For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation

 

How many of you know that the world and it’s moral compass is proof that Jesus is coming soon! We’re seeing a lot of scripture truly come to life and we need to heed the warning. Let’s take a look at  1 Timothy chapter 4

This chapter starts off with the warning from the Holy Spirit that some will turn away from the faith of Jesus Christ. Falling away comes in many different forms. One can give up completely, turn their backs on God, and profess atheism. One can begin to believe lies that the world tells them, and begin making up their own Jesus. So they no longer worship the TRUE Jesus, but a made up version, a false version… which is idolatry at it’s sneakiest. Or, one can continue coming to church, continue preaching to the world the true Jesus… but live in complete contrast to Him. They hold the truths in their hands and not their hearts. They say all the right words, but act not a one of them. Their conscience is dead, what once convicted them, no longer applies… to THEM, others, sure, but not THEM.

This is Satan coming to kill, steal, and destroy! His goal is to Kill our salvation, steal our purpose, and destroy our witness. And in the end times, we can’t afford for this to happen!


Timothy was a pastor, but this chapter wasn’t included in the Bible strictly for pastors. God wants our eyes to be open to be doing the work as well. Has anyone ever seen a baby bjorn. Has anyone seen THIS 

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This is how many Christians expect to live. Your pastor is NOT going to get in a man bjorn and follow you around. You can’t strike up a conversation with your grocery clerk and then turn your back and say, “Now my Pastor will invite you to church!” You can’t pack your Pastor up for every family gathering and let him do the witnessing for you. He can’t live YOUR life and influence YOUR circle. As much as most Pastors LOVE bbq, they can’t be at each one of your houses talking to your neighbors while you grill! YOU must step up, you MUST start inviting people to church, or the Church (capital C) will die. You MUST tell others about the AMAZING, AWESOME, LIFE CHANGING SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! I can not emphasize this enough! This is not optional.

But here’s the good news. God never reveals a problem that is too big for Him to solve. And right here in this chapter (and really all throughout the Bible), he gives us the HOW. How do we tells others, enhance our witness, and become effective Christians?

One… You must be anchored in God’s word. Paul says To be Nourished by the message.  The Bible is truth. It is 100% solid. It will give you ALL you need. Arguing over whose faith is right, or fighting against false teachings in a unloving way is never needed. Don’t waste your time. Instead, as verse 7 says, “train yourself to be godly.” Turning your focus on yourself, and your own relationship will win others to Christ WAY faster than pointing out all their wrongs. The healthier you are, the healthier example you set for the neighbors/community around you.

Secondly,  you must train for godliness.  Yes. Exercising is important. Building muscles keeps us going in life. The stronger your muscles, the better your endurance, metabolism, and even mental health are.  There’s no argument that it’s very important. However, the Bible doesn’t speak to a vigorous physical exercise regimen… but it is VERY clear that training for godliness is a must.

This word “godliness” in verse 8 means to have the character and attitude of God– We aren’t made in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were made in the image of God! So, is that true in your life? Do your neighbors, your co-workers, your family see the image of God in you?

I definitely don’t have the image of a beauty queen– but I pray that in every encounter the image of God shines more beautifully to others than any tiara I could ever wear upon my head! I pray that the way I treat my husband, the way I handle telemarketers, the way I negotiate internet rates… I even pray the way I discipline my children is proof that I was made in the image of God. It won’t’ mean I won’t mess up… but it is my duty to pursue, and train myself to live in such a manner. Bodily exercise is good… for awhile, but it won’t affect eternity. It won’t go into all the world and preach the good news… but our godliness will.

It is NOT easy, and Paul does not hide that it will hard. But he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we work hard and continue to struggle through this training because  Our hope is in the LIVING GOD. David challenged Goliath in the name of the LIVING GOD… and guys… he slayed the giant! When we choose the godly life, we, too can slay our giants.  We can tell the rage that lives deep down, “You come at me with frustrations and stress but I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can tell your insecurities… “You come at me with shyness and self loathing… I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can stand there in front of your giant, whatever weapons he may bear and you can remind him that you have THE.LIVING.GOD and HE is the only weapon you’ll EVER need!

We have power! And it’s a SIN to keep it to ourselves!

We must teach these things and insist that others learn it.  I am NOT saying you beat someone over the head with your Bible, follow around after them chanting “GET SAVED OR BURN” rhetoric. You know, kids don’t learn sometimes on the first time… and sometimes not the 2nd time… and sometimes not the 3rd… or 4th… or 5th time… but we never just walk away and let them ignore the thing they HAVE to learn. Instead you continue to guide, and teach, and speak, and work it into daily life. And if we’re doing it right… we’re not doing this through beating them. Haha. So, we don’t beat people over the head, but we don’t neglect teaching them either. Teaching is more than just preaching, too, by the way.  We show them with our lives, we point them towards Jesus in how we talk to them. We pray for our neighbors and not gossip about them. We seek God’s direction, and we invite grocery clerks to Church. Or we pray with a grieving co-worker. We stand up for the weak, and live out our convictions, even when no one else agrees. You don’t HAVE to preach… but you do HAVE to witness!

There are NO excuses. Timothy was young– but was still called to be an example. So what is your excuse?
If you spoke them out, how ridiculous would they sound?
I did this. I stood at an alter where I felt God was wanting to use me, but I’d held back. And I said out loud my excuses… Are you like me as I stood there and said,
“I’m too fat to approach people and tell them about God.”
Ummm, yeah, where is THAT in scripture?
“I’m just too shy, I’ll stumble over myself if I try to witness.”
“God, I sin.” (Well, DUH!)
“I’m just too busy.”
When you HEAR yourself saying something so outlandish it should resonate with you that you’re just stalling. And you’re giving the enemy a footstool.

 We are called to point others to the saving Grace of Jesus fearlessly and let God do the rest! Paul told Timothy to “preach” through example– preach by the words you say but also HOW you say them–
Preach not just in how you live, but by how you enhance the lives of others.
Preach not by declaring that you go to Church, but instead SHOW them why you can’t stay away!

Preach in the way you live, in the way you love, in how deeply you live out your faith and how pure you are (vs 12). And do all of this by focusing on the scripture, encouraging and teaching others what the Word says.  

We mess up when it comes to the last few verses here… and it’s funny that verse 15 starts  Give your complete attention to these matters…

Timothy was given a gift– This refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy but it’s also the same word God used to speak of the gifts He gives US! We, as I’ve said before, are made in the image of God– We were given gifts and attributes to use to reflect Him… And yet we neglect them. We live in fear instead of peace. We live defeated instead of victory, we live insecure instead of the child of the God we were created to be! Where do we see the image of God fearful? Defeated? Insecure?

Timothy isn’t the only one that has been given supernatural gifts from God– the word was written TO US! FOR US! We should trust that God will do great things through us– and we must begin to flow with the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit. We must throw ourselves into this task so that everyone will see the progress as verse 15 says.  We need to  Give it our all. We can’t afford to live a passive Christian life. Other’s salvation is at stake.

People are staying away from church because they don’t see the point. The church going people they see are the same as the bar going people. They see anger outside… AND inside the church. They see a world full of hate, division, and pain… and unfortunately… so VERY unfortunately, they see it inside the church.
But maybe one of the most detrimental to the church is that lack of power they see when they look at the church. We’re so passive that they don’t see a reason to change.

Paul is speaking from experience here. No one could accuse Paul of living a passive Christian life.

 1 Corinthians 15:10 says But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  Paul knew spiritual growth didn’t just happen, we MUST actively pursue it.

We can have a saved soul– I mean, we’ll make it to heaven– but we can waste it in the process.

I mentioned at the beginning Satan’s goals for us. Kill, steal, and destroy… but what is God’s goal?
TO HAVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! A powerful, effective life!  All of this culminates in this last verse in 1 Timothy
Why does all of this matter? Your salvation is at risk… but also

For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation, you MUST take your faith outside the church walls and into your own sphere of influence.

If you are saved, and you’ve made that choice, the angels in heaven rejoice because of it, but… for the sake of the neighbor’s salvation you can NOT stop there. Your world needs salvation, too. Your living, your teaching, your witness saves people.
Satan knows that many solid Christians are pretty solid in their faith. He has probably figured out by now that he won’t get some of you to denounce Christ. So he shifts his purpose and works diligently to make you ineffective. If he can get you to look just like the world, he’ll ruin your witness… and he’ll win.
If he can get you to doubt yourself, and keep you living in fear, never stepping out to speak to your family about Jesus… he wins.

We, too easily, disqualify ourselves. We fail to believe the promises written right there in HIs word– and we play right into Satan’s plan for our ineffective lives. And for the sake of our neighbor’s salvation we CAN NOT let that happen! We aren’t going to be perfect… but we ARE going to make a difference.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church. It’s the day the believers of Jesus went to an upper room and they waited for the promised holy spirit to arrive. In order to take the church out of the building, and into the community, we need the outpouring of the holy spirit. I’ve spoken a lot of MUSTS… and as much as I don’t want to sound so bossy and demanding, I’ve felt SO strongly that it is TIME. The Church needs to be a light into the community, and it can’t be just your pastor’s responsibility. They can’t be strapped to each one of you… You don’t need them (although they ARE important parts of God’s plan here).  You NEED Jesus! You NEED His power, His influence, His witness. But you can no longer keep it to yourself. If you are unwilling to take Jesus outside of  your own personal walls, you’re neighbors are going to die, and they WILL go to hell. I don’t know another nicer way to put it. The truth is, it’s time to leave your pews and trust God for the power to take the message out.

May I challenge you? Make a commitment to 1 Timothy 4. To live a godly life as an open witness… for the sake of your salvation… and the salvation of those who hear you!

This Monday devotion was brought to you by yesterday’s Sermon at Crossroads Church. If you’d like to hear more, learn more, or clarify more, please visit our Facebook page, give us a call (507-375-5920. Leave a message if you need to) or come to our Sunday Services every Sunday at 10am. 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN. I’ll save you a seat!

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To the Overwhelmed Mama

It’s Mother’s Day week. This either brings excitement to your mind, or dread. You may be looking forward to an amazing day planned in your honor, or you’re preparing for unmet expectations… yet again. Well, I’d like to spend a few days this week encouraging Moms with some things I’ve learned  I’m learning on this journey. I’ve only been here for 13 years, and I know there’s this entire teen-mom thing just waiting for me (x4). But for now, let me share my heart at this stage.

Being a Mom of 4 (with an extra baby 10hrs of the day), I’m a tad overwhelmed. I may make it to church in time, and have most of the kids’ hair brushed and dressed semi presentable… but the chaos that gets us there is pretty overwhelming. There’s just so much to do. Laundry, cleaning, grooming, laundry, teaching, loving, encouraging, laundry, sports, shopping, feeding, laundry, breaking up fights, cultivating family bonding, laundry… and have I mentioned the never-ending loads of laundry? Even if I have the kids do their own, our schedule does not always allow for them to finish it all in one day, so the mounds begin to form, and the digging to find clothes adds to the frustration, then Sunday comes and no one has anything decent to wear… see, I’m getting overwhelmed just talking about it. But, the Laundry isn’t the only thing on the never ending list!

We are gearing up for a garage sale. And to be honest that was all because we’re really gearing up for family to come and stay for a couple of days in our home. So that means I want the bedrooms to be “guest-ready”. The problem is that My room and bathroom is downstairs, the Fab Four sleep and have a bathroom upstairs. Do you know the destruction that goes on when there is no parent living on the 2nd floor, just room after room of unorganized, hoarding, slime making kids!? If you don’t know… you don’t want to! It can get bad!

But I have to be honest, checking 4 bedrooms (oh how I’m blessed that each kid has their own room!!– But it can appear to be a curse!), 4 closets, a bathroom, a hallway, and the stairs EVERY DAY on top of everything else can be a tad overwhelming for me. I know that sounds lazy, and seem silly, but I also check 4 maths, 4 englishes, 4 sciences, 4 handwritings… I oversee 4 completely individualized curriculums, a baby who is here 40-50hours a week, sports schedules, doctor appointments, dentists appointments, and I’m married to the Pastor. And I don’t even have the energy to go into the work of the church.

Please hear me out, I LOVE this role as Mother (and wife, and pastor-wife). I really do! But, it can get so overwhelming. And so at the end of the day, there are days I’m just glad we made it. I’m just so thankful we all have smiles on our faces as I drag myself to the bottom step, cuddle them all, pray over them all, and send them to their beds. And as I lounge on that bottom step thanking God for those amazing little blessings, I snarl my upper lip, let out a sigh of exhaustion, and say, “Oh MAN, I forgot to check their rooms!”

So, day after day of that, when I FINALLY do check rooms, they are such a mess! And I drop my shoulders in despair as emotions of failure, inadequacy, incompetence and overwhelming unworthiness sweep over me. I can not mange bedrooms, I must be a failure as a mother! Lie number one!!!

Boy, did that escalate fast! But it’s true. We somehow equate being a good mother with how well we manage all the things that are piled on us day in and day out. We let messy playrooms, bedrooms, faces, and bottoms determine our self-worth. And just when we conquer managing the bedrooms, we notice those pesky stairs! HOW in the WORLD do stairs get so incredibly messy!?

But, that’s a LIE. Our success in motherhood has nothing to do with getting our kids to sports on time. It isn’t found in the cleanliness of our kids ears, or thank heavens the amount of times we’ve actually scrubbed that kids’ toilet!

You are a great mom because you love your kids. You are a great mom because you are pursuing a good life for your children. You are a good mom because you protect them, encourage them, love on them, and nurture them. You are their mother! Not their maid! And God has given you these blessings, not to overwhelm you, but to draw you closer to Him. My prayer life has increased exponentially since having children… even more so the more kids I’ve had.

Motherhood isn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but there is no better calling on this earth! And God never expected you to do this alone. I wake each morning and hit snooze on my alarm. It’s only 5 min, but I bombard heaven in those 5 minutes. I ask for patience, endurance, and a measure of Grace. I pray against the urge to be perfect, and for a peace to calm my overwhelming tasks throughout the day. I pray for my kids, and their walk with God that day, and I ask God to help them help me. It’s not a lengthy prayer, but it’s my way of reminding myself that it’s not my responsibility to walk this day alone. It puts before me the fact that God is on my side, desires for me to walk in His will, and will help me to do so. This doesn’t mean I don’t pray throughout the day as well… believe me, I am doing it often. “HELP, GOD!” “Protect this child!” “Oh God, I’m glad you love them! Remind them that I do, too!” and many many “Please forgive me, Lord” prayers! But nothing rejuvenated me more than that 5min prayer before I put my feet on the floor each morning.

Mama, be encouraged today! Know that God wants you to raise your kids in His love, and if you have to skip room checks in order to do that, then so be it… Just know even in the midst of the many sports trips, doctor visits, late night feedings, and all the ever-loving trash that comes along with motherhood, Jesus is walking this path alongside of you. He desires your company, and relishes in leading you as you raise these precious blessings He gave you. He chose this calling for you, He won’t fail to equip you to do it.

Praying for each of you lovely mamas this Mother’s Day. mothers-day

For those in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be starting up a Parent support gathering. These nights will be laid back nights for parents to come and meet other parents. If you are in the area, we’d love for you to join us. We will all be in different stages of parenthood… but we’ll share the same overwhelming feelings that come with the journey. June 10th at 6:00p will be our first gathering. If you’d like more information, please like our Facebook page so you can receive updates as the date comes closer.  Feel free to call the church office for more details as well. 507-375-5920 (leave a message if you want a call back)

Marriage Success

This January marks 17 years of marriage for The Pastor and me. We started dating a year before that, so 18 years together. We are just years away from spending more years together than years apart. On our anniversary I looked across the table, past the 4 very boisterous children, at my man and thought, “THIS is success.” Life has its ups and downs. But when I look across the table, holding our family, I am so blessed by knowing that life can go any way it wants and I will still have this man of mine and our marriage.

So I thought I’d ask this man of mine, “Hey, what are we doing right?” That’s not always a question people ask, but in reality, marriage is hard. Marriage takes a lot of work. Not every marriage survives. And yet, here we were. And without sounding braggadocious, it has been pretty easy for us. Don’t stop reading!!! I’m fully aware that those who are entirely committed and completely love their spouses sometimes have to work hard at keeping a good marriage. And I’m so happy that people are willing to do the work to keep it good.

So, I want to share the things we are doing right in hopes to inspire those just starting out… or those who are trying to keep on going. And please… 17 years is just a drop in the bucket, so if you have your own “right”, please share in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you and your spouse are doing right!

Our wedding vows are taken from Romans 12:9-18. When we decided to write our own vows we wanted something Biblical. We figured the best way to truly keep a vow that important was to take it straight from the eternal Word of God. The caption to that passage says, “Love in Action” and that was our intention. To keep love an action.

Love must be sincere: When praying for my spouse, I pray that God will show me how to love him. I ask God to keep passion in my marriage. Without a sincere love, marriages won’t work. So pray for a genuine sincere love for your spouse, it’s never too late for this step!

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good: There are many things that are a huge threat to your marriage, stay away from those things. HATE THEM! If it threatens your closeness, your communication, your sincere love, stay away and cling to what is good. Leave no room for those threats to creep in. Keep your relationship pure. Keep your eyes on your spouse, your heart on your spouse, and your passion for your spouse. Hate all evil that tries to creep in. (With technology in our pockets, the temptation can be there at any moment. Take the steps required to keep your marriage good).

Be devoted to one another in love: This goes along with the previous one. Devotion is loyalty. So staying true to your spouse in all aspects (emotionally and physically) is very VERY important. It seems obvious, but loyalty isn’t just staying affair-free. It also involves not speaking bad about the other. It’s very common for friends to get together and bash their spouses. “He never_______!” “She always _______!” It breeds quickly and goes south just as quick. Be devoted in love! Don’t put your spouse down EVER… not even to your mother!

Honor one another above yourself: My husband rubs my back almost every night. I can almost guarantee he doesn’t really WANT to rub my back every night, but he knows I have a hard time falling asleep and so he does this for me. I could keep listing examples of how this man of mine honors me above himself… and to be honest, I’m having a hard time coming up with ways I demonstrate this for him (let me take a moment to let that conviction set into my heart…) but, when we honor the other above ourselves, we learn to hold our tongue, give things up, add things that aren’t our first choice, and strive to please the one we love. When BOTH spouses do this, no one feels belittled, overworked, or stretched beyond what is God-glorifying.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord: This is the most important thing to a successful marriage. I cannot emphasize enough how important your relationship with God is to your relationship with your spouse. As each spouse draws close to Christ, seeking His will above all else, they will draw closer to each other. Think of it as a triangle…                   Screenshot 2018-01-21 at 4.50.53 AM
So keeping your spiritual zeal and fervor is of utmost importance.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer: When our hope in placed in Jesus then being joyful is easy. Nothing makes a better marriage more than a happy spouse. When we can be joyful, it can spread through the household. That doesn’t mean trials won’t arise, but that’s where the 2nd part comes in. We need to be patient in affliction. Of course this verse is speaking about trials in our personal walk, but when trials come into our marriage, we need to be patient with our spouses. Because we love them sincerely, and because we are devoted them, and because  we honor our spouse above ourselves we can be patient when trials come up. This is why we must do the 3rd part… we MUST be faithful in our prayer time. Continually pray for your spouse, and your marriage. Nothing aids in the love towards a person like praying for them does.

Practice hospitality: I’ve often wondered why it’s so easy to hold our tongue and our temper with our college roommate (who can be a tad unruly at times) but when we meet the love of our lives, get married, and move into a house together (as it should be done in that order), we seem to throw consideration out the window. We stop holding our tongues and reigning in our temper. When my college roommate let the trash pile up in our apartment (it was her job to take it out), I didn’t nag her and scream about all of her inadequacies as a person simply because the trash was overflowing. And so I should not do that to the love of my life! Consideration goes a long way. Practice hospitality even with your spouse. They may not be a guest in your home, but you can definitely greet your spouse with a daily dose of warmness and courtesy.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse: Let me be honest, there are times when a tiny little frustration can blow up to a full-out catastrophe in my mind. In my mind I can say, “These dishes can pile up all week long! Maybe when he has to eat off dirty dishes I’ll get some help around here!” (this is usually on a bad day, and then I remember how often he does the dishes and I snap out of it!). I never follow through with my antics in my head (mainly because they are totally irrational!), but I’ve talked to women who have shut their husband’s out by refusing to make him dinner. She’ll cook just enough for her and the kids and leave him plateless at the table. I’m not saying he didn’t do something to hurt her, he probably did, but we should set out to bless and not curse. Do what is right even when the other person does not. And continue to be faithful in prayer, praying for a change in your spouse. Maybe even go above and beyond when you feel hurt. You can always discuss the hurt, but always always always bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn: Empathy in a marriage goes a long way. When one spouse is dealing with frustration in the workplace, be that listening ear. How many times have wives said, “I’m not looking for a solution, I just want him to listen!” We, wives, want our husbands to be happy when we’re happy and sad when we are sad… well, at least, understand our feelings. I’m assuming it goes the same way from husbands to wives. Be a good listener, empathize with your spouse.

Do not be proud… Do not be conceited: Most arguments between spouses are simply a matter of who is right and who is wrong. And too often who ever is right wants to be sure the other one knows just how right they are. But this goes along with honoring your spouse above yourself. You can be right and still honor your spouse. You can empathize and still be right. You can agree to disagree and maintain your friendship with your spouse. Is being right more important than valuing your spouse? Is being right more important than validating your spouses feelings? Is being right worth the divide it can cause? Do not be conceited or too proud to bow out of a discussion that is heading towards argument. A silent night is better than an explosive one. (That is of course assuming you’re communicating in a loving way in other aspects.)

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone: When Paul wrote this passage, this segment, this command he understood that it was impossible to always be right in everyone’s eyes. And although this particular wording can seem weird. What Paul was trying to convey was that we need to be upright Christians in our everyday walk. Let people see the good marriage you have. There are friends of mine (I use the term loosely) that are offended by my happiness over my good marriage. I’d bet it’s safe to say some have even stopped reading, not because this blog is SO LONG, but because they don’t want to hear about my successful marriage. They scoff and get upset, but in reality God set marriage up to show us a type of Christ and His Church. Christians are the bride of Christ. He loves us unconditionally and cares for us and He set up marriage to give us a tangible view of that relationship. Our sinful nature and actions have messed that up. But look at a good marriage, and you’ll see that loving relationship Christ wants to have with us. Of course, even the best marriage is an imperfect reflection of a very perfect Christ, but it’s a glimpse. The fact that my husband knows me better than my own mother, and loves me anyway… by CHOICE reminds me of just how much more Jesus does. So let your marriage be a testimony to those around you. Let it be a  witness of Christ’s love for His church. I mean, for real, if my husband can endure my many imperfections and still love and adore me, how much more can Jesus?

And lastly As far as it depends on you, live at peace with your spouse (scripture says everyone). Choose to live at peace. Learn to overlook. And decide on a respectful conversation over a hateful nagging.  If you know your husband likes the seat moved back in the vehicle so he doesn’t hit his knees on the steering wheel, take the extra effort to push the seat back when you drive his car. If your wife drags you to one more antique store when your feet have been aching for 4 stores already, take one for the team (she’s only looking for the best price anyway, and that’s a good thing for you!… insert winky face here). As far as it depends on you… if it’s in your power to do so… live at peace with your spouse.

There are TONS more scripture that would go great for guidance on a great marriage, and there are TONS more tips we could share. But I believe most fall within these 12 guidelines. I’m not stating that my husband and I never fight, or that I’m this perfect wife, or that he’s a perfect husband. But we have a fantastic marriage because we try to do all 12 of these things. Just like any human being, I get annoyed with him, and him with me from time to time, but that seems to be less and less the more and more we put these 12 things into practice.

How is your Love in Action? I’d love to hear and share, leave me a comment!

What Life do you Choose?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://followchrist.ag.org/

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

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

Are Christians Obligated to Address Every Controversy?

With every controversy that pops up in our country (and even abroad) many look to The Church for their reaction. They either are looking for which way to lean, or looking for another reason to discredit, either way, there is an expectation that The Church (Christians) should somehow take a stand one way or another on various controversies that come up… and there’s a new one every week!

So, are Christians obligated to address every controversy?

Controversy isn’t new. It’s always been there rearing its ugly head. Whether it be if the Earth is flat or round, or if Luther or the Pope is right… the controversies swirl around among every circle of people groups. Christians are not immune to this, and I’m sure every Christian deep down “takes a side”. But I’d like to answer this question with a simple NO. No, Christians are NOT obligated to address every controversy.

Christians should take strong stands against things that go against the Love of God, and the sin that threatens the people God so loves, there is no doubt this is important. So, when it comes to sin issues, ie, murder, infidelity, theft, HATE… absolutely, we need to speak up, speak loud, and take our stand. We need to defend the Word of God and as it lays out the sins God hates, we, too can take that stand, and should!

But, there is a new hot topic each week, and a majority of them are not sin issues. Sure, our world is full of sin, evil, and hate. But not every single surface issue is lined out in scripture as a sin. And the underlying issues are the battles we need to fight… but not on social media, on the streets, or with our own hateful attitudes.

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. When I take a stand on something that isn’t a sin issue I’m bound to upset one side or another, all for what? What good do I do for the Kingdom of God speaking loud about a topic that isn’t even an issue in God’s eyes.  The important issue isn’t a sin issue. For example pride in our Country isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a biblical thing either. The important issue is our faith, and expressing that faith in Love.

We have freedoms, and we not only thank our servicemen for those freedoms, but as Christians, we thank God for them. We’ve been called to live in freedom, but we have to remember not to use our freedom to satisfy our sinful nature. We have to be careful our freedom in this country doesn’t become an idol, that we place it above the freedom we have in God. That’s what the sinful nature does, it reverts back to idolatry. The acts of the flesh are obvious, especially when we choose to fight a fight Christ would not fight.

**I feel I need keep giving this disclosure, but I am NOT talking about sin issues. Be sure you understand that, and be sure you truly know what is considered sin. 

Instead, we are to use our freedoms to serve one another in LOVE. It can be summed up asking yourself, “Do I love them like I love myself?” Are you finding out what both sides are feeling, or are you so stuck on your side that you refuse to show love? Because if we are always biting and devouring one another, we need to watch out and reevaluate! Our biggest concern should not be what “side” we’re on. Instead it should be that we not destroy one another.  So no, Christians are not obligated to take a side, you’re bound to destroy someone in the process.

So, Let the Holy Spirit be your guide. You’re allowed to have an opinion, but share it as the Holy Spirit leads, and be sure it lines up with scripture and that it’s full of love. Share it one on one as to understand where the person your sharing it with is. Be sure that the important part is your faith, and expressing it in Love.

When we follow the desires of our sinful nature, that desire to be heard, to be right, to “take a stand” the results are obvious, they cause hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, dissension, division. There is no doubt that if you stand against murder, those outside the church could possibly still have hostility, quarreling, anger, and division… but that is because they are separating themselves from the standards God has set before us. But when it is not a sin issue, you are working more towards division than drawing them in. Your voice is heard more as quarrelling than it is bridging the gap. So we need to be mindful of weighing in on every controversy so as not to provoke more division, more dissension, and more anger.

**Again, if another believer is overcome by some sin, the godly should GENTLY and HUMBLY help that person back to the faith. Of COURSE! But, again… this isn’t what I’m talking about here.

Ask ourselves WHY we feel we need to address each controversy. I know that deep down no one thinks it’s to stir the pot. Perhaps we think we are so important, and therefore our opinions should be, too? Well, we’re fooling ourselves. We are not that important.

Here’s the thing, those who live only to satisfy their own desires will end up with decay and the death of relationships. So when our motive is not to build relationships (with all of those God has put in our path… so, Facebook world, twitter world, or even blog world). We will only reap a harvest of hurt and decay. It does not help. But those who live with the purpose of pleasing the Spirit (living that spirit led life even when controversy arises) will see such an amazing harvest of love.

So, No, Christians are not obligated to address every controversy, I even think they shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter whether we stand on this side, or that side what counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. And causing more division to the latest controversy will not be a flattering view on your faith and the fact that you are indeed a transformed being!

Causing division IS a sin issue. 

If you’re looking for scripture to aid in this, please read Galatians 5 and 6. The people of the time may not have been discussing who to vote for, what organization to give to, or how to honor our vets… but they had controversy and God gives us a great guideline as to how to deal with the conflicts that arise in our own culture.

These battles are better fought in prayer.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Tenacious Child

I would like to introduce you to “Tenacious Tuesday”. I’m fully aware that today is Wednesday, but when you have THAT child, and you don’t always get to do exactly what you want to do.

First… let me explain THAT child. My goal is never to speak to ill of ANYONE  or cause you to think less of them. I do not share this information without the consent of my child that I speak of. I also hate the term THAT child. I feel that if I were to speak to her in this way, she would lose hope that she can conquer this difficult time… so, again, with her permission, we’ll use that phrase until I get to the point where I’ve fully explained who THAT child is. **Just beware that there will be many disclosures within these posts.

Ok… back to THAT child. THAT child is the child that you struggle with the most. It may be your only child, it may be your oldest, or youngest, or like us, one of the middle. But it’s the kid that takes what you know about child rearing and throws it out the window… but not before ripping it to shreds, stomping on it and screaming at you for believing you knew anything at all. It’s the kid that has days, or unfortunately even weeks, where the only peace you get is when they sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, these kids are amazing. Mine is smart, SO caring, hilarious, and I can honestly tell she has a huge desire to please God. She loves church, she loves worship, she reads her Bible and I can visually see how she tries to put it in action. But she struggles. Her temper gets the best of her and her rage goes out of control.

I have 4 kids. My first was strong-willed. I read James Dobson’s Strong Willed Child at least 4 times by the time the kid was 5. So I was pretty convinced I knew what I was doing, and how to handle the “strongest of strong-willed” children. My 2nd child is strong willed, but it’s so  minute in comparison.

And just when a mom thinks she’s got it, #3 comes along to prove you wrong. She was such a sweet and loving and quiet baby. She was the perfect fit to our lives. Her brother started Kindergarten (homeschooled) the year she came, and she just melded into the “classroom” with ease. So naturally I felt like I could handle more kids, and by the time #4 came, my beautiful calm baby became the most energetic, high maintenance, and stubborn child I had. She loves just as hard! Basically she does everything at a much higher volume than we had ever seen. What a thrill!

It’s just such a struggle for her to have such huge emotions… she loves big, she angers big. And it’s such a struggle as her parents to parent THAT child. I love her, I want her to excel. I want to foster those super sweet, super loving, super smart, and super hilarious moments… but have to learn how to first maneuver around the super tantrums, super hurt feelings, super monster anger, and it’s just.SO.HARD!

So… back to this phrase, “THAT CHILD”. She told me she didn’t like being THAT child. And I squeezed her tight and told her that with God’s help she was going to no longer see herself as (wish you could hear my tone of voice here) “THAT CHILD” (said in a negative way… “THAT angry child, THAT naughty child, THAT tiresome child”) but she’d see herself as I see her…  “THAT child” (said in a positive, cheerful  voice… “That amazing little girl! That sweet friend. That loving child!”). And so, I want to change THAT child to TENACIOUS Child. Hence the “Tenacious Tuesday”.

Screenshot 2017-09-13 at 2.49.08 PM

I’ve been searching for near 7 years for the correct phrase to describe a child like mine. Strong willed was not quite strong enough. And many other words or phrases sounded so negative. You see, we do struggle. We have a lot of hard days. I cry and pray A.LOT as I try to figure out how to parent her, how to remain sane, and how to show her I won’t give up on her. And to find this word, to study its meaning, brings me to my knees before God. I can TOTALLY see this in her.

Synonyms for Tenacious:
Determined, persistent, spunky (AMEN!!), steadfast, strong-willed, unswerving, iron, obstinate, persevering, purposeful, solid, unforgettable (YES!), UN.SHAKEABLE (Please, God!)

I found myself shouting, Yep! Yes! This is SO HER!!! Then I had to look up “Obstinate”. stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or chosen course of action, despite attempts to persuade one to do so… very difficult to change or overcome.

I stopped. I prayed. “Lord, is this ever so true! Guide me, teach me, and help me be creative in overcoming.” And within the very second of finishing my prayer I saw how positive this could be in her walk with God. I could see how strong her will has to be to make it in this ever darkening world. And I added, “Lord, please let her not be overcome. Let her stand on her course of action, YOU, and YOUR WILL despite the world’s attempts to persuade her any other way.

And so… here we are. I’d like to take time each week to share her with the world. She wants to help with this portion of this blog. She’d like to share some of her thoughts on here. She knows this is a struggle, and she prays daily for the fruits of the spirit to be evident in her life. (This girl… she can rattle off all 9 fruits and what they mean! She has studied them on her own, and even knows which one she needs more of as she faces issues that causes her big emotions to come out… folks, she’s SEVEN!!! What a TENACIOUS one I have!!).

Please come back on Tuesdays, see how we handle these Big emotions with a Big God, and join in on the conversation on Facebook. Click here to request to be in our new group called “The Tenacious Child”.

I look forward to seeing what God will be doing in and through us!

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!

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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