Category Archives: Leadership

Old Faith, New Faith, Bold Faith, Few In Faith

I feel like it could be the title of a new Dr. Suess book.

From Genesis to Revelation it is the same faith. But it certainly varies in the way it’s displayed.

Old Testament saints had faith the Messiah would come, and they were charged with setting forth the principles of New Testament Christianity. Speaking went from a direct line of communication, when Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden… can you imagine what that must have been like! And then following the fall and rebellion of men, a priest would have the responsibility and accountability for God’s children. Not a role to be taken lightly. Handled inappropriately would mean certain death!

God’s Spirit would come upon men like Moses, Jacob and others and it was no doubt an awe-inspiring time. Most likely a little frightening too! It’s from their testimonies that we can experience Old Testament faith.

What characters of the Old Testament would you like to question? And what questions would you ask?

What would have been your reaction if God had showed up in the burning bush to you? Or wrestled with you as He did Jacob? Have you ever felt like you did wrestle with God?

Scroll forward to the New Testament and a whole new line of communication came when Jesus, the Son of God walked the earth once again. But only for a short time. Following His crucifixion and resurrection, that act of unconditional love would humbly allow us, the nobody’s and the somebody’s to speak to God through the Holy Spirit.

As I thought on this today, the images of the two different phones came into play. The old faith and the new faith are still one faith. It’s still the same God on the line. It’s just the way of communication differs.

Old Faith

Romans 4:1-8

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,  Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Old Testament faith was still faith even though they were keepers of the law. Or attempted keepers of the law.  613 of them. I can’t keep ten! Nor could they, so a sacrifice was put into place that would be used year after year. Lamb after lamb. Slain as a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. Did they know that’s what it was? I don’t guess. But they knew it was God’s design and their only hope at the time; and that it all pointed, somehow, some way to the coming Messiah that they hoped for.

Every generation from the days of Adam hoped for.

I think of that old phone as the Old Testament way of communication with God. There was a line you had to go through. The Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and God and he would converse about what the people needed to know. Then he would deliver the message. We too experience that some through the preaching of the Word of God. But the difference is we too can receive a word. That should make you shout! That’s a privilege Old Testament, average Joe’s or Jolene’s didn’t experience.

When God showed up on the mountain, the children of Israel told Moses to go and talk to Him on the mountain. They feared God way too much to want to hear from Him direct.

Exodus 20:18-19

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Have you ever felt that fearful of God? Why or why not?

I must wonder if some Christians still fear God’s voice. Many don’t even make the attempt at communication, or at least not very often.

New Faith

The words of David used in Romans 4 are from the book of Psalms 32:2

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.  When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.  For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.  Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.  I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.  Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

David experienced God in a way few people did then, or do now.

Why do you think that was so?

It certainly wasn’t because he was perfect. He acknowledges that he’s a sinner.

Romans 3:23 says

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

David wasn’t sin free, he was bold in his confession because he wanted a right relationship with the Lord. He knew his relationship wasn’t right because he felt the heaviness of God upon him.

Have you felt that? What was going on at the time? Likely something that shouldn’t have been going on at the time. It’s not a feeling we like but we should love it, because it tells us that we’re saved.

Salvation comes from repentance.

David received his forgiveness and a renewed relationship with God when he repented, acknowledged what he did and turned away from it.

We too should be so bold!

Bold Faith

David’s relationship with God caused him to take some actions. He trusted God’s guidance for war, or not having war. He composed writings and songs, he played music and was a mighty leader when his relationship was right with God. He was bold!

Are you bold in the faith? If not why?

Few in the Faith

As time goes on, our churches seem to be dwindling in size and number. I pass empty church houses with grown up lawns everywhere I go. It makes my heart heavy and very sad. Because I know at one point there may have been a thriving congregation in that place. But they lost their zeal and their desire to serve God. They also lost the best thing that ever happened to them.

I love missionaries and consider myself a missionary to the United States. When I see folks with burdens for other countries I wonder… when will some get a burden for our own.

I have that.

In just a little over a month I’m traveling to New Mexico to minister in two different churches, if not more. I’m praying the Lord opens doors for me there to encourage the believers to be bold in their faith!

For this trip I ask that you’ll pray too. Pray that God will give me words and songs and that a great Spirit of revival will come upon that place. Pray for our safe travels and pray that our expenses are met.

I’m booked believing that we can’t out give God.

For God is My Witness

On my radar of hopes, prayers and desires for the past five or six years has been an Albuquerque, NM trip, Not entirely for selfish reason, but I must confess there is always some selfishness in my hopes and dreams, because they become so very personal.

I will not say that my trip is in line with the desires of Apostle Paul, because when Apostle Pauls said “by any means,” that was sometimes as a prisoner on a boat with a shipwreck in the future! I am not that brave. And while I would prefer a first-class flight, that’s a bit expensive too, so I opted for a less than typical mode of transportation. The train. It’s a long trip, but it’s much cheaper, and I think a little bit of an adventure. I’m always up for that! Especially if it gets me in a new part of the country where God can use me.

And so as I begin to study my way through the book of Romans, with a heavy heart about more than a few things… this trip being one, Paul’s words spoke to my already tender heart.

For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, and without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; – Romans 1:9

God is my witness, that although I fail Him miserably and I will not say that I pray without ceasing… I cease. But, I do serve Him with my spirit in the gospel of His Son. I am passionate about my role in the Kingdom There’s something about traveling that makes my heart flutter with joy, because I know it will be an adventure and I know that if I go in His name and in His will, He will make things happen.

Why Albuquerque? Good question. And it deserves an answer. It was 6 plus years ago that I connected through social media with Radio man Dewey Moede. God was dealing with Dewey’s heart to leave his job and go full time ministry. I was struggling with that same issue. I still am. Although I’m full time, it’s not quite what I had in mind.

Kind of like when Paul’s boat hit that storm. I’m sure he would have preferred even coach tickets. He wasn’t expecting first class. But what he got was the prisoner’s pass. I’ve felt like that many times in the past 5 years. I’m not asking for sympathy, I don’t deserve it, I just want to be real.

Paul continued in verse 10 to say, making requests, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.

And there it was. The train trip (at length) made sense, and the fact that God could prosper my journey through the winning of souls or the encouragement of the church made my soul rejoice. Some might say I’m making the word fit the circumstances. I don’t believe that because the last thing I want to be is out of the will of God. I will say that my circumstances fit into the word.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, he’d never met them. They were a group of believers that left Peter’s conference, also known as “Pentecost” and went back to their country and got busy planting churches and spreading the gospel. Paul had hopes and dreams of meeting those he’d heard about, and encouraging them in their faith.

He wanted to impart to them some spiritual gift! Me too! He wanted to comfort them! Me too! The work of the ministry is a struggle. It’s worth every bit of it, but there are days it’s not easy to go on. I spend much of my time encouraging believers and ministries by offering them my help using the gifts I’ve been given in music, graphic arts and speaking.

My desire is to do that more and more and travel anywhere the Lord leads. Like New Mexico.

The price on that ticket stub is the cost today of the ticket only, there are other expenses as well. It may go up as time goes by. I’m also not going alone, I plan to go with my bestie Glo, who’s been a part of my ministry from the beginning. If you’d like to contribute, that would be more than awesome and more than appreciated. You can contribute through the Paypal button below, or contact me directly.

If you’d like to be a part of the Jesus Chick Ministry, by prayer, financial or you’d like to know more about what I do through out the week, message me, I’m an open book! It’s the gospel.

Twelve 2019 A.D. Truths from 1044 B.C.

Every day I become more and more conscience of the scriptures playing out right before my eyes. It’s why I can “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” To the world that makes no sense. How can you rejoice in fear? To me it makes perfect sense. I know what a mess I am, and for certain what a mess this world would be in if I were in control, or any of the other knot heads that think they are. Why would anyone want that!?

Psalm 2 has 12 verses; one for each month of the year. Twelve 2019 A.D. Truths from 1044 B.C.

1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

Have you ever seen a time when rage and vanity was as bad as it is now? You can’t turn on the news and not see it. Everyone’s angry because someone has an opinion that differs their own. And they’re not questioning whether their opinion is right, only that they’re entitled to it and nobody else is.

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,

Not only are they entitled to their theories of morality, they’re also entitled to their people and God’s design doesn’t enter the equation.

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

We are raising a generation of children who define the rules rather than obey them. They also have a mighty fine example of that in Washington D.C.

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

And God laughs. Only it’s not funny. The last thing anyone in this world really wants is to be mocked by God.  Because He alone holds our future in the balance, determining what direction we’re to go. America elected Donald Trump President, who has at least stood on the side of Israel, pro-life and conservative values. I didn’t say he was perfect. But he is our President. However, talk about derision!  Good grief. There’s a reason that word rhymes with division. We are a nation of disrespect for the very thing that has made us stand out among the world’s leaders. Freedom.

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Do you think we’re a vexed nation? Vex defined is annoyed or aggravated. America is an angry Nation. Myself included. I have to check my attitude on a pretty regular basis because I want to hurt people. Believe me when I tell you that I’m not always thinking about the soul of an unbeliever. Sometimes I’m thinking about their neck and how I’d like to wring it for stupidity, pride and arrogance.

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

But then I remember Who it is that is in control. And it’s then that I’m in awe that He hasn’t wrung my own neck. My Savior. He Who died as a meek Lamb, but will come again as a roaring Lion!

I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

We tend to put God into the perspective of man.

The God of John 3:16, long before the world knew Him face to face, He was. His plan was laid out before Him, and He stepped into it without regard for Himself, but for the sake of His people. He did so for an example to His children of how to put others before themselves. And there was a time that America did. It’s what made us a melting pot. People would come to our country for opportunity and they were accepted and loved not because of where they were from, but because of where they wanted to come. America! They loved our Nation and wanted to become a part of the dream. Now many have become a nightmare.

We are children of God because He chose to allow us to be. Not because He had to, or that we were deserving of it.

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

God has been highly tolerate of a rebellious generation. Our government preaches tolerance, yet they don’t understand the first thing about it. Getting your way isn’t tolerance. And God has been far more tolerant that anyone would have believed in 1950. Immorality has become the norm not because of tolerance but because of apathetic people who rather than stand up for the morals of a godly nation that was fought for, they chose to cower to people who wouldn’t defend them for love nor money. But God’s tolerance will most certain wane.

10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

As I said before, serving God with fear is easy. Especially when the result of serving man is being lived out on the evening news. I love the fact that I know that I know the Creator of all the universe. That the God Who named the stars, has a new name waiting for me in Glory, There’s a new song that even the angels cannot sing. What a privilege to know Him and commune with Him with just the speaking of His name. There is no disconnect for the child of God and if the kings of this world were wise, they’d be calling on Him to give them instruction. And He will!

If our leaders would call a prayer meeting, good night Irene!!!! I cannot imagine how this nation would turn around. Because I know He has that power is why I rejoice and tremble in His presence. He’s amazing.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

To “Kiss the Son,” is to choose Him above all else. It takes humility and faith. A very small price to pay for the gift of eternal life. For the gift of peace during this life!

Praise God He is in control 365 days and every second of every day! I’ll gladly serve Him and what an honor it is.

How to Deal with Mainstream Mayhem

Many of the conversations I’ve had, both inside my head, and with other people, have recently been around the discussion of end times. It’s a topic not everyone desires to discuss. For me, from the standpoint of myself, I get excited! But then I begin to think of family and friends who aren’t prepared. It’s at this point that those who are not prepared, or those who are uncertain turn me off. And it’s when I begin to worry and stress about how much I’m doing for the cause of the Kingdom. I need to find ways to reach more people. I need to find a way to reach my people! You know… the family who “think” they’re okay, and those who just don’t think about it all, but would rather live in ignorance, not knowing that Jesus could be ready to step out on the cloud at any moment and call His church home.

Are you ready? Do you know that you know? I knew that I knew last year when I had open heart surgery. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can afford that peace. When I see that people don’t have an understanding of the end times, and really don’t care to know, I’m more than a little alarmed. But I guess that’s because I know. So in reading Jude, which by the way reads like a book specifically about 2019, I feel compelled to share the news I discovered about the news!

Jude vs. 16-18

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Wow. How accurate is that?

According to a poll from Axios last year, 72% of 4,000 Americans polled, believe “traditional major news sources report news they know to be fake, false or purposefully misleading.” Other polls say it’s less; but then again, how do we know if even those who do the polls are reporting honestly. It’s just a sad state of affairs that we live in. Jude didn’t need the internet, a poll, or the evening news to tell him what the prognosis was for mankind. He heard it straight from Heaven. He walked with the Creator of all, and his words give an outline of modern times.

How not to Mistake the Fake

Stop watching all mainstream television. There are none that truly don’t have an agenda. I fully believe that. And in so doing, they’ll do they’re very best to persuade you in to believing what they say, even if it’s only in part. And it’s not only the news outlets. You can’t watch a good comedy without an agenda in it! If there’s such a thing as a good comedy. The dark side is found in almost every show I’ve attempted to watch over the past years. Wholesome television is almost nonexistent. And if you think children’s television is any different, think again. I’ve had to ban complete children’s channels off my television with the grandkids because they promote homosexuality, violence, and disrespect. It’s insane! So what’s the answer? Are we going to stop watching entertainment? Probably not, but we need to take Jude’s advice to heart before turning it on.

Never Trust Their Lusts

I’m not just trying to rhyme. It was a fact I learned about myself in our Sunday sermon at Victory Baptist Church. I covet stuff. Shiny stuff. I have a serious issue of wanting things I don’t necessarily need, and much of it comes from all the time I spend on social media. There’s always something shiny and new waiting for me on the web. Just ask Amazon.com. They’ll show you your shiny desires too, because they follow your networking trends. But it’s not always your lusts that are the issue. Their lusts can be come your lusts if it’s entered into your information gatherer enough times. That’s why I can’t watch shows who push the liberal agenda. Because I know their design is to mess with my conservative brain.

Don’t Fluff up the Puffed Up

Meaning: don’t take their efforts lightly. They’ve got it down to a fine art on how to manipulate the American mind. They use people and things that appeal to us. It’s why the celebrities are pushing every product and agenda out there. Because if we love their shows, music and movies, we’ll be easy marks to love their mindsets too. Which if you’re not careful will lead you down a pathway far away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’ll tell you where I stand. I’m a pro-Jesus, pro-life, Baptist conservative that makes no apologies for rolling my eyes at liberal brats who want my children and grandchildren to be corrupted by the notion that they are entitled to a world of shiny things that will take their minds to places God never intended His children to go. I hear it in their voices every time they get upset because life treats them unfairly or a commercial comes on with the latest and greatest and they want it, or a show or song plays that has garbage throughout it and they repeat it. And yet, when I praise God, or bow my head to pray I’m the one viewed as a fanatic.

It’s why Jude makes it clear that if you want the truth there is only one place to find it.

Take a look at the book!

So how do we deal with the Mainstream Mayhem? We measure everything we see and hear by the words of Jesus Christ. It is the only absolute truth in this world.

It’s why I love writing and working for FGGAM.org. Because Pastor Dewey Moede views the world through a biblical lens, and before he publishes it, it has to meet God’s standards. We know we’re accountable for what we say. The Bible is clear on that! We’ll stand before God and give an account of the words we speak and write. We’re not the only ones. That liberal bunch of liars that’s out there, they’ll have their day when they’re mockery comes to an end.

The book of Jude is one chapter from the end of the Book.

I feel like that’s where we are on the time line of eternity. And this chapter is coming to an end quickly…

Give Everything to God – Early, Fully, Only

Just in case you haven’t figured out where I’m at in Bible reading, I’ve been in the book of Proverbs the last few days. And it’s good timing. I’m in need of wisdom. I’m trying very hard to stay spiritually focused on a matter of the heart, but there’s been an issue with my heart far longer than the issue that caused the heart attack.

Proverbs Proverbs 4:23 says Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

As I’ve told you before. I have issues. Lots of them! But that’s not the verse that caused me to ponder this morning and examine my issues. It was Proverbs 8:17 ~

SEEK ME EARLY

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

I do love the Lord, and I realize that in seeking His will through His word, it’s always best to try and discover His plan before you jump off the cliff, or open  your mouth, or volunteer, again. Or possibly choke the life out of someone. That’s why I don’t necessarily think that the word “early” always refers to the time of day. Perhaps it means “before disaster.”

The old adage “The early bird gets the worm,” is only good if you’re the bird. The worm really gets the short end of the stick. Perhaps if he’d prayed about direction before he came up out of the earth, he’d be having a picnic with friends today. But what I got more than anything out of this verse today is that God loves devoted children. He knows we don’t have all the answers. And where Siri falls short on answers, God never does!

SEEK ME FULLY

Jeremiah 29:13 ~ And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Far, far too often I not only fall short but I stop short of where God needs me to be. I search for His wisdom until I grow weary, or something shiny takes me away and then I lose the train of thought that brought me to His station. The process of finding the answer isn’t always as easy as just opening up the book. That’s where we start, but there’s prayer and conversations with God. In order to fully understand what it is that God wants us to understand He wants His children to be serious about it.

I have issues there too. I want answers but more often than not I want the Readers Digest condensed version with the answer key in the back.

True story.

SEEK ME ONLY

Deuteronomy 4:28-30 

28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;

Seeking the wisdom of men and using the ways of the world for guidance always fails in comparison to what can be obtained by speaking to the Savior. We forget that. It’s so easy to desire a conversation with people we can touch, or look at the examples of people who have succeeded in our area of need. And although there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, God is an exclusive God. He won’t be added to a list of possible solutions. He is the solution.

I had to remind myself of that today. I can’t fix stupid. Some things and some people are beyond my control. But what is within my control is my reaction to the world around me.

  • If someone is in need… seek God’s provision, perhaps you have it.
  • If someone’s in pain… seek God’s comfort, perhaps your words can bring it.
  • If someone’s in harms way… seek God’s protection, perhaps your request will summon the powers of Heaven.
  • If someone’s in need of answers… seek God’s wisdom, perhaps you’re the vessel.

The reality of it is, you may or may not be the means God uses to fix a situation. But He wants to hear from you. The problem may be your own,  He wants to hear from you. He is the Lord thy God.  100% yours. And 100% mine. He hears every word we speak (or think). Give everything to Him, early, fully, only. Thy God.

Mind Your own Business

You can color me guilty. I most always have an opinion. But I thank God for the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and jerks a knot in my knickers when I begin to focus on the life or lifestyle of another person. When I begin to think that I need to do a running commentary. It’s usually just inside my head. It’s sometimes to those close to me. It’s seldom ever, if ever to the person for which I’m forming an opinion. I’m not that brazen, or stupid.

But it’s become quite obvious to me lately that not everyone has the ability to know when to keep their mouth shut. And no, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular. Just many, many, many people in general. It’s an epidemic! And because of social media, the world has a stage.

If you go to “The Jesus Chick” page or my own personal page for “Shari Hardway Johnson”, as well as my twitter feed and Instagram, you’ll note that it’s positive commentary and images. That’s not a holier than thou statement, it’s just truth. I don’t want to be in anyone’s drama, or a discouragement. So my posts are positive. I made that choice, and I’m pretty sure God agrees with me.

Proverbs 5:15

Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.

I read that this morning and thought, “there it is. What I’d like to tell every nosy, ne’er do well in the world. Mind your own business!”

Who makes these people judge and jury of the lives of someone else and what skeletons would come crawling out of their closet if the door was open?

Although it is far worse in the political arena, or at least it far more outspoken, it’s just as bad in the church. And I speak collectively, not of any in particular.

I think of an incident many, many years ago in my own church where a young woman with several children had the audacity to come to church without a slip under her dress. Oh my stars! And as she exited the ladies room a ne’er do well woman said to me, “can you believe she forgot her slip.” To which I responded, “With all those kids, I just praise God she gets here on Sunday morning.”

Where on earth was this woman’s mind? And why did she think she had the right to tear down a young mother trying to do the right thing?

Now, that may seem trivial. But a comment like that is what will discourage someone, who’s struggling anyway, to decide to leave the church. And that could be devastating to a family and Hell bound someone because of it.

The longer I travel this road with Jesus, the more I realize the focus of the church is so off kilter.

I personally love pretty clothes. And God has gifted me with several. But I don’t love them because I think they’re holy, I just love girly stuff. God made me that way. I also have a personal conviction that when I go into a church I dress in their common attire. If they’re casual, so am I. If they’re fancy, I try to be a fancy Nancy too and I enjoy it. But I don’t look at anyone who’s not in the common attire and think about their heart toward Christ. Clothes do not make the man. The Spirit of God does. And I’ve known people who looked like ragamuffins that I was in awe with the depth of their relationship with God.

I’ll not tell you that I am above judging. It’s human nature. Or that I don’t have other issues in life. But it’s something that makes me so nauseous because I’ve seen the damage it’s done, especially in the circles I travel of the Independent Baptist realm. Trust me, they’re not all the same. That’s why we’re “independent.” I’d probably be kicked out of some.

My faith is not in the denomination. It’s in God. But I agree with the doctrine of my church and so I’m there and I love my people. Mainly because the vast majority are not judgers. They love all people. Even if their knees are showing. Insert smile here. Even if they’re a girl who wears britches. Or a fella that’s a t-shirt, blue jean, work boot kind of guy. We love them.

So does Jesus. And this morning I think I’m delivering His message when I say. Mind your own business.

Insert smile here.

The BRANCH


“The BRANCH” is a Bible Lesson that I composed for the teens at Victory Baptist Church. There are questions within the lesson that, although it was written for teens, I consider them young adults and treat them as such. Feel free to read and enjoy or use it for your ministry if you so desire.

Spring branches are a visible reminder of the new life we celebrated on Easter Sunday. The same God that the Jews longed to meet in the Old Testament, but refused to submit to in the New Testament was the BRANCH. Listed in scripture in all capital letters, which for me is like God shouting His name! It makes me want to know more about why it was listed that way, and what information God wants me to know.

Zechariah 6:12

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

The BRANCH is what caught my attention, but the context of the scripture begins in verse 9:

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

Joshua. A name we’re very familiar with, and a named that is translated from Hebrew Joshua to the English, Jesus. Joshua is also the common alternative form of Yeshua.

So Zechariah is being told by God to tell Joshua the Priest that he is a figure of the one to come. Jesus, the Messiah, now being referred to as “The BRANCH.” And just like the branches of this season come to life, The BRANCH was going to be born (come to life) in Bethlehem, but raised in Nazareth. And just like the spring branches that we have in view now, Jesus was going to spring forth, full of life and glory for God.

There are two roles of Christ that we’re going to talk about by unpacking the scripture references in Zechariah and those two roles are Priest and King.

We too are referred to as priests and kings in Revelation 1:5-6

Revelation 1:5-6

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So how does it make you feel to know you are considered a priest or king?

Is that a position you’re comfortable with now, or is it something that you think you’re going to grow into? At what age, or state of mind do you suppose you’ll arrive there?

Jesus grew up just like kids of today. He may not have had an iPhone, but He had family, friends, siblings, and all the common things of that day, and things that we’re used to having as a family unit.

When you think of growing up in biblical times, what do you think the cultural differences and likenesses of that day were in comparison to ours?

What would teens have done for fun?

What would church services have been like for teens?

The scripture says that Jesus was going to grow up out of that place, the place called Nazareth. That was His place. Nazareth or Netzer, means “The branch from a multitude of plants that grew there.” Another branch in our story

Our place is where we live now. Far from a kingdom view. But so was Nazareth during that day. It was said to be an “insignificant village.” Even the religious of the day said “can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Have you ever had that feeling about our small town?

While Nazareth wasn’t a big city of that day, it’s now the largest Arab city in the country of Israel. And clearly something Amazing did come from the Nazareth. So why can’t God do something amazing here?

Pastor John Powell of Wadsworth, Ohio was born and raised in Calhoun County, West Virginia. But like many of his era who were born in the 30’s, he left our area to find work. But before that he had a back story. He had a Nazareth village.

When he was just a few months old he got pneumonia and his mother had no money to buy medicine, so she went to her father to borrow it. But instead she had to give John to him at the age of 5 in exchange for the medicine. He was used for child labor and treated very poorly. But even in that state he rose above others as an athlete and in popularity. God called him into the ministry while in Akron, Ohio and it was there that he graduated Bible College and became a man of great means through investments. But the most important thing to know about John Powell was that he reached thousands for Christ and was known for his generosity and kindness all over the world.

The man from Calhoun County.

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and didn’t travel very far in the lifetime of His ministry. One study said about 90-120 miles. In this day and age, that’s not many. But we have to consider His travels were by foot. But look at the impact He made in those 100 miles.

What’s the furthest you’ve traveled, and where do you desire to go?

Jesus’ time on earth was spent preaching the Kingdom, and building a temple not made of hands. What temple has Jesus built?

When Jesus prophesied of His resurrection He said in three days I’ll rebuild the temple, which made the religious of the day angry because they thought He spoke of a building. Which was not so.

We too are considered a temple, how?

There are three ways to build the temple we’re in charge of building

  1. We listen (preaching and teaching)
  2. We learn – (Study to show ourselves approved)
  3. We live (Sharing the word of God)

That is how we build the temple, ours and the body of Christ.

It’s the same thing that Christ did as a young person. When Christ disappeared from His parents and was found three days later it says in Luke 2:46

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking questions.

That’s how we grow in the Lord, we ask questions. If we want to grow and feel worthy of our royal positions of priests and kings, we need to do what Jesus did.

If a child never ate physically they would die. They’d also die of boredom if they ate the same thing over and over again. The same is true of our spiritual lives.

Eat. Work! Because as we grow we also need to build.

The new temple that Christ said He was going to build in three days wasn’t what they expected or wanted. They wanted it on this earth. That was not the plan. They wanted the royalty to be here. That was not the plan either. And that’s why it’s hard for us to comprehend that we are priests and kings. Because we live in red neck country. Not Jerusalem.

Just as Joshua was active in the building of the temple, Jesus was going to be the Master Builder of the Spiritual Temple that we call the church today.

Zechariah 6

13 Even he (The BRANCH) shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

All for the Glory of God.

So what are the responsibilities of priests and kings?

I view it as one governs and the other guides.

So, what do we govern, and what do we guide on this earth.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Not everyone is a prophet, teacher, etc. but everyone has a purpose. And every one of us are a part of the body of Christ if we’re saved. So we are overseeing the business of the Lord until His return. We are in charge of guiding others. We truly are a part of the Royal Family. And not the one in England, but the one in Heaven.

Zechariah 6

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

There were earthly examples like Adam and Joshua that God put on earth as examples of Christ. We are to be the examples of the Lord set before the generation we’re now a part of.  We are the priests and kings of this generation, even if they don’t know it, or want it.

When someone is born into a royal family, only the head of that royal family can kick them out. God’s the head of this family, and He says that none shall be lost. (John 18:19)

That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

So whether the world likes it or not, we are the royal family. The BRANCH’S government. Not a branch of the government. We will have our day of sitting with the royal family in person, but today we’re ambassadors in this foreign land.

So the question is, to who, where and how are you an ambassador? Pray and seek the Lord’s will for the land the Lord wants you to cover. And don’t ever think that He can’t take a kid from Calhoun County, and do something amazing for the Kingdom. Because you are children of the King.

Don’t forget …

Isaiah 62:3

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Just Give Me Jesus

He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.

Job 13:16

It’s not that I don’t feel like a hypocrite on a relatively regular basis. But for years I have felt like this was my message for the world. Not in judgement, but rather in tender compassion and pleading to the soul playing church on earth, and missing Heaven in eternity.

There’s a vast difference between being in church and being in Christ. But for too long the religious crowd has preached (and I use the term liberally) that all the world is fine, so long as they’re in the building.

Iglesia ni Cristo

When I visited the Philippines several years ago there was a huge church that was the size of a small West Virginia city. It had pointed steeples and ornate architecture that gave it a castle appearance, but not in a good way. It just looked cold and evil. It was the Iglesia ni Cristo (meaning Church of Christ) but not as the American Church of Christ. They believe that they are the one and only true church called out of Isaiah 43:5. It’s a very formalized methodical religion. All who are not a part of their church are Hell bound. according to them. That doesn’t sound any crazier to me than those who preach what many churches are preaching today, which is just show up occasionally, continue living in sin throughout the week, and you’re fine. It causes me to wonder if even the Pastors are saved who preach a message that is anti-relational with Christ.

I can’t help but think that my message today will be viewed as judgmental. But I promise it’s not. My heart breaks for church leadership as well who don’t have a deep enough relationship with Christ to understand its importance and their purpose. They’ve been deceived by this world too.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

This is my friend Chuck McDonald’s life verse. Because when he got saved, he became a new creation. And anyone who knew him, seen the evidence in his life. That’s the key, and it’s the missing piece of many people in our own churches. Evidence. They walk out the door on Sunday morning and walk back into the world looking no different. There’s no evidence that church made a difference.

It’s not that the message doesn’t go out of many churches, because it does. There are many, many good preachers. So what makes the difference? Church leadership.

It’s not just the Pastor’s job. What made the difference in my friend Chuck McDonald’s life, and in my life is that there were people who stepped up and took me under their arm as a disciple of Christ. I keep saying it, but I’m not living it any better if I’m honest.

My formative years as a new Christian were spent in fellowship almost every day with people from our church. We had breakfast together at a local restaurant, we spoke on the phone, we were in constant church services of some sort, somewhere. It was amazing! If our church wasn’t holding a revival I was looking for someone else’s.

Does it have to be that extreme? I don’t know. It worked for me. And it worked in the days of the Bible.

Acts 2

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Steadfast, in doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread and praying! Glory to God if only we had that kind of time.

Well, in this modern day of technology, do we not? We can be across the globe, and still be in constant fellowship, and yet we don’t.

I joyously speak with my friend Dewey Moede from New Mexico most every day. He is who God sent into my life to follow up where others left off. You too are that person who is in need of a Dewey, or perhaps you are the Dewey.

My point being is this; we should be living our lives, wherever we are for Christ. So that people know we’re there for them and that a relationship with Him and them is an important part of our everyday.

I’m not about what denomination is over the door, I’m about what your relationship is with my Lord. Are you truly a brother or sister in Christ?  

Only those who are will be Heaven.

Just give me Jesus.

What to do with Fools

What To Do With Foolish People

Three times in Job 1 it says “While he was yet speaking,” when the four servants of Job delivered the heart wrenching news of his losses. Three times he loses livestock and servants, and the fourth and final blow was the loss of His ten children. As parents, we can’t imagine a greater loss. God totally understands. It’s why it makes today’s tolerance of the liberal agenda so much harder to stomach.

I’ve stated in this blog on more than one occasion that I don’t “watch” the news. But it has a way of sneaking into my world through social media. So today I sought a way to deal with foolish people. There’s plenty of them out there to deal with and they seek to destroy every work of the Spirit.

They love tearing down ministries, and governments that bring glory to the Name of Jesus and discourage those that support them; convincing them all they are the victors. Part of the reason they are so successful is that we, as the children of God, are not stepping into our roles.

Silence the Fool

Easier said than done, right?

1 Peter 2:15

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

It’s the will of God! Glory!

So how do we do it? By doing well.

That’s not speaking of prosperity, as some would have you believe, but rather speaks of the character of God’s people. Arguing with a fool seldom creates silence. It usually just creates chaos. But silencing the fools with righteous living, honest conversation and good works is extremely satisfying to the soul.

Jesus told Paul in Acts 9:5 I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

Paul trembled at Christ’s words. Number 1, because it was God, but also because His words pricked, pierced Paul’s heart. That’s what the word of God does to the unsaved. It’s like a bee sting, or a slap in the face. It catches them off guard and it is for certain our greatest tool in our weapons of warfare. It’s why it send the liberal news agencies into a feeding frenzy when they hear someone in Washington quote scripture or mention the name of Jesus. There is power in those words. There is also power in His people when we’re doing His work. The Lord has an agenda too. It’s to get as many people to Heaven as we can. And it is so easy to lose sight of that with all the rhetoric we’re hearing in the world.

If you want to silence the masses, start by telling them how Jesus saves.

If that doesn’t work

Avoid the Fool

Titus 3:9

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

I so often just want to see the liberal losers put in their place. But God said that it is sometimes better just to avoid them all together. They’re just talking to hear themselves and sometimes so are we. Or so is “me.” I just need to say anything because I’m tired of everything.

We’d do much better if we’d just speak an appropriate scripture to the situation and then drop the mic. Sometimes that takes a little research, and sometimes the Holy Spirit will just speak it into your soul if you’re listening.

My third, final and most appropriate point for my own study is

Don’t forget, you were the fool

Titus 3:3

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.

Tell me it’s not true? I have to confess it was the case with me pre-salvation and I’ve been known to linger on a few of those issues even post salvation.

Satan has the liberal lot, and many who are caught somewhere between liberal and conservatives, deceived; because they don’t trust either side and with good reason. We do not always speak the words Jesus would have us speak. And we forget that we once were just as mislead.

While I want to silence, and in the worst kind of fleshly way, wipe the arrogant grins off CNN and the likes of news reporters, I need to remember who it is that I represent.

Jesus’ people ought to have more class than to get into a shouting match with the fools.

Just speak His word, walk away and then pray for the enemy. That too is a weapon of warfare that they can never have in the arsenal. They don’t have anyone to pray to.

Have You Sold Him Out?

Zechariah 11:12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Believe me when I say, that I could have gotten in the flesh so easy when I read this scripture this morning in Zechariah. There is no irony, it was deliberate, as is every word in the word of God. Nothing just happens, and nothing was just written for the sake of taking up space or embellishing the Book. It’s there on purpose.

Before I began reading, I asked God to speak to my soul through Zechariah. I about half believed He would. I’m just being honest. Sometimes the Old Testament prophets are either too meaty or too dark for me. They’re not about the ratings. They don’t care what I think. Zechariah was preaching the truth to Israel, they had not been in a good place with God. He’d taken them to the wood shed so many times the splinters had splinters. And at this point He’s telling them like it is, one final time “If you won’t listen, I’m giving you a serious time out.” (Yes that’s the Bible according to Shari) This is about 518 BC. Jesus doesn’t make the scene for greater than 500 years and Israel’s time out is long and silent.

My stomach just turned thinking about the times that God has been silent in my life and how hard it was. I didn’t hear from Him until I got into a place that had me wanting Him more than I wanted the world.

During Israel’s silent time, many people went on to the afterlife having never experienced God. Oh, how sad.

So, back to the scripture. It’s all too familiar to Matthew 26:15

And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

If you know much about the bible, you know that that was what Judas received for betraying Jesus.

Shari “in the flesh” wanted to write about Washington D.C.’s betrayal of the Lord. I wanted to name names, and parties. And I may or may not have been justified. I wanted to name news stations, and denominations. Yes, I was feeling very fleshly indeed. Until God brought up my own sell out. The times I could have spoken up, showed up and stepped up and did not.

Speak up

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’ve failed on multiple occasions to speak up in the face of adversity when dealing with non-believers. But when a President, who clearly has not lived at the foot of the cross, does more for the cause of Christianity and speaks the name of Jesus in more sincerity than some backslidden politician  who refuses to speak up on behalf of Christians who elected them because of their stand on Christ, something’s wrong and they should be called out.

Show Up

It’s an odd thing to me that people will go to great lengths and expense to attend a secular event without regard for the day of the week, or the way they feel. But come Sunday church, or Heaven forbid a revival or Christian concert and suddenly they just don’t have the energy, money or time.

Stop lying to yourself and to the unsaved. Because you know better and so do the lost. Show up.

Step Up

The hardest one of three most likely because it requires commitment.

The saddest part of the story of Judas is the fact that Jesus would have gladly saved him. He repented of the money he took and gave it back, but couldn’t admit he was wrong about Christ and humble himself, but rather committed suicide.

He had weighed the price of his sin at 30 pieces of silver. That’s what he said the life of Christ was worth. Even though he had spent all that time in His presence.

The children of Israel had spent time in His presence too, but still failed.

I fall in that category too. Every time I fail to speak up, step up or show up I’m letting the world see how much I truly value Christ. Not nearly as much as I should.

Praise God for grace.

Before I throw anyone or any group under the bus I need to examine my agenda. Is it self-righteous Shari, self-promoting Shari or possibly even self-denial Shari who would rather bring attention to someone else’s issues than face my own head on.

Once that’s clear. I and you, need to speak up, show and step up into positions of authority that will give us a voice for Lord. And when others in authority weasel out and don’t defend Him, we need to call them out and set it right.