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Poplar Bluff, MO 63901

Tithe Online
Dec 232014
 

It occurred on a slide at Dairy Queen.  My youngest daughter and I had just finished lunch when we thought it was a good idea to check out the playground equipment.  I had fun, at least until IT happened.

“If she can do it so can I!” I reasoned as I watched my 8-year-old go UP the curly slide.

Following her lead I got about halfway up when I came to the conclusion I did not have on appropriate shoes for “slide-climin’.”  Thinking I had made the right decision I began to turn around when, suddenly, my feet went out from under me and I came down on the edge of the slide…on the edge of me!

Well, naturally I slide on down to the bottom.  After getting on my feet I stood there trying to regain the breath that had been knocked out of me.

“You O.K. daddy?” called my daughter.  Looking up at her I managed to wheeze out…”I-I’m kinda hurtin’ a little, but I’m O.K.”   Isn’t it amazing what a man will say even when he feels like he’s dying?  My bruised ribs reminded me of my not-so-smart choice for several weeks.

This “little” incident got me to thinking about a father’s love and how I’d do it all over again for my daughter.  Even at the risk of someone thinking it was a silly way to get hurt I was still WITH her.

If you’re a parent then you know what I’m talking about.  Even though our love for our children is great how much more does our Heavenly Father love us!

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God.”  -I John 3:1

Knowing how much I love my kids, even to the point of dying for them, our Heavenly Father’s love is a million times greater for us, His children.  All we have to do is take a look at the cross to see the proof and the power.  He loves us so much it hurts and living in this love will make anyone have a great New Year!  Just do it, you’ll be glad you did.

Nov 242014
 

Twas the night before Christmas, my shopping all done, I’d gone through the list and forgot not one.

It was time to relax, at last I had time, to just sit and enjoy this season sublime.

As I found my soft chair, ready for a nap, one of my daughters came and jumped on my lap.

As I held her I said, “Tonight’s a night to sing, there’s a person to whom we owe everything.”

She looked up at me, her eyes all aglow, I could tell her excitement as she said, “I know!”

He’s more than a king with kindness and joy, he gives us the best gifts to use and enjoy.

Then I told her of the love he has for each one, and that giving was what he counted as so much fun.

At this she almost came right out of the chair, I was thrilled to see her so bubbly everywhere.

“And what is his name?” I asked with a pause, without hesitation she replied, “Ol’ Santa Claus.”

I sat there in silence and thought how odd, Santa had somehow replaced the Son of God.

What had I done, was I to blame, that instead of Jesus I heard Santa’s name?

Then suddenly I remembered, from the chair I did lurch, “Everyone get dressed, we’re going to church!”

So off we soon went, as a family that night, to adore the wee King by soft candlelight.

(Luke 2:7)

© 1995 Brian L. Sharp

Sep 242014
 

The following note was given to all the employees of a large workshop: “Whenever I enter the workshop I want to see every person cheerfully performing his task.  Therefore I invite you to place in the Suggestion Box any ideas to bring this about.  Signed, The Boss.”

A week later the boss opened the box and found only one small slip of paper on which was written: “Don’t wear rubber heels.”

I believe this little story reveals something many of us face – most of us are more concerned about performing our tasks well to be seen by people than we are of what God thinks about us.  So the question looms before each of us as we go about our daily schedule of activities, “What is our real motivation for doing what is required of us?”

How we answer this question in our thoughts and actions will determine our joy and peace of mind.  It’s not surprising God has something to say about this in His Love Letter to us…

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is a slave or free.”   -Ephesians 5:7, 8

I read one time where a study of 4,126 male business executives revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the corporate experience.  Here is what it found:

-48% of all middle managers said that despite many years of trying to achieve their professional goals, their lives seemed “empty and meaningless.”

-68% of senior executives said they had neglected their families to pursue professional goals.  Half of these said they would spend less time working and more time with their wives and children if they could start over again.

Surprised? It seems the question many men and women are asking themselves today is, “What am I doing all this for?”  Maybe the more important question would be better stated, “WHO am I doing all this for?”

If our life’s focus is trying to achieve earthly riches or position this will only leaves us empty.  And serving people only for gaining their approval will certainly lead to disappointment when we feel we haven’t stacked up to their expectations.

In God’s life plan it’s not the money (or lack of it) that determines our satisfaction, and it’s not the approval of people that should be our main motive for serving others, but rather our love for God as we work to serve the King of kings.  When this happens then doing our best in whatever task we find ourselves will be a natural thing for us, not to mention keeping our priorities straight.

After all, serving in the King’s court comes with a “heavenly” benefit package!

Aug 292014
 

Well, what do you know!  Scientists have succeeded in accomplishing another mighty victory for humankind and I bet it will absolutely change your life…I think?!

Not long ago French scientists succeeded in causing chickens to sound like quail.  It was reported that researchers took tissue from parts of the Japanese quail brain thought to control the bird’s call and implanted it in the brains of five chicken embryos.

What do you think happened?  You’re right.  The experiment worked!  Researchers say the hatched chicks sounded like quail rather than chickens. I don’t know about you but there’s just something unnerving about sitting down to Sunday dinner thinking I’m eating a very mix-up bird!  And what would you call it…”Chickquail”?

Anyway as we consider this “miracle” of modern times think about the real miracle that can take place in you and me.  God has implanted the mind of Christ in those of us who have repented and received Jesus as Savior and Lord.  The Holy Spirit – God Himself – has taken up residence in us. “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit Who is from God that we may understand what God has freely given us…we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:12, 16).

In some mysterious way we now have the capacity for divine wisdom and insight that no PhD or natural experience could ever bring. It’s truly a gift that can only come from God Himself.

Isn’t it amazing that if we would simply submit completely to Jesus and His Word we begin to think the way God does as His Holy Spirit enables us?  Maybe it’s just me but it makes more sense than sounding like a quail!

Jul 232014
 

Sometimes we just beat around the bush, don’t we?  Well, all this does is make us tired!  Yet in many aspects of our lives we tend to skirt the real issues.

 Deep down inside of us is a vacuum. This emptiness is very real yet we avoid dealing with it in a way that meets the actual need.  Consider the fact most of us realize that only God can fill this void but we put off doing anything about it for a myriad of reasons.

 In 1977 Frank Tanana was struggling.  He was a young, major league pitcher with a sore shoulder and his promising career in baseball was in trouble.  His “anything goes” lifestyle not only caused him to avoid filling the vacuum but threatened his very existence.  He even told one reporter, “My contract goes through 1981.  I’ll be lucky to be alive then, let alone pitching.”

Then Frank met a man who made a difference – John Werhas, the chaplain of the California Angels.

“He cared for people,” Frank recalls. “He had something special about him.”

That “something special” was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that had changed his life…and filled his vacuum!

It wasn’t long before Frank got his vacuum filled by turning His life over to Jesus Christ.  Several years later he was still pitching and demonstrating, through his life and testimony, that Jesus had truly filled his void, given him purpose and continued to transform him.

“Beating around the bush” only makes us tired and gets us nowhere, so why not exchange a weary, purposeless life for a new one in Christ? It sure beats emptiness, don’t you think?

May 202014
 

…one time at a church in Texas…

I could feel it when I got up.  This day was going to be different.  I just knew God was doing something special in my soul the moment my feet hit the floor.

I quickly got dressed and headed to church.  As I approached the door my eyes caught the sign over the entry that stated very boldly “SANCTUARY.”  My mind began racing – sanctuary, sanctuary; what does it really mean to enter and worship in the sanctuary of God?

I knew it was a sanctified place, a most holy place, a place where God takes special care to meet His people and their needs when they are together.  Most importantly, it’s a place where we passionately express our love to God because He and He alone is worthy of our worship.  We understand when the Bible says He “inhabits (is enthroned with) the praises of His people” (Psalm 22:3), or do we?

Upon entering the doors leading into the sanctuary my eyes caught the sight of…not the cross centered on the wall…but the carpet – bright, pure, clean, red carpet.  It sure did catch a person’s attention!  Then I heard a still small voice say very clearly, “Just like my Son’s blood.”

I was a little stunned.  Jesus, Jesus, yes, His blood was shed for me.  It was clean, uncontaminated by sin.  I’m also sure it was bright red in contrast to the dull brown wood of the cross and the bronze hue of Jesus’ skin.  It sure did catch my attention.  If we’re sincerely looking for answers the blood of Jesus Christ should get our attention.  God wants and desires our attention.  Why?  It’s because He wants us to know that He and He alone is the source of life, abundant life, an everlasting life, a life that can begin right now because of the blood of Jesus.

And then, as naturally as raising my head, my eyes were led from the redness of the carpet to the brownness of the cross.  There I was head lifted, eyes fixed on the cross.  This lesson was more obvious.  Jesus lifts me out of the sin of this world.  I said “lifts”, not lifted.  The act of the Lord lifting me out of the junk of this world was not and is not a one-time thing.  It must happen daily.  Every day I need to be lifted out of my selfishness; the “old man”, as the Bible calls it in Romans 6:6.  This happens when, and only when, I lift my eyes of faith and give my full attention to the power of the cross, to Jesus.

As I finally sat down in the pew I looked at the elevated position of the pulpit.  I then realized how proud I was to belong to a church that “elevates” the reading, studying, preaching and doing of God’s Word.   I praised God that Scripture, the book I held in my hand, was truly “living and active and sharp.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I continued to sit there in the pew soaking in the messages being spoken to me.  I began to feel so full, deeply moved, very complete, and extremely thankful.  I felt God dealing with me in an incredibly special, personal way.  He knows me!  He loves me!  I love Him!  I hear music!   …the service was starting. 

Dec 312013
 

Having a hard time keeping up with your life?  I recommend beginning the new year with this in mind…

 

IDOL OF BUSYNESS

It was hard to contain the joy I felt, when new life in Christ I found.

            I’d finally discovered a purposeful life and knew I was heaven bound.

At first I read the Word of God as regular as can be.

            And I would often pray to Him as through struggles I had tranquility.

But when it happened I do not know, it just seemed to sneak up from behind.

            My church attendance and time with God bowed to my schedule I’d find.

Go her, go there, go everywhere; I’d see myself come and go.

            And it wasn’t long until I’d say, “I haven’t got time for church, ya know!

I work all week, I have things to do and I’m trying to do my best.

            You just don’t seem to understand, Sunday’s my only day to rest!”

It wasn’t until I’d lost my peace and I felt constantly licked

            I came to the place that I declared, “My God, have I been tricked!”

So easy it was, as I thought about it, to give everything else my time,

            and in the process lose sight of myself and my God with life sublime.

“Forgive me,” I cried to my loving Friend, “How could I have been so unfeeling?”

            I shed some tears and rejoiced aloud and ne’er felt so tall while kneeling.

I felt renewed with God’s pure love, I was whole, not a piece was missin’.

            Like the prodigal son, He welcomed me home; I’d really learned my lesson.

God’s Word says seek His kingdom first and all His righteousness,

            ‘cause when we do time seems to grow, as we crush the idol of busyness.

 

Brian Sharp

9/28/92

Nov 202013
 

MisselIt wasn’t too awful long ago I heard about a bird. He is called a Missel Thrush, and he is quite absurd.

It seems that when the winds do blow and rains are falling long, he sits high up in the tree and sings the prettiest song.

I think this very strange little guy, must be deficient in his knowing. Why would someone want to sing when stormy winds are blowing?

Thinking I had it all figured out, I went about my day. I went to work at my usual time, having breakfast on the way.

As I walked into that familiar place, I was soon told by my boss, that I no longer had a job due to financial loss.

“Well at least I have my family,” knowing they were at the mall, and it was when I’d made it home that I received the call.

There’d been a terrible accident involving my kids and wife. She and my son were critical; my daughter had lost her life.

All at once my world had stopped, as I tried to get a grip, “How could all this happen to me?” I thought; my faith began to slip.

The minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks dragged on at snail’s pace, I soon became so overwhelmed I thought to drop out of life’s race.

In a desperate attempt to get some peace, one night the Bible I took, and came upon a Scripture, that as I read I actually shook.

It said to give thanks in all circumstances, no matter how good or bad.  This is God’s will in Jesus Christ, whatever experience you’ve had.

Then I read I was to sing and make music to the Lord, giving thanks to Him for everything, all praise to Him afford.

“Can this be right?” I asked out loud, “With all the junk I’ve been through?” I surely wasn’t feeling thankful, only depressed, downcast, and blue.

Then suddenly on the window, I heard something hitting the pane, I heard the wind pick up its speed, and then I heard the rain.

“Just like my life,” came the thought, “full of storms and stuff. I was going through so much now, when is enough enough?”

Then I heard it coming through, though winds were blowing strong, I listened very closely to what I knew was a beautiful song.

High up in the tree outside, midst wind and branches swaying, a Missel Thrush was singing his best, like an overture he was playing.

Then God’s Spirit spoke in my heart, “See, if a mere bird can do it, don’t you think I’m more than able to see my children through it?”

My life was changed that blustery night, for I learned to sing in the storm. When I give thanks in all things, with God’s love I’m safe and warm.

So when your life seems like a mess, and your dreams have turned to mush, remember Who’s in ultimate control, and sing like the Missel Thrush!

© Brian Sharp ~ November 18, 2001

Oct 242013
 

As I peer out my office window today I notice the reality of autumn is definitely upon us.  Browning grass, colorful leaves on full display while others beginning to cover the ground, trees looking more and more barren and a thick ceiling of clouds allowing only enough light through to let us know it’s daytime are all witnesses to the fact of fall.

I don’t know about you but even with all the “dying and browning” going on I find fall being my favorite season.  I guess it’s because with all the changes taking place in nature I look forward to the holiday season just ahead, and with that comes excitement, anticipation and a joyful spirit.

John was an elderly gentleman who had lived a good, long life.  He had outlived some of his family but many were still around to share his last days.

As death crept closer and closer to his door, John continued to die as he had lived – with an outlook of joy and anticipation for what lies ahead. Those who were honored to be present when he made the transition from his earthly life to his heavenly one witnessed a truly remarkable example of total peace and a sense of “matter-of-factness” about death.

Drawing his last few breaths John looked at those gathered around his bed and said, “And the best of all, God is with us.”  With those words John Wesley waved goodbye to a world that was left radically changed because of an uncompromising faith that kept him looking forward with a heavenly vision.

A heavenly vision helps keep us full of joy even a midst usually depressing situations. We often can’t control the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we have a say in how we react to those circumstances. The joy comes in two ways as we realize that, as Christians, God is with us at all times, plus the fact we have so much to look forward to.

Hey, people – fellow travelers on this heavenly road – we just can’t lose!  By the way, why not reach out and grab somebody’s hand today, look them straight in the eye and proclaim, “And best of all, God is with us!”

Sep 272013
 

My wife loves to cook so consequently she always has her eyes peeled for a good recipe.  We’ve come across some great ones for everything from Chinese food to Mexican dishes to sinfully fattening, rich, high-cholesterol desserts. Believe it or not, we’ve even come across those rare recipes that are actually good for you while tasting good, too.

Someone laid a recipe on my desk some time ago.  It’s non-fattening, tastes good and is a sure winner if you will make it and eat it every day…

1) Put God’s will first in your life each day and live one day at a time in the light of His grace, power and guidance.

2) Do not put yourself down, allow anyone else to put you down or put anyone else down. Any of these things is destructive to yourself and others.

3) Forgive those who have hurt you.  Do not carry a grudge.  Forgive as “God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

4) With God’s help put all of your abilities to work to build a better church, better relationships with family and others, a better community and better world.  Use your strengths and talents constructively.

5) Allow yourself to feel the joy of life, joy that comes because God loves us and is with us every day.

6) Look for opportunities to help people each day.  Practice being less critical and more compassionate in your attitude toward others.

7) Develop the spiritual habits of daily Bible study and prayer and weekly worship in order that God may be personal to you and guide your decisions and actions. Choose at least one or a few select Scriptures to steer your life.

By the way, this recipe comes with a guarantee:  If consumed by you on a regular basis your life will never grow stale.  God’s Spirit and Word are great preservatives!

“TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!”  -Psalm 34:8