Author: Sheryl Crow

Why I Don’t Vote

Why I Don’t Vote

chosenWhy do I choose not to vote despite loyal, right-winged Christians waving around absentee ballots? The answer is simple really—I don’t belong here. Planet Earth is not my home and I have scripture to back that up.

With election season in full swing, not a soul living in the good ole U.S. of A. can hope to open their mailbox without annoying campaign advertisements spilling to the ground. It’s impossible to turn on a television set or car radio without being inundated by ostentatious bipartisan slogans. I have one word for all this noise: Hogwash. Ever since becoming a believer, something about the whole process has made me uncomfortable, like when a blister rubs against the heel of my sneaker. Up until a handful of scripture passages jumped out at me and with the help of an erudite Bible scholar or two, I felt subtly guilty for, what some would call, shirking my duty as an American. Granted, I temporarily reside in the land of the free and the home of the brave and for this I am grateful. So where is my spirit of democracy?

“Hip-hip-hooray!”

“Glory to the red, white and blue!”

“She’s a yankee doodle sweetheart!”

Nice platitudes, but all bunk when bounced off the reality of my position in the body of Christ. Now here’s a little something to believers straight from the mouth of our own apostle, Saul of Tarsus turned Paul, as well as from our Lord and Savior Himself, Jesus Christ:

“They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” John 17:16

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19

“…no longer are you guests and sojourners, but are fellow-citizens of the saints and belong to God’s family.” Eph. 2:19

“For our realm is inherent in the heavens, out of which we are awaiting a Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ.” Phil. 3:20 (17-21)

“If, then, you were roused together with Christ, be seeking that which is above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Be disposed to that which is above, not to that on the earth, for you died, and your life is hid together with Christ in God.” Col. 3:1-3

What all this boils down to is, I am in the world and not of it.

FREEDOM AT LAST!

 

~ Sheryl Crow

 

I Suffer, Ergo I Live

I Suffer, Ergo I Live

suffer2God is sharp. Everything He does is with a higher goal in mind, higher than we can even imagine from our perspective below cloud level, including trials. Trials are purposeful little buggers—annoyances at best and fiascos at the other end of the woe chart. Designed to break our dependency on earthly treasure, all of the ordeals sent our way faithfully nudge our gaze ever upward and onto the roused, glorified Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). We endure evil down here in Temporalville so that we can be conformed to the image of Dad’s Boy (Romans 8:29) so that, ultimately, God will become All in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). You see what I’m saying? Sharp! And how else would this be accomplished but through our shared struggles, day in and day out? If we were not battered and bruised and chiseled and hewn by the trench warfare of life, there would be no need to look to God. If we always had it easy, what good is faith in the things to come?

Like everyone reading this, I know hardship. I have been dismembered—bit by bit, piece by piece. At first a hand here, a growth and a foot there, then an entire limb at a time—right arm with shoulder, and scapula to boot. Like kind-hearted barbarians they only did what God raised them up to do—eradicate the disease with the hope of saving a life. They are the orthopedic oncologist surgeons enlisted to treat skin cancers run amok. I am the tenacious survivor laid helpless on their operating table time after time. And now that time looms again as a distinct possibility. How much of me is going to the butcher’s block before my Creator hollers: Enough! Even though “Why me?” flew out the window a dozen or so procedures back, I still cannot fathom going through the motions again. I do not know what is worse—the prospect of living one more minute in this pain-riddled, decaying bag of bones or facing the muffled sounds of the buzz saw hacking away my flesh and bone as I drift in and out of consciousness because the anesthesiologist went a touch too light on the Propofol?

My tenacity worn thin, I am fresh out of courage—all bravery tokens cashed in. Yet where courage ends, faith begins. Whereas I used to be the epitome of relentless optimism and staying power, I am now the poster girl for: I can do nothing apart from God. This is the precise point a broken vessel begins to apprehend the wisdom of the stupid, ignoble and contemptible things Father chooses (1 Corinthians 1:27-30). This is where life after suffering is all that’s left (Romans 8:11, 17-18, 23-24; 2 Corinthians 5:1-2). When a spouse walks away, when every other relationship crumbles or disappoints, when the body relied upon for energy enough to be the least bit productive chronically manufactures wounds and sprouts tumors—when one is well acquainted with a Job-like existence—only then does raw hope in a future transcendent weight of glory burgeon wings.

To be continued…

 

~ Sheryl Crow

 

Love Unlimited

Love Unlimited

Yet God is commending this love of His to us, seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes. (Romans 5:8)

Yet God, being rich in mercy, because of His vast love with which He loves us… (Ephesians 2:4)

love-heartThe powers of darkness want people ignorant of God, and they accomplish this by engaging men and women in the needless exercise of working to win God’s affection. Religion demands that people “walk the line” to win the affection of a God Who already could not possibly love them more.

Martin Zender
How to Be Free From Sin While Smoking a Cigarette
(2007), Page 25

 

An Unencumbered Life

An Unencumbered Life

sunrise RxRLaws of religion are intended to hedge us in and distinguish between those who belong and those who don’t. These rules include a vast array of expectations about how one should pray, vote, serve, dance (or not), drink, eat, spend time on Sunday, spend money, educate children, and worship. The laws of one’s doctrine may even give particulars about how to spend “quiet time” with God each day. These expectations become “law” when we feel we must live up to them in order to feel adequate or acceptable to our communities, our church, other Christians, ourselves, and maybe even God.

Religion uses laws in an attempt to make us all look the same. But the grace of God enables us to live daring, free lives outside of man-made lines as unique individuals. Remember the troubles the Pharisees had with Jesus? He was never where they anticipated Him to be; they would look for Him in the temple and He would be eating and hanging out “on the wrong side of the tracks.” When He was supposed to be fasting, He was eating with tax collectors and prostitutes. He healed on the Sabbath when He was expected to rest. And all the while He was only doing what He had heard His Father say and seen His Father do (John 5:19, 26, 30; 14:10). Likewise, when we live in a grace relationship with God, we will be in line with His will, even though we can count on being out of line with the will of some religious leaders. For those exhausted by a heavy yoke of Christian traditions and self-standards, this is truly good news!

~ Bill Ewing, Rest Assured (2003), pages 110 & 192

 

The Missing Link

The Missing Link

love-heartLove. It’s a prevalent theme coursing through the vein of our society. It’s the underlying motif of many a conversation and too much or not enough of it is the cause of broken hearts globally. And most especially, it is the very reason you and everything else was created—because God so loves the world. Yet in the arena of proclaiming scriptural truths, there is something in the love department that often gets overlooked. A sort of taboo topic—loving yourself. I think it’s the missing link in the love chain, sandwiched in between the reality of God’s inescapable love lavished on you, individually and intimately, and the outflowing of this superior love from your true source onto others. Of course, first and foremost, you must understand the wholly inexhaustible nature of Father’s love. And not only understand it, but capture it within your heart. Until this event erupts upon your own personal landscape you have no authentic love to decant to anybody, yourself included. But once you finally grasp hold of the love that God commends to you (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-7), then you can begin to see yourself in the light of this wildly infectious love.

Now I know the apostle Paul teaches us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, but to me this suggests something radical. It suggests that we CAN think highly of ourselves. (Notice I said highly, not haughtily). So the revolutionary thought I am introducing here is simply this—you are free to love yourself. What I’m talking about is being comfortable in your own skin. Being able to look in the mirror and say, “You’re the bomb!” Even on a bad hair day. More than just giving yourself permission, when you view yourself as your Creator does, the One Who knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), then and only then can you embrace the beautiful mystery of you—quirks, flaws and all.

Does this idea make you bristle or flinch? If loving ourselves were unscriptural, then our apostle wouldn’t have entreated men to love their wives as their own bodies, now would he? (Ephesians 5:28) So go ahead, I dare you. I dare you to look upon yourself through the eyes of the Happy God. Happy, because He’s happy with you because of all His Son accomplished on the cross for your sake. I guarantee you’ll like what you see—outside and in.

~ Sheryl Crow

 

GOD'S TRUTH DIVIDED

GOD'S TRUTH DIVIDED

swordThere arose during that season no small disturbance concerning the Way (Acts 19:23, Rotherham).

For the truth-seeker, life is filled with heart-rending controversy. After all, scriptural truth always runs contrary to religious and social traditions. My entire life has been filled with controversialists. It began at a very young age as I took the study of Scripture seriously, and truths uncovered therein as essential – regardless of the implications or costs. Such a diligent approach is a guaranteed life of controversy.

As peacefully as we endeavor to live with all men, God’s servants always have been embroiled in controversy. It is a part of the hardness that a good soldier of Christ Jesus must face, standing against the flow of a world that piously worships a god of their own making, and truths of their own liking.

As much as we long for peace and tranquility, truth thrusts us into a battle that is as old as humanity itself – “Yea, has God said?” Well do those of us who have dared to stand against such railing accusations against the truth of God understand the straightforward statement of our Lord,

Do not suppose that I came to bring peace to the earth: I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s own family will be his foes (Matthew 10:34-36, Weymouth).

~ Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.

What Is Love?

What Is Love?

love-never-failsLove! What a word. It has inspired countless songs and movies. It is used in various ways. People say,

“I love you.”
“I love baseball.”
“I love pizza.”

John Lennon sang, “Love is all you need.”

Sometimes a word is used so often it loses its original meaning. I think “love” has suffered from overuse. Let’s renew our minds with the Scriptural meaning of the word.

“Love is a complex emotion arousing appreciation or delight in and desire for the presence of its object, as well as to please and promote its welfare; to be distinguished from affection, fondness, which is aroused by the qualities of its object, while love may go out to the utterly unworthy…”

The definition of love comes from the Concordant Version Lexicon and Concordance. Let’s break it down.

Love has an object. When we say “I love…” it is always followed by something that is the object of that love. First Corinthians 13 is the “Love” chapter. The context there is love for people.

Paul loved people. He loved them because he himself experienced love. God loved Paul. God lavished His love and grace on Paul. God did this when Paul was His enemy. The grace of the Lord overwhelmed Paul with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Paul is the greatest demonstration of the love of God in the history of mankind. God sent His Son to save Paul. God’s love overwhelmed Paul. The greatest sinner in history could not extinguish God’s love. God loved Paul without conditions.

God loves you regardless of what you have done.

God loves you regardless of what you’re doing now.

God loves you regardless of what you’re going to do in the future.

God loves you because He loves you! Period. Unconditionally! Bask in this!

God’s love goes out to the unworthy. God does not look for certain qualities in a person before He decides to love him. God’s love arises out of His own heart. God’s love is motivated purely by His desire to lavish His love on others. God is love.

Paul in turn loved others. He loved others even though the more he loved them the less he was loved. That’s only possible with love. Because love doesn’t look for qualities in its object. Love doesn’t love just when it’s loved back. Love gives of itself for its object just because it wants to be a benefit to the object of its love.

Beloved, let us walk in love.

~ Dan Sheridan

 

A Plumber's Crack Gospel?

A Plumber's Crack Gospel?

plumber's crackDid you ever notice when you talk about the grace of God there’s always someone who says, “Grace is great, BUT…”

You know why they say that? They think that sin is stronger than grace, that’s why. They don’t trust grace. They think sin is stronger than the Cross of Christ.

The word BUT is never used in connection with grace, ever. It’s always used in connection with sin. For instance:

1) In Romans 1:18-3:20 Paul tells us about the idolatry of the nations and all the evil practices that went with it. Then in 3:21 Paul says, “BUT now…” Then Paul goes on to teach us that we are justified gratuitously in God’s grace through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus. The BUT is used in connection with sin – not Grace. Paul is saying, “Look at all this sin, BUT, don’t worry about it, there’s grace. You can’t out-sin grace!”

2) In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul tells us about the time when the nations were idolatrous and children of indignation. Then in verse 4 Paul says, “BUT now…” Then Paul goes on to tell us how God loves us in spite of our awful past and he magnifies the “transcendent riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Again, the BUT is used in regards to sin. “Look at all this sin, BUT, don’t worry about it, there’s grace. You can’t out-sin grace!”

3) Then in 1 Timothy 1:13 Paul tells us about his past. He killed believers because of his ignorance and unbelief. Then in verse 14 Paul says, “BUT I was shown mercy, seeing that I do it being ignorant, in unbelief. Yet the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” Again, the BUT is used in regards to Paul’s past. His past was needed to magnify grace! Paul was saying, “Look at all my sin, BUT, I don’t worry about it, there’s grace. I can’t out-sin grace!”

So, those who don’t understand grace say, “Grace is great, BUT…” They undervalue the work of Christ.

Those who understand grace say, “Sin is great, BUT Grace took care of it! It’s taken care of. Finished. Over and done. We can’t out-sin grace.” They magnify the work of Christ.

The moral of the story: Keep your self-righteous BUT in your pants. We don’t even want to see plumbers crack! If there’s a BUT, it isn’t grace!

~ Dan Sheridan

 

Bullseye!

Bullseye!

goodnewspostit“Paul…severed for God’s evangel…concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:1-5

The evangel Paul proclaimed was about God’s Son and His accomplishments. The word “concerning” is a translation of the Greek preposition “peri.” From this we get our English words like “perimeter” and “periscope.”

Here’s the best way to illustrate the word: Draw a circle. Now put a dot in the middle of that circle.

 

PERI

 

That’s the best way to illustrate the evangel. It’s all about, it’s centered around, and it brags about God’s Son and what He has accomplished. The evangel isn’t about sin, it isn’t about the sinner, it’s all about Christ.

Evangelism is drawing people into the perimeter and never leaving! Stay focused! They may want to leave that circle so that they can brag about their religion. That’s because they can’t brag about religion in the perimeter. No flesh will glory in the presence of a successful Savior. You drag them right back in to the perimeter. Keep proclaiming and bragging about the Son! They will squirm and feel uncomfortable. When they do that, brag some more about Him!

~ Dan Sheridan

 

I Live, Ergo I Suffer

I Live, Ergo I Suffer

sufferingGod put each and every one of us on this third rock from the sun for at least one reason. Two of mine are not only to suffer, but to endure that suffering for the duration of this wicked and awesome and treacherous and grace-filled and nasty eon in which God’s own Son appeared on the scene, and through Him—justification and reconciliation for all humanity. Imagine that? Something so magnificent as Jesus’ death, entombment and resurrection happening in the very same time period as my hard life. It can only be the handiwork of Someone so Omniscient.

Do you want to hear something crazy? God calls suffering “a gift” (Phil. 1:29). Trust me, it doesn’t feel like a gift when you’re smack dab in the thick of it, so sometimes I fight it. I kick and scream against the bonds. I shake my fists at Him, or I would if I still had fists. Did I forget to mention that I have a rather visible disability? Yes, ’tis true. I was born with a debilitating skin disease which, in turn, paved the way for several bouts with squamous cell carcinoma (an aggressive form of skin cancer) which, in turn, led to me becoming a multiple amputee.

So I do worse than fist-shaking. I curse. I get depressed and angry and curse, then Abba embraces me. I wail crocodile tears and my Maker presses my head against His chest. I bitch and moan, quite literally, and He lets me exhaust myself, then gives me something to laugh about. Or marvel in. Do you see it yet? Do you see how this dance with Father works? The Christ life is a life of contrasts—whenever I am weak, then I am powerful (II Cor. 12:10). Simple as that. It’s a beautiful picture really. It’s a peaceful reality once you are convinced of what He’s got up His sleeve. I envision Him waking up in the morning (silly I know, since He never sleeps), yawning (at least He doesn’t have morning breath), stretching and saying to His celestial attendants something like “Hmm?” and taps His scruffy chin. “Why not let’s make My beloved daughter, Sheryl Crow, writhe in utter failure today so my Son, Christ Jesus, can be magnified in her defeat, thus raising her from the ash heap? Yes, let’s do!”

And by the end of the day I am huddle in my power wheelchair, worshipping the One Who loves me so much that He intimately conforms me into the image of His Son [Phil. 3:10], and this short but sweet prayer gushes forth:

O Captain, my Captain! I am Yours, and You are mine.

Then the battle rages on. He keeps me weak, I keep on enduring, and I do it as unto the Lord—cursing all the way.

~Sheryl Crow

 


 

Footnote: This has been my experience and only a sampling at that. Each one of you has your own trials and woes. I want to encourage you to draw close to Father during these times. Just be yourself—get real with Him. All His heart desires is to spend time with you, and for you to want to get to know Who He really is—the God of Scripture, not the God of any religion (Christianity included). And it’s perfectly fine to cuss and cry with the One Who knows you better than you do, and loves the whole package. I cried while writing this. I cried because suffering is painful. Suffering sucks and pain is my constant companion. But it doesn’t end here. Keep your eyes peeled on LargerHope.org for the rest of the story, “I Suffer, Ergo I Live.” And don’t just take my word about the cursing thing, click on this link: http://www.martinzender.com/ZWTF/ZWTF2.15.pdf and check out the August 31, 2013 newsletter, “The Case of Cussing Christians,” or if you prefer, go to www.martinzender.com, click on ZWTF Archives and scroll down until you find this issue. It’s a $#@*% eye-opener!