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!

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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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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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The Unappreciated Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and one last thing…

HAPPY PASTOR  APPRECIATION MONTH!

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

THIS is my town!

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This is my town, the town I feel God called us to be in. These are the streets to my town, the streets we’ve been called to minister to.

We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to  passersby, smile big. But without prayer, these things are useless. Prayer changes things.

About 6 weeks ago I attended a retreat for ministers’ wives. The speaker spoke of her passion for her town, and her passion for fitness. She combined the two by running the streets of her town and praying over every house. This struck a chord with me. Although I don’t believe every idea works for every person, I felt this one was being spoken directly to me. I can’t run. But I have a bike! My town may not be a metropolis, but for an overweight lady with a standard bike (no gears for those uphill battles) my small town was a challenge just for me.

I set out to bike every street in my town, to pray over every house within the city limits of my town. I set my Pandora station to a collection of worship stations, and went to town on prayer for my city. The time and distance were VERY enlightening.Image

3 weeks, 75.2 Miles, 15:59 hours, and 10,736 calories later I learned so much about how God wants to use Crossroads Church in this community. Although some of those things are still in the works and I’ll update the successes as they come, let me share with you some general insights I gained.

I was so gung-ho about tackling my challenge, but finding the time to fit into my current life was a struggle. I had to make sacrifices. I had to ask my husband to understand my desires and ask him for help. He would often (ok, almost always) clean up after dinner so I could go out and bike. Or he’d put the kids to bed for me. And often times I missed my favorite tv show to be out praying over my town. Ministry takes sacrifices at times. We may miss things from time to time. I’m not saying we should neglect the important things in our lives (family), but to make sacrifices to our comfort, our routine… to prioritize. And I had to ask for help in order to do it. I had to realize I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t take my kids along, I couldn’t leave them home alone. I couldn’t neglect my responsibilities, but I could ask for help.

I set a goal to complete this challenge. But it rained… a lot! I learned to leave God in charge and to do what I could do, and let Him take care of the rest. The purpose for ministry isn’t to get OUR results, but to get HIS. To wait out the storms, and keep praying.

When I dawdled, I’d leave my house late. Even though I had a clear path set out for me, when I hesitated (tried to get more done before leaving), I’d be biking in the dark. Small town or not, cars speeding by a slow biker in the dark is scary. STAY IN THE LIGHT! don’t wander from His light. Ministry is safer in the light. *by this I mean, following His will for your ministry. When we veer, we lose His light, and that is a scary place to be!

There are HILLS! For every down hill, wind blowing in my hair, experience, there is a hill to climb. Sometimes I thought I’d have to get off my bike and walk it up a hill. I am so thankful I didn’t have to do that (*tip: count. I’d count my pedaling to get myself up those steep hills… with no gears on my bike!). Ministry has some STEEP hills. and although the fast pace, joyful wind in my face downhill ride was more relaxing, fun, and easier… the hills were going to come. It’s not always easy. Ministry can be hard! Pedal fast (pray hard) during the downhill times, and you’ll find yourself half way up the hill before the pain sets in… and do it often enough and those hills won’t seem so big anymore.

Speaking of hills. There were times when I could have grumbled that I didn’t have a bike with the neat-o gears that would help me up those hills. But I was reminded that God doesn’t call us based on the equipment we have. He equips us where we are. Our church is small, our resources are limited. But we won’t let that hold us back! Ministry can be just as effective regardless of the equipment you have. God is all you NEED. So thankful for the bike (given to me), I’ll use what I have and keep trekking forward.

In order to reach EVERY house within the city, I found myself doing a complete 5 mile ride for ONE house. Image

Ministry is worth it even if we only reach ONE! I prayed I’d go the distance for ONE family… For ONE mother… for ONE child… for ONE lost soul. This particular route led me to switch directions and I found 5 more homes to pray over. They may not have met the “inside the city limits” , but they were houses that I just couldn’t pass up. ONE may eventually lead to many… go the distance!

 

I completed this task about 10 days ago. And my first couple of bike rides following felt meaningless. I didn’t know which way to turn, what path to take, or if I was motivated enough to finish out a worthy workout. I pray that is the case with our ministry. That without a purpose, I feel lost. That that will motivate me to stay focused on what God’s purpose is for the ministry. Doing church for the sake of doing church is meaningless.  We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to a passerby, smile big. But without purpose, these things are useless. Prayer changes things, it gives us purpose. What is God’s purpose for your ministry. You don’t have to be a pastor (or pastor’s wife) to have a ministry. What is God calling you to do?

I pray we see something big come from saturating this town in prayer. We plan on hitting the streets soon, and I pray I can share some wonderful praise reports soon. Until then… pedal on, ministers!