How to Celebrate Without the Chaos

Yesterday I shared my heart about cherishing the moment within the Christmas season and why we need to stop and ponder the reason we celebrate. You can read that here.

If you read that post you may be wondering (or even pondering. HA!) HOW you can take a moment to celebrate in the midst of the chaos. Let me share a bit of what we’ve chosen to do over the past few years in order to bring more celebration and less chaos to our Christmas season.

For us the chaos begins with my daughter’s birthday around Thanksgiving. We try to cram it in before Thanksgiving, and if you know us you know we don’t cut corners on birthday parties, I’m pretty sure they are my 4 of my favorite things to do! My other daughter has a birthday within a week of the New Year, so our chaos goes from November 20th to January 4th… and I feel I need to have that January birthday party completely planned before the November one just so we don’t forget through the month of December.
For us the chaos comes in the form of a personal christmas party, a deacon christmas dinner, a women’s ministry christmas meal/gift exchange, a church kids program, the big church christmas lunch and party. We do an advent calendar with our kids to make each day special throughout the month. My birthday is smack dab in the middle, and our anniversary is January 1st! Sounds CRAZY CHAOTIC doesn’t it? But it’s not! I promise you, it’s not. Here’s my secret in a nutshell. We got rid of everything that caused more stress than fun. If we were stressed a little but didn’t neglect the bigger picture, that was okay. But the things we dreaded and caused stress without any reason other than obligation, we cut.

First we scheduled out our Christmas weeks at the beginning of November. If things weren’t able to be spaced in a way that kept the chaos at bay, we moved things around, or cut them out completely. We chose what was important, what their purpose was (ultimately to celebrate the birth of Christ by gathering with people we loved and wanted to share God’s love with) and eliminated things that weren’t top priority. Although our part-time jobs may put on a fabulous Christmas party, getting a sitter, buying the extra gift for the gift exchange, and moving other meaningful engagement around seemed to heap more stress than meaning into the season, so we let those go. We respectfully decided not to attend. It was nothing against the party themselves, or the people who were going to attend, it just simply didn’t fit into our priorities for the season.  (and perhaps that will change year to year). So

#1. Ask yourself what your priorities are. What should get more time and attention, and what can be skipped. Then actually decline things that don’t fit in. Remember saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. So if you are saying yes to a meaningful, non-stressed Christmas, you’ll need to say no to things that don’t fit.

We do a daily advent calendar with our kids. Starting on December 1st there are 25 Christmas activities we do to purposefully bring meaning to the season. In years past I was trying to go big and make everyday huge. I guess I thought that big and extravagant meant meaningful and impactful. However, all it did was create stress, work, and failed advent days. Although it’s purpose was good, to focus on the real reason we celebrate, it’s execution was an epic fail! So we simplified. It’s important to focus on Christ and the outreach that this season can bring, so we stuck with those basics. We only do one Random Act of Kindness each week. We read the Christmas story throughout, we make time for family movie nights where we can cuddle together and have family closeness. We discuss the elements of Christmas. We purposefully set aside moments to reflect on the awe-inspiring focal point of the season… Jesus.

#2. Plan ahead for quiet, meaningful moments to give yourself time to reflect on the WHYs of the season. **To do this, you have to do #1

Many years ago we had to make the decision not to participate in extended family gift exchange. We had already decided that with our kids we were going to downplay the gift aspect of Christmas anyway. But the extended family (Our siblings, and all of their kids) was growing way bigger than we could ever keep up with financially. So we asked that we choose other ways to celebrate instead of buying gifts. Gift giving is fun. It’s one of the biggest highlights of Christmas Day. Jesus was our ultimate gift, and giving gifts has always been a reflection of that and extending the “giving” spirit Jesus had. But the financial burden those gifts heap on the gift giver can suck the joy right out of the season. For our 4 children, they receive 3 gifts on Christmas. We model these gifts after the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Our kids do not make a wish list. They can add anything they want to a birthday list, but for Christmas we focus on giving, not receiving. The gold gift is something fun that they’ll enjoy; A toy usually. The frankincense gift is something that will aid in their spiritual walk; Bible, devotional, Christian movie, Christian artwork. The myrrh gift is a gift for their bodies; usually clothing. They spend their own money and draw a sibling to buy for… again, to teach them about giving. We can not afford to give gifts to all our friends. With being the pastor of the church, we would just have too many friends to buy for. Instead we opt out of that type of gift giving and we host an informal christmas party where we cook goodies for our friends and make time to sit and BE PRESENT with them.

My sister hosts a really nice dinner for her friends as a gift. It may cost her and her husband some time, and a tad bit more to their grocery budget, but the gift is a fabulous meal and some good quality time. Gifts do not have to be material in order to be meaningful. Keep in mind that although giving is better than receiving you will soon receive the bills for all of those gifts!

#3 Give within your means. Be creative, but don’t stress. Plan ahead for your kids so you can catch an item they may love while it’s on sale. You can give and still teach your kids that it’s not the primary part of Christmas.

We typically host or prepare 4 Christmas parties. We have a personal one where we have a Christmas open house that is “come and go” in style. We invite people in all of our different areas of life. From our neighborhood, our church, our workplaces. We have a small intimate dinner as a gift to our deacons. I host the Women’s Ministry gathering and gift exchange. These three are in our home. The last one is the annual Christmas dinner at church following our kids church program. I love every single gathering. I love that we can have a large amount of people pass through our home. They don’t come at the same time, they don’t all leave at the same time, so I get the chance to talk to most without feeling like I left anyone out (Pastor’s wife’s problems!). I love our deacon dinner where we can express our thanks to an amazing leadership team! I love love love our women’s gathering. The giggles and fellowship is unmatched anywhere else! And I ADORE seeing our entire church family sharing a meal, and some fun games together. But hosting all these things can zap a person’s energy! To combat the stress that comes along with that, I do #1 (plan out all the events that are meaningful). Then I make my “needs” list. I make the shopping lists, the ingredients list, the gifts list all before Thanksgiving. By December 1st I have every meal we will eat for the rest of the year planned and the various grocery lists made. I can look at my calendar and know that if our Advent calendar is going to have us making christmas cookies, that I will have the christmas cookie ingredients. If the calendar says we have our church dinner the next day, then I know I already have dessert and side dish ingredients in the cupboard ready for the event. Gifts for various gift exchanges have already been planned out. When each gift can be bought within the budget is all planned… before Thanksgiving. This frees up the days for the fun of the season without the stress of not being prepared.

#4 Be prepared. Line up your events with the items you’ll need in advance so you’re prepared to enjoy and not stress. 

When we host a party, or attend a party, we want to fellowship. We want to socialize. We do not want to be standing over the stove while our guests are laughing and making memories. Nor do we want to attend a party where we never get to see the host. So if our party starts at 3, we have everything done and ready by 2:30/2:45 so we can greet our guests at the door, and socialize with them for the duration of the party. We also accept help, or ask for help so that we can all enjoy the party together. For our women’s gathering I will have ladies come and help me set up. I will also allow them help me clean up afterwards. If they are offering, they want to help. (if you don’t want to help, don’t offer! haha). We do not prepare the church food ourselves, we ask that everyone bring something to share. It’s more important to be together at christmas than to run around frazzled entertaining!

#5 Use time management so you can be present at your own parties. And accept and ask for help! Value relationship over perfection. Dismiss etiquette for friendships.

And lastly, take a deep breath, look around at every chance and praise God for the blessing. Again, if you can’t do that you need to revisit #1. If you hate Christmas caroling in the frozen tundra where your hands never get warm the rest of the season… and you can’t stop mid carol and capture a joyous moment… choose to skip the Christmas Caroling next year (can you tell this is not my favorite thing to do?!) Just as Mary sat and watched the festivities that first Christmas day, just as she decided to sit and ponder all these things, we, too should take the time amidst the chaos to marvel in all Christ has done for us. He came from heaven to earth to be our Way, our Life, our Savior. And for THAT, we celebrate!

#6- CELEBRATE… Celebrate by keeping Jesus the focal point. Bring Him glory this Christmas season.

The list can go on and on. But ultimately we mustn’t forget that the season should be a season of celebration of Jesus’s becoming Emmanuel, God with us. When we gather with friends and family it should be as a light shining for Jesus. When we offer gifts it should be to represent the gift of Jesus’ presence. When we partake of the Christmas festivities we should take the time to ponder just how blessed we are to be able to celebrate the gift of all gifts– Jesus

What are some ways you keep increase the celebration and decrease the chaos, I’d love to hear from you in the comments area.

 

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Ponder this Season

Welcome to the Christmas Season! If you haven’t already attended a Christmas gathering, I’m sure within the next couple of days, you’ll have your ugly sweaters on, toting gifts for friends, co-workers, or even your mailman (don’t forget the mailman!). The wrapping paper will be strewn across every flat surface, the tape will be out (or missing!), and your nerves will be frazzled! If you’re like me, you’ve already hosted a christmas gathering (or two) and still have more in the weeks to come. So, now may be just the right moment to ask you… Are you enjoying the Christmas season? Do you dread it’s coming, praise it’s passing, or do you look forward to it only to see it whiz by in a busied blur of tinsel and tizzy? Do you ever stop and ponder the blessings of this season?

Let me remind of you of one of the most important Christmas story. Luke 2 says that once Jesus was born the shepherds were told of His miraculous birth and they came at once. After they saw the savior they just couldn’t keep their mouths shut about their amazement. They told everyone. It it seems that many came to see what the shepherds were so excited about. So, imagine introducing a new baby to the world and within such a short amount of time there’s a crowd there admiring your child.

I don’t know about other moms, but I wanted some alone time to bond with my baby before I opened the door to everyone and anyone to come and “oooohhh and awe” over them. But I wonder if Mary knew Jesus was to be shared. And so she entertained. She invited all those worshippers into her “Stall” with her brand new messiah child. And in the hustle and bustle of all that was happening Mary “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)

I’m sure Mary could have been overwhelmed. She could have tried to straighten the barn stall and manger to perfection level cleanliness. For that matter she could have turned everyone away since she only had a humble manger to entertain in. She could have stressed over whether or not the family had matching outfits fit for a worship session. She could have been frantic trying to prepare meals and presents and crafts to celebrate this most amazing event, the birth of her savior, her son… but she isn’t recorded as doing so. Instead she rested with Jesus in her arms and she stored the joy away in her heart.

I can picture her now. She, having just given birth, still recovering, but in that early stages of pure euphoria sits back and takes it all in. Her Son. They are worshiping her Son, the king of all kings, and Lord of all lords, the savior of the world, HER savior. And she took that moment and instead of letting the stress of it all overwhelm her, she pondered instead. Perhaps she pondered the angels promise to her and then to Joseph. Perhaps she pondered the announcement she made to Elizabeth when Jesus’ cousin lept while still growing in the womb. Perhaps she recalled all the prophesies about the Messiah that she’d grown up learning about.

And this my friend, is the one thing many of us are lacking each and every holiday season. As a pastor’s wife we entertain a lot. We are either having a party in our home, or hosting an event at church every single week. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE the holiday season, but there are always more items to check off the list of “to-dos”. This can be draining, daunting, and mundane if not done correctly. If not done purposefully, we can get all caught up in the lights, the decorations, the programs, the parties, the gifts, the finances, the stress, the heartache… and we fail to sit back and ponder.

I have a list of ways to do this. Over the years I’ve prayed for a way to enjoy the holiday season without heaping the stress on to the breaking point, and I’m confident I’m headed in the right direction (can’t honestly say I’ve mastered it). So if you’d like to see the “How tos” check back in tomorrow. But for now, let the idea of taking time to ponder the Christmas season sink in.

Albert Barns says that “pondered”  means weighed. This is the original meaning of the word “weighed.” She kept them; she revolved them; she “weighed” them in her mind, giving to each circumstance it’s just importance, and anxiously seeking what it might indicate respecting her child.

So, if we were to “ponder” this season, and the importance of this season, and the REASON for this season (it’s such a great cliché!), we’re going to make the season revolve around its purpose. JESUS. We’re going to give each activity that we do an importance. We should be celebrating the birth of our Savior, so if our activities don’t do that, we can give ourselves permission to let them go.

Christmas parties aren’t wrong… but if they are causing strife in our household, stress in our hearts, and debt in our wallet, it is no longer about Jesus and should be omitted.

Christmas cookies aren’t wrong (PRAISE GOD!) but if we’re screaming at our kids for making too many messes, ignoring our family to get just one more batch done, it is no longer about Jesus and should be omitted from our holiday traditions.

Presents for loved ones of course are not wrong, but when we lose sleep over finding (and affording) the latest gadget, toy, or luxury, and we’re lashing out at the crowds at the malls in order to add to our plethora of “THINGS” all to please someone else and not our Savior that we’re celebrating… well, something has to change.

This season brings with it fun and warmth and togetherness, but it is also one of the leading causes for depression, anxiety, and despair. Most of that comes from our lack of ponder. We fail to sit back, and really weigh the importance of the season. We fail to sip our cocoa slower, we fail to cherish our kids’ excitement, we fail to gather just a tad bit closer, and we fail to glorify the one with whom our celebration is due.

Have your Christmas party, but don’t fail to breath in all the love that comes with having friends and family close. Ponder the blessing of friendship as you gather.

Bake your Christmas cookies, let the kids make messes, add in another batch for a neighbor, but don’t fail to ponder the reason we work these traditions into the season. To give out of sacrifice is an honor.

Shop for the perfect Christmas gift, but don’t fail to remember the greatest gift to mankind, the savior.

There is so much of the Christmas season to take in. And as Mary so graciously did on that first Christmas day, I pray you, too will find time to do as well. Take a moment to look around at the friends surrounding you during this season and praise God for each one of them. Take a moment to watch your child’s excitement over a gift under the tree, or lights as they look out their car window. Just take a moment to ponder what all of this means. What is it that you’re celebrating, and then take a sacred moment to ponder His goodness… that began that first Christmas day.

 

Check back in tomorrow for some ways to de-stress your holiday season. It seems as I started this topic God decided to lead me a different direction. However, I’d love to share how we’ve managed to host a party each week (between ministries at church and our own personal one), and bring some cherished moments in each day through the season. Maybe you could use some ideas for balancing the long list of to-dos with capturing the moments that need to be cherished. Until then… God bless.

What Life do you Choose?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. The weather has gone from bright and sunny and warm to snow flurries, cold, and gray. And it seems as if that has affected the beings living in my home. Including me! The grumbling has gotten to me. The unreasonable expectations have weighed me down. The constant reminder that I can not make everyone happy has brought days of tears to my eyes. And I’ve piled weight upon weight upon weight until I’m riddled with headaches, sleeplessness, and crabbiness.

 

The seasons of frustration, anger, moodiness, or just plain crabbiness might stem from the fact that I homeschool, so these beings (along with their frustrations, anger, moodiness, and crabbiness) are with me all.the.time. It might stem from my role as pastor wife, or the upcoming holiday schedule staring me in the face. It could stem from any number of outside influences demanding more and more when I feel I can offer less and less.

But here’s the thing. He who is in me (JESUS) is greater than he who is in the world (SATAN). Do I blame Satan for all bad things in my life? Is he the root of all my frustrations? All my anger? Moodiness and crabbiness? No, not completely. I blame myself. I blame myself for forgetting that I have Jesus within me to conquer all those emotions that sweep across me through the day. 1 John 4:4 is an encouragement to the early Christians who have overcome the lies false preachers were preaching in their day.  God says to them, “You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” We overcome BECAUSE of the Jesus in us. So when we feel defeated, deflated, down, and full of despair we know we have a Jesus in us who is WAY more powerful than the forces bringing us down.

No doubt many things that lure us to our crabby side come from the enemy. No doubt. He does not want us to live the life God intended. He does not want us to overcome and praise God for giving us victory. So he’ll whisper to you that you have a right to be offended. He’ll prompt you to lash out at a disobedient child, I mean, you ARE the authority! Satan will let you be comfortable thinking that “everyone yells, I’m fine”. But when it comes down to it, and when you are truly held accountable for your actions (emotions are one of those actions), it will all be on YOU.

So I’ll ask you what I’ve asked my 7-year-old many times this week. “What life do you want to live?”

We quote James 1:19 and 20 every day in my home. We need to! “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” We go even a step further and we discuss why it’s important to produce the righteousness God desires. God desires to give you life, And not a frustrated, anger-filled, moody, crabby one! He wants you to have an abundant life.

You see, Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your joy by being frustrated with everything. He wants to kill your relationships by being angry all the time, and he wants to destroy your day with a bad, crabby mood! But JESUS!!! Jesus wants to give life, and an ABUNDANT life! (John 10:10)

So what does that life look like? Is it free of all frustrating little tasks? Free from ever getting angry or offended? Does it mean that you’ll never have a moody day or fall into the pit of crabbiness? Oh I wish!

For me, one who faces frustrations everyday, who has to battle anger on a regular basis, who has the crazy life of homeschooling 4, babysitting full-time, and working a few hours outside the home where the temptation of being moody and crabby is right there… This abundant life looks like this:

I am making a lot of choices. I’m praying for perspective. I ask myself, reevaluate myself, and try again… and again… and again. I look at the child throwing a fit and say, “I could yell, or I could scoop her up and ask her to pray with me.” One will kill our relationship, one will bring a more abundant life.  A child has a meltdown over having to do a spelling test. I can let that frustration settle in, roll my eyes and spout out each word expressing just how frustrated I am. Or I could ask God for perspective, realize a tad more study time may solve the issue and encourage said child along the way. One can steal my (and their) joy, the other will bring confidence and thus a more abundant life. Someone is upset at me. I was unable to meet their expectation (I can hear the pastors’ wives out there nodding their heads!) I can fight attitude with attitude. Or I can re-evaluate, pray for a peaceful way to handle that situation, and leave the rest with God. One will destroy a friendship, and most likely a peaceful mood while the other gives abundant life.

It all boils down to what life you want to live. If you choose to dwell in the circumstances that surround you, to wallow in the despair that stress can bring you, you will choose a life of offense, unsettlement, and constant frustration. If you choose to live a life allowing the One who lives in you to conquer the one who lives in the world, you will choose a life of peace, joy, and power.

Verse 21 following the verse I quoted earlier urging us to be slow to anger because it doesn’t produce the righteousness God desires says, “So get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the POWER to save your souls.” (Emphasis mine). God desires not just to give abundant life on earth, but an eternal life in heaven. So rid yourself of the life sucking anger, and frustration. Get rid of the moodiness and crabby that settles in your brows. The evil one does not have your best interest in mind! He does not care about your peaceful life! And submit to the One who died in order to give you this life! Accept His word, and live in joy knowing that He has the power to save your soul! (And your attitude!)

And to end let me quote the “speech” I gave my 7-year-old today with tears streaming down my face.

“You have a battle going on for your soul, sweetie. The Devil wants to steal your joy, kill your relationships, and destroy your happy heart. But Jesus says, “SHE’S MINE!!! I died for her, I bought her with my blood, she accepted me, and she’s MINE!” And they fight and they fight because you’re worth fighting for. Jesus sees your potential. He sees how valuable you are when you have your joy, your strong relationships, and your happy heart. He knows you are an amazing girl. But Satan is fighting against you becoming that amazing person. So he fights to keep you angry, frustrated, and unsettled. He fights so he can own you, so he can get you to hurt those around you with your words, and disrespect authority. He wants you to have a life that hates all the time. And Jesus will not relinquish. He knows that He’s already died on that cross FOR YOU! He knows that you’ve chosen Him. And so now he fights for you to choose HIM in the midst of those frustrating times. He fights for you to choose HIM when math is hard, or when your brother doesn’t choose your game. He is pleading with you to choose HIS path, for it leads to a life that is full of blessings. His path leads to a prosperous life, plans that He himself has set up for you! But, honey… YOU have to choose. Who will win? What life will you choose? Mommy can’t choose for you. I sure wish I could, it would definitely NOT be this anger filled life. So all I can do is show you what’s going on and then ask… What life do you want?”

Who will win in the battle for your life? As for me? I’ll choose Jesus every time. It takes effort, self-discipline and a lot of  “taking thoughts captive”. But I’m living the fruits of choosing this life, and I see the fruits of choosing the other option.

If you do not have Jesus in you it’s hard to fight a battle with the one in the world. But, just like Jesus died for my little girl, He died for you, too. And he desires to give you a life… an abundant life. If you’d like to accept Jesus, and to choose to follow Him, please click on the link below for more clarification. 

http://followchrist.ag.org/

And Please, if you just made the choice today to follow Jesus, or if you’re struggling to choose the abundant life, please contact me. thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

If you live in the St. James area, please let the church surround you. Church friends can make such a difference in the life of a Christian. We meet at Crossroads Church 10am every Sunday. 721 Weston Ave. In St. James, MN. ALL are welcome! Visit our facebook page here.

Is Your Iron Sharp?

I recently noticed something. Something big. Something profound. Maybe you’ve noticed this, too… but are you willing to admit it? I recently noticed that it is REALLY easy to see the faults in others while being completely blind to my own faults! GASP!!! I know! I’m in my upper 30s, I can’t believe I’m just now figuring this out! My guess is that you’re like me. That you’ve known this little fact for a while, but you haven’t really given it much thought.

I’m at home all day with the amazing task of teaching 4 children. Kindergarten, first, fifth, and sixth grade. I correct grammar, math problems, behavior and bad attitudes all.the.live.long.day! And sometimes, unfortunately sooner than it should, I become short, frustrated, and sometimes downright unloving. This goes on for some time before my husband comes home. Then my husband walks in, who knows what kind of day he’s had (I mean, I didn’t even ask) but he says one comment in a grumpier-than-I’d-like way and BOOM! I’m all over him! “Why are you short!?” “Why are you so frustrated!?” “Why can’t you be more loving!?” I promise, I don’t really shout this! But I am so quick to see it in him… why was I so unwilling to see it in myself?

I know I’m not alone. I’m a facebook user. I see the “advice-seeker” who posts an issue they’re having, asks advice, but then immediately turns angry when the advice doesn’t go their way. I even have a secret group of pastor’s wives that I’ll take my issues to. But as soon as one of them says something that requires me to look inward at my own bad behavior, I want to high tail it out of there! I’ve even deleted my posts so I don’t have to deal with it (I mean, let’s get real here, right?). It isn’t easy when we are faced with our own sins.

I googled “Why is it so hard to be held accountable?” You can’t even imagine how many responses I got to that question… NONE! Not one!  It’s rare to find someone who truly wants to be held accountable. We may SAY we want it. But our actions tell a completely different story. I tell my husband many times a year, “Honey, please talk me off this ledge! Please remind me of my goals of being a loving parent in the midst of my knit picking and nagging.” Then I wonder why he isn’t quick to do so after I bite his head off for not agreeing with me that whistling is the root of all evil. (Oh, have I never mentioned my hatred of whistling and how quickly it makes my blood boil in anger??? Maybe another blog post…). We say we want to be held accountable, but we actually hate correction. I believe this to be one of Satan’s most successful tools. If we can fight against correction, we can turn a blinds eye to the sin that is so easily visible to those close to us.

The word “accountability” isn’t found in the Bible. But the concept is all over the place.  In Hebrews the Author says,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -Hebrews 10:23-25

The author knows that in order to hold on to our hope without wavering, we’re going to need each other to stir one another up. This is the purpose of gathering together on a regular basis. Our relationships are so important in this process. This is accountability!

To stir up can be translated urge, spur on, or motivate. It can also mean to provoke or irritate. Have you ever tried to cheer up a really grumpy person? It can be downright irritating! It’s not always easy, even when the accountability is coming in an encouraging way. However, this is needed for us to be at our best spiritually. Done right, accountability can be and should be encouraging. The word “encourage” means to call someone to your side in order to strengthen them with your words; it can refer to a variety of encouraging speech: instructing, comforting, admonishing, warning, urging, begging, and consoling. Whatever it takes to pull a friend from the dangers of sin.

I would expect my husband to remove a knife from my hand if I were about to harm myself with it. I would actually feel unloved if he sat back and did not act quickly when he could clearly see I was hurting myself. So why do I feel so attacked when he steps in to lovingly warn me about the sin I’m involving myself in? Done the correct way, accountability should encourage you to choose a more godly path in life. Galatians 6:1-2 says, Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

If God is telling  a person to help restore a friend, He must expect that friend to receive the restoration. Just imagine the change that can come to your life if you’d receive the correction as a blessing instead of an offense. We are to bear one another’s burdens. Why not take some off yourself and let someone help you with it? Sometimes anger is too heavy of a burden to bear, Confess your sins, and let someone pray for you and hold you accountable (James 5:16). Gossip is a hard habit to break. Ask some friends to stop you before you sin against another person, causing both them and you harm. Depression is a dark hole to get lost in, connect with a friend who won’t leave you alone even when you withdraw. Help a friend help you.

Being held accountable isn’t always easy. It isn’t always comfortable. It isn’t always painless. We are called to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16). Admonish isn’t a pleasant word. It means to warn or reprimand someone firmly. Firmly, not harshly. As grown adults (and I guess even as children), we don’t like to be told what to do. Somehow we thought that when we became adults we could do whatever we wanted and no one could tell us what to do! And yet… The Bible tells us that we should admonish one another. I’m sure many of us read that and allow it to give us permission to rebuke others. That’s easy. But what about when you’re the person who needs the rebuke?

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17). Are you sharpened or do you live in a dull state with no desire to live up to your full potential? Try cutting a tomato with a dull knife. It’s a mess. And so is life when we refuse correction. Would you take this sharpening journey with me? Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell them to be loving, but to correct you on the sin you’re struggling with. And then actually receive the correction. Pray over it, and make the necessary changes in your life. Don’t let your pride ruin your walk with God.

There is no need to be around toxic people who correct, rebuke, and admonish out of mean spirits and divisive intentions. There are people like this lurking behind every corner. They are not there to encourage you, but rather point out your faults, push you down, and walk away. Search for those with their hands outstretched in love pulling you up. Choose a person that loves you, and loves what God could do in your life. Ask someone to come along side you  in order to strengthen you with their words. And then pray for the humble spirit to take their encouragement and grow closer to God.

 

Church is a great place to find this kind of friend. I’d love to invite you to visit us on Sundays at 10a at Crossroads Church in St. James, MN. 721 Weston Ave. Make plans to visit with a friend, I’ll save you a seat!
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Don’t Give Up

screenshot-2017-02-20-at-11-20-32-amWe’ve been struck by Influenza A. It wasn’t so bad, fevers, sleepy. But then it turned into coughs and runny noses. Friday night I took our 5-year-old in with a temp of 105! He has double ear infection and bronchitis. His 3 hour stretch in the ER kept me from my pre-overnight shift nap. Oh well. So after working my overnight, I stayed up to wait for the pharmacy to open and get him his med. Then slept about 3 hours and got up for our day. By 11 that night I was struggling to stay away and finally fell asleep on the couch. About an hour later I woke up to my husband clutching and rubbing his chest. He was having pretty bad chest pains. I ran to the cupboards and found one measly little baby aspirin. A whole 81mg! made him chew it, and woke my 12-year-old up gave him Dad’s phone and then headed to the ER. Praise God he had pneumonia, not a heart attack. So we leave the ER with the instructions “NO WORK TOMORROW, PASTOR!”. On our 3 minute drive home I convince my husband that I had a sermon tucked away that I could write out and that we could do CD for worship and all would be fine. 3:30 and I started writing out my notes, bed at 5:30, up to preach at 7:30. I LOVED what God did! I love that  God equips those He calls. So I put that to the test when God gives mamas babies, he lowers her need for sleep! haha (don’t get me wrong, we NEED sleep, but God helps us function on little sleep a lot!). So I preached. One of my favorite things to do… and so you may not get Pastor’s notes this week… but you’ll get mine!

The Book of Hebrews was written to a people who were about 40 years removed from Christ’s life. And as we’ve been learning through Pastor’s sermons, the Israelites have a hard time remaining faithful even for a short time.  However, these Jewish Christians are only a living generation from walking with Jesus, and already the writer is encouraging them to run the race, stay the course, and not fall away. They are slipping, and in a very dangerous way.

Who among us needs encouragement? I’m raising both hands here! When the world’s messes are delivered on our doorsteps each morning, on our computer screens, or scrolling across the bottom of a newscast, it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to join in with the world’s anger and hatred and get discouraged… maybe even begin to turn away. We need some encouragement.

With little time to prepare the message, it’s great to open the Word of God and have a sermon right in front of you. So although I won’t have the notes on the screens like Pastor does, you’ll have my sermon notes right in front of you if you open to Hebrews 3 and 4.

Let’s start by reading Hebrews 3:1-2

Because Jesus is our High Priest, we actually can learn something about ourselves here. To know that we belong to such an amazing God reminds us that there’s hope! We’re put on the most amazing team, our partner is Jesus… THE SON OF GOD!

Think carefully about that. When you’re discouraged and weary, think about this Jesus we declare as God!
When a spouse isn’t a believer and we don’t have Christian support at home– Think of who your partner is!
When sickness keeps us from feeling ourselves– Think about the healer you’ve partnered with!
When you work hard but feel undervalued– Remember that God sent you a high priest as your PARTNER! The highest of high has chosen YOU!

Now, that is meant to encourage you, but this knowledge also is a challenge. We must give honor to this high priest we’ve been given, And we need to submit to Him, something not so easy to do.

The Jewish Christians were beginning to stray just as the Israelites did so many times as they wandered their way through to the promise land. The writer here brings Moses up. Maybe the pastor of their time was also walking through the scriptures and was right about where we are in Pastor’s sermons… He mentions Moses. Hebrews 3:3-7

One of the worst compliments you can give a photographer is, “Wow! You’re camera takes amazing photos! What model is that, if I had a good camera and photoshop, I could save tons of money!”
Heaven forbid it has anything to do with the good shot the photographer craned her neck to get. I mean, it couldn’t be that the photographer who is laying on the ground to get the perfect lighting of your grumpy baby smiling for that very split second actually has an eye for things. No, definitely, photoshop that does that. (Enter eye-roll and sarcasm). These Jewish Christians were upholding Moses, but missing the lighting behind him– GOD! God was the reason Moses was who he was. Yes, Moses was great but he pointed to the Master.

When we, like the early Christians here, lose sight of that Master, the builder of our lives, we’re going to get discouraged. When we focus on whether or not our candidate won the election or whether our neighbor loves the candidate that did win and we take our eyes off the Supreme Authority– Anger will begin to take the place of contentment and our standing with God will become shaky. When our focus is more on the job that we weren’t offered and less on the One who gives security– We’ll begin to doubt God’s provision for us, and unbelief sets in.  When we take our eyes off the builder of our faith and sift it to ANYTHING else, we will lose our courage and confidence and our overall hope in Christ. That is why the holy Spirit says… Hebrews 3:7-12

“BE CAREFUL!!! Make sure that your OWN hearts are not evil and unbelieving TURNING YOU AWAY FROM THE LIVING GOD!

Sin is all around. We brush elbows with it each and every day… we aren’t perfect, we sin, too. You’d be hard pressed to find a T.V. show that isn’t compromising to some degree. The news can lean so far in one direction that sometimes it’s not good for our spiritual walk to even watch it! Relationships can pull us in directions that aren’t always glorifying to God. We’re pulled away on social media, magazines, top selling novels… but none of those are excuses for the fact that we are in charge of our own hearts. It’s OUR hearts that we allow to grow evil and unbelieving, and if we don’t get it under control, we’ll slowly turn away from God.

Unbelief and sin is deceitful. When we are unbelieving, when we fail to trust God at his word, and/or we fail to act in a way that shows God is who He says He is, we don’t simply stop believing. We actually start believing something else. We start believing lies.

  • God can’t help me pay this mound of bills!
  • God will never fix this broken relationship!
  • My addiction is bigger than God!
  • God is not who he says He is!

Lie, lie, lie, LIE! So… we must be warned– While it is still today. Keep reading Hebrews 3:13-19

If those walking to the Promise Land, with daily reminders of God’s provision through manna, and could hear God’s voice and rebel… We can, too! We can let our discouragement turn to disbelief and our disbelief turn to sin and we can let our sin keep us from God.

Unbelief kept an entire generation that escaped Egypt and wandered the desert out of Canaan. It’ll do the same for us if we keep it up! We’ll wander this Earth all for nothing… worse… all for Hell!

But there’s Good news. Hebrews 4:1-3
God’s rest, Heaven, is our rest! Oh how Great! A place to rest from sorrow, from pain, from disappointment, from ridicule. A.place.to.rest! I don’t know about you, but I could use some rest (read my first paragraph!!!)

Hebrews 4:6-11

Ok, GREAT! We’ve established that life is exhausting, discouraging, weighs us down. We’ve acknowledged that all this in life causes us to lose faith, live in sin and come close to missing out on heaven (if not completely)– GREAT! What a great message, Stevie! When’s Pastor coming back!? This is pretty dreary! I mean, I want that rest…
But wait… you have the sermon notes… read on. Hebrews 4:12-13

Oh! Good… much bett…. wait, what? What does the Word of God have to do with my discouragement and wavering faith!? I want to know how to keep my faith strong, how do we stay out of discouragement and sin? The answer is simple… to realize HOW POWERFUL the Word of God is!

My kids (almost) 12, 10, 7, and 5 have read through the Bible a least twice (the older ones maybe more). Front to back! A couple of weeks ago we finished reading Revelations and so the next day when I called them all down, “Bible reading!” my 5-year-old says, “But mom! We finished that yesterday!!!” Oh my little bambino! One does not simply FINISH the Bible! That’s like saying no thanks to dinner, “I ate last week, I’m good!”

The Word of God is POWERFUL! It digs down to our innermost thoughts and desires. Want to stop getting discouraged, let the living word of God cut between your soul and spirit, and expose you to God and hold you accountable!
Want to trust God to provide? Read about the woman who only had enough flour and oil for one last meal, shared it with Elijah and her jar never went empty.
Want to feel like an overcomer? Read about Moses defeating the Amalekites simply by raising his hands up to the Lord (then try that in your own battles!)
Feeling alone? Read how God himself goes before you, never leaving or forsaking you!
Feeling bound in chains? Read how a little praise and worship SET PRISONERS FREE!!!!!
Want to replace anger with joy? Read about the Love Jesus had for those who plotted to kill Him.. He gives His life up for them, he Loved them (and YOU) so!
Want to feel valued? Finish this life-giving chapter with me! Hebrews 4:14-16

A preacher can not make the Bible come alive! The Bible makes the preacher come alive! I praise God we attend a church that preaches the Word of God. I am so thankful that we have a pastor who pours over the Word. He preaches with such gusto… not because he’s bringing life to the Word, but because we have a pastor who LOVES the Word of God and that Word brings Pastor ALIVE (*** When preaching this the congregation was almost in a standing ovation… I wish my hubs could have seen the love these people have for the Word and for a preacher who preaches it!)
The Word of God will bring YOU alive, as well… as long as you’ll receive it!

Because God has given us a High Priest in Jesus we CAN RECEIVE IT! Let’s hold firmly to what we believe and we believe that He understands, he’s been in our shoes, and he still offers. It’s up to us to receive it. Praise God we can come boldly, We can come get renewed, encouraged, and cleansed.

We open the alters for prayer after the sermons for the church to respond to the message God has given. You may be reading on your break, or before bed… still I invite you to reflect, to begin praying and find the mercy and grace to help you where you need it most.

I’m believing in God’s healing touch and believe pastor will be behind the pulpit again next week. Please join us. The Israelites are getting so close to that promise land… I can’t wait for that sermon!!! If you are in the St. James area, please join us at Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave at 10 am each Sunday. I’ll save you a seat!

The Distracted Worshiper

It happened on Sunday. I could feel myself in deep deep worship. I knew from practice that we were going to sing one of my favorite songs and I had already made a commitment to press in. The first song was in full swing but as I tried to read along with the words on the screen (that I actually don’t NEED to read, I know the song) I notice that the words are lagging, or missing, and I gently leave my seat and head back to my lovely 11-year-old who is eagerly serving in church as the computer guy. He shrugs (whatever that means) and the words miraculously seem to be on time and correct.

Then the 2nd song comes on. I close my eyes, focus on God, and BAM… I can hear my 7 and 5 year olds singing with all their hearts. I keep my eyes close but I stop singing, I HAD to listen to their sweet sweet voices. Seriously, ya’all… there is nothing so near to a mama’s heart than when you hear your kids worshiping! NOTHING!

Then my song was on. I was determined to be zoned out focusing on nothing but my God. I was planning on entering into the holy of holies singing my heart out. “Singing as one.. Hallelujah… holy holy, God almighty, the GREAT I AM”… I was belting it! I didn’t care that my friend was standing next to me. I didn’t care if the front row could hear me although I was sitting in the back row. I just sang. At times I just laughed, I smiled so big there was no room for words. I let my emotions go and I WORSHIPED!

I’m a mom of 4. Worship hasn’t come easily to me since having my first child almost 12 years ago. I was raised in a church that valued worship. We served in churches that exalted worship to amazing levels. Then I had children. There’s something built into a mother that doesn’t allow her to close both eyes at once unless her children are sleeping safe in their beds. Since our kids have always been in the worship (songs) portion of the service with us, worship changed for me. *side note… I’m a HUGE advocate of families worshiping together in the same room at church. Kids can go for their own lesson, but if they can stay with their parents during worship… ohh, mama… amazing things can happen!*

Worship with a baby can be touching, but that baby may not feel as into the atmosphere as you are, and may just mess their pants right as you try to enter in. And sometimes the smell overrides your desire for uninterrupted worship. Sometimes a 2-year-old HAS to go potty just at the perfect song. Sometimes the 3 and 4-year-old who chose to dance (awww, how sweet) are now rolling down the aisle in an all out WWF Wrestling match. And sometimes, right when you think your kids are at the right age (almost 12, 10, 7, and 5) you can close your eyes and experience an amazing time of corporate worship.

Here’s the thing: during my amazing time of corporate worship, my mama eye would not stay closed, so I peeked to make sure my 5-year-old was still standing close by. He was, and his eyes were closed and he was worshiping… I think. His little eyes were squeezed shut, his head was swaying from side to side, his hands were waving… oh, it was so adorable… then… then… HE.LICKED.THE.PEW! Yes, HE.LICKED.THE.PEW! I don’t know about your church, but this is not a normal worship practice at our church.

But I had a choice. Would I let that take me completely out of my time of worship. It was quite the struggle, but I just closed my eyes, lifted my hands said, “Lord protect him from whatever disease could be resting there” and continued singing “Who is worthy, none beside Thee…God Almighty, the great I am”

You see the only perfect worship atmosphere is the one in which hearts are willing to shut out all around them and truly decide to enter in. I’m going through a learning process right now where my key word is “Choice”. I’m learning that if I want it (and God wants it) I must make choices to get me that thing that I want (IF God wants it). A lot depends on our choices, more than we want to admit.

If we want to draw near, we must say yes to Him, and that means that we say no to everything else. Even if that does mean we let our 5-year-old lick germ-infested pews in an effort to get more from God.

Happy Worshiping, Friends!

Fix Your Eyes Upon

I just finished a personal study of the book of Hebrews. Although SO many lessons can be learned from this chapter, one I’ve been mulling over was presented to me again in my husband’s sermon yesterday (Of course, you can find that awesome sermon here).

Although the book of Hebrews was later broken up into different chapters and verses for our study purposes, it wasn’t originally written that way. So the book can and does flow from topic to topic but with many connections throughout. Fixing your eyes on Jesus, the one who initiates and perfects your faith, is one of those topics.

It’s amazing what can happen when we do such a thing. When we decide to take our eyes away from our current circumstance and give things over to God.

There are times kids are fighting, babies are crying, husbands are sick, jobs are draining, life is HARD. Those times seem to take over. They weigh us down. They cloud our minds, they steal our joy. One after another and our positive visibility is at an all time low.

Herbrews 12 starts out by saying Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith {This was presented in Hebrews 11}, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Do we think those mentioned in Hebrews 11 (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses’ mother, MOSES, Rahab, Gideon… David… and a few more) didn’t deal with issues that seemed to weigh down, cloud their minds, try to steal their joy? Yet, their examples are there to show us we don’t have to succumb to the pressure to give up. Instead, we can use their examples of how to overcome! Their faithfulness makes our faith a little easier to live out. So now, we can throw off all the things that are holding us back.

It’s obvious to most that sin will hold us back… it so easily ensnares and all, but what about that earlier phrase… “Every weight that slows us down” Of course sins do that… but the word “especially” shows us that there are things that maybe aren’t sins that are weighing us down. These things may be part of what is stealing our joy.

Please know that kids will fight, babies will cry, husbands will get sick (some even can become VERY sick), and jobs can be draining. And we can’t just ditch them. That’s not the answer. So since we know that we can’t get rid of those things, we have to look for things we can get rid of. Can we implement a new rule for our family? Can we nap with baby? Can we look for a better job? Maybe? But we CAN get a new attitude. We can fix our eyes on Jesus, know that He pulled the heroes of the Old Testament through, and bank on the fact that He’ll pull us through as well. We know that God considered those mentioned in Hebrews 11 triumphant, and he wants us to be, too. He wants us to run the race with endurance.

We all have a race to run. But it’s our OWN race. God calls us to finish it with joy. We will have to deal with the things of life, but we are responsible for our own joy. (Even when we fall into trials of all kinds…) We have to choose the joy in the midst of… well… LIFE. A race isn’t a race if you sit in the starting blocks and refuse to run. You can’t just sit in your unhappiness with your eyes fixed on every joy sucking event that occurs (and seriously, some struggles are much larger than others). Are you only focusing on the current discomfort, and not looking at the future victory in God? If so, look at the finish line… and start running! This race will only be won with endurance.

Endurance is determination,  unhurrying  yet undelaying, which goes steadily on and refuses to be deflected.

HOW? I mean, how do we refuse to let misery set in? Sometimes life is just THAT hard. And, I think Jesus understands that… actually I KNOW He does… Read further.

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.  After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Jesus faced a much bigger “joy killer”. He faced death… on a cross… in front of everyone… naked! He faced mockery, hatered from people around him… a hostile work place if you will. And if you can realize this, you can keep from becoming weary and giving up. You’ve made it this far!

Can I ask that you look just a tiny bit further in this passage…  “And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children?”  Much difficulty in our Christian life can be traced back to those 3 words: “Have you forgotten”. Perhaps it is some principle we remember in our minds, but our hearts have FORGOTTEN. Have you forgotten that you are a child of God? That he WILL bring you through? Let your joy focus on THAT! On Jesus and what He has already done for you and what he is surely going to do as you endure this race ahead of you.

*I’d be wrong if I took that first part of the verse out of it’s full context… it does go on to talk about God disciplining those He loves, and to be honest, although this isn’t the point of my writing today, it is possible you are experiencing hardships and misery because of the sin that you’ve gotten yourself entangled in. And if that’s the case, my point still stands… FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS, who initiated your faith, and perfects it. He will walk you out of it.

We go through difficult times, and we can get discouraged, but we need to turn our eyes to God! Do not get bogged down by the troubles of today, know that there is victory and salvation from these difficult times in the future! (From pastor’s sermon)

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This song ran through my head the entire time I typed… I HAD to go look it up and let this repeat through and through.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

The Word of God is Not Dead

In my walk with God, I stumble. I mess up, I react too quickly, I offend at times. I find myself asking for forgiveness more and more the closer I walk with Christ. And that’s a good thing. I’m currently digging into Hebrews, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I am underlining like mad, I’m taking notes, and I’m TRYING to live by it. I’d like to share a bit of my Bible study with you today.

Reading your Bible is THE best way to learn how to live the life God wants you to live. It is flawless, intuitive, and POWERFUL! It is addictive! I want to encourage you to read it daily. No need to go super fast, just start reading. Take notes, underline, share, and grow.

These aren’t my words below, I’m copying and pasteing directly from my favorite Bible study website. You can find these exact notes here on blueletterbible.org.  I love to study using David Guzik’s Bible Study. I’m hoping I’m giving the proper bibliography here so credit goes where it’s due. My only additions are the bold print. But I want you to see the 25 amazing things this Word of God is… It’s life changing!
Need success? The Word of God.
Need a counselor? The Word of God.
Need strength? The Word of God.
Need Life? The Word of God.
Need peace? The Word of God.
Need power? The Word of God.
Need faith? The Word of God.
Need assurance? The Word of God. 
Need growth? The Word of God.
Need ETERNAL LIFE???? The word of God.

  1.  God’s word brings true health, fruitfulness, prosperity and success to the things we do. (Psalm 1:3)
  2. The word of God has healing power; it has the power to deliver us from oppression. (Psalm 107:20, Matthew 8:8, Matthew 8:16)
  3. God’s word is cleansing – if we take heed according to God’s word, our way will be cleansed. (Psalm 119:9, John 15:3, Ephesians 5:26)
  4. The word of God, hidden in our hearts, keeps us from sin. (Psalm 119:11)
  5. God’s word is our counselor; as we delight in God’s word, it becomes a rich source of counsel and guidance for us. (Psalm 119:24)
  6. God’s word is a source of strength. (Psalm 119:28)
  7. God’s word imparts life to us. It is a continual source of life for us. (Psalm 119:93, Matthew 4:4)
  8. God’s word is a source of illumination and guidance to us. When God’s word comes in, so does light; it makes the simple wise and understanding. (Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:130)
  9. God’s word gives peace to those who love it; they are secure, standing in a safe place. (Psalm 119:165)
  10. When the word of God is heard and understood, it bears fruit. (Matthew 13:23)
  11. The word of God has inherent power and authority against demonic powers. (Luke 4:36)
  12. Jesus Himself – His eternal person – is described as the Word. When we are into the Word of God, we are into Jesus. (John 1:1)
  13. Hearing God’s Word is essential to eternal life – you cannot pass from death into life unless you have heard the Word of God. (John 5:24, James 1:21, 1 Peter 1:23)
  14. Abiding – living in – God’s Word is evidence of true discipleship. (John 8:31)
  15. God’s Word is the means to sanctification. (John 17:17)
  16. God can do dramatic works with the Holy Spirit as His Word is being preached. (Acts 10:44)
  17. Hearing God’s Word builds faith in us. (Romans 10:17)
  18. Holding fast to the Word of God can give us present assurance of salvation. (1 Corinthians 15:2)
  19. The faithful handling of the Word of God gives the ministers of the Word a clear conscience – they know that they have done all they can before God. (2 Corinthians 4:2, Philippians 2:16)
  20. The Word of God is our sword of the Spirit – it is our equipment for spiritual battle, especially in the idea of an offensive weapon. (Ephesians 6:17)
  21. The Word of God comes with the power of the Holy Spirit – with “much assurance” – and critical aspect of the ministry of the Word. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
  22. The Word of God works effectively in those who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)
  23. The word of God sanctifies the very food we eat! (1 Timothy 4:5)
  24. The word of God is not dead; it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. The word of God can probe us like a surgeon’s expert scalpel, cutting away what needs to be cut and keeping what needs to be kept. (Hebrews 4:12)
  25. The word of God is our source of growth. (1 Peter 2:2, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

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Source of the 25 listed: https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Hbr/Hbr_4.cfm

The Death of a Dream

Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you scrolled through your Facebook news feed and found yourself angry, shocked, ashamed, frustrated, outraged or/and flabbergasted at what you saw? How many of you rolled your eyes at least 5 times? So of those who raised their hands (and those rebellious ones who agreed but didn’t physically comply) were you able to control your emotions and reply in a polite manner? Or did you lash out and begin on a tirade of name calling, belittling, and maybe even slip in some curse words? So, how’s that work for you?

Hey, I get it, I’ve been there. I’ve WANTED to say things I know God would not be proud of. I’ve hit the delete button many times, I may have even let a few posts get posted and I’m not proud of that. I’m actually very ashamed of myself after doing it, and most of the time I have to go back and delete my rude comments. Our society has become rage-filled and filter-free. We’re angry. We’re angry because our candidate didn’t win. We’re angry because we feel our rights are violated. We’re angry because our voices aren’t heard. We’re angry because our neighbor went gluten-free and didn’t accept our homemade bread! We’re angry because someone didn’t agree with our thoughts. And we lash out! We forget our manners and hide behind a computer screen and we call people small. We insult their intelligence. We spew hate and add insult to injury in this hate-filled world.

But what does God say? Do you care? I’m raising my hand over here! I care! I want to glorify God. I want to show Him to be the loving God that he is. I WANT to be an imitator of Him. Even when I mess up, I want to do better. Do you?

Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

We don’t like the word ‘Judgment’ but there it is, right there in the Bible. And we’re liable. Pastor’s sermon (the notes are here) reminded us that all of our emotions need to be subjected to the authority of the Holy Spirit. We cannot let our emotions go unchecked and do whatever.  We can not see that political post (dietary post, silly meme… or whatever ruffles your feathers) and allow our fingers to spew every ungodly thought we have in our heads.  Of course you CAN… but should you? 1 Corinthians 6:12, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.”

Unchecked emotions can damage others, and damage us. It can hurt our reputation, and for Christians (I’m even sad that we have to be reminded of this), it can hurt our witness.

I asked my kids the other day, “What is the number one thing we, as christians, should be doing?” Without skipping a beat, my 11, 10, 7, & 5-year-old answered, “Glorify God, and try to help others do the same” (It was a proud moment for this mama!) If they get it, why is it so hard for us adults? One of the most glorifying things we can do for God is to point others to Him.

So when you type things like that belittle, insult, and increase the hate, are you benefiting anyone? Are you making things better? Are you then able to point that person to Jesus? If you have to say no to those questions, can I ask that you utilize your delete button? Can I beg of you to back away from your screen and seek God instead? Can I pray with you that we begin to shed off the anger and start producing the righteousness that God desires (You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. James 1:19,20).

Your dream (whether it be a different president, different policy, different neighbor, or whatever) may be dead, but you aren’t! Live! And live in love!

**This is part of my takeaway from Pastor’s sermon yesterday. His notes are on his page, please head over and take a look. hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com Follow him if you’d like each week’s sermon. But if you’re in the area, please join us next Sunday at 10 am! I’ll save you a seat! Crossroads Church, 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN

Completely Surrounded

So, Moms, have you ever had a kid who was just a tad bit too quiet. As much as you wanted to bask in the silence, you just KNEW it was not a good sign. So you slowly begin to search for your child… and as you turn the corner, you see it… Your child is covered in________. Whether it be the diaper cream, powder, planting soil, or, ehem, diaper mess. We’ve all been there. I always pray it’ll be a flowery smelling lotion… it was usually lipstick, or cologne I should have thrown away the minute my husband got it. But you look and think, “How am I going to clean this mess up!?”

That is the way many of us in ministry look at the world. We go into ministry with a desire to change the world, but we end up covered in the “mess” wondering how we’re ever going to get it all clean. We’re weighed down and tired, and we contemplate just staying within our homes, where it’s “clean”. However, Viewing the world from the perspective of God will draw out humility and compassion from us. And from God’s perspective, none of us are clean, but He knows how to get us there!

My husband started a sermon series in January of 2015 on the “Beginning”. He started in Genesis 1 and finished… well, he’s not quite finished. The church began to grow, and many of our members were new to Bible reading. So for them, the history was new and eye-opening. For those who have read their Bibles many times over, it showed how connected the Old Testament is to the New Testament. It’s January 2017 now, and he’s in Numbers… and each week it’s mind-blowing! Yesterday I decided he needed to dust off his own blog and start adding his sermon notes to it each Monday. So, to all my subscribers, or to those who are willing to read when I post on facebook, I’d like to take this time to send you over to my husband’s blog. Please subscribe (or follow… or check back every Monday) to his blog. It may just be his sermon notes (where I’ve added complete sentences), but it also may just change your perspective, and you’ll see yourself begin to LOVE the history of the Bible and it’s applications for us today. My husband is very anointed, and God is using him in a great way in our small town.
So head on over and dig right in, and find out how God can purify us from the sin that we’re bound to get all over us in this life.  You’ll want your Bibles (although I did include the Bible Gateway links)

https://hearitfrompastordave.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/completely-surrounded/