Category Archives: Life Inspiration

10 Reasons Why People Don’t Attend Church – The unlit tree

As I drove through our small town yesterday the Christmas tree in the town square was flashing to the beat of Christmas music and the whole atmosphere in our normally economically depressed city was transformed to a happier place. The people in our quaint town are wonderful, the politics… not so much, but we’ll not park there. The population of our entire county is roughly 7600, depending upon how many people are out of town Christmas shopping, (I’m kidding). But we are rural America at its finest and sometimes worst. I would venture a guess at the number of those 7600 who attend church as less than 1,000. I actually believe it’s far less than that, but according to an article on churchleaders.com approximately 20% of Americans attend church regularly, which would make Calhoun’s estimate at 1500. I have to wonder what they define as regularly. If by annually, then maybe. Well, that’s not very nice is it? You’ll have to forgive my cynicism, perhaps I should go back to town and check my Christmas spirit, but church attendance is a biggy on my list of Christian do’s and don’ts.

It’s like having an unlit Christmas tree. Pointless.

I’ve heard most every argument on why you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, and while that’s true, because there are many who absolutely cannot get to church and they are indeed children of God; my argument is if you can go and don’t you’re the unlit tree.

Here’s the top 10 reason people don’t go to church from AmericanPreachers.com:

Reason 1 – The church is full of judgmental people.

Are there judgmental people in every church? Probably! And let me give you my theory on why. If they’re in a church that’s preaching the gospel of Christ as it should be preached, that preacher stands before them as the brightest Christmas tree in the building and what that does is illuminate wrong living. So rather than dealing with their own err it’s easier to point out someone else’s making their own sin seem less in their eyes. Go anyway.

Reason 2 – Church is boring

You’re either in the wrong the church, or you’re there with the wrong attitude. Go anyway. The church is not for your entertainment, it’s for your edification. If you don’t like the menu in a restaurant, you find a new place to eat, you don’t starve to death! Amen?

Reason 3 – The Church is “exclusive.”

Scratch off denominationalism here. When searching for the right church for you, regardless of what name brand it is, one thing better be there “A welcome sign.” A church is your Father’s house; and if you’re not made to feel welcome, there’s a good chance you’re not home.

Reason 4 – The Church is homophobic

The bible under no uncertain terms says that homosexuality is a sin. It also says that lying, coveting, stealing, idol worship, disrespect and adultery is a sin. And there are those in every church in America. Find a church that loves people, let God deliver the message. If you truly want a relationship with the Creator, you need to position yourself in a place where His message is delivered, and that’s church, and that’s Bible. Go anyway.

Reason 5 – I don’t like organized religion

I don’t either. I like structured freedom for the Holy Spirit. Huh? Let’s face reality, there has to be some sort of organization else there’s chaos. Someone has to be in charge. So, you find the right Pastor and follow him, and then let the Holy Spirit lead. If he’s a God lead Pastor there will be freedom to worship in that place and the experience will be awesome! Go!

Reason 6 – Churches are full of hypocrites

Truth. And you’ll be one too. There isn’t anyone I know that lives a life like Christ, therefore we all are hypocrites. When we call ourselves Christians, by definition we are saying we live like Christ. No, we don’t, but we do the best we can and love each other regardless. Go anyway.

Reason 7 – The church just wants your money

Not true. But it does take money to operate a church. You have to look at it from the survival aspect: you buy food because you need it to survive, you pay for a car because it transports you from one place to another, you buy clothing because it covers you and keeps you warm, you buy things you like because they bring you pleasure. That’s what church does, only in a way that lasts an eternity.

Reason 8 – Life is better without religion

Yes. But church attendance isn’t about religion, it’s about relationship. In the very core of our being is a desire to have a relationship with the Creator and family. Church provides you both. And even if your family is dysfunctional, messed up or nonexistent, God will fill the voids in your life through His people in His place. That’s church. Go anyway.

Reason 9 – Christians live on another planet and wear brown sweaters

I so laughed when I read that, because it’s so true, until you get saved. I used to think that people who went to church every Sunday, and prayed at the altar and talked about God were just people without anything else to do, and then I became one of them. I then realized I had been missing out on the greatest experience in life – Non circumstantial living. Regardless of circumstance, God is good, I am loved, and He understands.

Reason 10 – I don’t have time

Refer to reason 6 and Commandment 9 of the big 10. You lie. In the words of my former Pastor, “You do what you want to do.” If you want a relationship with God you’ll make the time. And then a funny thing happens, you’ll discover you had far more time than imagined because God will open up doors for you to  fellowship with Him that you could never have imagined.

John 1:4-5 says “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

If the light of Christ is not shining in you and through you, your tree’s not lit.

Get the point?

And God said, “No you won’t”

Numbers 24:17

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

I love Bible prophecy, especially that which shows Satan getting his just dues. It doubly sweetens it when God uses Satan’s very own words to further the gospel of Christ! In Isaiah 14:13 God sites Satan’s plan for overthrowing the Kingdom of Heaven. “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:”

And God said, “No you won’t.” That of course was a Shari Quote of verse 15 that reads Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

And so on the night that Christ was born, what do we find making its way into the Christmas story? A star!

Matthew 2:1-2 ~ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

And for generation after generation, every time the story of the coming of the Messiah is told there is also the story of the star that lead the Shepherd’s and Wise men to Christ. The very thing that Satan said he would exalt himself above, God uses to proclaim His Son’s birth and the salvation of earth. The star that Satan would use to lure men into idol worship, God used to light the path to the greatest story ever told.

In Deuteronomy 4:19 God warned ~ And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

As if to say to Satan, what you believe yourself to have dominion over, I’ll show you Who is in control; and as the Magi were possibly doing something they shouldn’t be doing (looking for signs in the stars) God reveals Himself and they begin their journey for the Creator of the Star. Oh my goodness, how awesome is that! We too forget sometimes Who it is that is in control and that God will use even our mistakes to light the path to His purpose. The wise men followed that star to the Messiah and from their story we find four things that should be in the heart of every believer

Matthew 2:10-13  ~ When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Joy – It should be evident. (Theirs was great, so should ours be)

Worship – it should be experienced. (They fell down! In awe of His presence)

Giving – it should be earnest. (They were the takers, now they were the givers)

Changed direction – it should be everlasting. (They went another way. There should be some notable changes of direction in our lives when we meet Christ)

I pray this Christmas each time you see a star you’ll be reminded of Christ and experience the great joy that comes in knowing Him!

No matter the season, He walks with me

It was a conversation with my teens last night that really got my heart stirred for the Christmas season. I’ve been through a lot of other “seasons” in life. The season of discouragement, the season of failure, the season of disappointment, the season of doubt… some, if not all have been annual seasons just like winter, cold and harsh. They’re most always inward battles that few people (if any) know I’m going through at the time, I just plod through like a chick in the snow; wrapped in layers of colorful fabric that detracts from the ugly thin layers beneath that are so easily torn with words.

Wow, that’s a very deep thought that could leave you thinking… I don’t really want to go down this road, it seems like a sad trip. Take heart, remember I said that it stirred my heart for Christmas! The reality of life is, everyone I know goes through similar battles and each deal with them in different ways. I personally don’t play well with others; meaning that I don’t share inward turmoil. Partly because I truly don’t want to “share” it with someone else and create sadness in them, and partly because not everyone is an encourager. As a matter of fact some of the people I’ve been stupid enough to share with have beat me with my own stick. Truth.

Now let’s get to that Christmas Season:

Deuteronomy 30:15-18

See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

That’s got to leave you saying “What?”

It’s not your typical Christmas story by any stretch of the imagination but Christmas is written all over it. In red. Prior to the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord, God gave us two choices. Life or death made possible by right or wrong. A wrong choice could lead to death without any hope of a second chance. Sin was serious business. It still is, but the price that was paid to cover it was so high a price God didn’t refuse it. If His Son was willing to die for it (us), God was willing to accept it. And in so doing the gift we were given that first Christmas night was the gift of opportunity.

An opportunity to right every wrong through a relationship with God that hadn’t been known since the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve walked with God and then sin separated them from His goodness, but because of the final sacrifice that Christ made, we too can walk with God and overcome those seasons of our life that once would have destroyed us. The ultimate Christmas story is why that Baby came, not how He came. He came to save and restore what was broken. Me.

Every time I get something wrong, mess something up, lose faith in somebody or something I’m reminded of what that angel said to those nasty, dirty shepherds in Luke 2:10-11 “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

My Savior. Who came to earth as sweet, innocent babe, and died as innocent as He was born, for nasty, dirty me, and you.

No matter the season, He walks with me. How awesome is that!

The Wise, the Worried & the Wayward ~ What do you seek?

I can clearly remember as a child the fear that I had regarding Armageddon. Having very little knowledge about it, only that it was the war to end all wars, and when it happened, horrific things would be about us and the world would be out of control. That fear followed me into adulthood because I still had not learned the scripture as one would have thought I would have being raised in church. Jesus’ return and the end of the earth as we know brought nothing but dread in my heart. I guess I wasn’t alone, nor the first to have experienced it.

Matthew 2:1-3

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Wise men fear and Seek Christ

The wise men were said to be men of great spiritual and philosophical understanding. They knew of the coming Messiah and did not fear it but rather embraced it knowing that God’s plan is the right plan. Their obedience to travel such a great distance speaks volumes of their character. They were invested in this trip with time, money and risk; committed to finding God. That’s what wise men (and women) do. They seek God at all costs knowing that the end result is blessing. But then there was Herod…

Worried men fear and Seek Control

Herod sought Jesus too, but not for worship or wisdom, he sought Him for control. He wanted to destroy anyone he thought would threaten his power as King of Judea, and he didn’t care to kill them young or innocent, calling for the mass murder of all infant boys under the age of two. I somehow block out that part of the Christmas story. The political wickedness that ripped the heart out of mothers. The killing spree that filled Bethlehem’s residents with immeasurable pain was so horrific that Matthew quotes Jeremiah’s mournful words regarding Israel’s pain during the Babylonian Exile in verse 18 ~ In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Perhaps I block it out because it rings too true in society today. Our government will, it seems at any cost, cater to the wicked to keep control, including forsaking God, murdering babies and joining with allies totally against any Christian principal for the sake of power. They should worry, for try as they might, God’s plan will not fail.

Wayward men fear and Seek Comfort

Those who do not know the comfort of Christ will seek comfort in the world at all costs, even freedom. The scripture in Matthew 2 said “all Jersalem” was worried too. They were troubled because they did not know that Christ was coming to bring peace, they only knew Herod was upset and that wasn’t good. They desired no King other than Herod; him they understood. Therefore Jesus was not a King they cared to know. And so it is with many today, content to stay in the ignorance and controlled by what they’re comfortable with than to relinquish full control to God Who will provide them a peace immeasurable.

It’s not hard to see why the world fights against Christianity, because true, undefiled Christianity shatters the lies and deceit that have been created to control a lost generation. Once you truly understand Who Jesus is, the world’s control is gone and you have the freedom to live without fear. You no longer fear the coming of the Lord, but just like the wise men in Matthew you embrace it. You are willing to go and do at all cost and risk, because you know that His coming again will bring wickedness to an end. Why should we fear? Yes Christ came as a baby, but He’s coming again and this time He’s all grown up! This time there will be no risk or danger for those who know Him as their Savior, but to those who don’t there is much to fear.

Do you know Jesus today? If not, give yourself the gift of Peace this Christmas.

You are the Christmas Story… What version are you telling?

unwrap

This morning as I began to study and read the Holy Word of God, I just about skipped over the first half of Matthew 1, the genealogy of Christ. I was going straight for the Christmas story! I usually read the Bible online so that I can copy and paste my scripture without fear of error, but I resorted to the traditional leather bound Bible this morning and noticed the notes scribbled across the pages from a previous sermon “The Forgotten Chapter of Christmas.” This is why I write in my Bible, else days like this I would have missed God’s message for me.

Four women were mentioned in the lineage of Christ at a time in the culture when women were not generally found worthy of mentioning, and indeed what women they were! Tamar (in verse 3) reminds us of Judah’s failures in Genesis 38, Rahab in verse 5 was a harlot in the book of Joshua, Chapter 2; Ruth was a Moabite and subject to a special curse; and Uriah’s wife Bathsheba had an affair with David, and yet there they are in all their messed up splendor, listed in the lineage of Christ our Lord. These are Jesus’ people. Yesterday I wrote on the commonness of the characters of Christmas, this morning my theme seems to be on the uncharacteristic characters of Christmas.

If I asked this morning “Why God would use such women to accomplish his cause I would have to ask, “Why would He use me?” But because He has chosen to use such an imperfect cast of characters I can better ask “Why not me?” I have friends who constantly berate themselves for their failures in their walk with Christ, and while it is true that we can all do better, it is a lie of Satan that our mediocre lives prevent our effectiveness for the Kingdom. If faults trumped God’s purpose the Bible would be a much shorter book. But instead its pages are filled with dysfunctional families, lies and deceit throughout… and then came Jesus.

God never condoned or approved any of the wicked nonsense in the Bible or in our lives, but He did acknowledge it as fact and provided the means for redemption. Those verses this morning were God’s way of saying, “Listen, I know you’re messed up, but I fixed it! From this point forward you’re my child and as your Father, I have the right to forgive.”

In Luke 5:21-25 there was a conversation between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees.

 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.

God alone has the power to heal the broken whether it be physically or spiritually. Those who have acknowledged Christ as their Savior are without excuse for serving, because God cleared the pathway for us to get up and walk! Today, with Christ living in us, we are the Christmas story. What version are you telling? There’s only one right version. It’s the one that says you’re a forgiven child of God. Go tell somebody!

What WV and Heaven have in Common

Grist Mill in the Winter, Babcock State Park, West Virginia

Photography credit: http://www.forestwander.com

I have for as long as I can remember, been proud to be a West Virginian. There are as many redneck and hillbilly jokes as ‘Carter’s got liver pills’; some I’ve laughed at, some made me nauseous, but very few have ever upset me. Most are told in good country fun and those that are not, are told in ignorance of the goodness of God that dwells in this place. I don’t think for a second that we are “Almost Heaven” because 1 Corinthians 2:9 says “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Heaven’s way better than anything here on earth!  But West Virginia does have one thing in common with Heaven… commonality.

Drive down practically any country road in West Virginia and ask for directions and you’ll likely get more information than you wanted! Not only will you get directions, but quite possibly a little family history, political insight or advice on the best place in town to eat. It’s our way. There are the occasional grumpy guss, elitist, or recluse but I can almost guarantee they’re a transplant from another State. It’s just not the nature of the people in rural (Country) West Virginia not to want to help. Yes there is the exception to the rule, for them, I apologize.

The story of Christmas is filled with country. Mary, a virgin girl from the city of Nazareth, who called herself a “handmaid,” meaning servant or voluntary slave (Luke 1:38) is visited by the angel Gabriel with the news that she is to carry in her womb, God. And following her most likely initial shock it says in verses 39-40, And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  There it is. Just good country people, Mary, Elisabeth and the country Preacher, Zacharias, willing to be used by God. He could have chosen anyone and most would have expected that the Messiah would surely come from a royal estate. But it’s apparent that God’s idea of royalty is unlike ours. He likes country!

And what about Joseph who would be the earthly father of the Christ child? A common carpenter, blue collar worker, although he was of the lineage of David. A man we know very little about, except his trade, and willingness to marry the mother of God, love the Son of God and deal with the stigma that was to come.

And then there were the shepherds, farm boys, who were the lowest of the low in the eyes of society in that day and God sends a host of angels to bring witness of the news of His Son’s birth to these unlikely men. A common thread woven into the Christmas story is common people just like you and I. God didn’t exclude royalty, the wise men received the same news and although it was much later they too were a part of the story of Christmas. No one is excluded from Christ’s story. And although it was a cast of common characters it was far from a common occurrence, it was a once in a lifetime, exclusive event that changed the world.

Jesus’ birth story brings home the message the God uses common, ordinary people to do extraordinary things then and now. God created each of us as a character in His story that continues to be the greatest ever told and each time a “new birth” occurs, at the time of someone’s salvation, the excitement level of that day in Bethlehem is still there and the desire to go and tell somebody! The song go tell it on the mountain scrolls across my mind and cheers my heart with the Christmas Spirit this morning.

I like country. I like common. I love Christ. Go tell somebody!

Dumb For a Season

File:Alexandr Ivanov 010.jpg

As often is the case, my warped sense of humor took over this morning as I began to read the Christmas story. I hadn’t even made it to the Jesus part of the story, nor John the Baptist before I was seeing it in a somewhat non-traditional form. I’ll blame my two year old Granddaughter, Paityn.  We were on our way to Thanksgiving Dinner and she had said something silly to which I ask “Who taught you that Paityn?” and to which she replied “Duh, my mom.” I know… totally disrespectful right? No it was hysterical. She was mimicking someone older but she had the context correct, as if to say “where do I learn anything worth knowing?” We may have our hands full with this one.

Back to the story…

I said that to say this, Gabriel had his own “Duh” conversation with Zacharias in Luke 1:18-20 ~ And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

Zacharias had just ask an angel of God “How would he know what the angel had said was true; that as an old man he was going to father a son.” To which Gabriel replied. “Duh, I’m an angel.”

No he didn’t, but can you not hear it in his voice? “Come on! I’m Gabriel…an Angel of God for cryin’ out loud, His own messenger Standing before you in an array of light, pronouncing this great thing, and you ask ‘how can it happen?’ How often do you see angels?” So Zacharias was dumb for a season because of a lack of faith, meaning he could not speak until the season of child birth was completed.

I’d keep laughing at Zachariah if it didn’t hit quite so close home. How many times has God performed miracles in my life, and yet even the smallest things I have doubt that God will do, and then wonder why they don’t happen. For some reason I think God’s out of the miracle business, yet Jesus said in Matthew 21:21, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Faith goes a long way. Far enough to move mountains. And snow storms. My recording session this weekend is in danger of cancelation because of a weather blip. If it’s hammering down snow I likely won’t be traveling 4 hours to Cleveland, Ohio, so I need to have faith. I’ve seen God move the snow before. I’ve told the story and it bears repeating about a snow storm that had hit our county on a Wednesday night not long after I had been saved. I wanted to be in church more than anything in the world, but I didn’t drive in the snow. So as I worked that day I watched the radar and prayed that God would keep the snow at bay until after church that night. As a new convert I believed God could move mountains and mountains of snow and He did just that. The radar showed every county around us being hammered with snow, but over Calhoun County where I live was a donut hole of clear sky. The snow was stayed all day, I kid you not. As I pulled out of the parking lot of the church at 8 p.m. it began to spit snow, and shortly after I arrived home it dumped a truck load. It was to be expected, God had held it back all day!

Duh, He’s God ya know.

I don’t want to be dumb for a season. I sometimes feel I’ve been stupid for a life time. Join with me in belief that God will stay the snow this weekend, I’ll let you know how it goes!

About that Wall

wall

If you’re going through uncertainty, change or trials, this blog’s for you.

I’ve had a few years of changes in my life. It’s reality that life cannot stay the same, which is good else I’d grow bored. But with some of the changes have come major construction or reconstruction projects in my life. I’ve built, I’ve torn down and sometimes I’ve just hunkered down close to the wall and rode it out. So for the past few days walls have been on my mind. Believing it’s there for a reason, I’ll share with you today what I discover when I get an up close look at scriptural walls that I believe God will apply to all of our lives.

The walls of Exodus – “Exit right please”.

Exodus 14:21-22 ~ And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

When drastic changes began to occur in my life a few years ago I felt as though I was in captivity. Every day I was a little more broken at the end of the day than when I went in in the morning. I worked for the courts and all I seen was the same ol’ same ol’ every day. Broken lives with a generic salve being slapped on them and a cheap Band-aid and then sent back out into their world for a reoccurrence a little further down the road. Nobody was ever “fixed.” I knew I had the answer, Jesus Christ; but I wasn’t in a position to share that answer with them often and I knew I needed to be. Exit right please…. And so I did. Into the unknown without job security, some hard times I’d never experienced before, but I still believe it was right. There were days when the walls on both sides of me seem to be on the verge of collapsing, but I kept moving forward and eventually found my way to the other side. Side bar… I too was much like the children of Israel at that time, I didn’t always submit to the spiritual leaders in my life and it always lead to sharks in the water, a few years of back tracking and not near the progress I could have had if obedience had been in place.

The wall of Joshua – “Enter straight please…”

Joshua 6:20 ~ So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

At Joshua’s command, who had received the Lord’s guidance, they just kept walking. Seven days, around and around and around. Welcome to my life in church leadership without a Pastor. I want to scream, but God says wait, I’m not ready yet. “This is crazy God, should we not be doing something?”  – – “Just walk” is all I hear. And so I walk. I want to run, I want to dance, I want to do anything other than walk at a steady pace, it’s not my nature. There are hecklers on the wall and I’m expected to keep my mouth shut… again… not my nature. There’s leadership that I don’t always get; “shut up and just keep walking.”

Yes Lord…

My day to shout will come and I’ll enter in “Upward and straight.” Just like the children of Israel, but in the meantime I’m going forward with the work of the Lord, in my place. Somebody else gets to lead, and blow the really cool horns which at this point just sound like a noise to me, not progress.

Joshua 6:9-20 says ~  And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.  And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.

Walk and wait… the wall will come down. And it will come straight down without loss of life. Whew!

The wall of Nehemiah – Dealing with what’s left.

Nehemiah 2:20 ~ Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

After 17 years of service to the Lord, I’ve discovered breaches in my walls. I’ve let little cracks turn into gaping holes. I’ve allowed the gates that once guarded my faith to fall off their hinges. Sounds pretty spiritual, huh? Let me tell you like it is. I just lived in the city (came to church, did what I was supposed to do, and went home) I didn’t notice that there were things that needed my attention. I wasn’t polishing the vessels of God and making them shine.

Proverbs 27:17 says Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

One sure way to fall apart is to stop working together. I was working solo because in my fleshly frustrations I’d grown weary and stopped working with others. But we’re in a new era, we’ve been shook up a little, we’ve seen the breaches and the brokenness and as a body of believers we’re working to build it back up. We’ve been reminded of the only wall that matters.

Ephesians 2:13-14 ~ But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

I remember the separation, that’s one wall that Hallelujah! can’t be built back. When Christ tore it down. It was final and my relationship with Him was forever. I hope you know Him today. If my words have stirred you, I’d love it if you shared how.

Hunting for Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, happy, happy!