You Kiss Your Mother with that Mouth

I want to introduce you to my MAN! He’s writes a column in the paper on a rotation with some of the other daveypastors in town. I love when he does because I see people throughout town and I stand a tad bit taller when people approach me and tell me, “I sure did like your husband’s article in the paper!” So I asked him to send me a copy so I could publish it, too. I sure hope that’s legal… So, if you didn’t read it in the paper, you have another chance…
The original can be found in St. James Plaindealer… pick up your own copy before the new one comes out!

You Kiss your Mother with that Mouth?
                                                                            By Pastor Dave Ciske of Crossroads Church

When my family and I first moved to St. James, I knew very little, if anything about farming.  I think I’ve learned at least a little more in my 3+ years here.  I was “amazed” when talking to a farmer a short time ago at his description of how they figure out the correct time to harvest soybeans.  The farmer goes out to the field, picks a pod, checks if it pops open indicating the correct dryness, and then he pops a bean in his mouth to check the moisture level of that.  There is a small contraption he uses to test the overall moisture of the beans so the farmer can get the most “bang for his buck”, but I was a tad surprised, with technological advancements, that this is still the way the farmer works.  Before that conversation I thought they had robots going out there doing it…I kid.

One thing I didn’t need a farmer to tell me, though, was that when the farmer sows soybeans, and the conditions are correct for growth, that farmer is going to reap soybeans.  The farmer that plants a soybean, isn’t going to grow an avocado tree.  Agriculture in general is a prominent theme and metaphor used in the Bible.   Specifically, Galatians 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (ESV)  Earlier in Galatians 5:22-23 we’re given the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.).  To put it simply, if you’re interested in these fruits growing in you, you’re going to need to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, etc., and not seeds of hate, anger and malice.

I don’t know if you’ve heard or not (again, I kid), but there’s a school referendum we’re voting on in November.  The referendum itself has not done this, but the two sides of it have sown some seeds of discouragement in me, personally.  I have heard some pretty hate-filled, malicious talk from both sides of this and it’s appalling.  What’s even more concerning, is when you hear the words of Christ in Luke 6:45, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (NKJV)  In some of the hateful things I’ve heard or seen on social media, I can’t help but think, “There’s no way they feel this way because of a referendum…there are deeper issues there”, but I digress.  This isn’t a counseling session.

Don’t get me wrong…I have no problems with the passion from either side.  There should be passion.  We’re talking about two important subjects, our children and our money.  But we have to learn that we can disagree with someone and not hate them and speak maliciously against them.

Studies show that the most powerful earthly influence on a child is not the teacher, a peer, a pastor, etc.  It’s the parent(s).  “If (parents) do not invest enough of their time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the child will struggle to learn how to regulate his emotions and interact with others appropriately.” (Bethel Moges & Kristi Weber) How you treat those you disagree with (whether that person is around or not) will have a more profound impact on your child than any referendum that’s ever passed or not passed, now and in the future of this school district.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and are tearing people down as they stand on the opposite side of you in this referendum, I encourage you to find Christ by simply saying, “Lord, I need you”, then get in contact with one of the Christian pastors from one of the churches next to this article.  If you have a relationship with Christ, and are speaking maliciously of others, repent!  Turn from your ways and cry to God for forgiveness.  Then I encourage you to go to the person(s) you have come against and ask for forgiveness.  If you really want to make an impact, bring your kid with so they can see what humility and forgiveness is all about.

Thank you, Pastor, for reminding us to play nice! If you’d like to hear more from Pastor Dave, please visit us at Crossroads Church. We meet every Sunday at 9a for Sunday School, and 10a for service. We meet on Wednesdays at 6:30p (adults and children for all of these services) and if you have a teen (or pre-teen) 6th-12th grade Youth@Crossroads meets on Tuesdays at 6:30p.
Questions? Call the office at 507-375-5920

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The Unappreciated Pastor

Last Monday my husband was out-of-town. An amazing lady from my church brought dinner to my house so I didn’t have to cook when my husband was away. While she was visiting with me in my backyard my son came outside and said, “Mom, a lady from church dropped off dinner!” My kids and I had the most fabulous smorgasbord dinner! I teared up. My husband and I had just been talking about how when I am out-of-town everyone flocks to him to make sure he’s taken care of. I laugh and think, “He DID live before he met me!” But no one had ever thought of ME when HE was out-of-town. The gestures dug deep inside my heart!

Today I got a phone call from another lovely lady in our church. “Will you be around this afternoon, I’d like to bring your family dinner!” I paused, pushed my mouth closed and half cried/ half gleefully shouted, “YES!” Did she know that we had unexpectedly lost our water due to a water main break this morning? Did she know I worked that night and was JUST wondering how we’d manage dinner, clean up, and LIFE without water!?

Two Monday’s in a row!? What’s going on!?

Well, it might be that October is Pastor Appreciation Month (and, honestly, I’ve learned with my church, it might also just be that THEY ARE AWESOME!). Feeling blessed in small ways fuels a pastor! But what happens when the church forgets? What happens when you need a meal and no one thinks to bring one? What happens when you,  the pastor,  have dealt with a very unhappy church member most of the week? Or when the church finances are down for the 4th month in a row and you, as the pastor, have gone over the numbers 1800 times? Or when a church member moves away leaving a major gap in ministry roles and you, the pastor, are scrambling to fill the spot… week after week… after week. Or What happens when you’re JUST the associate (youth or children pastor, intern or staff pastor whatever your title may be) and you get overlooked yet again. And the church never sees, and never tangibly blesses, and they pass over the entire month with nothing… not even a small card of appreciation? What then?

We’ve been there. We’ve read about pastors being blessed with Disney trips, or new (to them) cars, with fellowship dinners, and homemade meals brought to their doorsteps all in the same month that we were told, “Since we don’t have a pastor, we’re not going to have to do Pastor Appreciation this year!” (While the youth pastor’s wife sat back exhausted trying to help her husband, who was exhausted, who was filling in between Senior pastors).  We’ve been on staff at churches where the senior pastor was showered with admiration (deservingly) while we sat to the side with no recognition at all. It hurts. It feels like a punch in the gut when that last Sunday of October comes to pass and the truth sets in that the church has overlooked the month altogether. I wish it hadn’t happened… but over the last 15 years of ministry together in 5 churches, it has happened once or twice. **Let me add this disclaimer here… it was in the past, it was what it was. We are FINE now, we are not mad, we are not grudge holders, we are happy, healthy, and the ministry and life went on. Please, know all is well!**

So, how do pastors, and their families, get past the lack of appreciation? It’s not like you pastors entered the ministry for the appreciation dinner one Sunday in October. Getting cards with words of affirmation wasn’t the driving force behind all those late nights cramming during your college years.  Those very appreciative gift cards to your favorite restaurant aren’t the sole reason you pastors sit at the hospital with a sick church member into the wee hours of the morning.  Your goal as a pastor isn’t to get a pat on the back for shepherding those not only in your church, but in your towns. It’s not the incentives that drive your work, so why does it hurt so bad when no one notices?

Can I encourage you that someone DOES notice! Can I encourage you and remind you that GOD notices! He knows all the things you do. He has seen your hard work and your patient endurance. (Rev 2:2). 

Can I encourage you as I refresh your memory that God sees what is done in secret and WILL reward you. (Matthew 6:18) (and dear pastor friend, it WILL be better than ANY restaurant gift card!!!)

Let me show you what appreciation is coming your way… Luke 6:23 says, “your reward is great in heaven”. Luke 14:14 says “For you will be repaid at the resurrection”.

You see, what you pastors (and your families) are doing here on earth has eternal rewards that can not be measured in human terms. The things unseen are your reward, like the numbers added to the book of life because of your obedience to the call. Although it seems that there are more complainers than rejoicers this side of heaven,  it should never negate the awe-inspiring, life- changing, soul-transforming miracles that happen throughout your ministry life.  Because you choose to seek His approval and not man’s, your reward may look different from those climbing a corporate ladder. Our reward is eternal. No fellowship dinner will beat the dinner table in heaven!

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

You did not enter the ministry for the MAN, but for the man’s heart. You did not enter the ministry because of the outward approval of the church, but for the Savior the church is pointed towards. And the recognition isn’t always there while in the midst of the battle here on earth. But when we serve the One True God, he won’t forget. His inheritance has already been set aside as your reward. My fellow pastor’s wife… YOU ARE SERVING THE LORD CHRIST! What an honor!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Please know that your ministry is valued. Please know that your giving… and giving… and giving does serve a purpose. Believe me when I say that just because no one sees the hours spent in the trenches does not mean they’ve gone unrecorded.  Please believe me, young staff pastor, when I quote Luke 6:38  “…Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” I KNOW this, I live this! It WILL be measured back to you. Let God do His thing and sit back and count your blessings. They may not come in the form of dinners, cars, Disney trips… but they can warm the heart in more superior ways.

Pastors don’t be discouraged. Don’t be let down by the actions of mere humans. WE all make mistakes, and miss the mark from time to time. Know that God is watching. God is noticing, God is recognizing all your hard work. Interns, children’s pastors, youth associates, volunteer pastors… please feel the words I write to you. Your ministry was given to you because God felt you were the right one for the job. Keep trekking on! Keep giving; Keep pouring out, pressing down, shaking the lives of those around you! Keep running the race, because we all know  “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine)

Oh, and one last thing…

HAPPY PASTOR  APPRECIATION MONTH!

ATTENTION CHURCH MEMBERS!!! Please don’t let your pastor, or ANY staff pastor (or intern) feel this way… be the one to plan something at your church, for some ideas visit my Pintrest page just for Pastor’s Appreciation…
Pastor Appreciation Ideaspastor

Public Service Announcement to those Offended

Apparently “Open Letters” are very popular today. I’m very specific about what bandwagon to jump on,  I understood “Open Letter” to mean something along the “The More You Know” meaning. However it is really supposed to be something more critical than I ever want to be. So this is NOT an open letter, but a “The more you know” type “letter” if you will. My sister would want me to include the logo, so here ya go…

nbc_the_more_you_knowThe more you know is actually more fitting anyway, because, you see, the more you know a person, the less offended you are at the things they say. Did that offend you? Then this is for you.

Being offended is a common emotion. It’s when it’s not reigned in that it becomes destructive. It’s a force that not only hurts the person being offended, but the person your offended by. Let me be sure you understand the type of “Offended” I mean. I’m speaking about when a person feels resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. I am NOT speaking of when someone deliberately sins against you.  I can’t really find the word in the Bible, however I do see that God desires for us to be “Slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:9) Yet so many of us hear something (or most often READ something) and become instantly offended. We attach emotions to words that were never intended. We listen to the words and not the heart. We read words and attach a tone that was never intended to come across instead of stopping and thinking, “How would this person speak to me?” This is the main reason I do not deal with conflict via email, Facebook messenger, or worst of all, a status update or Facebook comment. I need a person to HEAR my heart. I need them to see my face and to feel my touch on their shoulder.I need them to feel my hug, or to see the ache in my soul if I have to confront an issue. If I get into a discussion where it is not possible to see face to face, I say in my comment “I know you can’t hear my tone, so please believe me when I say my tone is________. ” This way it has been expressed and how that person reads it is on them since I have stated my intended purpose.
When you find yourself offended on a regular basis, something needs to change. And, my friend, it most likely isn’t the person (or persons) who offended you.
Here are a few things you can ask yourself.
 “Do I know this person?”
 If not, don’t walk around with the destructive emotion of offense. You have no relationship with that person. Therefore why allow them to hurt your feelings. Just take a cue from Elsa (Let it go!). It may be possible that you are misunderstanding or you are perceiving  something that was never there. You don’t know their heart, you don’t know what their intentions were. If you need clarification, before becoming offended, ask. “What did you mean by_______.” (quick to listen… listen to where they are coming from. This will also aid in how to pray for them).
Do I have a relationship with this person? If you do, what do you know about them? Are they hateful and do they regularly make it a point to be mean, rude, and crass?
 If so, you are in an unhealthy relationship and may need to remove yourself from their company. Sometimes this is as simple as clicking the “Unfriend” button on Facebook. Sometimes it is more difficult. Sometimes you just have to love them anyway. But you DON’T have to walk around offended all the time.  YOU HAVE A CHOICE. You can actually CHOOSE not to be offended… even if the person INTENDED to offend. HA! Did you know that!!!?? You can let their negative words/actions roll off your back.You can take the opportunity to pray for them.  You can decide they need your love more than your hurt feelings. (Please know that if this person is attending your church, and is claiming to be a Christian and is purposefully setting out to hurt you, actions do need to be taken to confront their SIN. See Matthew 18)
If you know the person and they aren’t a mean-spirited human being set out to destroy you, then why be so offended? When I say that being offended is destructive, I mean it on both ends. When you find yourself offended regularly, you begin to change your perception of the person who you feel is offending you. You are sensitive to whatever they say. And they begin to pull away in fear of  offending you. In my own experiences a majority of the times I’m offended it was because of a misunderstanding. If I would have simply asked, “What did you mean when you said______?” I could have cleared up a huge gauge in my heart. The relationship can become tarnished when we fail to be quick to listen. When we read into something that wasn’t there. Again, I’m not talking about when people back bite, gossip about us, spew hatred in our faces, those are sins that need to be addressed, I’m speaking of  the resentment and annoying feelings one gets over what another has said. I’m speaking of the perceived insult that the offended person took away from a conversation that may not have been an insult at all. When I fail to see the person as they are and add in emotions to words that were never intended to be added, I create an image of that person that is a false image. It’s destructive. It alters the relationship in a negative way. It hinders true love, and leaves heart ache in its path. When we know someone we should know their heart. So when a word doesn’t seem to line up with the heart you know, the most positive thing you can do is ask, “What did you mean by that?” Our first response should never be offense. If it is, you have two different images of that person. The one you KNOW, and the one you PERCEIVE. I often think, “Is this person a mean hearted person? Do they set out to hurt people? No? Then they probably didn’t mean it the way I took it.” If the feeling persists, I ask, “Did you mean_______?” I give my emotions to God and I ask him to help me decipher them. What I DON’T do is get mad at the person. I don’t walk around recreating this mean person from a remark a NICE person made. It takes effort. It means taking the thought captive, lining it up with what I KNOW and asking God to deal with the emotions behind it. I’m responsible for my own emotions. I’m responsible for my own responses to my emotions. It’s human to feel hurt, but that’s an indicator, not a dictator. What I do with that hurt (or offense) is between me and God. Walking around with it only leads to destruction. On the side of the offended it destroys our day, it destroys our relationship with that person, it destroys our witness, and it destroys our future encounters with that person. On the side of the one who “offended” it destroys their intended meaning, it destroys their trust and security of the relationship they have with the one offended. There is NO good that comes from it.
Let me give some examples.
If I talk to my sister (and because I KNOW my sister, I know this won’t offend her) and she says in a laughing manner, “What ragamuffins your kids are! It is 4 in the afternoon and they are still in their pjs! Step it up, Mama!” and If I am already being insecure about my parenting that day, I may hear it as “You are an inferior mom, and you aren’t taking proper care of your kids!” None of the words she actually said.  I have a choice RIGHT NOW! I can 1. take offense, get off the phone or walk away and mull over these hateful words my sister said to me. I can place extra meanings to it. I can begin to change the way I see my sister. “She is so judgmental! She has no clue what I deal with in my life, she is so insensitive!” I can do this to the point that I create a NEW person in my mind. So now who used to be a loving awesome sister is now  mean-spirited sister who thinks I’m a horrible mother. (I progressed quite quickly, I see that… but you get the point) Now, I’ve destroyed the relationship we once had. I’m destructive to myself by being hurt by something never intended to hurt, and I’m destructive to her by tainting her personality in my mind. The result? I stop talking to her, I stop listening to her, I’m easily offended by future things she says. I read in those emotions to all things she says. So when she later says, “Wow! Look at that hair! It’s amazing!” I hear it in a sarcastic insensitive tone. I’ve destroyed us! She begins to hold back. She stops talking to me about my kids because she senses my resistance. She begins to question what she CAN say, and little by little our friendship diminishes.  I’ve destroyed us because I chose to be offended. (My sisters and I are GOOD! I use this example, that has NEVER happened between us,  because I know them and I know they love me and know my heart and won’t be offended). When you cause your loved ones to walk on egg shells in fear of offending you, you have destroyed a beautiful relationship that could flourish if only there was freedom to do so.
I DO have another choice here… If I talk to my sister and she says, “What ragamuffins your kids are! It’s 4 in the afternoon and they are still in their pjs! Step it up, Mama!” and if I’m already insecure about my parenting that day, I could laugh it off KNOWING that my sister, who isn’t judgemental, hateful, and insensitive, didn’t mean it the way I took it. OR, I could say, “Oh my goodness, I’m having a bad day and that really rubbed me wrong! You don’t mean that the way the words came out do you?” To which my sister (either one) would reply, “NO WAY!!! Let me pray for you!” Maybe that would resonate in your heart as well and she’d be sure to phrase her comment differently next time. (**If she is offended by my attempt to better understand her words, that is between her and God, and she should read this blog post! haha)
I could also choose to let it pass and pray about it. (Slow to speak). I could ask God to help my own insecurities since I know my sister’s heart and I know that her personality would not criticize my parenting. I would need to let it go, give it to God and walk away from it.
When we allow unintended emotions to be attached to words, we change their meaning. We also attribute negative attributes to a person when that is not who the person is at all. When we allow an offense to change what was said, we also allow that offense to change the person who said the words. The person doesn’t actually change, but the way you look at them does. You in essence create a fictitious character, one that is critical, judgmental, insensitive. Then the most damaging part of this is when you begin treating the REAL person the same as you would treat the fictitious one you’ve created. You’ve believed a lie. Not one the person has said, but one that you’ve created in your own head. It’s damaging not only to your relationship, but to that person. The person who said something completely innocent is now made out to be this evil person set out to do you harm. If my sister (or any loved one) saw me as an evil person set out to do them harm it would break my heart. It would show me that they do not know me. Nor do they want to get to know me. They have chosen to be quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to become angry (and /or offended).
When you are unsure, ask. When you feel someone you know has criticized you, ask them for clarification.
Be quick to listen. then do just that… Listen to their words. Trust them at their words. Don’t allow yourself to read into what they are saying, instead fall back on the REAL them that you know. (Are they mean? Are their goals in life to do you harm? Are they mostly loving? do they make mistakes on occasion and perhaps this time the words didn’t come across as they intended? ASK).
Be slow to anger. Allow your loved one to explain BEFORE getting mad, upset, or offended. Decide now to nurture that relationship and stop adding to the damage.
Be slow to speak. When we allow our emotions to dictate our responses, we are more than likely going to hurt the relationship and the person’s heart. When our first reaction is to gasp with offense, and begin spewing accusations their way, we remove a huge chance to mend that moment, to reign things in without more hurt feelings.
When a direct insult has been made. When words can not be taken any other way but to be an insult hurled your way, or when you KNOW the person to be a rude, inconsiderate person, you would deal with those things by confronting the sin. You would privately SPEAK (not via written word) address something that was truthfully said. But when you imply meaning behind words not said, you are not only hurting yourself, but the other person as well. To be offended means to perceive an insult. So what will you do with that perception? Let is spin out of control? Let it dictate the way you treat a person? Let your mind build a fictitious person? Or will you choose to be slow to speak (pray instead, or let it go completely), quick to listen (ask the right questions to get clarification), and slow to become angry (reign in your offense)? Being offended is your choice. What do you choose?
Let’s choose life! Build relationships, don’t tear them down. Let your emotions be an indicator to ask questions, to learn more, instead of letting them dictate how you respond.
Choose to not be offended. You can do it! We can do it! Let’s start now! (even if that means starting over.)