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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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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When the Sun Shines

cloudsFour years ago we packed up our home of 5.5 years and moved 7 hours west. We moved away from friends we loved and family we had drawn so close to. We weren’t running from anything, but it was time to go. Our situation wasn’t dire, but our hearts were ready for a change. We weren’t leaving a place we hated, but it wasn’t what we felt called to, so our hearts ached. The 5.5 years drew us closer to family, helped Pastor get his degree, allowed me to stay in one place as I added 3 children to our family, and taught a series of great lessons. But, in 2010, we knew God had another plan for our ministry. And if you have ever had to wait upon God’s timing for His plan to fold out, you understand this ache I speak of.

 

truckMarch 24th, 2012 (after 2 years of waiting) we pulled our large truck away from the only town our kids had ever known. I didn’t make it a block from my in-laws before I was bawling my eyes out. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it was very hard to take that leap of faith when things had been so easy for 5+ years.

As we drove along, I sang, I prayed, I laughed, I cried, I worried, I encouraged myself… but I never doubted. I knew this journey was one God wanted us on. About 3 hours into our should- have-been-7-but-was-really-10ish hour drive it began to rain. The budget truck could only go 45-50mph, I had a nursing baby in my van along with 3 other excited kiddos (one being an active 2 year old), and I began to grow tired. The rain was NOT my friend that day. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of all death grips, my body sore from packing up the truck, and my mind going through all the plans and dreams I had for our future. By the time we were “almost” there, I was ready to pull over and have a melt down.

When it wasn’t storming, the drive just got boring! Pastor drove the moving truck and I drove our van with the kids. They watched movies, and I tried to occupy my time with music and my own thoughts. It reminded me of the boredom that can come in ministry when you’re in that waiting period. We knew we were actively seeking a new position, but it never kept us from serving with all our hearts at the ministry before us. However, when there is a longing in your heart for something just over the horizon, life can become boring in the wait. This isn’t always a good thing!  This boredom is something to take captive. God does not ask us to stop living as we wait. It’s a HARD thing to do, but needs to be done. Ministry DID continue on as we waited, but it was a constant battle to command our hearts to “do all things as unto the Lord” even in the waiting times.

The storms, as they got worse overhead had reminded me of where we had been. Ministry hadn’t always been nice to us. We’ve gone through betrayal from people we trusted to have our backs. We’d been treated poorly, been overlooked, undervalued, and been let down more times than we thought we could handle. The storms of ministry over the previous 12 years were bleak at times, but we never wanted to give up. We knew that God had called us, and we knew that the sun would someday shine (and really, it was sunny MOST of the time!). And just as the storm had gotten so bad that we contemplated pulling off the road and sitting for a bit, my spirit dropped. The fear of what could happen as we took on this new church in a town we do not know was getting the better of me. I was crying, frustrated at the weather, and at my own fears and I wanted to stop. But I wanted to  hurry up and get there. My excitement and fears were overtaking my thoughts. What if we failed the people of St. James? What if we really did not have what it takes to be leaders? What if they hated us? What if the church never grew and our kids were miserable? My questions were flooding in drowning out the voice of God I had been hearing for the past 9 hours! I felt completely overwhelmed, and then I looked up and the sky opened up. The clouds were dark all around, but the SON broke through. It wasn’t directly over the moving truck. It wasn’t just above the van. Instead it was a few miles up, at our exit into St. James.

In that moment, the fear slipped away. My heart calmed down and I reminded myself of who had called us. I remembered how God had worked out all the details for this position. I remembered all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. I remembered what we had already overcome with God’s leading, and I suddenly could see that the son would keep shining!

We pulled into our new home at about 7pm that night. We were met with the beautiful faces of our new church members. Life was good. Scary, but good! Unknown, but good!

Now, as we celebrate our 4 year anniversary at the church this weekend, we are living this ministry dream. Everything hasn’t been easy, but with God, it’s completely doable. Pastor is leading well. His preaching is top-notch week after week (sorry, I am supposed to be bias, but this is just a fact! haha) and our little church is growing!

I share for two reasons. 1. because I am overjoyed at how amazing God has been to us! I’m so happy that we applied to a small church in St.James, MN (I must confess… I did NOT want to move to Minnesota, but was committed to praying for the will of God. So I asked Pastor if he would not tell me where he was sending applications so that I could pray unhindered by my human biases. So I did not know what state St. James was in until we had decided to travel here for the interview.) I am forever thankful for the board and church members that took a chance on a young pastor who had no lead church experience. The faith it took for this church to take on a large family financially has proven to strengthen the church as a whole. We are so very blessed by the community and this church! 2. I share this for those friends who are still waiting for their sun to shine. Ministry isn’t the only place storms can brew. You may be living in yours right now. Keep your eyes open. God has a plan for your life. Don’t stop living in victory today because your tomorrow hasn’t come yet. God loves you TODAY. Don’t get bored and give up, don’t get discouraged and walk away. Let the clouds part and the SON shine. You, with God’s help, can do this!

 

If you are in the St. James, MN area and have not stopped by Crossroads Church in the past 4 years, give us a try! Our services are at 10a every Sunday Morning! Come celebrate with us this Sunday!
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St. James Takes the Cake

cupcakeMay 25th of last year, we loaded our family, our belongings, and our faith and moved. The long 7 hour drive gave me plenty of time to reflect on where we’d been, come up with ideas for our future, miss those I was leaving behind, and freak out about where we were heading. Starting a brand new adventure comes with many emotions, and riding alone in the car (with the 4 kids of course) for that long brings them all out.

Many months before as Dave sent out resume upon resume to churches, I had asked him not to tell me where he was sending them. I didn’t want to put stipulations on my desires based on how cold the winters were, or how far from family it was. I wanted to ask God for His will, and follow that without hesitation. Then one day we heard that someone had called our references. We were super excited, praying for the board who was looking into us, and I had to ask the question… “Where is the church?”

St. James, MN. I looked it up, I saw that it was in MINNESOTA… and a “tiny” town on top of that. I looked up how close Target was. How close Walmart was, and how close Hobby Lobby was. All of which were more than a half an hour. At least it wasn’t 3 hours like we’d done before. And, it still wasn’t really bothering me.

By the time Dave had the Skype interview, I was in love with the idea of living in a small town. I had my fears. I worried about homeschooling in a town with no other homeschoolers. I worried about how I’d fit in. I worried about how my kids would fit in. But I didn’t worry about whether this was the right move.

Now a year later, I find many ways God has blessed this move! My kids did not go through any behavior issues that accompany a major move for small children. They made friends right away. They got involved in sports, after school programs, and many fun adventures. Our homeschool year was the best we’ve had so far.

All this to say this: When God puts a calling on your life, and your willing to follow, He will equip you with a passion for that calling. I truly enjoy the people here. I enjoy the small town. I love that we can walk anywhere we want to go! I love that people stop us on the street and ask us if we’re “new”. I love that we can talk to ANYONE and feel that we’ve known them forever! I love that I can eat at McDonalds and strike up a conversation with the lady next to us, and it feels like I had lunch with a good friend. I love our church, our church members, and my passionate Pastor!

St. James has made my year amazing. And I love that God has called us here. I love that Dave listened to God’s calling and followed Him, and lead us to St. James! It is my home. And I am looking forward to our 2nd year!

Candy Crush Saga

There is a game on Facebook, I’m sure you know it, seen it, or play it… Candy Crush Saga. It claims to be “highly addictive”. And I am thankful for the 5 lives so I can make myself stop in a timely fashion. Lately it has been the topic of complaining in my home. I joke that my complaining is sending a message to the game, the more I complain and threaten to quit playing, the more I clear the hard level. I get stuck on a level for weeks, then finally say, “This is my last 5 lives… I’m quitting after this IMPOSSIBLE round!” Then I miraculously clear all those stinky jellies!

candy crush

The most current levels have this MOST ANNOYING feature of what I call the “cancerous” chocolates. When a move does not go towards the major goal of “clearing the jellies” a chocolate comes out of nowhere and blocks a tile. My personality begins to pop out, I get offensive and begin yelling, “NO! NO! NO! I HATE CHOCOLATE!” WHAT!? Did that just come out of my mouth!?

So this menial frustration has been happening at the same time as a major weight on my heart lately. When my husband and I entered into ministry it wasn’t for fame, or prestige, or money (haha, that’s a funny idea!). We truly wanted to see souls won to Christ. And we love church. So, we moved here almost a year ago (in may) to lead a church to growth, spiritually and in numbers. It isn’t an easy task. My prayer has been an inquiry, how do I get our church to grow? How do I get the people in to hear the message, to get involved, and to get more in to hear the message? What needs to be done, what needs to stop, what needs to be prayed? This game opened my eyes a bit to a few things that keep churches from growing, and keeps the gospel from being heard…

As hard as I work at this game, the moves I made that did not benefit my ultimate goal resulted in a tile being blocked. With each sin I let creep into my life, the harder it is to get my ultimate goal achieved. It blocks my vision, it blocks my motives, it blocks the glory. I’m still saved, I didn’t lose my salvation, but I forfeited blessings that could have come my way.

When I line up 3 like fruits, it clears them. This gives me points and closer to my goal. Same for in our christian walk. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:20). When I line up 4 or 5 they get stripey or special so they have a bigger impact they shoot out, explode, and bust up things all around and make the goal even closer! Imagine what can happen if not just 2 or 3 gather, but 4 or 5… Prayer changes things, it multiplies the effectiveness of reaching others! (outside of my point here… miracles can happen when just ONE prays, don’t ever forget that!)

When I first got to these horrible chocolate levels, I was so shocked and sad to see my hatred for chocolate rise! Chocolate is supposed to be our friend, not our enemy. It shouldn’t work against me! I felt betrayed! This parallel is the same. There are too many Christians out there that are working AGAINST our major goal. I’d expect it if the blocking came from a toothbrush, or cavities… but not chocolate! I go into the world every day knowing that those that are not for HIM are against HIM (Matthew 12:30). I don’t expect to see Christians acting in ways that bring people away from him. On a daily basis we (remember we means others and me) do things that bring unbelievers away from instead of closer to their salvation. We gossip, we lie, we offer worldly things without ever mentioning God’s name. And we justify it in any way we can. We block the work of God with our sin. This should not be so. it should sadden us, break our spirit, and bring us to our knees.

And all these things cause me to want to quit. Blocks prevent me from getting to the next level, when there just isn’t enough fruit connections to clear the level, and when those stinky malicious chocolates block my way, I threaten to quit!  When sin creeps in, when I fail to pray, when the christian world is fighting against me just as much as the world is… I want to throw my hands up, and give up… but then instead of merely complaining about the level… then beating it, I pray over these things, I can overcome.

You see, these levels are beatable. Even with certain blocks made by that chocolate, I can still focus on the objective and kick some candy bum! I can clear level after level where I’m shouting “I’m ON FIRE!!!” And I can ask for forgiveness, I can pray for the impact that my church can have on the community, trusting God to bring them in to hear the message, and I can up my game to counteract those working against me (and not do anything myself that could counteract my true goal), and God will knock out the barriers and grow my church! He can set my spirit on FIRE!!! He can clear the path and make it wide for all those hurting, aching, and desiring. I look forward to the day when God says, “Sugar Crush!” (or in Biblical terms, “Well done good and faithful servant!”) Wonderful! Level Completed!

**One last comparison… if you’re at the end of your levels, you have no lives left, call upon God. He has a life for you! Call upon a Christian friend, I will help you, but only HE can give you an extra life! A life that is ABUNDANT! Don’t quit the game, just get a new life, an eternal life! Let me know if you want more info on this, I will send you the lifeline!