgement of the earth, but still very much accountable for my actions as a child of God. As well as all other Christians.

Our churches and their leadership are going to stand before God and answer as to why we did not heed His warnings and share the truth outside the walls of the church. Why did we not take a greater stand on matters and rebuke the media rather than accepting it as the norm? And why did we accept the wickedness in and around us as “probably not right,” but  “okay?”

Rebellions Verdict

24 For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.

25 For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.

I don’t have a clue when the end of time will come, but I do believe it’s very much in the not too distant future. Every time I see the clouds rolling in the sky, I wonder… is this the day?

Judgement came for Israel and it will come for us as well.

God’s words citing Israel’s vain visions and flattering divinations very much reminded me of the media today. And the world is every bit as gullible to believe in it.

God’s going to speak to His Son one day and say, “Go get Your children.” And I’ll be ready. But how many won’t? It scares me, but does it scare me into doing something about it besides writing these words? Only time will tell.

The great deceiver may be hiding behind an anchor desk, but that’s not his only locale. He’s in every school, business, church and home, wreaking as much havoc as he possibly can. It’s our job to step up and take back the ground he’s conquered.

Great Things!

Its confession time for me again. I seem to be doing that a lot lately. But although confession is good for the soul… it’s hard on my emotions. Confession can sometimes be a testimony of failure, guilt or pain, and depending upon the response post confession from the confessor and the confessee, determines the successful healing or purpose. So here’s my confession in a nut shell…

For the past couple of years God has placed on my heart to plan an event. I’ll give details on that later. My response was, “Okay. Later.” After all, I’ve told God “no” before, and I know how that turns out. So “later” seemed like a more viable option. Again and again, too many numerous times I heard this request from God.  And I always had a reason behind my answer.

The first one was the Moses response. “Who am I, Lord that You should use me?” I always followed that by, “Lord, who would even listen?” My self-doubt fed right into that answer. Coupled with the fact that there are those who really don’t take my ministry serious or feel that it is a worthwhile investment. So, I thought I should wait until I grew up, or a “God thing” happened that made me know for sure. Like possibly a heart attack.

My second response was, “They don’t want it. Lord, You and I have been here before and the people won’t come.” To which I would hear, “the ‘right’ people will come. Its’ all in the chapiters.” That response came from a sermon of Mickey Carter’s that he preached three years ago; and to this day I can’t get it out of my mind. On the top of the tall pillars in the temple were chapiters with the finest of detail that no man could see. But God could. Many people don’t see our efforts, but God does. And it’s He who will reward. And so I thought some more on the event God asked me to do…

I’ve been praying for directions, asking for God’s wisdom because I really don’t have the answer. I kept hearing “read Jonah.” And I planned to, but later. After 2 preachers and a lady who spoke at our Monday Women’s event used the story of Jonah as an illustration, I finally conceded that perhaps I should read the book of Jonah. I am a slow learner.

The Great Fish

God did a preparatory work for Jonah four times. He started with the biggest. The “Great Fish.”

But prior to the great fish, Jonah had some great people who encouraged him. The ship’s crew who cried unto their gods and threw the ships cargo over board in an attempt to save themselves and Jonah, knew that there was a difference in Jonah’s God. They knew He could save them. (Chapter 1 verse 6).

I’ve always had encouragement, even from the lost. Those who have faith in “my God” because they’ve seen His work in me. But I will allow the naysayers to overshadow those whom God sends to encourage.

Jonah finally confesses that it is he who’s caused the angry waves and tell the men to throw him over board. He’d rather die, than get right.

For the record… I would not rather die. But I still didn’t get right before my heart attack. I’m not saying that’s why it happened, but it certainly garnered my attention.

The Great Gourd

Even after Jonah survived being whale puke, and reluctantly but obediently preached the gospel to the Ninevites, he continued to be angry with God for saving the people of Ninevah. So God gave him a brief period of rest and created a gourd to grow above Jonah’s head and give shade in the heat of the day. (Chapter 4,verse 6)

Following my heart attack I wasn’t angry with God. I’ve never been angry with God, but rather angry with Shari and my feelings of inadequacy for life and on more than one occasion I was secretly angry with people who didn’t believe in me. But God gave me a rest from that and allowed me to regroup my thoughts. So I collectively put them all back together in the same place by telling the Lord I wasn’t fit for what He was calling me to do. I was a disobedient sinner, and He surely couldn’t use me.

The Great Worm

God allowed Jonah to rest for a little while and then He caused a worm to eat the gourd that provided the shade. And there Jonah was, exposed to the elements of life again. Still angry because the Lord wanted to see the people of Ninevah saved. (Chapter 4,verse 7)

Following my healing and rest after the heart surgery I began to find strength and purpose again. I began serving the Lord in my “safe zones” and all was right… except… the continual knowledge that I wasn’t fully obedient to God’s will for my life. That doggone worm ate my shade and I too was exposed to reality. The reality that not everyone in the world loved me but I was required to love them.

The Great Wind

God’s final preparatory work was the great wind. He drove the sun down upon Jonah’s head until he passed out! God asked him, “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” And Jonah answered in what I imagine to be a total eye roll, smart aleck attitude “I do well to be angry, even unto death.” (Chapter 4, verse 9)

God nailed Jonah to the wall by asking him why he was more concerned over a gourd dying than the 120,000 souls headed for Hell until he preached to them the gospel. Ouch.

And for me He asked why I was so much more concerned with those who reject my ministry’s effect, than those who would embrace the Lord’s purpose for me through what God has ask me to do. The world is full of hurting and exhausted ministers and people of God who need to be encouraged in the Lord.

So when God put it on my heart to lead and organize a conference for such a purpose, it scared me to death. I didn’t want to die, but I thought I might if I stepped out in this endeavor. But after prayer and counsel the decision’s been made with excited people on board for the spring of 2019.

One Generation can change the World

I watch as my 83 year old Mother mows her lawn, weeds her flowers, quarrels because the deer eat them, and continues to feed them by making sure her beds are filled with new flowers each year. She cooks Sunday dinner for her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren to the number of 20-30 every other Sunday. Her work ethic is not dampened by the fact that her legs don’t function nearly as good as they did a few years ago. Her generation is still an example set before us that is so very much taken for granted and discarded in the lives of many. They are often the weakening back bones in most of the church across America while the generations below them are too busy or too apathetic to make church a priority.

In 2 Chronicles 27:1-5 we have an example of Generation Builders.

Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord. And the people did yet corruptly. He built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.  Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers. He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.

Jotham was a leader with work ethic, however not so much in the backbone department evidently. There was much said about the attention of detail he gave to rebuilding the city and House of the Lord. His battles were fought and won and yet one sentence in his story speaks volumes in the coming generation.

“And the people did yet corruptly.”

His leadership took care of the materialistic and defensive matters of the day, but the ethics were sorely lacking. Sound familiar? Continue reading in 2 Chronicles and you’ll discover that his son Ahaz was a wicked, idol worshiping, child sacrificing moron that God punished by allowing his captivity as well as Judah’s. God had had enough and the entire nation paid the price. Why would we think that America would be any different? It’s purely speculation on my part, but I have to wonder if Jotham failed to be vocal and forward about teaching his values.

I didn’t realize that my Momma’s generation was called “The Builders,” but I believe that’s an appropriate description, while Baby Boomers is a good description of mine because we’ve blown up quite a bit. We are failing the next generation in leadership by following in the ways of my speculation of Jotham. We are not vocal enough about the ways and expectations of the Holy God we serve.  Yes, our buildings are beautiful, but there’s not very many people in most of them.

It only took one generation of mealy mouthed leadership in Jotham’s day to become a fallen nation in the day of his son, Ahaz. We were nearing that point just a few years ago when we sat silently idle as our country’s leadership embraced every false religion and scorned Christianity. We are raising a spoiled generation who believe they are entitled to the freedom of immoral beliefs and our children are being sacrificed to the gods of this world which are at their fingertips.

However, I believe that God has given grace to our nation because of those of us who are willing to speak out against the “Ahazian” (my own word regarding Ahaz) leadership that still remains in Washington and Hollywood who are trying their best to destroy the work God is doing in through the current administration. No the current administration is not perfect, they’re sinners just like the rest of the world, but at least the name of Jesus is back in our White House! Praise God!!! Our soldiers are supported and our flag is respected.

I pray you are vocal to your children and grandchildren about the Lord Jesus and why we need to let the world know He Saves! Because that is what will save our Nation.