Are You Under Construction?

under

My little town is going through some major construction projects. Almost every road is torn up. We are getting new water pipes (or whatever their called) and roundabouts, and… and … and… Whatever the reason is… the construction is annoying. I can’t go my normal route. And just when I figure out a new way, they tear up that road, too. Construction is not convenient! This picture above is about 50 meters from my front door. And it’s creeping closer. Construction! It’s too close to home! But it is needed. There are huge benefits to getting new water pipes (I hear the old ones were BAD!), and a smoother highway.

I snapped this picture on my walk to church last Sunday. It reminded me of the lesson I was teaching in our Sunday School class.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says speaking about how different Christians should be, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, the new life has begun.”

These roads they are working on… they are GONE! They aren’t filling in some pot holes, they are digging up the old, and laying down the new. They’re new shapes, different sizes, and hopefully altogether BETTER!

When we become Christians we need to be changed! Our lives need to go through a major overhaul. Earlier in 2 Corinthians, Paul reminded the Corinthians that they should have died to their old selves and old lives and that they should no longer live for themselves, instead they will live for Christ, who died for them. He challenged them, and us, to change our hearts and minds because now we KNOW God and should act accordingly. We are a new person, the old life is gone… Has your new life begun?

Being a new creation doesn’t mean that we are perfect. It means that we are changed and that we are being changed. When a Christian becomes a Christian they are changed in that instant. However, if that’s all the change that happens… it’s not enough. 

Our street has had potholes for the entire time we’ve lived here. They come and put some filler in it, pat it down and tada… it’s still a pot hole, it’s just a filled in pot hole. It takes about 3 months and the road is just where it was before. There was no major work done, and the fix only “fixed” it for a short time. It’s a never-ending job!

The same with our lives. We must be under construction on a continuous basis. No matter what state you live in there will be a running joke that says something along the lines of ” In (Insert your state here) there are two seasons… Winter and Construction” I’m not sure what the southern states say other than winter, but we can all agree that Construction is a never-ending project. I hope you can see where I’m going here…

When God is the Lord of your life, your life should be a never-ending construction zone.

This is not just “turning over a new leaf” or “getting our act together”. It is a continuous process that occurs in a Christian’s life. If we are not allowing this in our Christian lives, we are in a bad way. Have you ever run over pot hole after pot hole after pot hole on a road unattended???? This IS how your life is when it goes untouched by God.

In Ephesians 4: 22-24 we are told to put off . . . the old man and to put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness

If we look the same as we did before we became a Christian, it’s time to ask God to begin construction in your life. If you look the same as you did a year ago in your walk with God… you’re already well overdue for some major construction.

Construction isn’t comfortable. It can even be annoying. But God isn’t content with you staying where you are… and neither should you be.

I expressed to my Sunday School class that as a mother of young children (and one almost teenager), I feel challenged on a regular basis to do better. I’m being watched. And sometimes mimicked. So I have these 4 reflections of myself running around, and more times than not, it’s not what I want to see. So I seek God and I seek to change those sins. If I’m struggling with anger towards my kids, or a critical spirit, or apathy, or complacency… whatever bad habit I see in myself, I begin to pray. I pray that kindness would prevail, that my perspective would change, that passion is restored, or that God would give me motivation. I pray and I seek Him. I read His word, I look for specific scriptures to aid in my change. I read articles from other trusted Christians who have been there. I listen to sermons… and I go back to pray. I begin to use my self-control so I can put into practice what I’m learning. Why? Because I know that if I don’t let the construction happen, I’ll be no better than a crumbled road that’s been untouched for years, crumbling far beyond recognition. If I want to be used, I must undergo the work it takes. I can’t just keep going my normal route, God needs to put detours in my way so I can finally get on the right track with Him and those around me.

This “lesson” had been on my heart for a few weeks before I spoke to my Sunday School class about it, and isn’t this just God, that morning, my husband preached along the same lines. He doesn’t share his sermons with me, and I prefer it that way. So when I teach in Sunday School, I just LOVE when it lines up with the day’s sermon. **This is another huge indicator that God is trying to do a work in your life… when he repeats the same message in different ways in a short span of time**

So Pastor spoke continuing in his journey through the Bible on Joshua 1. He spoke about how our nation can honor God. This is the best part of the sermon…

“Our nation is not going down the tubes because Trump is president, or because Obama was president. Our nation is not going down the tubes because congress drags its collective foot in getting things done. Our nation is not going down the tubes because the Supreme Court makes decisions we don’t agree with. Our nation is not going down the tubes because ungodly groups seem to have such power and notoriety.
Our nation is going down the tubes because millions of so-called Christians are content with simply showing up to Sunday morning service. Our nation is going down the tubes because millions of so called Christians don’t want to read, meditate and act on the word of God. Our nation is going down the tubes because millions of so called Christians don’t want to live in the power of the Spirit. Our nation is going down the tubes because millions of so called Christians don’t want to be holy… or different from those who don’t believe and follow Jesus Christ.
Our nation needs to see miracles. Our nation needs to see Christians act differently than the rest of the nation. Our nation needs revival, and this isn’t going to happen by an act of Congress or Supreme Court. IT HAS TO HAPPEN IN EACH OF US!!!”

Change starts in US. We all can agree that our nation, our schools, our town, our family needs to change… but we have to believe that the change starts in us. And we need to be seeking out that change. We need to start asking God to change us, to show us where he’d like to fine tune us, what pot holes he’d like to fill, and if need be, where he can begin the demolition process of our construction.

Very quickly, and simply (although not all our changes may be simple…) Here are your 3 steps to begin that change…

1.  Screenshot 2017-07-03 at 3.03.08 PMRead your Bible! Read it so much that it becomes part of your conversation. Joshua says to not let it depart from your mouth.

2. Put it into your mind. Meditate on it day and night. Think about what you’ve read and how you can put it into practice… because… See #3

3. DO WHAT IT SAYS. The Bible has SO much to it, that each time you read it, you should be challenged in a new way to change.

We’ll never arrive until we see Jesus face to face! So if your reading this, that means you are not in Heaven… and you are still a candidate for being under construction. So, are you? What holes is God trying to fill in your life? Is God doing something major? Will you allow his bulldozer to come in and tear your old life away and lay down a new one? It may be hard, require a new path, or be down right annoying as you try to figure out this new route God is leading you on… But it is needed. There are huge benefits to getting a new life, and a smoother life at that.

 

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Raising Arrows

Arrows come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. They can be different, look different, have various purposes. They can have plastic vanes, actual feathers. They can have an arrow head made of stone, metal. Arrows can vary in length. They can even have completely different designs specific for target shooting, competitions, or hunting…. And even then more specific to WHAT kind of hunting. Fish aren’t going to need the same arrow makeup of that arrow used to hunt say a bear.

However, they are all alike in their basic design. Each one has been crafted and carefully fashioned, molded and balanced. They ALL are intended for flight, that ALL are created to hit a target and they ALL are intended for maximum impact on that target.

This Father’s Day I want to talk to you about arrows every dad has in his life.

The Bible says, 

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children on one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them,” Psalm 127:3-5

 

Each and every father, and each mother pulling double duty in dad’s place has an arrow or two (or 3, or 4, or 5…) they are all different from one another. They all have different looks, different personalities, but they are also very similar in the way that each of them were fashioned and crafted by God and each of them should be molded and balanced and readied for flight from our home.

Children, like arrows, are meant to be handcrafted and eventually released. If they aren’t’ crafted well, they won’t shoot straight. And if they aren’t released they’ll never hit their target. Dads with kids at home, it’s reality– one day these kids of yours will be aimed and released out into the world. I spoke to a friend about this earlier last week and she told me she wasn’t coming to hear my message when I preached this to our church if I was going to insist on reminding her that her little girl would one day leave the house and move on… Well, I searched for the right words to soften the blow.. But when it comes down to it, we just can’t stop the inevitable, so in the meantime, we need to equip them for that moment they head out to find their target! We have to choose now to be intentional in order to equip them for that journey.

There’s a broad spectrum here. You have some parents who lack intention. They have a full quiver but the arrows are just a bunch of sticks. They are un-carved arrows with knots of bad habits, and rough attitudes. They are crooked and unpolished. So when they are shot out, they waver and falter and fall short of their intended target.

Then you have some parents who are so intentional. They correct grammar and politeness, and posture, and habits and attitudes. They have such sharp pointy straight and smooth arrows. Oh, they have it all together… perfect little mommies and daddies!!! But they have no intention of shooting them out of the quiver. 30 year old Bobby still gets all his meals home-cooked from mommy. Sally dear is still grabbing her allowance from daddy as she goes shopping with her 28 year old friends… This just doesn’t work.  These arrows, like children, need to be shot out into society as sharpened arrows, ready to take on the world and hit the mark…
But who am I kidding, this is a FATHER’S DAY message… Father’s ALWAYS want to shoot the kids out! I have to remind my husband that our son isn’t quite ready at 12 years old!

But in all seriousness if your kids are still at home. The day is coming and we must get them ready. But, don’t fret, if you’ve already shot your kids out of the quiver, praise God you get to sit back and watch them hit their target… but don’t tune me out just yet. You still have a job to do… and we’ll get to that.

When this verse that I read to you earlier was written, men didn’t go to the ammo store and purchase their bullets they were going to use for protection or war or hunting, no they had to fashion their bow and arrows themselves. They had to select a good branch, sand it down until the stick was straight and smooth. Then they found rocks to sharpen to fashion the arrow head. There were no shortcuts. If they wanted to hit the target, they HAD to spend the time to fashion the equipment. These arrows were important, they HAD to be straight, they HAD to be smooth, and they HAD to fly the distance. In the same way that archers fashioned their arrows, parents must equip their children with the skills and disciplines to be effective in life.

Looking at an arrow, you have 4 major parts.

 The Shaft, the Fletching, the Arrow Head, and the Nock. Looking at your child, there are 4 major things it needs to make it into this world and to hit it’s mark. Discipline, Encouragement, God’s Word, and YOU! 

Let’s explore further…

The shaft of an arrow is the long part of the arrow. Every arrow shaft has a degree of stiffness and resistance. So you have to craft it in such a way that will allow it to bend when it needs to bend (as it thrusts out of the bow) and when to bear it’s weight (when it hits it’s target). If they arrow shaft is too thin or too light weight, they can bend in an extreme way resulting in missing the mark.

 Your child needs discipline. Time and time again in the Bible, God speaks through the writers to extend the message to us that we MUST discipline our children. Here’s just a few..

Proverbs 29:15- The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 29:17-Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.-
Disciplining is just as much for you as it is for them… a disciplined child is a peaceful child… come on. We’ve all seen undisciplined children… they’ll have you reaching for the excedrin immediately!

Proverbs 23:13,-Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. **See, it’s right there in the Bible… spanking your kids won’t kill them! HA!

Proverbs 13:24-Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Do you love your kids? Then you need to discipline them… look at this last one

Proverbs 19:18- Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death.

I keep saying that you’ll shoot your kids out to hit the mark. What is that mark? Eternal life. That mark is a life with Jesus! Discipline is the first step to getting there. Discipline your children for it’s the way to show them salvation, and eternal life.

We often tell our children that they need to be obedient to Pastor and me, that being under our roof, and learning to listen and obey is their practice for listening and obeying God. Parents, that means there’s a big job for us! We’re teaching them a skill that will bring ETERNAL LIFE! We must discipline our children.

If the shaft is too weak and too light, it won’t fly straight. Our discipline towards our children need not be too light. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. It does NOT mean ignoring bad behavior… it means CORRECTING IT! It does NOT mean doling out punishments every single time you’re annoyed… it means TRAINING! It’s no easy task, but it’s the one God gave us as parents, and even more specifically gave to fathers.

The fletching on an arrow is the feathers or vanes. This part  creates drag and can help the arrow spin as it soars through the air. It provides the arrow with stability and accuracy in flight. This little part of the arrow can give it a little extra jump out of the bow.

When we discipline our kids we have to do it without provoking them. Ephesians 6:4 says  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:21 says Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

To exasperate means to irritate, to provoke, to pick pick pick pick pick pick. Guys… I love my kids… I love your kids… but man oh man, kids can be SO annoying sometimes! But, that’s in the DNA makeup of kids. Kids will be Kids. yes, we have to discipline, but we must not provoke them in the process. We need to encourage them in the way to go. Tell them you love them, tell them you think they are amazing! Did you notice that both of these verses are to Fathers. Most mothers tend to coddle, to protect their kids feelings. They are more likely to think every little thing is just so cute… Dads… not so much! They have a bigger tendency to be short, and harsh, and say things like, “Suck it up, rub some dirt on it, quit cher belly achin!”
Daddies, your words of encouragement provide stability and accuracy, giving kids a head start as they jump from the “bow” of life. Fathers need to encourage, and not provoke. They need to be loving and involved. Do not embitter your children. Do not push them out with a long list of things to be bitter about.

James Dobson says that Dads are the ones that encourage their kids to try that high dive at the pool. They are the ones that instill in their kids the courage that it takes to venture out and try new things. They are the ones that increase the arrows longevity and help it to go further, The more encouragement they can get, the more umph they receive leaving the bow, just like those feathers… Fathers, encourage your children.

Okay, so what if your husband isn’t reading this, and won’t. What if they don’t do these things? What if they are short and harsh, and abrupt more than they are encouraging? I’ll get into that a bit more in a minute, but let me encourage you now… pray! Pray for your husband to start doing this, and in the meantime, model this behavior for him. Moms can provoke their children, too… Unfortunately I know this first hand!

Next the arrow has an arrow head. Whether it be a craftsman’s arrow head, or a rock carved to a point, these are placed at the end of an arrow shaft and secured in place to penetrate its target. Without this, the arrow may shoot far, it may spin and soar beautifully, but once it gets to the target, it will bounce right off and fall dead to the ground.

You can raise your children to climb the professional ladder, to obtain the highest education with the top of their class. You can raise them to be caring and charitable helping every person they come in contact with…  but if they are not taught the ways of God, His salvation, His word, they will miss the mark.

Speaking about God’s word, Deut 6:7 says,  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Isaiah 54:13 All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace.

Psalm 78:5-7 talks about God telling Jacob to teach his children the word so that the next generation would know it, and then the next. It even talks about reading it to the unborn child! By doing this, the children would put their trust in God and would not forget His ways but would follow the Word.

We must be teaching our children God’s word. We began reading to our kids at a very young age. They’d play on the floor with cars, or dolls. All we asked was that they stay quiet so they could hear the Bible. They may not understand it all the first time, but keep reading and start over when your done and you’ll get through it multiple times as it settles into their hearts. Pause within the reading to explain, ask questions, answer and dig deeper if they want. And remember… ALL scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16). So as you discipline… use the Word of God. As you encourage… use the Word of God, and as you teach God’s way… use the Word of God, it’s all in here!

Lastly, there is a tiny little spot on the back end of the arrow called the nock. It goes unnoticed many times, but it’s a plastic tip on the rear that holds the arrow in position. It’s the part that allows the bow string to rest inside steadying the arrow just before it launches. All the pent-up power in a bow is of no value if it can not be effectively transferred. That’s why every arrow has this small little groove. (Slide 7: Dads, Our kids need YOU) Dads, our kids need the strength, comfort, encouragement, discipline that only a daddy can give. Many moms are forced into that role but in reality, backed by study after study after study they need that anchoring point from their fathers. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. As they grow, they are more sociable. Toddlers with involved fathers are better problem-solvers and have higher IQs by age 3. They are more ready to start school and can deal with the stress of being away from home all day better than children with less involved fathers . Moms who are doing it for dad, good job! But every chance you get to encourage Dad to step up, do it. And every time Dad does step up… back off. Let him set the rules and enforce the rules. Ask his input, involve him as much and as often as you can. And Dads who have been there, help those still at target practice. Titus 2 speaks of older men teaching the younger men. Share your experiences, check up on dads in the trenches and encourage them to do these things for their kids. And yes, Titus 2 also speaks to young men and tells them to listen to those who have gone before! Pastor Dave is an amazing Guy… but even he will admit that he’s not perfect, he is still learning, and would gladly take advice from a dad who has done this before. I do not preach this message because I’ve perfected all things parenting! I have great kids, but their parents fail A LOT!!! We are all still pushing through trying to do the best we can.

But the point of my message today, the reason we have these arrows, why we discipline, why we encourage, why we teach them God’s ways can be perfectly summed up in the Message’s version of Proverbs 22:6

Point your kids in the right direction– when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Letting your kids go can be scary, not just for us, but for them. But if you can equip them, train them, and release them to hit the mark, when they are out on their own they won’t be lost. They’ll know whose they are. They belong to the Lord and will continue following Him.

This verse ends speaking of these children being a man’s protection. Imagine walking this life with all your arrows equipped with the armor of God around you. When you are in trouble, they will be your protection. They’ll cover you in prayer, they’ll bombard heaven on your behalf… the more you send out, the better the prayer protection.

I’m praying for you, Dads! I pray you step up to the plate and prepare your arrows. I pray you steady them, aim them, and shoot them out with eternal life in their path.

Happy Father’s Day!

Dear Guilt, I Quit

Guilt is such a short word for such a heavy burden. Once it’s heaped on, it gets heavier and heavier. It clouds our minds in such a way that begins to hinder our relationships, not just with people around us, but with God. Guilt pulls us to a level where we stop trying, or we try too hard. Guilt pushes us to close ourselves off, or opens us up to blaming others. Guilt is so heavy because it carries so much baggage with it: bitterness, loneliness, comparison, lies, and manipulation.

Let’s make today a new day and say good-bye to guilt.

First of all let’s set some things straight. Guilt is when you have ACTUALLY done something wrong. Specifically it is the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime.

The problem is, that “implied” word. Sometimes people heap guilt onto someone who hasn’t even committed an offense. They accuse, they make snide comments, they throw around expectations that were never supposed to be met. These people work hard at trying to make you feel bad for this “offense”. But an even bigger problem is that we fall for it. We accept their accusations and their comments, and we allow ourselves to feel bad for not meeting their expectations. And we begin to dwell in the burden of guilt.239d1e39fb35431c39079a2e18c635ec

But did you know you don’t have to live in a constant struggle with guilt? Consider this…

Did you actually do something to offend? Did you commit a crime? Did you deliberately hurt someone? Did you accidentally offend?

Sometimes we do. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we have a fender bender (or a full out crash!). Sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us and we act or say things we shouldn’t do or say. Sometimes, we are completely unaware of it, but we hurt those we love.  And in these situations, we are guilty. But we don’t have to walk in guilt. We will mess up, we will offend. But we don’t have to live in a constant state of beating ourselves up. Don’t let guilt strike a blow to your heart.

Guilt isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it shows us where we’ve gone wrong. But once we fix that wrong. The guilt must be gone. Once you’ve apologized and done your part to make amends. You are no longer guilty. The only time you can use the word correctly is to acknowledge that you committed the crime. If you break a vase, you will be guilty of breaking that vase forever. However, you do not have to carry around the feelings of guilt forever. It’s time to say goodbye.

No one can make you FEEL anything… but you. Others can blame you, condemn you, de-friend you, and remind you of your wrong. But that is all they can do. You have to decide what you will do with their actions. Will you add it to the luggage you already carry around, or will you walk in freedom from guilt?

God does not condemn. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So why do we walk in it? Why do we take the sins of others (yes, they are in the wrong, and outside of God’s will, when they do not forgive your wrong doing!) and allow it to drag us down?

Often times we listen to what others are saying and we become offended, bitter, sad and angry. We lash out at others for “making us feel guilty”. But in reality, No one can make you feel guilty. You only allow it. So next time stop and ask yourself, “Did I do something wrong?” “Is God convicting me of something?” “Am I guilty?” “What changes does God want me to make?”

Right your wrong, and walk in freedom.

If you stood a friend up for the 5th time and they just won’t stop talking about how upset they are. Apologize and try to be on time. If they can’t accept that, let that be THEIR problem, not yours. If you tend to be harsh towards your neighbor and God is calling you repent and change your attitude… then change your attitude, be obedient… but don’t walk in condemnation! Did you dent the car? What will guilt do to fix the dent? Yep, NOTHING!

Let conviction draw you closer to God. Rejoice when God points out ways you can improve. Let go of guilt. Quit living under the condemnation of other non-perfect people. There is freedom when you let guilt go.

And all those who LOVE to send people on fantastic guilt trips… STOP! Only the Holy Spirit can convict. It was never our job. If God wants to use you to lead someone to repentance, He will lead you down a gentle and respectful path, one you should tread lightly. Pointing out someone’s faults and mistakes is not of God, and is unbecoming of a decent human being.

As a Pastor’s wife, this is a battle I have to make a conscious decision to fight. I know I don’t do everything right. And I know I will mess up even when I’m trying to do some things right. But all I can do is try harder. I have to remember that I answer to God, and no one else. Guilt is too heavy a burden to bear. Be encouraged to quit. There is a better life to live!

Plug In: Lesson 5 of 5

Wrapping up the 5 lessons I’ve learned in the past 5 years as Pastor’s wife, I’ve saved the best, the most important, for last. In a society where every other article is asking you to unplug, to interact with one another, to build relationships, I want to suggest you draw away and plug in. Not to contradict the sentiments of unplugging, but if we don’t plug in, nothing else will matter.

You see without plugging in, you will never be able to make the changes in your life that God wants you to make (Read more on lesson 1 here).

Without plugging in you will have a much harder time helping the church grow. (See lesson 2 here).

Without withdrawing and plugging in, you may struggle as you face conflict in your relationships. (See lesson 3 here)

And without seeking time to plug in, you may miss your opportunities to point others to Jesus. (See lesson 4 here).

I’m not talking about taking your issues to Facebook, Twitter, or any other form of social media. I’m not advocating calling your best friend for a gab fest (although those can be helpful). I’m talking about prayer. (I’d imagine you already knew that… but play along, will ya?)

Lesson 5: Plug in to God

This is a lesson I’m still learning. I’ve been studying and tweaking my prayer times and the way I pray and I still don’t think I have it down right. Life can get very busy. But, we have to remember that all of us are too busy NOT to pray.

David Jeremiah did a study on the Lord’s Prayer all through the month of May. I highly suggest you go listen. Click the link http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/turning-point/ and search under the archives in the month of May 2017. In this series he tells of a drama his church did to drive the point of prayer home. The drama team had set up a scene of heaven. When a man arrived he saw God standing in a room with a huge filing cabinet with many many  drawers. The man asks God what it is. God replies that each person has a drawer then points out the man’s drawer. It opens, extending very far into the room. The man leans forward in extreme curiosity and asks, “What is all of that!?”

God replies, “Everything I wanted to give you but you never asked to receive”. What a horrible idea to get to heaven and realize all the things that could have been yours had you only sought after the only one that could give.

Prayer is such a powerful thing. It can change us from the inside out, it can turn circumstances that we didn’t think would ever turn around. And it can draw us closer to God in such a powerful way.

If prayer is such an important aspect of life, why is it so hard to make it a daily habit? 

Like I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in church ministry for 20 years. When I was single I did the church’s kids ministry. Once I was married, I helped Pastor in youth ministry. Then we took an associate’s position where we did youth and children’s… but becoming a lead pastor of a small rural church has required us to be children’s, youth, and lead… and it’s SO MUCH MORE than what we’ve ever done before. To be effective, we have to be plugged in to God. We have to withdraw, away from everyone else and spend time in prayer.

As a homeschooling mom of 4 children and a wife of a pastor, some days start and end busy. If I wrote it all down in hourly timeslots, there would be very little time for prayer. However, those days where I fail to make room… those are the days our school days did not go well. Those were the days I snapped at my husband for small infractions. Those are the days that ministry wears me out more than normal. Prayer was needed. Prayer is the fuel that drives everything else we do in life. Without it, we are only operating on a small portion of our potential.

1) Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.
2) Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.
3) Give us this day our daily bread.
4) Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
5) Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
6) For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever AMEN

This prayer lays out all we need in order to get through our day in prayer. When Jesus gave it to us as an example, He did not desire for us to memorize it and recite it… 1 min prayer then be done. Instead he modeled for us the parts of prayer that are important to Him.

The actual amount of time in prayer is between you and God. A mother with a newborn will not have hours of uninterrupted time to devote to prayer, and God understands that. We all have our own unique schedules, personalities, and ways of entering in. But WHAT we pray and HOW we pray is important.

  1. We give honor. We must take time out each day and bring God honor. Our days will lack a closeness to God if we are unwilling to take the time to give honor and glory to one who made the day possible. Putting God in His rightful place reminds us who we live for each day.
  2. We seek His will daily. Ministry is hard. And success is not measured in normal man-made ways. But understanding that God’s will for us and for Crossroads church may not be the same will as the inner-city multi-compass church is golden. You don’t need to worry so much about what God has for someone else, you only need to seek His will for you, here on Earth, as it is in heaven. Heaven is perfect, and so is God’s will for your life. The only difference is in heaven the hindrances are gone. So take time to seek for God’s will for your life, then ask that all those hindrances will be taken care of.
  3. Bring your needs, your wants, your ideas, your fears, your anxieties to God in prayer. And since you JUST prayed for His will not yours, those needs will be met, those wants will be under God’s plan. He will tweak your ideas, He’ll calm your fears, He’ll throw your anxieties as far as the east is from the west! He will give you all you need (and he understands that we are needy people!)
  4. Take time daily confess your sins. Be specific. The more we bring out, the more we are able to confront. Unconfessed sin weighs heavy. Get rid of it, lay it at Jesus’ feet. He already knows your sin and he still chose to die on a cross in order to forgive them!  Then, just as He forgives us, we need to forgive those who have wronged us. What a powerful ministry we can have if we hold no grudges. What a freeing life we will live if we truly have no ill feelings for another person! What a wonderful thing to be forgiven and then extend that forgiveness to others.
  5. The world is unrelenting! There are many things… and people… who do not want you to succeed. Temptation is huge. Every day, we need to be praying that God guides us away from those temptations. The “evil one” is out to kill, and steal, and destroy your life. Sounds dramatic, but little by little he desires to pull you away from God and His plan. We need to be asking God to guide us away from those temptations and away from the evil one.
  6. And then just as we began, we turn it back to how wonderful God is. This is HIS kingdom we live in. This is HIS power that lives within is. And it is for HIS glory that we live this life. And what we pray today, will make an impact forever and ever!

Amen!?

How you pray is up to you. Whether you get up early for some time alone, or you pray every two hours while the baby nurses; Whether you head to your office before all the other employees arrive, or you journal during your lunch break, just make it a daily activity and begin to seek God. The changes you see will shock you!

Myth: God never answers my prayers!

I’ve believed this many times. And there are still some prayers that have not been answered… at least not MY way. But when I read God’s word, it just simply is not true. God DOES hear. There are some circumstances that may hinder (a deliberate sin that you’re aware of but refuse to let go of, or unbelief, or wrong motives), for the most part, the more we pray, the more sin we get rid of, the stronger our belief becomes, and the purer our motives become. So keep seeking, keep knocking, and He WILL answer (even if the answer is no… or wait!)

There is one prayer that is more important than any other prayer you could ever pray and that is the prayer to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. If you have never made a personal decision to follow Jesus, this is the first prayer you need to pray.

You can receive Christ as your Savior right now, this moment! You don’t have to be in a church or special place, or have the help of a minister or priest. You can pray now, wherever you are. God is listening. Tell Him in your own words that you are sorry for your sins and that you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask God to help you change your heart and life. It’s your prayer He wants to hear. You can pray the following prayer, but it is not enough just to say the words. You must mean it from your heart:

“God, I know I have sinned. I believe Your Son, Jesus Christ, died to take the punishment for my sin. I believe Jesus came back to life from death and has the power to forgive my sin and change my life. Forgive me. Come into my life and change me. I want to live for You and follow Your plan for my life. I believe You have forgiven me, and I thank You for hearing my prayer, in Jesus’ name.”

God has forgiven you if you prayed this prayer and meant it from your heart.  Now you can begin the life He has planned for you! Step by step God will lead you to what He has chosen for you. He will show you the way to live and will teach you each day as you grow spiritually and become the person He planned for you to be.

If you do not have a church body and you are in the St. James, MN area please join us at Crossroads Church Sunday mornings at 10a. 721 Weston Ave, St. James.

If you are not in the area, email me at pastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I can find you a church in your area.

Please contact me if you said that prayer of salvation at the end of this post. I’d love to rejoice with you!

Can They See Jesus in You? Lesson 4 of 5

Speaking of lessons… I have learned mine… writing 5 blog posts in a week just isn’t my THANG! We’ve already jumped into the summer schedule here and that means I am taxi-Mom! This gives me about 30 min of unscheduled time a day! But, oh what fun we are having!!! So, onto the 5 biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past 5 years of ministry.

Lesson 1: Grow where you’re planted. Don’t wait for a big change in your life to start making positive changes, start now! You can read more here.

Lesson 2: Invite people to YOUR church! This is not only the Pastor’s responsibility. Help us grow the church! You can read more about this here.

Lesson 3: Follow God’s instructions. When someone does something hurtful against you, God has a specific way to handle that… if you want to know what that is, read here. (So far this post has quite the most feedback! I’m assuming because it happens to us all, and it can hurt us to the core! But there is a solution!)

Lesson 4: Understand the importance of pointing people to Jesus!

About 3 years ago I started really studying how Paul did ministry in the early churches. If you really want to change your outlook on the people around you, and all the PRE-believers you come in contact with, study how Paul loved, how he stretched himself in order to present the gospel to as many as he could. Then start implementing some of these ways into your ways… It’ll change your heart like no other.

One thing Paul did, and did well, was to give Jesus. He would meet people where they were without ever bending on his beliefs. He believed so strongly in Jesus and his life backed that up. Paul had such boldness because he so boldly believed in who he preached. He believed that Jesus was the answer for every problem we could ever face.

So I began to pray that. I prayed (and still pray, and hope to always pray) that everything I say and do will point others to Jesus. HE is the answer to every situation!

When I’m disciplining my kids, I should be doing it in a way that would never make them question things I’ve told them about Jesus. If I say that Jesus forgives, I should forgive. If I teach them that as we grow in Christ, we begin to produce good fruit, then I should show them what Jesus has produced in me and if I lack those, I now know where I need to grow! (Parents, we NEED Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and SELF-CONTROL!!! but that’s another lesson altogether).

When I’m on facebook, I need my every status, my every comment, even my every page followed, to represent the Jesus in me. I can not invite people to church using “church jargon” and with the same mouth (typing hands) spew hate in a comment towards someone on facebook (or twitter, or instagram… or whatever other form you may use).

When my husband and are at the local restaurant, even when the conversation is just between the two of us, our conversation needs to be pointing others towards Jesus. How can my husband preach from the pulpit about grace and peace and wholesome teachings if when he is outside he pulpit he is cutting people down, stirring up strife, and carrying on unwholesome conversations at the restaurant table? He can’t! And neither can any of us!

Now I’m not talking about every single encounter I have talking strictly about Jesus. “Paper of plastic?” “Well… let me tell you about Jesus!!!” That would leave the grocery clerk annoyed… and probably all the people behind me waiting to get through annoyed, too.  No, I’m talking about our conduct, our words, our LOVE for one another. The way we interact with every single person we come in contact with (kids, husbands, parents, co-workers, grocery clerks, librarian, car mechanic… you see where I’m going) should not contradict the Jesus you say you serve.

Imagine this scenario: It’s Monday, the weekend was action packed, and instead of getting enough sleep, you accomplished a LONG to-do list. The alarm awakens you about 8 hours too soon. You grumpily get up, drag yourself to the shower and complain about how horrible work is going to be. You do this too long, making yourself run behind. By the time you race yourself into work (whether it be raising the kids for one more day, or a high pressure position in town), you are already ready for bed. You grumble and complain, even if just in your head, over every task you have to do that day! By the end of the work day, you’ve had it! You begin rushing to get home, already grumbling about dinner. Suddenly someone crosses your path, too close to comfort. You lash out. You yell. Maybe it’s your kid. You’ve told them one too many times to pick up his baseball glove. Maybe it’s your neighbor who borrowed your  hose without asking, maybe it’s a complete stranger who was in a hurry of their own. You lose it. You begin yelling, screaming, belittling, just throwing the perfect adult fit (which, by the way, looks just as ridiculous as the kids form of a fit… just sayin’!) In that instance, if God prompted you to, could you effectively witness to the person you just lashed out at? With a good conscience, could you tell them how great Jesus is, and what a difference He’s made in your life? And if you could… would they believe you?????

When I started thinking this way, I chose not to comment as often on facebook when I was upset. I chose not to respond to a negative situation until I had prayed. And sometimes I prayed for days… and then chose not to respond at all. When I started thinking, “What will THIS action say about the Jesus I’m trying to show?” I truly started to change the way I behave. Don’t get me wrong, we do not behave in such a way to please men… at all costs, we please God. But in that process, we need to be able to point others that direction as well.

Myth: As a Christian trying to point others towards Christ, we must come down to a level that no longer addresses sin. 

Paul never shied away from correcting sinful behavior. But he reminds Timothy (and ultimately us, as the Word of God is written for us as well) to be prepared in season and out of season to correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Tim 4:2) You can approach sinful behavior in love. You can conduct yourself in a way that expresses love and patience instead of judgment and condemnation. But you must be prepared in season and out of season. You have to live with such a conduct that you can point someone to Jesus no matter what season you are in.

Pray for that idea to penetrate your heart. Ask yourself the hard question, “Am I living in such a way that others see the Jesus I serve?” Before you hit enter read your comment, ask yourself, “Does this show Jesus in me?” (***Even if you are responding to a complete stranger***). Before you let out a loud annoyed sigh at your child for spilling ANOTHER cup of water at the dinner table, ask yourself, “How can I show her Jesus right now in the midst of this mistake?” I’m telling you… this will change your life… and change your ministry!

Myth #2: You have to be perfect in order to point people to a perfect God!

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh! NO! We will make mistakes, we will have bad days… we WILL inevitably scream at our kids with all the windows open so the entire neighborhood can hear (of course I’VE never done that… but…. ), or honk extra long at the car who wasn’t moving fast enough at the green light, or give someone at work an earful because we failed to get enough sleep the night before. It will happen, because, despite what we may think at times, WE ARE NOT PERFECT! Seek forgiveness (from God AND the person you’ve wronged) and start anew. Then do that again the next day, and the next… it won’t ever stop, we’ll mess up a lot. But the harder we try, the better we get, and sometimes, we even point people to Jesus through our mistakes (if we seek that forgiveness). Don’t give up, POINT up!

 

We aren’t perfect at Crossroads Church, but we definately strive to point people to Jesus. Please join us! Follow us on Facebook for more details!

Who Have YOU Invited to Church Lately? Lesson 2 of 5

We are getting closer to our 5th anniversary at our church ministry position. After 20 years of being in ministry (16 years married) this is our first 5 years in the role of lead pastor. It’s been an amazing 5 years and I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned so far. This would be lesson 2 of 5… You can read lesson 1 here

#1. Grow where you’re planted. Don’t wait to change towns, jobs, or neighborhoods.

#2. Network! Network! Network!
Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!
Evangelize! Evangelize! Evangelize!

If you find yourself in a small town pastoring (or pastor wifing) a small church you will need to spend at the very LEAST 80% of your time meeting new people, introducing them to the church, and figuring out your new town. This comes in all kinds of forms. But after 5 years, and I’m so glad we learned this early… you basically need to fall in love with your town. 

We dove right in. It wasn’t hard, we were new so everyone knew we had to be “those people who moved into that one house” or “You’re not from around here, where do you live?” After a week of being here my kids were so used to hearing people approach us to meet the “newcomers” that my older son asked us if we were famous. HA!

We signed our kids up for sports right away, we introduced ourselves wherever we went, we friended as many as we could on facebook and we jumped right in serving our community. This was easier for me than it was my husband. But he’s doing much better. Now he has a part (very part) time job where he can meet even more in our community. Not just to grow our church, although we’d LOVE for everyone we meet to come to our church… but because we love our town. We are aware that there are other great churches in town, but we care more that people feel loved and can trust us and our church.

Coming into a small community where people remember every bad thing that has ever happened, means they remember previous pastors to churches… even if they are previous, previous, previous pastors. This can work against you, so it’s important to build your own relationships and try to build trust. Our desire isn’t just to get people to attend Crossroads Church, but our #1 goal is to reach out and introduce as many as possible to Jesus Christ. Once that became our #1 goal, relationships took on a new shape.

Networking the church is important… if you need anything, you need to know the church exists, where it is, and what to expect from us.

Advertising is beneficial. For those who still haven’t chosen a church (or for those who need a change), seeing what the church offers is a huge benefit.

But evangelizing… that’s the key. There are hurting people, and there are many people who need a church community to support them, and when you are loving, friendly, and genuine, you show them the Christ in you. No pastor is perfect. But when you decide to live a life of evangelism, you change the way you think. Everyone you come in contact with is a chance to share Jesus. As Jesus lives in us, He can overflow on to others as well. When you make it a goal to grow the Kingdom of God and not just your church, you stop pastoring the church, and start pastoring (or pastor wifing) the town. The more you love the town, the easier that becomes. And oh do we love the people of our town!

Myth: Only Pastors are called to evangelize

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every believer is called to “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” No believer is exempt from this. Sometimes you evangelize through the love you have for your co-workers, neighbors, family members. Sometimes you have to be bold and come out and tell them about the love of Jesus for them. How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14) It is not the sole responsibility of the pastor to grow the church.

In our experience, many that come to the church are actually invited by a friend who enjoys the church. I invite 3-5 people a week. Not that I’m trying to meet a quota, I just believe with everything within me that our church is amazing, and the importance of Church is huge! In 5 years, 3 people have come because of my invitation… that’s about 3 out of 1000 invitations… That’s .3% (do you see the decimal  point?) But if all the current church members invited their friends, we could double our influence in a fraction of the time (don’t make me do all the math… we’re on summer vacation over here!) People are more likely to come if you invite them to come sit by you. Sometimes getting an invite from the pastor or pastor’s wife is more intimidating, and comes across less authentic (although, I promise all my invites are authentic). You can make such an impact just by inviting, it’s a very small step in the evangelistic process.

Let’s work together. Let’s love them and show them the Jesus we serve! You don’t have to stand in the pulpit to do it, (or be married to the one that does). We can all evangelize (share the salvation given through Jesus Christ).

you're invited
Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St.James, MN

If you are reading this, I’d like to invite you to join us for Church THIS Sunday. I think it’s time you either come to meet us, or accept my invite! I’ll save you a seat!

Services at Crossroads are every Sunday at 10am.

If you are not in our area, I can find you a church where you are, just email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Grow Where Your Planted: Lesson 1 of 5

It was a Wednesday. We packed our moving van. Thursday we said goodbye to friends and family, cried for the first 50 miles… then again 100 miles into the trip, again 200 miles in, and probably again at the 400 mile mark as we pulled within a town over from our new home. It was a thrill, but stressful. It was what we felt God calling us to, but it was so full of anxiety as we moved our family of 6 to our new church.

That was 5 years ago. I’ve been in church ministry with my husband for 16 years (20 years total), but this past 5 years has been the first 5 years of being in the Lead pastor position, and boy oh boy is it different. 5 years go be VERY fast and we can either look back with regret of wasted time, or marvel in the lessons God has taught us. I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal… so you’re going to get the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I can not look back with an ounce of regret… This has been such an amazing 5 years! It’s only been 5 years… but already we’ve learned so much (and I pray we just keep on learning and growing).

I can’t possibly put this vast amount of new-found knowledge into one post… no one would want to read that many words. So come back each day as we lead up to our 5th anniversary…

Let’s start here…

Starting over in a new town where no one knows you can set you on a path to a new you.

We were given 4 weeks to inform our employment, pack our home, and move to our new town and church. In that month I began to pray, “What kind of pastor’s wife do you want me to be?” I began to evaluate who I was, what I had to offer, and who I WANTED to be. I’m not saying we should be fake. I’m saying that sometimes we get stuck in our ways and changing isn’t easy. But when you move, and you are completely unknown, it’s easier to change. I may have started out struggling to be loving, to be patient, to be compassionate,  to be bold, but the more I prayed about the traits I wanted to have, the easier they became, and the more they became a part of me. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. And I like the new me.

Myth: You have to move in order to become the person God’s calling you to be. 

Nothing could be more WRONG! I allowed my concern of what people thought of me hold me back from being who I wanted to be… and more importantly, who GOD wanted me to be. I fell into bad habits, found friends who didn’t mind those bad habits, and never sought ways to change those habits. I underestimated my friends and family and figured they’d see me as fake if I made big changes in my personality.

Can I encourage you to begin seeking where you are, and begin making the changes necessary to be who God is calling you to be. Do you want to be nicer?… start acting that out until it’s really WHO you are. Do you want to be more compassionate? Look for ways to show compassion to people with whom you come in contact. Do you want to be more evangelistic? Start stepping out. Don’t delay, and don’t wait for God to call you to another town… that may not work. You may never move from where you are (whether that be physically or spiritually) if you’re unwilling to make those changes.

For me, I wanted to step out of my shell and be bolder, nicer, friendlier, more purposeful. I look back now, and wish I would have done all those things where God had me. I let idea rejections keep me from coming up with new ideas. I let myself get lost in “bigger cities” where my niceness and friendliness wouldn’t go as noticed (although it may have made a bigger personal impact one on one). I missed opportunities because I was too set in my ways.

Moving certainly allowed me to step out and be bold, more enthusiastic, more evangelistic. What could I lose? I’ve learned my lesson though… living this way is powerful, it’s life changing. I will not hold back again. If God wants me to change, nothing will hold me back from making that change for Him. I praise God for giving me this opportunity to be who He’s called me to be. I thank God for this new adventure, and for still working in me through it. I pray I’ll keep making changes as He calls me drawing me closer to Him.

Please don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for any reason, jump right in, start your new adventure, and draw close to God. He will guide you, change you, and create a more perfect you!

Check back tomorrow for lesson #2

If attending church is one of the changes you’d like to make, please find a church in your area. If you need help with finding one, please email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I will get to work on finding one in your area!

If you live in my area, Crossroads Church is right for you! Please join us this Sunday at 10am for amazing teaching straight from the Bible… I’ll save you a seat!

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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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Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Don’t Forget

My girls wake up with songs on their hearts. The sing them as they get ready in the morning, they sing them as they eat their breakfast, and they sing them as they begin their school work. This particular morning they had been singing King of the World by Natalie Grant (see the video below). Now, these girls do not merely hum the song, or pick lines from here or there… they sing the entire thing. And right in the middle my 10-year-old looks up and says, “Mom, how is it even possible to forget that God has always been the king of the world? I mean, do you really think there are people who have forgotten?” I wish I could tell her that no one has forgotten. But we all know that’d be a lie. Now you have to understand, my daughter isn’t making fun. She isn’t judging. She is still learning the world around her. Although she does know that not everyone believes in Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, she at least thought everyone was aware of Him each day. You see, this 10 year old hasn’t been in the world yet. She hasn’t seen how stress pulls you away. She hasn’t experienced politics (although she got a good taste through out the last 12 or so months), and how quickly our world is turning away from God. But to be completely open with her, I would have to tell her that even church-going-self-professed-Christians have too easily forgotten that God has always been the King of the world… and always will.

How does this happen? How do we walk through this world and forget about God? How do we face the issues this world brings and try every other “remedy” and forget about the King of the world?

I think it happens to many of us, and it isn’t until we’ve hit an all time low that we finally reach out to this long-lost God that we use to serve. We’ve grown so distant that we forget about the one who can pull us up, get us through, and help us triumph. We turn to friends, social media, drugs, sex, addictions, ourselves… and we only find ourselves further in the pit way worse than we were when we started. How did we forget? How COULD we forget?

1. We stop talking to God.

We allow our schedules to fill every minute of our day leaving no room for a prayer time. Imagine if you stopped talking to a friend. Eventually, we stop making time to get together with that friend. We grow apart. We eventually stop talking about them, and eventually they are no longer in our short-term memory… and barely in the long-term. On occasion when their name is brought up you may find yourself with a smile remembering the good times you’ve had, but you quickly move on to the next thing, and that friend has been forgotten again. It’s sad, but it happens with God, too. We look at our busy schedules and try to squeeze God in, and when we’ve made no room, we toss Him to the side. Instead, shouldn’t we work our other activities around our time with God? Without talking to Him, we will soon lose our closeness with him, and eventually, we’ll forget altogether.

2. We stop studying Him.

I took a Literature class in college. I attended the class (that I can’t even remember the real name… it wasn’t “Literature” but some specific kind of Lit). I may have even gotten a good grade. But sitting here right now, I can not for the life of me tell you what I learned in the class. I don’t even know one book I had to read for the class. So I have to tell you, I do not feel I’m some literature scholar. Once I stopped studying, I stopped learning, and I stopped caring. Sure I love to read, but I don’t study literature anymore. I’m FAR from a literature know-it-all. I’m not even a know-it-little! The same goes for us when we stop studying the word of God. It’s possible something triggers a faint memory of something that you’ve learned, but is that really enough to live on? And more times than not, when we go on distant memory, we get a LOT of things wrong. The Bible is our guidebook for Christian living. It is how we learn about the workings of this King of the World. Without reading it, trying to learn from it, and making that consistent in our lives, we’ll forget about the support He gives. We’ll forget about His love for us. We’ll forget about the sacrifice He made in order to make a way for us to live eternity with Him.  We’ll forget altogether and begin to live as if we don’t even know him.

3. We stop living in His world.

We have set up a routine in our home where God is as close to center as we can get. Please don’t see this as a brag, it’s not. I mess up in my attitudes, and I’m a sinner each and every day. But we’ve created a routine where we start our day off with the Word of God. We read it as a family. We then pray, committing our day to God. Our school curriculum is Christian, and it sparks a lot of talk about God through out our day. I do my Bible study at the table while they are working on their school work. We talk about the things we see on tv that may not line up with our walks with God. And we try to teach during those moments about the world around us. We attend Church. We value the lessons we learn there and try to get our kids to worship, and desire more of Him. So for my 10-year-old, it doesn’t seem possible that anyone could FORGET about God. I mean, we see His creation every day. We live in His will (at least we try) each day. We speak to Him, learn about Him, hear from Him on a regular basis.

I’m fully aware that we live life on this earth, and not in heaven. I’m fully aware that life happens and that we aren’t all sheltered in a “Christian” bubble. However, I haven’t suggested anything that God hasn’t asked of us.

Psalm 145:18- The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Colossians 4:2- Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Joshua 1:8- Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17– All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Psalm 16:11- You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Acts 17:28-  For in him we live and move and exist.

**There are SO many more… you should explore this on your own!**

And done for the sake of doing isn’t what I’m saying either. These aren’t things to check off a check list. Check. Check. Check… and poof! It doesn’t work this way. But to build a relationship you focus on that person. And we do the same with God.

I’m aware that in this world there is chaos. But it’s important that we not forget that He’s always been the King of the World… and even further that He CURRENTLY IS! We must take the time to make this King of the World a part of our lives. If we can live day in and day out remembering who we serve, why we serve Him, and what He has done for us, the chaos may still be there, but the way we manage it will change in drastic ways.

This theme has been in my adult Bible study at church, in my daily personal Bible study, and even at a convention my kids attended this past weekend. So I’m taking notice. What are ways I can REMEMBER!? For me, I’ll be living with the knowledge that God is big enough, loves me, died for me, and continues to bless His children. I’ll be actively pursing Him so I won’t forget. How about you?

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you’re holding on to me

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world