Follow the Instructions

Today is the exact day 5 years ago that our U-haul pulled up to our new home and new ministry. I know 5 years is just a drop in the bucket, but I’m already looking forward to my “top 10 lessons learned in the past 10 years” series where I can look back and see if these lessons need to be learned again. Things are still fresh here, but also feel like home. I’m celebrating one of the best 5 years of our lives in ministry, unsure of how the next 5 years will go. So, thank you for joining me on this journey. If you’ve missed, feel free to go back and catch up.

#1 Grow where you are planted (click here to read): Don’t wait for a big event in your life to happen to start implementing change.

#2 Who have YOU invited to church lately (click here to read): Don’t leave church growth solely up to your pastor. Invite your friends!

#3 When you do things God’s way, blessings follow.

Some time after moving here and as we got to know people, we got to see people’s “real side” more and more. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but some people put their best faces on when they are around you, but let their ugly side-show when you are out of earshot. It’s unfortunate, really. If they could just choose to become their fake selves, the nice one, the one that shows restraint (see lesson #1) I think they’d actually be happier people. But, the fact of the matter is people really want their pastor to only see this fake happy facade and it isn’t until something really goes wrong that we get to see their true colors. So in our case that took about a year.

Sometimes it’s just small subtle things, and you think you’re just rubbed the wrong way, so you dismiss it and move on. But sooner or later the real person will come out. And when they do, a mess ensues.

I’ve heard of Pastors and their families being run out-of-town by one person’s meanness and to be honest, I’ve feared it in almost every church we’ve been in. So when we received a call from a trusted friend telling us of what was going on behind our backs, our hearts broke. I won’t go into detail, but it was far beyond gossip, and had potential of not only ruining our reputation in town, but my husband’s career.

The lesson I want to present to you today is the reason  this situation turned out as amazing as it did.

#3 When you do things God’s way, blessings follow.

First thing we did was pray. My husband didn’t stew over his hurt feelings, he came home, told me what had happened and led me to the couch to sit and pray.

Sub-lesson 1: ALWAYS pray first before you react, or let anger take control.

Next, we called this person for a meeting. Before we went to our friends with a huge tale of how we were wronged and how we felt about this other person, we went to the person.

Sub-lesson 2: Go to the person first, get their side. In our situation, we knew that the friend who had called us was telling the truth (he’s who you’d call to “go above the pastor’s head”). We had to confront the sin against us directly. This doesn’t always go well, but the Bible is very clear, this is how you do it. “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” (Matthew 18:15)

Once this step is done, we still spoke to no one. It doesn’t state that you can confront then turn around and speak bad about that person. Of course we talked among ourselves. We were shocked. We didn’t know what impact this lie would have on our town and the ministry we were trying to do here. But what we did know is that God knew the truth, and that the truth will prevail. Somehow, this kept the hurt at bay. I look back and see that this horrible situation, this attack against me, my family, my church, this ministry wasn’t hurting me. I contribute that to God and our following of sub-lesson 1 & 2.

About 3 or 4 months later people began coming to us about the awful things that were being said about us. They were concerned that we were unaware of the lies (praise God they didn’t believe them) that were being said, and felt we should know. Although the person still attended church most Sundays, their desire to hurt us had not diminished.

It was sad, but we had to take the issues further and bring this to our church board. “But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.” (Matthew 18:16).

I just wanted it to be over. I hated that we had to bring more people into such a bad situation. I dreaded it all day. But it was needed. The church would have hurt had we not followed through with this next step.

Sub-lesson 3: Stick with the plan God laid out for us. So many things went through my mind. Was this the right way to go about this? Exposing her might hurt her. Was it unloving? But as my godly, wonderful pastor pointed out… “It’s right there in the Bible!” You can never go wrong sticking with God’s plan book!

Although we never kicked the person out of the church, the person chose not to repent, and make things right. So they did, of their own choice, leave our church. The pastor felt he needed to protect the church from such slander and he felt he needed to protect me as this issue was mostly pointed at me. He followed up with a letter setting boundaries (no contact to me unless it was an apology, loss of church member rights… things like this). Nothing felt better than knowing my husband, with the church board’s backing, would protect me and my kids. NOTHING!

Sub-lesson for men: Have your wife’s back! Support her, trust her, protect her. Nothing will strengthen your marriage more than her knowing you love and support her and will go to huge lengths to protect her! 

Sub-lesson for Pastors: Protect your church. Confront those trying to spread nasty rumors and lies. Pray and seek counsel and act quickly. Cancer can kill your church. Be faithful to the Word, trust that its techniques will work, and fight hard to show your church that you will protect its members. 

This came at a time that we had others who were coming to pastor to “tattle” on a church member. So when Pastor advised that he go to the person first, he could say it with confidence that he lived this method as well. The pastor of Crossroads Church will never be party to a gossip fest in his office. He will stand up for you, direct the person your way, and will only take action when Matthew 18 is followed.

I don’t even want to imagine how this situation would have played out had we panicked, fought dirty, or backed away. As I look back at it, I’m amazed at how unphased we were by it all. It was horrible, but God blessed our obedience to His plan. Within 6 months of this incident we welcomed 16 new church members. These were not people who came because the person left (they didn’t even know this person). I don’t know exactly what drew them in (I don’t question those things!!!) But we saw great growth where death could have occurred. Our church is healthier because we dealt with the issues God’s way.

Pastor and I are not perfect. We can’t possibly run our ministry perfectly. But when it came to this situation, our desire was to please God in how we handled it, and to protect ourselves and our church. Looking back, I can’t imagine it going any better (well, aside from it never happening in the first place).

Now, to my final Sub-lesson (#4)– We have never once stopped praying for the parties involved in this incident. I pray daily for the person who went against my family. I feel I have forgiven, and if repentance were to take place and this person wanted to reconcile, that would be glorious in God’s eyes! I’ve often dreamed of how I would respond if they chose to come back to our church. I have to admit at first those dreams were nightmares. But now, it’s a dream of hope. I would love to share a pew with them knowing their heart has changed and that they are of one accord and of one mind with the church. I’m sure there’d be a time for building trust, but believe God would walk us through that together.

Sub-lesson #4: Don’t stay angry, hurt, or disconnected. Trust that God will heal your hurts and pray for love to take its place. Pray for those who sin against you. Pray they will come to a closer relationship with Jesus. Isn’t that the goal no matter what, anyway? Pray for reconciliation (but only when repentance has taken place).

Myth: Easy for a Pastor to say!

People are hurtful everywhere, not just inside the church. It stings a bit worse when believers hurt other believers, and our faith can be lost inside that hurt, if we let it. But, in every relational conflict of every person’s life, this strategy will work, God said it would. And mix that with every other scripture that talks about forgiveness, and what could have turned out  horrible, can actually bring honor to God, and speak life into your heart instead.

If you are the one spreading hate… STOP, and that’s all I have to say about that…

If you’ve been hurt by someone else’s sin towards you, read Matthew 18:15 & 16. Follow it, pray for that person to draw close to God, and believe in the plan God has set up.

If you’re hurting, can I pray for you? email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com.

Please join us at Crossroads Church this Sunday at 10am! I’ll save you a seat.

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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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Is Your Iron Sharp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Completely Surrounded

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

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

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

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

Whatever you want…

It doesn’t take much research to find that the Bible encourages us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we will receive.

Matthew 18:19- Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Matthew 21:22-And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24-Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13- Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:17- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24-In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

1 John 3:22- and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 5:14-15- And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have

And that’s just a quick google search of the words “Ask anything you want in my name”. I’m sure there is a longer list and deeper research that can be done. But as easy as it is to search for it, it’s just as hard to have the faith it takes to do the asking. As you can see in these verses there is nothing that suggests you can ask God for unlimited monetary wealth and he will just “poof” place it in your hands. There is a limit to what we ask. As we see in 1 John 5:14-15, He shows us that we ask according to His will. And so, our faith comes in when we aren’t sure what that will is. 1john-5_15-15

We are all human, and we’ll have human “wants” that aren’t always part of God’s will. That doesn’t mean we don’t ask, it means we start out trying to discern what that will is. And although we still may not always get that part right, as we do the searching, we draw close enough to God to be content with the answers (even when it’s “no” or “wait”) God gives.

I’m slipping from my intended purpose here… but consider that an “intro” to what I’m about to say… PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! As we draw close to God, as we seek to do His will and not just our own, our prayers begin to take on a shape that changes the way we live, the way we see life, and the way we handle the life we’re given.

It’s so fitting that I’m writing this and that it will fall on my blog history right after “Mothering, the struggle is real”. The struggle is always there, but in the last 6 or so weeks since writing that (man, I need to write more!), God has done some really great things in my life.

You see, I have 4 children. As wonderful as they all are, 2 of them are pretty strong-willed. My first strong-willed child has grown out of most of the issues we had when he was younger, and is proving to be a quite the young man. But it seemed the same things I used on him are not working on the other strong  Iron-willed child. And I’m struggling, 6 weeks ago, struggling wasn’t a strong enough word… I was drowning.

Then a friend asked some advice on Facebook about how to parent a child whose heart is not changing. And I immediately remembered what worked on my 1st child that I had neglected in my current parenting struggle. And here is where I’d like to really start this blog post…

When my first-born, who was such an obedient wild child, would show these massive fits of rage when we simply asked him to pick up his books nothing we did taught him to control his outbursts. We tried giving him ways to express his frustrations… but nothing seemed to work. At my wit’s end (and at this point I had only 2 children, and was not nearly as stressed out), I began sneaking into his room at night while he slept and laying hands on him and praying. I would spend 30 minutes or more some nights, 10 min other nights. But I begged God to change his heart. To speak to the heart of my little boy when I could not reach it. Within days, his behavior changed.

The problem is, as he got better, I got worse at spending that time in his bedroom at night. Don’t get me wrong, I always pray for my children,  WITH them and in my own personal time… but I wasn’t spending that concentrated time in prayer on a consistent basis.

So fast forward to what brought me to write that last post. My poor little girl is struggling hard with BIG emotions, and small coping mechanisms. And her drained momma is running out of ideas. Until I was reminded by a friend’s search for answers, that I had the answer. Well, GOD has the answer… PRAYER! This Iron-willed child of mine can be relentless at times. And now, with 4 children, all doing school, and having activities, and needing different things at different stages… I’m tired! And I need answers. And God reminds me… “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Oh how I need that joy… that FULL JOY! So I began that journey. I sneak into her room at night, and I cuddle up next to her. I rub her back, I kiss her face, I stroke her hair, and I pray over her heart.

“God, I’m failing! But you love her even more than I can ever love. Change her heart. Take away her rage and replace it with peace. Take away her triggers and replace it with happiness. Take away her frustrations and replace them with dependence on YOU!” I go on to pray for me as a mother. “Lord, I’ll mess up! Help my patience. Expand my heart to see where she’s struggling, and give me compassion for her during the process.” I continue to pray many things over this child.

And here’s the thing… Let’s be real. Sometimes when our children are consistently a struggle, although obviously our love for them never ceases, our “like” level starts to drop. Cuddling your sweet blessing from God when they are calm and peaceful increases your compassion and the child’s likability. And in that moment, when that peaceful little angel is sweetly sleeping, you can fight the biggest battles for her that you’ve never be able to fight in the midst of the chaos of the day.

Although it took some time of suffering before I remembered this gem of information,  I eventually began the process of praying over my sweet baby girl. And now… today… I feel I have my real child back! We’ve had our bad moments, but there is such a tangible change.

You see, I’ve tried it all. I’ve tried more sleep (her and me). I’ve tried being strict. I’ve tried letting up. I’ve tried letting her choose, complimenting more, hugging more, begging, pleading, and crying. But I had asked not, so I received not. It sounds superstitious to say, but superstition has nothing on prayer! Not only has her behavior changed, but so has mine. I’m calmer, I’m more likely to see the issues, more in tuned to how God wants me to handle said issues, and I completely see her in a new light.

God is in the business of changing hearts. And only HE can do it. We can teach our children, we can lead our children, but we can not change their hearts. And once we begin to pray for our children’s hearts to follow after God, God listens and answers.

In the midst of busy days, I’d crawl into bed finally get cozy and then realize that I had not gone up and laid hands on my child like I had in the days before. “But I’m already tucked in. God doesn’t care if I lay hands on her as long as I just pray.” I thought. So I’d pray in my warm cozy bed. Then the next night I’d do the same… slowly getting out of the habit. And just as before, her behavior began to slip. We were going right back into the Iron-will. What was happening? I mean, is it mandatory for us to have a specific formula to how we pray over our kids? A certain posture? A specific time of the night? Are our prayers dependent upon our rituals? NO! They are not. But, God was teaching ME something through this exercise and I was not in direct obedience to that. I do not understand it all. I don’t claim any top secrets when it comes to prayer. But what I do know is that God asked me to have this particular discipline and when I do, I see results, when I don’t… I see those results, too.

I asked Pastor if he thought it was possible God was using this exercise to show me something specific to the method, or was there something Biblical behind this kind of prayer and the changes we are seeing because of it. The Bible does talk about laying hands on the sick. It talks about how when the apostles laid their hands on people the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The Word of God mentions Moses laying his hands on Joshua to commission him into service to the people of Israel. There is something wonderful about laying on of hands. But also, there is something about your child waking from a deep sleep and seeing their mama praying over them. She smiles at me, cuddles up tight, and plays with my hair. She is no longer lost in the shuffle of her siblings. She no longer is a middle child who struggles to find her place in the family. She is no longer a rambunctious character who can’t  won’t sit still long enough to read a simple book. She’s the apple of my eye. Just me and her… and God!

Whatever the reason behind doing it, God is doing it. Now, multiple weeks later just as she begins having her big emotions, (and although she even lets them out for a split second) she is showing that she DOES actually have self-control. Imagine that! A fruit of the Spirit. Not only have I increased my prayer time with her, but she’s following suit and has been praying on her own. She is SIX! And she’s extraordinary!

Each child is going to teach their parents something. I could go on and on explaining all the unique things the other three have taught me. But right now, I’m learning to pray. And I’m gleaning all the benefits of God’s mighty answers to my prayers.

Prayer changes things. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, according to His will, and He WILL do it! I challenge you to try it! And please let me know the results.

pastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

Public Service Announcement to those Offended

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

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

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