Are You Ready To Drop Your Fig Leaf?

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

There is not a good deed, a job well done, a self-sacrifice, or a self-condemnation that can cover our sin.  There’s not a fig leaf fancy enough that can atone.  It is God alone.  His boundless love for us propels Him to relentlessly pursues us.  He can’t help but to call for us.  Our job, our sacrifice, is to humbly accept His offer of forgiveness and allow Him to restore all that we have forfeited.

He can & He does!

Moses murdered a man.  David had an affair, got the girl pregnant, and then had her husband killed.  King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, was an arrogant and bloodthirsty man.  He liked to watch people burn alive!  Peter walked side-by-side with Jesus, his friend, and still denied Him when things got a little scary.

BUT GOD!

God passionately pursued them all.  When a heart repents and turns from wrong, God restores.  God gives new hearts.

After 40 years of living a quiet hidden life, stripped of all titles, Moses was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory.  God sheltered Moses in the cleft of a rock, because our physical selves cannot handle the weight of His full majesty, but God still allowed Moses this intimate moment.  He was Moses the murderer, but now he is Moses the forgiven and the redeemed.

There were some tough consequences for David’s sins, but there was also amazing redemption.  When David repented, God continued to bless him with many victories.  David, a mighty king, was named by God with an honorary title, “a man after God’s own heart.”

God loved the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar so much that He stripped him of every earthly blessing, all his social status and his power, to get his focus on what is truth.  Through the storm of losses, God already had a plan in place for Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to be restored.  After 7 years of eating dirt this earthly king lifted his eyes to heaven, and then his “understanding returned”.

“My reason returned to me…  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”  Daniel 4:36-37

Can you see now?  Do you realize that you and I are not so special that God cannot redeem us too?  It’s pure arrogance to think we’re beyond His reach.  But do you also understand just how uniquely valuable we are?

“Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””  –Genesis 3:9

God came walking in the garden like He did every day.  God already knew the choice that Adam and Eve had made, the choice to ignore His warning, the warning any loving parent would give a child, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,”.  God tried to protect them from harm, but instead they chose to listen to the voice that led them to believe a lie.  Thinking God was holding out on them, they reached for what appeared better than what they already had, and they ate.  Their eyes were opened.  That voice did not tell a complete lie, because now they did understand more than they had before, now they knew the weight of shame.

So often we trade the whole garden for the knowledge of shame.

Shame’s voice always sounds just like the voice that reasoned us away from God in the first place – the voice of the thief.  The thief’s voice also mocks us after we concede to his tempting.  Why does he temp us?  It is his hatred for God not his want for us.  God loves us, so the thief reaches to take from God what God holds so dear – YOU!

BUT GOD!

But God already had a plan in place to free Adam, Eve, and all of us who’ve been tempted and shamed.  The very moment He comes calling, “Where are you?”  He’s ready to show us the way back to fellowship with Him.

“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8, (amp)

“Where are you?”

At one tree we picked shame up.  At another tree we can lay shame down.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” ~ Jesus

Are you ready for a new heart?  Are you ready to drop your fig leaf?

Fig Leaf

It doesn’t cover much anyway!

God already knows where you are.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Love stands waiting for you.  Are you ready to follow the voice of truth?

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17

Jesus left heaven for you!

We’re not so special yet we’re so uniquely valuable.  So let’s drop our fig leafs and come home.

Are you ready yet?  Are you ready to allow God to restore all that’s been forfeited?

~ Shannan

~ A big thank you to my editor, Kimberly Wyse.  I could not be so clear without her.

SEX! It Is Doable Not To Be Doable!

I have been blindsided by the “truths” about the realities of dating in our culture today – by what I’ve been told by others and by what I’ve experienced in my attempts to step out as a Christian woman in this less than kind world today.

It’s been said to me on several occasions that I set my standards way too high.  All I could think of when I first heard this was, I do not expect perfection!  I’ve been married, and I know that even when you have two people who truly love each other marriage is work.  There’s no such thing as a perfect person, just perfect for each other.

I’ve also been told that I am scary.  Really?  What’s so scary about me?  My own mother told me this.  She said, “you’re a widow and that’s scary.”  Well Great!  I can’t do anything about that, so that’s all on God’s shoulders to remedy.  I certainly do not expect anyone to step into Warren’s shoes.  He was his own person and his shoes are in heaven now.  This is not the issue that frustrates me so much though.  I am discouraged by what people are telling me are my “over the top standards” that cause me to ask again – Really?

For starters, I don’t drink.  Wow!  I think I just heard many of you gasp.  That’s right, I do not drink at all.  No, not even a glass of red wine with my pasta at Carrabba’s.  Not only do I not drink, I do not want it anywhere in my home.  People know that if I have a gathering, like I often do for New Years, there won’t be any alcohol.  Surprisingly to some, I usually have a full house to ring in a new year.

I have watched what alcohol can and does do to families.  I’ve watched its damaging effects in my own family and in the lives of countless others.  I don’t have statistics to offer you, but a large majority of the prison inmates I’ve ministered to started their downward spiral into a life of crime with their first taste of some sort of strong drink.  If you’ve read some of my past writings, you will also know that alcohol played a major role in why I am “back on the market” to begin with.  My husband was killed by a man who downed a few drinks at three different bars before getting into his car to drive.  I don’t blame alcohol completely, because there are usually deeper issues as to why many drink so heavily, but the stuff is mind altering and has proven over and over again to have devastating effects.  I guess the fact that I live in Music City, the land of the Honky-Tonk bars, does greatly narrow my options being a non-drinker, but why should I purposefully open a door to a world so potentially destructive?

I strive to live my life pleasing to God.  I am far from perfect and greatly need His help and strength to walkout this life’s journey, but I own my actions.  No one can “make me do it,” not even the devil.  So with all that being said, here is the next standard I set that is apparently too high for our culture today.  I will not sleep with those I date.

I think I just heard another gasp from some of you.  You’re reading, so you can pause for a moment if you need to.  Am I tempted?  Well, am I human?  Of course, but God says not to do it, so I don’t do it.  It is doable not to be doable.  Here’s the thing, if God says not to live a certain way He will give us the strength to live according to what He commands.  In reading my Bible through, I have come to the absolute knowing that God has a reason for everything He asks of us.  And, He has never withheld every good and perfect gift from those who walk in obedience.  That’s not to say we won’t struggle at times, but He will make a way of escape from the temptation.  It’s our job to walk in the way of escape.

“Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell…Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” – 1 Cor. 10:8,12-13

“Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”  – James 4:7-10

There is a call of action on our part.  Don’t get prideful trusting in our own strength.  Whatever it is, don’t do it.   Submit and flee when the temptations comes, and certainly do not try passing the blame off onto God or the devil.

Apparently, by not having sex with a dinner companion, I’m simply refusing to say hello!  Well excuse me for being the prude and for not wanting to catch some funky virus.  The truth is, I just want to be pleasing to God.  I want to honor my future husband by stating not only with words but much more without action, that he was worth the wait.  I do not want to throw away my integrity for a momentary pleasure.  Besides, the standards I’m wrestling to live by are not my standards, they’re God’s.  Maybe the question we should ask ourselves when we’re facing any temptation is, do I love God more than what’s presently tempting me?  Is what I’m about to do worth separating myself from God for?  Separation was the consequence for Adam and Eve in the Garden, why wouldn’t it be the same for us today?

Have we really become so desensitized to sin?  Our minds can justify a lot of things if we play with our human reasoning long enough.  No matter how much we convince ourselves with our human logic, if our thoughts and decisions go against God’s word then we must choose not to risk that our knower is smarter than omniscient God.

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said?…For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1a, 5

Our eyes surely have been opened to know good and evil, and we’ve paid a very high price for listening to and acting on the voice that “justifies” and “enlightens” us.

What voice will you and I choose to follow today?  It is our choice.

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

I will be writing soon about why I am considered the bubble girl.

If temptation has overtaken you, there is forgiveness.  If you ask God for forgiveness and change your actions to match His call on your life, He forgives and allows you to start over.  Just get back up and keep running toward Him.  God loves you!

(Sometimes we all need a little help along our journey.  It’s ok to ask for help if you’re struggling with anything at all.  As a matter of fact, being accountable to someone is a huge key to successful living.  Reach out for a counselor in your area, http://www.findchristiancounselor.com/?gclid=CK_jhMGpxKkCFQ8r7AodXllKkw.  I am not at all associated with the link I have provided.)

Just Taken? Death Was Supposed To Be Foreign To Us.

Maurice Carter - May God allow me to leave behind such a legacy of love...

There have been a number of conspiracy theories surrounding the sudden death of my dear friend Maurice.  I’ve heard people talking about what might have actually happened the night he disappeared.  I’m not going to share any of those thought processes with you now for the sake of his family, and too, I do not want to plant those questionable seeds in your mind.  The human mind has a great ability to build and accept “truths” out of a mound of lies.

Here are my questions.  What if God just took him?  Like Enoch, or the prophet Elijah?  What if God looked down and decided that Maurice did a great job and deserved heaven for his reward?  What if this is the only explanation?  Does that make God bad?

Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and wept.  He wasn’t weeping because He was hopeless.  Jesus knew exactly what He was about to do, but I believe He wept because death was never intended to be a part of our reality.  The physical death we all will face is a result of this fallen world.  As Jesus stood peering into Lazarus’ grave, He was faced with the reality of what He was about to endure to remedy the hold death had on mankind.  In that moment Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, but I believe He was experiencing the sorrow, and weight, of death itself.  But then He spoke, “Lazarus Come Forth!”

Jesus, in His humanness, stood at a grave site feeling it’s finality.  That day Jesus, as I AM, gave a preview of what was about to unfold three days after we bury Him.  Just as Lazarus came out alive from his tomb, Jesus was about to walk out of His own earthly grave.  The finality of the death we taste is still subject to be obedient to God’s command.  It too must submit to His will.

Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” – John 11:43b-44

God has all authority, even over the death of our physical bodies.  So, what if God took him from us?

When my husband was killed many people came to me asking, “Why?”  Why did Warren have to be where he was?  Why did we make the stops along the way in our travels that led us to that place at that exact moment?  Why did God allow Tim Baker to leave the bar when he did?  There were countless questions I was asked to answer that night, and the weeks and months after Warren’s death.  The answer is simple, I don’t know.  I cannot answer for what God allows and what He does not. Truthfully, I still think He doesn’t make sense.  What I think and what He knows rarely ever line up.  I do know that He is God and I am not.  Warren and Maurice belong to Him, and death has no power that God has not given it.  However those precious to me leave this earth, however God chooses to take me from this earth, is all up to His sovereign hand.

We wrestle with the reason and search for more detail because death was supposed to be foreign to us.  We seek and create answers to cope with the mystery of the unknown.  Before Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit we had no knowledge of what we call death.  Sorrow was not part of our design.  We invited this in when we decided to have our eyes “opened” to be like God “knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5)It was at this moment in time that redemption’s plan was set into motion.

Why Warren?  Why Maurice?  Why death?  WHY WOULD GOD?

The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.” – Isaiah 57:1

It may just be God’s grace extended to His own.

And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” – Genesis 5:24

Maybe God did just take them?  Whichever theory we decide to believe surrounding the death of our friends and loved ones, we can rest in the fact that God is good and His mercies endure forever.  If we find ourselves questioning God or even getting angry at Him, we must remember that it was our own choosing to have our eyes opened, but God’s grace has made a way through Jesus that we can again walk with Him in peace.

Death may feel final for those of us left behind, but true life, restored life, is waiting beyond its veil.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”


O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” – 1 Corinthians 15:53-55

If there’s no other answer to the multiple questions in our mind but that God is God and He chooses rightly, are we willing to trust and rest in Him?

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!

I LOVE AND MISS YOU MY TRUE FRIEND!

Saying goodbye to this friend is a searing knife through the heart, but it’s also the sweetest joy because of the absolute truth that this is only a temporary parting. JESUS is enough and has made a way. Until we all have the honor Maurice has been granted, we must carry the torch forward.