Boundaries


When my life turned from living apart from God to living with God, I began serving everyone and everywhere. I ran the slide show at church, sat on the finance committee, painted walls, hosted women’s nights, led a Sunday School class (I was NOT remotely qualified, by the way), and more.

Eventually, I burned out. 

I remember asking my mentor, “When is it okay to say no to something I am asked to do?” She told me never. I should always say yes because God is worthy to serve. 

I was serving to please God, and I rather enjoyed the attention people gave me for helping them out.

My motive was wrong. 

I thought I had to prove to God how much I loved Him.

I didn’t have anything to prove. 

I was set free.

Many people serve because they are trying to make friends. They are present. They help you out. They love outrageously. But as soon as they run out of energy because their serving isn’t fueled by the right motivation, they disappear. 

They hibernate. 

They go off the radar. 

It doesn’t matter how important their role was.

Serving That Adds You a Credit

Isn’t it fun to be asked to do something? Isn’t it great when people trust you with a job? Sometimes you look at those people and think, “Well, I don’t want to let them down. They entrusted me with this great responsibility.”
The truth is that we should never work for people. We should always work for God. Whatever we do, we should do it as if we’re serving the Lord (see Colossians 3:23).
Many times, people get lackadaisical in what they are doing. They start serving people or a cause. They stop serving the Lord, and their work becomes less than excellent. They become lazy. All they offer is poo-poo service. They have great ideas but no execution, no follow through. They’re not willing to put in the hard work. They want someone else to do it for them.
Scripture says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6 NIV). I believe every one of us on God’s team should be like an ant. God tells us what to do, and we should be working hard, day and night, night and day, lifting things that are heavier than our own bodies and working as if we’re serving Him. We need to be strong and accomplish His work with great excellence!

Sisters: Thankfulness

Colossians 3:15—the end of this verse is my favorite line in the Bible:

“And be thankful.”

Thanksgiving is a command. This is an imperative statement. It is saying, “And you, be thankful.” I believe we are commanded by God to be thankful.
I often think of thankfulness as thoughtfulness. Thankfulness and thoughtfulness go together. The Word of God tells us to think of others above ourselves. We should in fact think other people are more important than ourselves (see Philippians 2:3–4). But how often do we do that? We fight to get through traffic. We fight to be first in line. We run into the restaurant to cut someone off so maybe we can get seated three minutes before they can. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been passed on the highway only to catch up with the person who almost caused a wreck a few minutes earlier.
I think when we are thoughtful and thinking about someone else deeply—about what they have done for us or the sacrifice they have made—it evokes an overwhelmingly thankful heart. Is it thankfulness or thoughtfulness? Regardless, thoughtfulness is the root of thankfulness every time.
My cousin is on her honeymoon right now. Because I helped her plan her honeymoon, she sent me the sweetest message. She is on the final night of her honeymoon. What is going on in her mind that she would send me a text on the final night of her honeymoon? Really! The two of them were thinking about this trip and how amazing it was, so they began to be thankful for the person who helped them plan it. Here is her message:

It’s our last night. I checked in online. We are freshening up to go to the fire and then the pool. We have had the time of our lives. There have been many times I thought I needed to be pinched because everything is so perfect here. We have laughed endlessly. Thank you for booking our vacation. Thanks to you, we have had the best honeymoon imaginable. I am so thankful to have a great cousin like you. I love you. You are a prayer warrior. The weather has been incredible. God is good. We are sure this trip is a start to a very happy marriage. Thank you.

When we are mindful and thoughtful of others and we consider what they have sacrificed or what they have given, it always results in thanksgiving. The Bible tells us that in the end times, people will be lovers of themselves. They won’t be thankful because when you love yourself more than anybody else, you are not thoughtful of the person next to you.
You cannot do anything about a person who is not thoughtful. But you can do something about you. You can be one who deeply considers the sacrifice of Jesus and what He has given. When we deeply consider what He gave—His body and His blood—and that He was naked on a cross, someone gambled over having His undergarment, and He was marred beyond human likeness for our sins, then we can become thankful to God. 

Thank you, Father, that we have life. Thank you, Father, that I’m no longer a slave to sin because You have set me free. I’m no longer under the power of darkness. I’m in the power of light. It’s because of You and Your sacrifice.
Thankfulness always changes the game and your attitude. When you are thankful, you cannot remain anxious or depressed. You can’t stay there.
So here’s the challenge: Open up a journal, a notebook, sticky notes, a chalkboard, or whatever else works for you and compel yourself every day to write down what you are thankful for in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon. At the end of the week, I want you to see what has changed, what is different about you. Then share it with us. Come back to this blog post and tell us what is going on in your life.  

Relationship First



I enjoy reading the Bible, but sometimes it’s hard to know if I am reading it for you, a friend, or myself.
Choke. 
It’s always for me!

I don’t go to the Word to prepare to teach, pray, speak, or share. I go to the Word to be refined.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
When you allow God to refine you, suddenly you become a usable vessel to encourage others to finish their race strong! 

Some people think that they’re called to point out all your faults. They point you to the Word to show you where you fall short or are religious or how you do EVERYTHING under the sun WRONG! They have a spiritual gift used wrongly.

I have been this girl. My passion made me ugly, judgmental, and harsh toward other brothers and sisters. There’s no fruit in this.

Like I said, I love studying the Word—word by word with my husband or just listening to whole books every day. One day, I was listening to this song I found after I had read all of Matthew.

One line in particular PINCHED me—ouch! Wow. Pain. It was literally like God’s Word through Misty Edwards penetrated me and divided my soul; it judged my thoughts and the attitude of my heart.

OUCH.

I don’t say this with joy. It’s not easy to unveil to the world the struggle, but the struggle is REAL, people.

Here is the line:
“They’ve been building a ministry, planning and scheming in all of the things,
But they forgot reality, relationship.”

We can be so busy working, planning, doing, chauffeuring, running errands, cooking, and talking to friends that we QUITE LITERALLY FORGET ABOUT OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!

What?!

When I am pierced like this, I stop!

“Father, have I been so busy working for You that I have lifted idols above You?”

He is faithful to draw near and to forgive us, even before we ask.

What have you placed above your Father? What idols do you have? Maybe your school, your children, your spouse, your friends, money, things? What is it for you? Ask God today:

“Father, have I been so busy working for You that I have lifted idols above You?”

Love,
Sheri

Matthew 25 (Misty Edwards)
In that day,
The Kingdom of Heaven will be likened unto ten virgins, in that day
In that day.
All of them are waiting for the Bridegroom,
All of them are waiting and waiting and waiting
All of them have lamps and they’re waiting and waiting and waiting, waiting and waiting
In the mundane, mundane, mundane, mundane
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting…
And when the night falls, they fall asleep
Each and every one of them, they fall asleep.
In the mundane, mundane, mundane
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Bridegroom
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, and they fall asleep.
In the midnight hour, a cry will be heard.
In the midnight hour, in the deepest, darkest hour of history,
In the midnight hour.
For behold a deep, deep darkness will cover the earth.
In the midnight hour of history,
It will be the darkest hour of history, of history.
A deep darkness will cover the earth.
Like a dark, dark darkness that could even be heard.
And a deep, deep darkness will cover the earth.
But in the midnight hour a cry will be heard.
A cry, a cry, a cry…
Behold the Bridegroom, go out to meet Him.
Behold the Bridegroom, go out to meet Him.
Behold the Bridegroom, go out to meet Him.
Behold the Bridegroom.
Awake, awake, oh sleepers, awake, awake, the hour is here,
Awake, awake, oh sleepers, and behold,
In the middle of the night a cry will be heard.
Oh, and the ten virgins, they will awake from their slumber.
They’ll be scurrying around into the streets,
They’ll be shining their lamps, going out to meet Him, going out to meet Him.
It’s the day, it’s the day, it’s the day that they’ve been waiting for
The day that they’ve been waiting for, the wedding is just around the corner now
Just around the corner now.
And they’ll be running around, scurrying around, getting ready to go out
Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally.
But in that day, says the Lord, the Kingdom will be just like this
And in that day, in that day, in that day,
Five, five will be wise and five, five will be foolish.
Wisdom and folly defined by the Master
Wisdom and folly defined, defined, defined.
For the foolish, so busy shining their lamps, forgot to get the oil.
And the clock now, now, now is ticking, it’s ticking,
And the clock now, now, now is ticking, it’s ticking
And it’s the middle of the night and the cry has been resounding
And now they’re scurrying around, round, round.
But the foolish are trying so hard to get their lamps lit.
But they have no oil.
So preoccupied, so preoccupied.
They’ve been building a ministry, planning and scheming in all of the things,
But they forgot reality, relationship,
They forgot to get the oil on the inside of the lamp.
For the oil comes from the inside out and they forgot it.
Now like empty, empty tombs they forgot it.
Now the five, the five who were wise, they had oil.
For even though they slept, their hearts were awake.
They didn’t get weighed down by the mundane or distracted by the lamps.
They had the first things, first things, first things, first.
They had oil from the inside out.
And the five who are foolish will say to the five who are wise in that day,
O help us, help us!
Give us some of your reality, give us some of your intimacy
Give us some of the oil in your lamp,
But it doesn’t work that way. It can’t work that way.
And the five who are wise will say to the foolish,
Go buy oil for yourself, you have to take the time to know Him for yourself
They say, go buy oil, I counsel you buy it now
Go buy oil, I cannot give it to you
You have to go buy oil for yourself, I cannot give you mine
For only what is real will burn inside, burn inside.
In that day the five who are wise will go to meet the Bridegroom in the feast of the wedding.
Oh, but the five who are foolish will cry.
So I tell you now, while there’s still time,
Go buy oil before it’s too late.
I counsel you now, you have a name that you’re alive, but you’re dead on the inside.
So I counsel you, buy gold, refined in the fire.
For you have a lamp that you’re alive, but you’re dead in the inside.
But there’s still time, just a little bit, only a little bit of time.
What are you gonna do with that time, with that time, with that time, with the time?
Time, time, time is ticking by, and the Bridegroom is coming, He’s coming, He’s coming,
Are you ready to meet Him, to meet Him, to meet Him?
Will you even recognise Him?
So I tell you now, go buy oil,
I counsel you, buy gold, refined by the fire.
Take the time to live from the inside out.
Take the time to be acquainted with the Holy Spirit and the Word.
Take the time to buy oil before it’s too late.
For wisdom will be justified, wisdom will be justified.
In that day, in that day, in that day.

One step ahead too self-development

Forgive yourself when you fail.
I’ve gone two whole months without failing. I haven’t raised my voice. I haven’t gotten angry. I haven’t been offended. I haven’t been hurt, whatever. You know that’s not true. It’s really not possible. We’re flawed human beings by design. The truth is I’ve failed already today in a big, hard way. It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon when I’m writing this. Today, I’ve been angry and bitter and holding a grudge against my husband and honestly, keeping a record of wrongs on his behalf. Because he won’t keep his own record of wrongs, I have to keep it for him and make sure that I correct him when he’s wrong.
Of course, I fail. I fail, sometimes, moment by moment. I fail in being disciplined. I fail in eating right. I fail in spending enough time with my kids. I fail in harboring bitter thoughts. I fail in becoming offended. I am a failure in so many ways.
Several years ago, I stepped into the freedom of forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I remember the day that I realized that I was truly forgiven and that I forgive myself. That day, I was set free. I have never been in bondage since.
In my Christian walk, there were times when I would get mad and frustrated, like, “Gosh I can’t believe I failed again. I’m such a failure.” Like, “Argh! Why do I keep screwing up? Why do I keep messing up? This is horrible. I know better.” I hated it. I hated myself. I was so mad.
But guess what, I wasn’t walking in the freedom of forgiveness that I once received. Scriptures said walk in the same way that you received Christ. That means if you know you’re forgiven the first day, then you’re forgiven the second day, the two thousandth day, the eighty two thousandth day, you’re forgiven. You can forgive yourself.
The Lord showed me that when I screwed up and I get up and I beat myself up about it, like, “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I did that. I messed up.” When I got up and beat myself up, that I was living in my works and my own effort and my own goodness and my own perfection. I was living in my blood as a sacrifice to God. I wasn’t living in the blood of Jesus. He showed me, “You fall, and you get right back up into my spirit, in the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. If you don’t, in that moment, in the middle, whether it’s a day or a month or year, you’re inoperable to work as my child because you’re too focused on you and what you’ve done. I need your eyes on me and what I’ve done and who I am and what I’m here to do. I don’t need your eyes on you. I need them on me.”
He showed me also that while I was beating myself up, I was saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough for me. Man, that’s just all out blasphemy. That is just arrogance beyond arrogance. Not only do we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we gotta forgive ourselves quickly.
You know, I think a lot of people think that means repentance. What does repent mean? They think it means crying in their closet like, “Oh God, please forgive me. I screwed up so bad. I’m a horrible person. I’m just a weak fleshly soul.” You know what they were doing when they say that? They are agreeing with their own self before they were in Christ. They’re agreeing with their old identity and completely ignoring who God says they are. Wow.
Have you done that before? I’m confident you have. I have done it. I lived that for years—just belittled myself. I talked horribly about myself. While I’m doing that, I’m completely disregarding the truth that God says: one, I am a new creation; two, I am made whole; three, I am the righteousness of Christ; four, I am forgiven and my sins have been erased forever; five, I’m his child and he delights in me; six, he’s not mad at me; seven, I don’t have to beg a God who loves me, a father who enjoys me; eight, I am whole. I’m just whole. Nothing can change my identity. My behavior cannot steal my wholeness. It’s impossible.
So here’s what God convicted me to do—I didn’t learn this from anyone. There’s no teacher who taught me, I didn’t watch it on TV. I didn’t hear it from my pastor. I haven’t heard it from a friend. But I struggled and I wrestled for a very long time, beating myself up because I wasn’t perfect. So I know. This is my story. I’ve walked these shoes. This isn’t a preacher’s message. This is straight out of the heart of God and you need to hear it.
What God showed me to do—when I messed up, he said, “Though righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” He said, “Sheri, get up. Lift your chin. Do you know who you are in me? You’re already forgiven. Do you think what you just did was a surprise to me? It wasn’t. It wasn’t a surprise. I’m not shocked by you. I knew it already. Here’s what I love about you, Sheri. You fall and you keep choosing me and you choose me, and you choose me again because you know that I love you. You know me. We’re intimate. We’re close. Your mistakes don’t steal from our relationship.”
So he showed me when you fall down, get up and say, “Thank you father that I’m forgiven. Thank you, father, that I’m not defined by what I do. Thank you, father, that I am the righteousness of your son. Thank you, father, that I’m a new creation and I’m not of this world. Thank you, father, that I’m completely forgiven. I receive right now in the name of Jesus. I thank you, father, that you make me whole, that you make me complete. I thank you, father, that I am yours and you’re not mad at me and you’re not a mean God like my parents were. No. I thank you, father, that you are so in love with me; that you delight in me; that we’re friends; that I can come to you and talk about my struggles. You keep me whole, that my identity has not changed; that I’m secure; that Jesus Christ was enough for me.”
You know what, I get up from that with the fullness of joy like you have never known. Somebody can call me and say, “Hey, can you help over my family member who is in the hospital on the verge of dying? Can you leave  for them right now?” And I can say with everything in me, “Yes.” I don’t feel unworthy because it’s Christ who makes me worthy and I stay worthy. I remain worthy even when my behavior isn’t worthy because it’s not based on me. It’s based on the blood of Jesus Christ, his love for us and what he did for us and that alone—that’s it. Nothing more. It’s never been based on you. It’s never been dependent on you and it never ever will be.
But if you get down and you beat yourself up, guess what, it will be about you. It will be about you trying to make things right with God. It will be about you trying to get yourself back in the right place with the Lord. It will be about you and your behavior and what you’re not. It will be about you begging God because you don’t think you’re worthy to come to the throne with grace and boldness. You don’t think he wants to. You don’t think he’s delighted to give you the desires of your heart.
But he is. You have to forgive yourself and you have to do it quickly. Forgive and forget.