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.

That Doggone Tree


Genesis 3:5

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

I don’t want to scare you but I have a 22 point message. And before you tune me out, they’re actually sub points of a __ point message and they’ll only briefly be mentioned, and in a manner I think you’ll come to appreciate regarding the tree of good and evil from Genesis 3.

I think often about that doggone tree in the garden that started it all when it comes to sin and mankind. If it hadn’t been for that tree, life would have been so much different for each one of us. And Then I think of who I’ve become because of many the evil things in my life, and it makes me ponder the tree a little deeper today.

The Fallacy of the Fruit

When God created the fruits of the tree, it says in Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

It doesn’t say there was any difference,  with the exception that in verses 16-17, God said And the Lord God commanded the man, saying of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

They were all good for food, but one was forbidden, and yet it wasn’t entirely evil. It was the tree of good and evil. That’s where some confusion on my part comes in. How can a tree be filled with both. And why was it even there? Why would God put something so tempting in the garden that He knew would reap such destruction for all of mankind?

If there’s one thing that I have figured out in my 56 years of life on this earth, it’s that “Nothing just happens.” God has purpose for every single thing on and in this earth. And while it was not ever God’s intention for man to sin; God still knew the story before it happened. He also knew Satan’s starring role in the story and how Satan twisted the words of the Lord to confuse Eve.

“Ye shall not surely die:” he said.

And so Eve ate of the tree and the rest, as they say, is history. But what Eve set in motion isn’t just history, its future as well. There are things that have happened and things that are going to happen that are horrible because of the circumstances of the original sin.

All the fruit of the garden was good, and Eve could have had any one of them and been satisfied. But it says that upon the temptation of the Serpent’s words, that eve

… saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Something happened when they discovered evil. They already knew good, but now they’d discovered the opposite of good, which is evil.

They knew they were naked.

For the first time they experienced fear, shame and guilt. They no longer had confidence in who they were. Where they had once looked forward to the arrival of the Lord in the garden, now they were hiding and covering their bodies up because of that doggone fruit of the garden. And we’re still doing it today, even though it’s no longer necessary.

I created the drawing and used all the words I could think of that began with “D.” But there’s a thousand others that start with many other letters that could fit on the branches as well. All things that cause our relationship with the Lord to suffer. That was Satan’s goal. He was jealous of Adam and Eve and what they had with the Lord. He was out to destroy it. And he’s still destroying it today. He hates our relationship with God. How many of us are suffering one of the afflictions I’ve listed on the tree, or multiple. And how many times do they drive us away from God because Satan convinces us that we’re unworthy of God’s love. That’s what Adam and Eve discovered that day. That they were unworthy. Shameful. They didn’t know that before they discovered evil. But from that one act of disobedience, look at how many problems came.

When I think about how many offshoots of sin came from the seeds of that one forbidden fruit I realize how very important it is to get to the Root of the matter. Pun totally intended.

The Foreknowledge of the Father

What happened in the garden did not catch God off guard.

Isaiah 46:9-10

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

“Why” God created the tree in the garden isn’t as important as the fact that He “created it.” He spoke it, and it came to be. We want to question everything, rather than acknowledge that God is just amazing! He knew everything that would happen and he allowed it to happen because everything has purpose.

For certain Satan is to blame and there will come a day that he’ll be taken care of. But what the fall of man proves is that man and woman need God. The very thing Satan didn’t want. Every single bitter fruit on the tree does one thing, it causes us to search for hope and hope is found at the root of the tree.

I’ve experienced every single thing on that tree. But I’ve also experienced everything at the root of that tree. And because Christ is, (and this is the final point)

The Foundation of our Faith

He is the Root of all we need in Life.

Isaiah 11:10

10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

We can find rest in His knowledge that is provided to us through the Holy Spirit because of His sacrifice.

All of the evil that Eve unleashed on that tree is covered by the blood of Jesus. Adam and Eve tried to use fig leaves to cover it up. Something else from a tree. But that wouldn’t do it, only the blood sacrifice would cover up what they’d done.

What I came to realize from this study, is that all of the things on the tree that I thought were evil, God used it for His good. That’s why I believe it’s called the tree of good and evil. Satan could only see the evil. The destruction, death, doubt, depravity of man. But God, who knew the ending would see what His Son would offer in its place. Devotion, deliverance, defense, our Daystar…

Too many other good things to count. But we have to take responsibility for our part of the evil. And then God’s shows us the goodness of His sacrifice.

We are the good fruit of someone. God handpicked us for a purpose.

I pray today you’ll remember that when Satan tries to show you the bad fruit in your life. And you’ll remind him of the good that’s come out of it. There is some.

And I pray you’ll never lose sight that we’re going to get to see that perfect garden someday when it’s redesigned by God.

Revelation 22:16

13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

We live in an exciting time. Don’t let Satan rob you of any of the goodness of God.

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!

The Appointment

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work.

Job 7:1-2

Not a soul on earth has likely ever felt the frustration of ministry work like Job. Here he was, a man who the scripture described as “Perfect and upright and one that feared God,” ~ Job 1:1, and because of that he was targeted by Satan and tested by God. There is a vast difference between Job and I. Yet it doesn’t stop the ministry frustrations at times and the feeling that my eternal difference making is sparse. The only difference, I’m not worthy of the right to complain. Still doesn’t stop me from doing it though.

This morning Job 7:1-2 gave me the kick in the pants that I needed.

The Appointed Time

I have not felt well lately. Mainly because I’m not taking care of myself. My friend Gloria has told me that she is having a difficult time raising me. This damaged knee of mine has me feeling like I’m a rebellious teen ager who has just been told they’re grounded. I’m sneaking out at every turn, but unfortunately I’m closer to being a senior citizen than a senior in high school, and sneaking out means that I’m walking and working more than I should around the house. That’s sad isn’t it?

But my ministry work suffers because my psyche suffers.  If I sit, I feel worthless. Imagine how Job felt. It literally makes me nauseous to think what that man went through. It’s why his words carries weight. He earned that right.

Job knew that there was an appointed time to die, and that unfortunately this wasn’t it for him. He was wishing for death.

I am wishing for life! If there is an appointed time to die (and there is) there is also an appointed time to live; and by live I mean serve. Until we draw our last breath there is work to be done. This is our appointed time. What are we going to do with it?

If you’re not dead, God’s not done!

The Appointed Work

Job’s work for that time in his life was to be a witness. He didn’t realize. He didn’t know we’d be writing, talking and preaching about him for thousands of years later. And we don’t know what our tough times will mean either on the other side of eternity. 

I think God has some reading for us to do when we get to Heaven.

Psalm 56:8 says “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”

When we’re serving, they’re talking about us in Heaven. Our tears are in a bottle and there is a book of our story!  I don’t want my book covered in dust because it’s never written in. (not that they’ll be dust in heaven.” Maybe angel glitter. But I want my book to be a best seller!

The Appointed Reward

Revelation 22:12

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

We forget that God’s idea of quickly and ours is two separate notions. But “quickly” just might mean before this day is through, and the opportunity to collect those rewards are limited.

My rewards are those I love. I have a house full of kids today, I’m believing that they’re going to make my life easier. Yeah…. I didn’t believe that any more than you do. But, it’s an opportunity for them to see Noni serving God in hopes that they too will have that desire. And that will be reward enough!

Serving The God of Creativity

Or… why you should never stop coloring

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. ~ Genesis 1:27

I find myself asking, at what point do kids stop considering themselves an artist. And then I also find myself asking, “At what point did some adults think they were?”

There was a social media video going around the other day about the child of an artist who at the ages of a two or three had his paintings selling for thousands. I rolled my eyes, curled my lips and determined in my heart I wouldn’t be bitter. It was just ridiculous to me. This kid was literally throwing paint on a canvas and they are in awe of his talent. He may grow into an amazing artist, I won’t begrudge him that. And I wouldn’t tell the little fellow his art was subpar. But I would gladly tell the people paying thousands for it that their brain was subpar.

I’ve never been drawn to too many abstract artist. Although some I have found very talented. I could tell by the way they created it wasn’t about throwing paint on the canvas, but there truly was a method to their madness. By color and design, it was good. At least that’s my opinion. If you like abstract art, glory to God! I just don’t get it.

I’m going from the prospective of the greatest of all imaginations. God. He just didn’t throw paint on the canvas and call it a sky. The colors worked together. When He created man, He sculpted Adam and Eve in magnificence! Look at everything else on earth. It’s beautiful. None of it looks like an afterthought.

So back to my original question. When do children stop considering themselves to be artists? I don’t know for certain, and I’m sure it differs, but I would wager a bet, if I wasn’t Baptist, because we’re not allowed to bet. But if I was, I would wager a bet that it’s after the first negative critical experience.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m an encourager. I don’t criticize. Even if I think it. I may offer a suggestion to help someone, but I know that when someone creates something, they’ve usually done their best. And I can guarantee if they gave it to God, He would put it on His refrigerator. But He may not hang it in a gallery.

It’s taken me 30 years to call myself an artist. Not because anyone has ever criticized me, because that is the furthest from the truth. I have great encouragement in my life. But I have no self-esteem. And of the few negative nellies that have critiqued me, and they’ve just been a few. That’s all it took to squelch me down.  It’s what has kept me from making a living at the gift God gave me.

I stopped taking coloring serious. I still did it, but I didn’t take it serious. Most people just stop doing it all together, although it has made a reprise in recent years with the new adult coloring books.

Going deeper into the realm of creativity causes me to explore why we are less apt to be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit telling us to do something, to create something new. Perhaps its because we fear that same critique of the world that we experienced as children that caused us to no longer view ourselves as artist.

You might be an artist of words, works, numbers. There are too many talents to list. What is your gifting and is it something that you should be using for the Kingdom, either for a living, or for a ministry. And why aren’t you using it?

How do we know if it’s Refrigerator or Gallery worthy? All good questions. And worthy of looking into the scripture to see what God says about who we are.

In His Image

He created us in His image. With passions like Him.

Psalm 139:13

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.

He controls us and creates specific desires within us. He created us to create. I personally don’t know of a child who doesn’t like to create “stuff.” It’s engrained in us as babies from making a mess to making what we think is the most amazing piece of art ever! All six of my grands love creating, even though they may not all grow up to be artist. Praise God, they don’t know that. They just want to create.

I believe that as we grow that creativity takes shape into different amazing things. But creating is not just an artistic endeavor. Creating is doing a new thing.

Isaiah 43:19 says Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

God didn’t stop creating, why should we. He went from creating things, to creating paths and then using us to complete His work so that He can get the glory. I think people and churches get stalemated when we lose our desire to create, or we just don’t know the direction we should go. We’re satisfied with just showing up.

The church should be an ongoing project of getting souls saved and that takes many shapes and creative ideas.

I’m a project driven person. I need a project to feel purposeful. And I believe that’s how God created us all. Like Him, we are made to create.

Isaiah 43:7

Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

That verse makes me very happy! I (and you) were created by God for His glory. Meaning that when He created us, He created us to do something. Not just sit in a church pew.

For His Glory

Where ever we are in life, we are there to bring glory to God in that place. In our churches, in our work and in our passions.

Isaiah 45:12

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.

God created all the earth and all of creation to glorify His name.

We have to have doctors, nurses, gas station owners, pharmacists and every other position in life to make the world go round and function. But all of those positions should point others to Christ.

Isaiah 45:8

You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it.

All of Heaven and earth work in harmony.

This morning I picked up my fiddle that I had had to put a new “E” string on because I broke the old one tuning it. I hadn’t played it for a week or two and every string was out of tune. It sounded awful. But when I got the tuner out and put every string in tune, suddenly I felt like a musician again. That’s how life is. With artistry, with jobs and churches. We get out of tune. We lose our passion and purpose. We need tuned up. We need to find that creativity and desire to make something wonderful for the Lord. A new coloring page.

My grandson Logan was creating a Charizard. Which I don’t even know what is, other than it’s a Pokemon character. But it didn’t matter. It only mattered that his hand created it.

God wants to see some of your work, your best creative pieces. And there’s a reason that Christ said that we should come to Him like little children. Because it’s with that mindset that we feel free and welcome to create. Not judged.

Don’t squelch your creative spirit. God may just be getting ready to do something amazing with you.

Not By Accident

This was His word for me when I was ready to back out of His work again because I would be judged.  God told me this. He said “you’re past the age where you can throw stuff on a canvas and call it art. Be intentional. And do it.”

God doesn’t create things by accident.  He had purpose. So should we. Don’t ever stop coloring. There’s something about that child within that helps you to keep in check with Who’s really in control.

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.

It’s Time to Come to Myself

Sunday is not my only day of listening to sermons. I listen to a variety of preachers and pastors throughout the week, some might surprise you and some may not. I’m no respecter of denominations. I’m a respecter of those who biblically speak Jesus. Period. It’s why, when a preacher that I’m “Facebook friends” with, and I use that term very loosely, went on a trashing spree of preachers my blood boiled.

There were a few that I utterly disagree with too, but I leave them to God. Although if someone asked, I’d willingly tell them why I disagree.  But this guy went so far as to say they were lost! My first thought was “who made you God?” The only One who has the right to call a man or woman saved or lost is God. I cannot look on the soul and tell. Nor do I want that responsibility.

I’m not sure he mentioned Perry Noble, though he probably would have; but I’ve followed the ups and downs of Perry Noble for years. I’ve wept with him and for him. He broke my heart when he fell as Pastor of New Spring Church. I cheered him on when he fought his way back. Though he didn’t know, because he doesn’t really know me. See… we’re “friends” too.

I like Perry because he’s real. Sometimes too real for me, I’ll be honest. He says some things that goes against my good Baptist girl grain. And he says some things that make me laugh really hard that really shouldn’t. But most important he gives me a desire to have a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. And that is what a preacher is called to do. Not judge other preachers!

So this week on Perry’s new podcast for his new church “Second Chances” he preached on the prodigal son. Not an unknown sermon for even a lost person. But Perry preached it from the perspective of the brother who stayed home. Again not an unknown sermon topic. But what was new to me was the thought about the “good” son didn’t have enough of a relationship with his father to know that (1) how upset the father had been (2) that the son had come home and (3) why there was a need for the party.

The prodigal came to himself, the farm boy needed a come to Jesus moment with Dad. But that’s not what he got. The Father had mercy for both. That was the gist of Perry’s sermon. But much better. I just gave the highlights.

What drew my mind into this today was my own relationship with God. How much do I know about what God wants for my life? I know what I want, but do I know what He wants?

It’s time to come to myself.

I am often guilty (really often) of studying for the purpose of others, and not for myself. It’s not that I don’t receive and need the messages I write and the Word of God that He speaks into my soul as well. But many of those messages are about general life issues, not personal life issues. If you’ve studies scripture for yourself, you likely know the kind; when the word of God cuts you open and fillets your heart like a fish! Showing you all the nooks and crannies of it and draws you into a conversation with Him where you almost feel like you’re sitting in His office on a crystal stool like a princess as He gives you the “Dad” talk.

Oh…. I so need to draw that someday.

But more importantly I need to be there.

I don’t need to preach to anyone about “their” life, nor do I ever want to be guilty of judging the soul of another person. I don’t know who’s saved. I only know that we all need to come to the knowledge of Who Jesus is and then grow in His grace so that we can know Him in a way that a child should know their Dad.

My girls have a very special relationship with their Dad. They adore him and when he speaks, they trust in his wisdom. That’s how a child of the King should be. Adoring. Listening. Believing.

When I lay down at night, I should listen for His bedtime story. When I rise in the morning we should meet at the table for a game plan kind of day. It should never be about you. It should be about us.

When the prodigal son came home His dad cleaned him up and threw a party. The other son threw a temper tantrum, complained about the slavery he had invested in for his Father and missed out on all the fun. Don’t miss the party because you’re looking at other folks. I’ve been guilty of it.

Do You Care?

We love Him, because He first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

There are some people in our lives that are easy to love. My bestie Gloria is one such person, so are countless others. I am blessed with people. Lots of people that I call and mean it when I say they’re friends. And then there are people that I am acquaintances with via life or social media and of those I may or may not have a great depth of concern for.

I would certainly pull them out of the path of a truck. But I might not take them chicken soup if they were ill. That sounds very mean. But it’s not meant to be. It’s not that I don’t care about their health, it’s that they are not on my radar of cares of the day. Nor am I likely on their radar either. So how exactly did God intend for us to love one another?

What is our level of compassion for those outside our immediate family and friends?

For me I only had to think about 1 John 4:19 for a split second before I realized that before I knew God, before I realized what He did for me and when I was just floating around in the world like a bubble on a summer day without concern for my soul or anyone else’s… He loved me.

He loved me when I was out in sin and behaving in a manner that would have made a sailor blush. Yes, I was that kid. I grew up fast when I married and had children, but I still didn’t know Jesus and was as filthy rags, and yet He loved me. He maneuvered my life to get me into a position to hear the gospel in a miraculous way that has me in awe today. He uses me even yet today when I still fail Him miserably.

Now… I ask myself that question again about the people I don’t know. “Shari, do you care?”  I asked myself that question about the people I’m pretty sure I don’t even like. “Do you care?”

I ask, because at any moment God could have given up on me or never thought enough of me to waste His time and yet He did.

This morning I was convicted by this thought because there are so many hurting people that I know via ministry and social media that I don’t care enough about. Ministry isn’t just to the pretty, easy to love people. Its’ for all people. Even the sometimes ugly, grouchy, negative, arrogant,  drunk and drugged up people. The latter of which I have an easier time loving. The grouchy, negative, arrogant people not so much.

I’m wondering who might cross my path today that needs loved on? I’m wearing a new pair of white jeans… I wonder if I’m willing to get them dirty. Isn’t that how we decide?

I have a doctor’s appointment for my knee this morning at 10 a.m. Perhaps it’s there that I’ll answer that question. Maybe it will be on social media, or maybe on an unplanned adventure. Like the one that got me saved.

The Concept of God

It was a thought that seemed almost foreign to me this morning as I read John 3:16…

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It’s likely the most widely known and quoted verse in the bible. We say it without thinking. It just rolls off the tongue of most Christians regardless of how long they’ve been saved. The point being, even if you can’t quote it, you know it. But this morning, it just seemed brand new.

Not necessarily the verse, but rather the concept of the depth of God’s love and the vastness of His being, and the fact… I need to repeat… the fact that He did what He did for someone like me. A nobody. That this morning in my living room and in the home of my friend LuAnn, God spoke to us and said, I have a work for you to do.

I received a message from my friend Faye yesterday, and through her God said… there is a work to do.

My friend Dewey and I speak most every day. But lately God has given us a deeper love for the ministry and a desire to do more. There is work for us to do.

Why me…

Why does God put these awesome people in my life?

Because His concept is beyond what anyone of us can imagine. And the possibilities of what He can do with us are beyond what anyone of us can even think. And I know this because today John 3:16 was a brand new verse in this ol’ girls head.

The concept of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” three in one has often boggled my mind. How can three be one? It just doesn’t make sense to the earthly mindset. I’ve heard it explained by using the illustration of the egg which has three parts (the white, yolk and shell) yet it is one. It’s a great illustration. But it’s an egg… not God.

But lately as God deals with me, trying to get me to a better place spiritually to where He can use me, He speaks to my heart about understanding who He is, so I can better grasp who I am in Him.

He is Huge!

Isaiah 48:13

Mine hand also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

Isaiah 40:12

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.

Who did that? My God! He is in the details.

If God can measure Heaven with His hand, that means He’s a pretty big Fella. That means that these people who make light of our God, should really think twice. He can flip them off of the planet. I have to be honest, that image kind of made me giggle. And kind of made me want to watch! But then I remembered that He could flip me off the planet too, and that God died for the “whosever.” Not only Shari.

He Has Always Been

How can God have “always been, and how did God, “beget” Christ, His Only Son? I don’t know. But when I think about the Creator of the universe and His Son, who were from the beginning, which is what the Bible tells us in John 1:1, I am somewhat awestruck like a rock and roll fan at their favorite concert. I want to get close enough to hear One whisper to the Other, and close enough to know them as intimately as a bestie. But in order to do that, I have to get out of my little brain get into Heaven as the Bible tells us we are in Ephesians 2:6 that says “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

That’s present time, not futuristic. So if I’m sitting in Heavenly places, that means I should be able to overhear a few conversations of God and His Son. So can you.

In Jeremiah 1:5 it also says that God knew us before we were in the womb. So… exactly how long has our conversation been going? I don’t know. But what I do know is that as a child, before salvation, I had a desire to know God. So Jeremiah 1:5 is not hard for me to understand. And because of that it is getting easier to understand John 3:16.

He knew me, before I was me. He chose me before I even came out of my mother’s womb and He placed me like He placed the stars in Heaven on this piece of dirt in Calhoun County, West Virginia. And He connected the dots with North Carolina, New Mexico, the Philippine Islands  and so many other places, in a way that others may not understand, but I’ve experienced. So yes… I’m a fan of my Savior. Yes, I reverently respect and fear Him because of the enormity of Who He is. And today I feel so loved because of John 3:16.

There’s a story of a little orphaned boy who is found on the street and a man sends him to an address with the instruction to knock on the door and say “John 3:16.” When he gets there he taken in, bathed, fed and tucked into his bed where he for the first time in his life feels safe. He later says when he becomes a preacher that he didn’t understand John 3:16 at the time but it made a dirty boy clean, a hungry boy full and a scared boy feel safe.

Yes… yes it does. I don’t have to comprehend the vastness of God. I can feel it.

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!