A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Guest Blog: This Bears Repeatin'

This was taken my friend's blog! It is very timely and well written! Enjoy!


Hate Religion? You may say that it is not right to hate. To this I would simply ask if is it not right to have the heart of Christ? Should we not love what he loves and hate what he hates? For this reason, I'd like to share why I think God hates religion.

Religion may be one of the main causes of sending people to hell, or hindering people from living truly godly lives. Listening to JR during prayer service last Sunday and listening to an old sermon by Dave Stoltzfus have led me to look deeper into this topic of "religion".

Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." As JR explained, the scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of their time. They were conservative, orthodox, pious, law-abiding, etc. These groups fasted, prayed, read, went to church, sacrificed, circumcised, tithed 30% of their income, were responsible for copying the holy scriptures, etc. The scribes and the Pharisees lived their life by the law. But where is God in the law?

The law was never meant to save, the law was meant to show us OUR SIN. THAT WAS THE PROBLEM. They were self-righteous, putting their hope and faith in their ability to carry out the law in their flesh. God went further with them though. He pushed through their hypocrisy and went after the motive of their hearts. He exposed their "religion" by showing them how corrupt and evil their hearts were. He did this by going straight down the list of the laws ... saying that the law says do not murder, but if you hate your brother you have committed murder in your heart .... or the law says do not commit adultery, but if you look upon a woman with lust you have already committed adultery in your heart ... and he goes on. We should not exalt ourself in our ability to keep the commandments of Christ. We should not boast in our daily devotion and how we pray 3 times a day and fast more than anyone else. It is only by the grace of God that we are even saved from our own sin. We are powerless on our own. We have no ability or power outside of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are weak, and He is strong.

Where is justice in the law? Where is mercy in the law? Where is faithfulness in the law? In Matthew 23:23 God calls these things the weightier provisions of the law. We should live out justice, mercy, faithfulness, grace, and righteousness as Christians and in doing so the duties of the law will not be neglected either. For we are not to neglect prayer, reading the word, and tithing, and God's commandment's ... but they are not to be our hope or the focus of our religion.

Dave Stoltzfus in his sermon used Colossians 2:6-9, "Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according the to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Diety dwells in bodily form." You can see that these verses focus on walking IN CHRIST and being rooted built up IN HIM. These verses also warn us not to be taken captive and to guard against being deceived.

How does this happen? We forget Christ and we go through RELIGION - empty deception, philosophy, and traditions of men. WE CAN NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN RELIGION. Religious traditions and the law keep us from getting to God's grace. It is by grace we are saved through faith! Praying, tithing, fasting, reading the bible, attending every church meeting and activity, giving to the poor, taking communion, keeping the ten commandments, and any other thing can not earn us righteousness! Our righteousness is through Christ!

If you look at Matthew 23:15 it says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around the sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." This is why in the opening of my blog I said that RELIGION may be one of the main causes of sending people to hell, or hindering people from living truly godly lives. Because when religious people "share their faith" with sinners, they change them from a non-believer into a false christian. Religion witho uth Christ is counter-productive and gives false hope and empty deception. Sinners who enter into these traditions of men and religious practices find no freedom and find no salvation! All they find is more condemnation but they are too blind to see! We need to get rid of empty RELIGION and simply preach CHRIST!

How easy is it to look at the scribes and Pharisees and point out their faults, but what about me? What is in my heart? Sure, I can condemn the life of the Pharisee ..... but would someone looking at me consider me a Pharisee? Do I try to appear righteous before my fellow Christians and win the approval of men? Do I neglect prayer during the week and then pray loud in church so people can hear and know I am praying? Do I ignore what God is telling me to do in my life, but then point out everyone else's shortcomings? Do I point out everyone else's faults and confront them without ever offering a prayer for them? Do I offer others godly advice that I don't even follow myself? Do I just read and pray out of duty or because I want to grow in Christ? Do I get lost in keeping a checklist of do's and dont's instead of having a relationship with God?

God forgive me and change my heart. As Keith Green's song lyrics say, "I want to, I need to be more like Jesus!"

To view more go to: http://fearthelordgodalmighty.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Common Man

I was sitting in the parking lot of Weis Market the other day while waiting on my daughter to finish her speech therapy. I opened my Bible to Mk. 6:4 and was reading the story of when Jesus returned to his own city to minister. It says that because of their unbelief, He could do no miracles there. And the the Lord spoke to me and said, "familiarity breeds contempt." Now that is one of those "good ole sayings" from my childhood that were amongst the many my parents often said to my stubborn, deep sighing ears, but on this day, it made perfect sense.

(I had just been reading some posts on a Pastor's wife group the night before and the questions had been asked if a congregation can affect the anointing of a Pastor and if a Pastor can be "best friends" with people in the congregation--two highly debated issues amongst those in ministry. )

I began to think about it and ask why it was that Jesus could do no miracles? Of course, I know it said unbelief, but what caused the unbelief? Hadn't they heard of His exploits other places--surely they had! Don't you think they would be honored and proud that a lowly carpenter's son from their town had made it big? This must have gone through Jesus' mind too because it says that "he marveled at their unbelief."

And then it hit me. They could not separate the man from the ministry. He was "common" to them.

Now being a Pastor's wife, I know a wee little about this. My husband is also my Pastor. This can be one of two things. Either a great blessing or a great hindrance. Fortunately for me it has been a tremendous blessing. The most valuable gift the Lord has given me as a Pastor's wife is the grace to realize this and to be able to discern when my husband is speaking to me as a Pastor and when he is speaking to me as a husband.

I am familiar with my husband. He is the one "staple" in my life, outside of Christ. I can identify with him on so many levels. I am very relaxed around Him and can laugh, tease, choose to disagree-respectfully, of course, and debate with him. But when he speaks to me as a Pastor, I must receive what he is saying and respect the gift of God in him that is gracing him to speak to me. (Frankly, the problem before I learned to do this was just a rebellious heart, which made submission on any level hard.)

So here we have a whole town full of people. Surely Jesus had a special fondness for them. He had grown up with them. Many of them had ministered to him and helped him as a boy. Perhaps some of them even helped his parents find him when he stayed behind in Jerusalem as a boy. And now he was returning home to minister to them, to help them, as they had done for him. How disheartening it must have been for him to be rejected to the point that he could do very little for them. "A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and his own house." Mt. 13:57

The problem was not that they affected his anointing. He was still the same Jesus, the same Messiah, the same miracle worker that He was everywhere else He had been. But in their minds they saw Him as a common man. They could not see past the natural man into the spiritual man. This caused unbelief and limited the ability of Christ to work on their behalf, thus confirming their misguided belief that He was not the Messiah and excluding themselves from His ministry. Their lack of faith did not change Him but it did tie His hands because it violated the one principle that needs to be present to receive anything from God--faith. They had effectively cut themselves completely off from God's supply line.

Now let's bring this into where we live. We all know that spiritual leadership is common man--we're all human. And most of us are glad of this! The problem can come when we are allowed to get close enough to spiritual leadership to see their humanness and are disappointed when we realize that they aren't perfect. Perhaps if we become too familiar with spiritual leadership, when we allow ourselves to think of them in common ways, when we see the ways in which they are human, we then tie their hands in ministry, not because they are not able or capable to minister, but because of our unbelief that comes for the same reasons it came to the people of Jesus' town. If we only choose to view spiritual leadership from a natural perspective, we discount that they have a grace, a special ability, calling, and anointing from God that enables God to use them to minister to us. We bring them down to our own level. We make the shepherd a sheep and he becomes "common" in our sight--just one of the boys.

Indeed, men gifted in the 5-fold ministry are not common, but have a special grace given to relatively few believers. And perhaps the reason that many ministers stay aloof to a degree from the congregation is so that the temptation and tendency to make him common in their sight will not limit him in being able to minister to them as he is commanded and commissioned by God to do. This is not a comfortable thing for a Pastor to do. A Pastor is a people person. His desire is to know people for the purpose of helping them, but if he knows that people will then only see him as the natural man that he is, he has to keep himself aloof, so that he can fulfill the purpose of God which is why God brought him to them in the first place. So he is put in a position to have to guard his ministry at the expense of having close friends. That is why many in ministry complain of it's loneliness.

So, since Pastor's appreciation month has just passed, here are a few simple things that we can all do to make sure that we appreciate our Pastors correctly all year through.

1. Determine in yourself that your Pastor is someone you need. Otherwise, God would not have put him in your life. You are a sheep. Sheep are dumb and NEED a shepherd in order to survive. You need your Pastor to grow and survive as a Christian in this wilderness we call a world.

2. When you Pastor starts cleaning or tending to, or feeding you from pastures you don't find palatable, remember that He has received his training and instruction from the Great Shephard whom appointed him to tend to you, and receive it from him the same as you would if Christ Himself was the one speaking. Most church folk are respectful to their Pastor, but sometimes are not respectful OF him. I know he would prefer you to be respectful of him rather than to him, if he had to pick between the two. It's like the story in the Bible of Father who told his sons to do something. The one said he would and didn't. The other said he wouldn't but later repented and did it anyway. Which one did the will of his father? The one who repented and did what his father had asked.

3. Guard your heart from allowing the humanness of your Pastor to cloud the spiritual man, thus hindering his anointing from doing it's proper work in you. The clouding of the spiritual man will foster unbelief in you and go much further than just damaging your relationship with your Pastor. It's an open door for pride, and a fall.

4. Realize that even if your Pastor does make a mistake, your willingness to submit and obey to his direction because it is commanded by God, will be blessed by God. (I'm not talking about sin here. I'm talking more about trying something that is ineffective in ministry, something new that you're not sure of, or maybe something that was tried before and failed the first time.) God always blesses a submitted heart as long as that heart is submitted to another because it is submitted to His Word.

5. PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!!! It keeps your heart tender towards him and helps him hear from God as to how to minister to you. I am amazed at the number of people who think that their Pastor doesn't need prayer because he's already spiritual. But when he does have a problem or makes a mistake or seem to have no direction, they are shocked and appalled and can't understand why. Remember, your Pastor is human, just like you!

6. Honor your Pastor all year long by praying for him, listening to him, trusting him, and obeying his direction. A short note every now and then affirming his ministry wouldn't hurt either! :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 7

A friend of mine attended a large wedding in Pittsburgh, PA. The bride's father was a very influential man in the area, so the wedding was held in the largest cathedral in the city and had around 600 people in attendance. The bride had on a gown so big and poofy that you could have hidden Jerome Bettis under it and it was complimented by a Cathedral length veil.

During a special song, the groom very discreetly leaned up to tell the Pastor that his zipper was down. The Pastor just smiled and nodded, but didn't do anything about the zipper. At the end of the service, as the couple turned to face the congregation, the Pastor quickly reached down and zipped up his zipper.

He announced the new couple to the congregation. The organ blared, the congregation clapped and cheered and the newly married couple began their long descent down the aisle as husband and wife! About half way down the aisle, the bride’s veil suddenly flew right off her head! The crowd let out an astonished “OH!” Slowly their eyes followed the veil back up the aisle right into the frantic Pastor’s zipper!

~I hope that this week of funnies has blessed you and made you laugh! And may you all know how wonderful and special you are in the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 6

This one is also from a friend.

Dh was teaching SS to a group of kids between the ages of 5 and 12. He was talking about sheep and why the shepherd hits the staff on the ground while he walks and all the other neat little things. So after church this one boy's father asked him (in front of dh) as he walked by, "Hey, Rus, what'd you learn in SS today?" And he says, "I'm dumb."

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Met A Famous Person Today!

I live in a place that you have to intentionally drive to. You don't just pass through our town on the way to somewhere else. If you are here, you meant to be here.

This morning at breakfast, I saw a man that I thought could be a famous basketball's coach twin. Then I heard his voice and I realized, "that's no twin, that's HIM!" It was none other than the infamous Bobby Knight!

Now he has a bit of a history with our town. When he coached Indiana, we played them one year. Before coming here, he made a crack about going to the mountains to go camping, referring to twisting his way through the moutains, which is the only way to get to our town. It enraged the fans of our town and they all wore camping gear to the game in protest.

So today, after eating, I walked over to the table to shake his hand and tell him how much I had followed and appreciated his career. (the man was a killer coach and probably has one of the greatest basketball minds ever to walk the planet!). Then I grinned and asked him if he was here on a camping trip.

He happened to be sitting at the table with Bruce Parkhill, who was our basketball coach at the time of this particular game. They both cracked up laughing! Then I got entertained with his side of the camping story and how he had brought a backpack and camo coat with him to the game and fully intended on wearing it onto the basketball floor at the beginning of the game and then giving it to a child in the crowd. But Joe Paterno, our legend of a football coach, had caught him in the locker room before the game and talked him out of it!

It was a most delightful conversation. I know Bobby Knight doesn't have a good name in every circle of society, but having played collegiate basketball myself under some pretty demonstrative coaches, understanding the coach/player relationship, and seeing the kind of coaches and people Bobby Knight produced through the years (Coach K of Duke being my favorite), I have to say that I have a great respect for the man as a coach! And let's face it, him and Dick Vitale together in the broadcaster's booth are a real kick!!

I still have no idea what Bobby Knight was doing in Happy Valley--perhaps to endorse Sarah Palin, who will also be here tomorrow night-or to attend a conference of some kind? (Secretly I'm hoping it's to breathe some life into our men's basketball program which has never been the same since Parkhill left). But it was a thrill for me to meet him and be able to give him a little bit of appreciation for the times he has entertained me through the years.

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 5

Our children's pastor and his wife, took a church with an older congregation. He and his wife were both tremendously fun and funny people. So when they ask my husband to come and preach, we were glad to go.
My husband was preached about when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant and how God smote them with some disease. Now, being the scholar that he is, he had researched this and determined that God smote them with hemorrhoids (I have no idea how to spell that). Then he proceeded to say, "Now I don't know what hemorrhoids feel like, but I know that when my wife had a baby, she had them real, real bad!" I immediately slid under my seat and the Pastor and his wife exploded in laughter and fell over in the pew on top of each other, laughing hysterically! After the service, one dear little old lady, who must have been 90 came up to me and shook my hand and said "Deary, that was the most wonderful sermon I have ever heard." I responded "Mam, I'm so glad you enjoyed it, because it's the last one he will ever preach!" My husband lives by the creed, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission", but he has stopped using me as sermon illustrations.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 4

Here's another one from a friend.

My son who was about 5 at the time, asked why I had those white pads (Dr. Scholl's) in my shoes. I explained that my feet were very tired after working 12 hr shifts at the hospital, so I put them in my shoes to help comfort them. The following Sunday, one of the women was showing off her new shoes to a crowd of ladies. My son piped up "Yes, my feet get tired at the end of the day, so I put these in my shoes", them promptly pulls a panty liner out from each shoe! A couple of the ladies said that gave them some money saving tips!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 3

Here's one from a fellow Pastor's wife that really cracks me up!

When older dear daughter was about 4, our VCR broke. We explained to her that the heads were dirty and we just needed to get it cleaned. Later we were having dinner with another pastor and his wife when dear daughter said to them, "Guess what? Our VCR is broken." "Oh really?" they replied."Yeah", she said. "It's from watching dirty movies."

Friday, October 24, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 2

Here's another one I remembered! (Isn't the ministry just too entertaining?)

My husband, brother in law, and sister in law go to Africa every year. They buy new clothes before they go, and then leave what they bought there for the Pastors and their wives. In Africa, if you are what we would consider chubby or overweight, that is a good thing because it means that your husband is a good provider. This year, as they were leaving, a dear Pastor ran up to my sister in law, who is very self conscious about her weight and thanked her again and again for the clothes that she left. "They will fit my wife perfectly.....she's fat!......just like you!" My SIL was a little taken aback, but my BIL kept whispering under her breath, "it's a compliment, it's a compliment." As is her MO, my sister in law was gracious, smiled and thanked the sincere Pastor for his nice "compliment."

I too have stuck my foot in my mouth from time to time. A young couple visited our church one Sunday. The wife was also very overweight. I invited them home after church to have some lunch and in the course of conversation while preparing the food, this dear woman mentioned that she was pregnant. ‘Oh, I said, that is wonderful. I didn’t know you were pregnant. When are you due?” Her reply—“next week!” They all had chicken for lunch, but I had crow!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends-Day 1

My dh is a very modest, shy kind of man. On his first night doing water baptism, there were about 12 people to be water baptized. One of the boys being baptized was 11 years old. When his name was called, he jumped from the top of the steps leading into the baptistery and did the best cannonball I have ever seen! Deacons scrambled trying to move the microphones before the big splash, but unfortunately they all ended up soaked. It was a most electrifying experience—almost!

After his baptism, the kid disappeared. My husband finally found him swimming under water back to the steps and just stood watching him in total disbelief! This was all in God’s providence because standing on the other side of the baptistery, waiting her turn to be baptized, was a 30 year old woman who assumed that you got baptized in the nude. I guess her morning devotions had been “naked you come into this world and naked you go out!” Fortunately, another woman who was in line behind her noticed the full moon and managed to pull her back into the dressing room before all the congregation and my hubby-who would have died a thousand deaths and probably would have just ended it there and drowned himself-saw her.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

7 Days of Pastor Appreciation for my Pastor's Wives Friends

Ladies, we have all been talking about Pastor's Appreciation Month.

Our church has gone hog wild in "appreciating" us this month.
~a presentation from the young children at church who made us a book and gave us candy.
~a week of yummy meals delivered daily that included tasty chicken casserole, salad, steak-my hubby's favorite, pot roast that was to die for, sloppy joes with Mac and cheese-always a hit at our house, and chili with corn bread that came right before we were leaving to freeze our tukus' off at the homecoming parade. We went warm and full and refueled when we got home.
~a Wednesday home invasion by some college kids who cooked dinner and cleaned our upstairs (see blessed beyond measure-a former blog).

This Sunday there was another presentation at church from the youth and college crowd expressing appreciation that truly blessed our souls. The youth also did a skit called "What Life Would be Like Without Pastor D." It was truly unique, poignant, and humorous!

Along with all of this, there have been little gifts along the way too.
~3 red roses lovingly purchased by a 6 year old with birthday money, truly a gift beyond value!
~a gallon of apple cider
~a jar of apple butter
~iced cookies lovingly decorated by the nursery children
~17 cents in a snack bag from a child in the congregation

This week, I'm looking forward to desserts every night--where is my total gym???? I'll have to find it! Hopefully some may stay and have some dessert with us!

And last but not least, there is a bathroom remodeling project in the works since I got inspired and started ripping the gaudy wall paper off the wall, and then never got the time and energy at the same time to finish what I had started. (It was actually an experiment to see if starting a project that would leave it looking hideous would be motivation enough for me to dig in and get it fixed. It wasn't--obviously!)

I also know that many Pastor's and their wives pass right through October with nary a word. That has happened to us before too. It hurts, to say the least considering that life in the ministry is one of sacrifice. But let me say right up front that I appreciate all of you who have dedicated your lives to the ministry. We all know that being in the ministry is harder at times than any other job in the world.

I taught my children from toddler hood on that their Dad had the most important job in the world! While others help people in this life, like doctors, lawyers, firemen, and teachers, a pastor also heals, defends, rescues and teaches, but he does it so that when they leave this earth, their future is secure with God for all eternity. Needless to say, my kids think a whole lot of their Dad and are proud that he is a Pastor.

So in honor of all of my fellow Pastor's wives, I will post a funny each day! We all need a laugh and let's face it, the ministry affords us many opportunities to witness funny events. Perhaps some of you have some that you can add as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Raising Your Children for Christ-Principles of Training for Parents

Here is an excerpt from a book on raising Godly children by Andrew Murray that I found very helpful. Hope it blesses you as well.

“Here is a short summary of the principles on which all training is founded. Training children is a work that cannot be performed without careful thought and determiniation. The infinite significance of this holy work of molding, or really forming and giving shape to an immortal spirit requires much wisdom. To accomplish this great task, we must claim the promise: “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…and it shall be given him” (James 1:5)

~Training is more than teaching
Teaching makes a child know and understand what he is to do. Training influences him and sees that he does it. Teaching deals with the child’s mind. Training deals with his will.

~Prevention is better than cure
True training is watching the child to help him prevent mistakes. It is not with the intention of correcting his mistakes. The highest aim of true training is to help the child know that he can obey and do right, that he can do it easily and successfully and delight in doing it.

~Habits must precede principles
During the first years of a child’s life, his body is constantly growing and changing. It is during this time that his lifelong habits can be formed. Habits influence the person by making the performance of certain acts easy and natural. After these are established, the way is prepared for the child to obey rules and principles.”

~Developing a positive attitude is essential to learning
During the early years of childhood, the child is very susceptible to his feelings and impressions. Because of this the parent must try to make doing what is right seem attractive and desirable. The child must develop a favorable attitude toward being good and doing good. Without this positive attitude, habits will have little value. With it, they will be the connecting link by which habits become the actual desired will of the child.

~Example is better than precept
The power of training lies not in what we say and teach, but in what we are and do. It is not the way we think, but the way we live, that makes a difference. It is not our wishes or our ideas, but our will and practice that train our children. By living a principle or ideal, we prove that we love that principle and that it is a part of us. In this way, we influence the young mind to love it and attain it, too.

~Love that draws is more than law that demands.
Traning children rquires a life of self sacrifice. It requires love that “seeketh not its own,” but lives and gives of itself. God has given the wonderful gift of mother-love. When this love is directed into the right channel, it becomes the handmaid of God’s redeeming love. Rules and regulations presented without love always bring about sin and bitterness. Love gives itself, with all it’s thought and strength, to live for others. Love breathes it’s own stronger and better life into the weaker one. Love inspires, and this inspiration is the secret of training.

-Taken from Raising Your Children for Christ by Andrew Murray-

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Bonus Post! Too Good Not To Post!

I received this in my inbox today! It goes right along with what our Pastor was preaching on yesterday. I love the puritan writings. They just had a way with words that ministers to me. So as an extra bonus, here's an extra "grace gem" for you today! You can subscribe to "grace gems" and receive a good word everyday. Just go to "Grace Gems"

(Letters of John Newton)"By the grace of God I am what I am!"
1 Corinthians 15:10

As believers, we are often affected with a sense of God's distinguishing mercy to us. We are debtors, great debtors to the sovereign grace of God, which alone makes us to differ from the perishing world around us!

Yet it does not yet appear what we shall be. We cannot form a just conception of the misery from which we are redeemed, much less of the price paid for our redemption! How little do we know of the Redeemer's surpassing excellency, and of the unutterable agonies He endured, when His soul was made an offering for sin, and it pleased the Father to bruise Him--that by His stripes we might be healed! These things will strike us in quite another manner--when we view them from the light of eternity!

May the cheering contemplation of the glorious hope set before us--support and animate us to improve our short interval on earth, and fill us with a holy ambition of shining as lights in this evil world, to the praise and glory of His grace--who has called us out of darkness, into His glorious light!

Encompassed as we are with snares, temptations, and infirmities, it is possible (by His promised assistance) to live in some good measure above the world--above the influence of its cares, its smiles, or its frowns. Our citizenship is in heaven--we are not at home--but only reside here on earth for a season, to fulfill our appointed service. The Lord, whom we serve, has promised that He will guide us by His wisdom, strengthen us by His power, and comfort us with the light of His countenance, which is better than life. Every temporal blessing we receive from Him, is a token of His favor, and a pledge of that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, which He has reserved for us in heaven. Oh! to hear Him say at last, "Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!" will be rich amends for all that we can lose, suffer, or endure, for His sake!"

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined--what God has prepared for those who love Him!" 1 Corinthians 2:9

No Peas in the Potpie, please!

It was my oldest son's birthday. The menu that night was his choice. When I asked him what he wanted, he said "the usual, but please Mom, no peas in the potpie!” His favorite food is what we call "slippery potpie". I make it every year for his birthday--big chunks of chicken, potatoes, and thick gummy egg noodle squares, made from scratch. It's delicious!

Now, usually I make it with carrots and peas because I'm a good Mom and I will do anything to make sure my family gets their vegetables every day. It just didn’t make sense to me to fix pot pie without the vegetables. It's like asking for an orange without vitamin C, eating a banana without the potassium,or drinking a milkshake without the vitamin D! Only a child would ask such a thing, and only a very negligent parent would grant such a request!

But yet, we often ask the same thing of God! "I want all the good things you have to offer God, all the blessings, but please hold the correction, hold the exhortation, and hold that spotlight of the Holy Spirit shining in my heart, because He might notice that I am weak and in need of vegetables!"

Why is it that we view the corrections of God like children regard peas in potpie? We know that we need them, that they are necessary for healthy maturation, and that without them, we will grow weak and sickly. Yet, we choose to ask only for and receive the things we desire from God, like He's some kind of celestial Santa Claus whose only interest is blessing me and making my life better!

Of course, it is God’s interest to bless us and give a better life, but He knows that the only way that can happen is if we live according to his commands and eat from His table. So if I desire to avoid stunting my growth, spiritually speaking, I must receive all of God’s Word, peas and all!

I’ve noticed that my kids sometimes reject something before they even taste it because they don’t like the way it looks on the plate. When some Christians hear words like repentance or fear of the Lord, or discipline of the Lord, we turn up our noses at it and pass it on by while we remind God about all the good things we want Him to provide.

Sometimes God will give us something in an unattractive package. Sometimes His correction comes from a messenger or in a way that we don’t find particularly palatable. But if we will “eat what is set before us” from the table that God spreads for us daily, we will grow into spiritual maturity. Jesus died so that we could have it all, health, blessing, and spirituality. His death and resurrection makes it possible to live above the world, conquer temptation, and reside in peace and joy. So the next time you belly up to the Lord’s table, eat of all that He has set there for you and eat it with joy, including the peas!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Found the Perfect Christmas Gift for the Whole Family!

I have found the perfect Christmas gift for the whole family! It is practical, not too expensive-only $9.00, and it keeps on giving long after the Christmas season! I don't usually fall for every gimmick and gadget that comes down the pike, but when I find one with so much potential, I just have to tell my friends about it.

This product is a marriage saver--can help restore the romance back to a relationship and tranquility back to a household. It abolishes the need to walk away from family members in public places, falsely accuse your dog for no reason, sleep with the covers over your face, and would greatly reduce the amount of times you have to drive in the dead of winter with the car windows down. And what's even better is that Al Gore would wholeheartedly endorse this "green" product for it's ability to protect the ozone layer.

It will get rid of the need to look at your schedule before planning your menu, allow you to serve whatever you want to on college game days to your hubby and his friends without having to grab your children and go to the mall as soon as lunch has been served, greatly reduce the number of fire extinquishers you have to have in your house, reduce the frequency of buying air purifier filters, save on candles, lessen the amount of spot brushing you have on laundry day and the best part--THEY'RE DISPOSABLE!

What is this amazing product?????

From the makers of underarm dress shields comes "Subtlebutt", disposable gas neutralizers. No Kidding!! This is for real! They have "discreet antimicrobial carbon technology", and you adhere them to your underwear to absorb smells. No kidding! I heard it advertised! And although it "cracks me up", I have to say that I am seriously considering purchasing several boxes for those in my family of the male gender.

According to the product information you "peel off adhesive and stick Subtle Butt onto the inside of your underwear or pants, exactly where you think it goes. You want all the gas to pass through Subtle Butt, so do what you need to doto ensure none sneaks around the edges"

And thong wearers needn't despair! "Subtle Butt can be applied to thongs by wrapping and securing it around the back."

So go for it, Let'er rip, Have at it, Cut loose, Break wind, Gas it up
When you're done wearing Subtle Butt, remove and discard.

If any adhesive traces remain, use a damp cloth for removal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lord, Give Us Hot Coals From Your Altar!

This is from J. Lee Grady's latest blog. Timely, encouraging, challenging! (My thoughts in parenthesis!)

Lord, Give Us Hot Coals From Your Altar!

What happened in Wales in 1904 was genuine revival because it was triggered by repentance and resulted in mass conversions. (The one consistent in every revival since the beginning of the New Testament Church. Why would we accept any less today and call it revival?) Why do we seek anything less? (Holy Ghost goose bumps, people barking like dogs, throwing imaginary fire, swinging like exotic dancers from poles, blowing horns, tattooed preachers, and writhing on the floor uncontrollably are not acceptable indicators for revival!)

Moriah Chapel in Loughor, Wales, is not a fancy building. Constructed in 1898 and surrounded by crumbling tombstones, the church is plain and uninviting except for a monument near the front door that might be mistaken for a war memorial. (I attend a church like this except mine looks like a house. You would never guess it's a church. Lord, do this in my church!) It is, in fact, one of the few tributes to Evan Roberts, the young Welshman who preached in this chapel in the fall of 1904 and triggered one of the greatest Christian revivals in modern history.

This week I stood inside the chapel and studied its plain walls and the rickety stairs leading up to its narrow balcony. I got behind the wooden pulpit and looked over the empty pews, some carved with initials. I stood beside Roberts’ modest grave. (What????? No gymnasiums named in his honor? No sanctuaries with a life size picture? No bronzed statue with gardens surrounding it? No eternal light over his tombstone? How can this be?) I was reminded that God uses the weak things of the world to confound the wise. (Oh good! There's hope for me!)

There was nothing outwardly remarkable about Roberts or the place his ministry began. (Hmmm....sounds a lot like a Jewish Carpenter I'm acquainted with!) He was the simple son of a coal miner. He worked as a blacksmith and aspired to be a minister. After he uttered his famous prayer, “Lord, bend me,” at a conference in nearby Blaenanerch, he felt overwhelmed by a burden for Welsh souls. His first revival service at Moriah Chapel touched only a handful of people. (Wow! What a prayer! It wasn't eloquent, but heart felt and look what God did!) But crowds began to pour into the church from nearby villages after the Holy Spirit fell on the place in November 1904.

“Afterwards the salvation of souls weighed heavily on me. I felt on fire for going through the whole of Wales to tell the people about the Saviour.”—Evan Roberts

Within a year it was estimated that 100,000 people had come to Christ. Hardened men who normally spent their families’ incomes on liquor ran into the churches and repented. (Sharp contrast from Christian men spending offering money on booze so that they can go to the platform and minister!) Coal miners stopped cursing. (Another sharp contrast from "God #!$@ America shouted from the pulpit!) Teenagers gathered at train stations and sang hymns or testified publicly of their conversions. (And they didn't even have boom boxes with "rap crap music"!) Crime stopped. (Gee, I wonder what the prison ministers did when they had to stop visiting the church people in prison?)

Wales was transformed. (That means it did not continue on like it had before only with the label of revival or Christian! It was different, unrecognizable from what it had been previously! Who'da thunk it?)

To be fair, it’s important to note that the Welsh revival did not revolve around Roberts, (Well, praise God for that! You mean God actually got credit for what He was doing? Amazing!) at least not in its early days. It was not a man-centered movement—even though the secular newspapers tried to place all the attention on the young preacher. (A very important point to remember and keep close to your heart!) Years before the revival erupted at Moriah Chapel, spiritual birth pangs were felt in other towns in Wales in meetings led by Presbyterians and Salvation Army evangelists. (You mean it wasn't just one denomination that was responsible?? How amazing!)

The fervor was building. An altar had been prepared, and dry wood was waiting for a spark.

That obviously happened when Roberts visited Blaenarerch. God took a hot coal from His altar and touched Roberts at age 26. He was gloriously baptized in the Holy Spirit there while others watched him kneeling in a pew. By his own account, he wept so much that three women came over to console him and to wipe the perspiration from his face. The love of God, he said, was boiling inside him.

Roberts described the experience like this: “After many had prayed I felt some living energy or force entering my bosom; it held my breath; my legs trembled terribly; this living energy increased and increased as one after the other prayed until it nearly burst me. … I cried—‘Bend me, bend me, bend me; Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!’ … What came to mind after this was, the bending in the day of judgment. Then I was filled with sympathy for the people who will have to bend in judgment day, and I wept. (How true! Better now than later!) Afterwards the salvation of souls weighed heavily on me. (Surely not just this, but how to be a better person, how to take FULL advantage of all the earthly blessings he was entitled to as a child of God, and surely he spent years and years praying about the Lord "fixing" him, taking away all his "issues", and waiting for a special revelation on how to witness to sinners!) I felt on fire for going through the whole of Wales to tell the people about the Saviour.”

Two profound characteristics marked the Welsh revival: First, invisible waves of conviction drew people to repentance. (Often sinners wandered into the meetings and immediately knelt at the altars.) Second, Christians felt an urgency to share Christ with everyone around them because of the reality of hell and God’s judgment. They seemed almost possessed by the love of God for the lost.

In his meetings Roberts often shared a four-point plan for living the Christian life: (1) confess all known sin; (2) deal with and get rid of anything “doubtful” in your life; (3) be ready to obey the Holy Spirit instantly; and (4) confess Christ publicly. (Surely we've moved beyond these "basics" to something more sophisticated. This is just too simple to work!)

After visiting Moriah Chapel and rereading the accounts of the Welsh revival, I find myself longing for an authentic move of God. I am so weary of the fake and the fabricated. (AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!) In this day of media manipulation, it seems we can use smoke and mirrors to create “revivals” that have neither conviction of sin nor conversions.

Oh, we think we have the power. We boast about the size of the crowds. We brag about miracles. We are ready to declare a revival if Christians fall on the floor or give big offerings. But when the music stops, the TV cameras are turned off and the money is counted, what do we have? Nothing but a cheap imitation.

Where is the God of Elijah? Where is the God of Evan Roberts? Where is the true power of God that can sweep over a city and bring backslidden Christians to repentance and hardened sinners to experience the greatest miracle of all—the miracle of new birth? (Why is this no longer considered a miracle? Why is it downplayed and used as just a preliminary to get onto the "weightier" aspects of Christianity?)

I invite you to stoke the fire of the Spirit in your life. Let the hot coals of heaven purge any known sin from your heart. (Yes, Lord, bend me!!!!!) Repent of all compromise. Be ruthless with any idols. Let the love of God boil inside you until your heart is overflowing with love for sinners. Let’s believe that it is possible for the Holy Spirit to draw our wayward nation back to God.

J. Lee Grady is the editor of Charisma. He spent this last week preaching in Wales

Some call me a cynic, but really I'm not! (Oh, wait a minute, let me get my tongue out of my cheek!) I'm just plain sick and tired of plastic-plastic Christians, plastic revival, plastic doctrine, plastic theology, plastic Jesus. I want the real thing!!!!!! And I pray that God would give me enough discernment to know the difference!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beautiful Day!

Today was a beautiful day! I was up before dawn showering, dressing and hit the road running by 7:15 am. As the sun rose over the mountains, I snuggled down into the front seat of the car warmed by a fresh cup of Sheetz cuppuccino (vanilla spice chai) that I clasped in my hands. And so the beautiful day began.

As we topped the first mountain, I glanced out to look over the mountain ranges. Ahead in the distance where there should have been trees was what appeared to be an island surrounded by water. I stuck my nose closer to the open window to see if I could smell the salt air. I had a deja vu moment as I temporarily thought that I was on the Oregon coast. (The cuppuccino hadn't jump started my brain yet!). Soon I realized that there was heavy fog laying in the valleys that gave the appearance of water and I was indeed still very much on the east coast. I felt fortunate that I had enjoyed two beautiful scenes in one!

Down the other side of the mountain we went into hazy, semi-darkness where the fall colors seemed muted and a mist pervaded the air giving a mystical ambiance to the woods surrounding us. I strained as I always do to see if I could spot any of the virgin forest that lies amidst the hardwood trees on that mountain range. I couldn't. Someday I am going to go there and see it for myself.

As we topped the next range of mountains (don't worry, I'm not going to describe all 7 of them!) we rose high enough to see the sun that was beginning to peek over the mountain top and create shadows on the ground. There were a few puffy clouds floating above and as we passed into their shadow, the palette of fall colors dimmed, but were still beautiful with their cranberry reds, rich yellow-golds, and every shade of orange that can fall in between. Then without warning, we would pass out from under the clouds, and the sun shining directly on the those colors illuminated the landscape with colors so brilliant and vibrant that it almost hurt your eyes to look at them, but which were so beautiful, it was impossible to turn your eyes away.

For almost 125 miles, the mountain ranges were dotted with color as if God had taken a paintbrush in the night and carefully colored each leaf of every tree before painting the sky a beautiful blue. And so I sat for the 2 hour trip soaking in the glorious colors as my heart sang silently of the glorious one who had created it all just for my enjoyment. (I would have sung out loud except that we were traveling to somewhere my husband was scheduled to preach and he likes that drive time to meditate on his sermon. So I usually sit quietly, or busy myself with something like discarding his banana peel, donut papers, empty coffee cups, and cough drop papers into the trash bag.)

Sunday morning service went well. The style of worship was completely different to what I'm used to, but the presence of the Lord was there just the same and I was blessed! After lunch, we took some time with family and friends just to chat, laugh, and hug. Then it was back into the car we went for the return trip.

This time we took a different route. Instead of driving over all the mountains, we wound around them through the countryside admiring the farms that settled back against the foothills. We admired the cows resting and gently chewing their cuds under trees that shone like gold above them. ( This requires no explanation from former dairy farmers!) From the road everything appeared in miniature, like a carefully laid dollhouse.

Oddly enough, my hubby was quiet and reflective on the way home too. "We get to take a Sunday drive", he said. I was glad because our typical Sunday drives usually involve ice cream! But if we had wanted ice cream today we would have had to accost one of the cud chewing cows, and frozen the ice cream in the cool running water of a nearby creek. There was no way he was going to do that, not dressed in an Armani suit!

So once again I settled into the front seat of the car leaning over to snuggle under my hubby's right arm and there I remained for the 125 miles home to Happy Valley. My heart was at peace and content!

Upon arriving home, we greeted our kids, talked about their day and changed clothes. Hubby then snuggled onto one end of the couch while adopted son #1 planted on the other end and together they watched football, baseball and whatever other kind of "ball" there was to see. I, on the other hand, snuggled into my bed with daughter #1 for a couple hours of chatting, debating, dreaming, and laughing--as is our Sunday tradition. We emerged quite a while later to the familiar tunes of "I'm hungry!" So we grabbed some jackets and zipped off to the grocery store for Rotisserie chicken and sliced tomato--my DD#1's favorite.

After demolishing two chickens, some melon, chips and dip, and yes, I finally got my ice cream, we engaged in a wild game of Uno attack, wrestlemania with two barking, crazy dogs, and just general goofiness until it was time to say goodnight to the school age crowd. Nothin' beats fun with family! Another hour of chatting about spiritual things and life in general ensued, along with two very funny episodes of Andy Griffin until, alas, my beautiful day had to come to an end.

Tomorrow has in it's wake sore muscles and physical exhaustion. I don't think that I will notice them much. I'll still be looking at my heart snapshots of the beautiful day I had today.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Blessed Beyond Measure!

Tonight we had the distinct privilege of having guests for dinner. Not only did they eat dinner, but they cooked it and cleaned up too! And to put the icing on the cake, they came early and cleaned my house for me! Something about Pastor's appreciation month was mentioned. As much as I appreciate all they did, the thing I enjoyed the most was sitting around the table and the living room after dinner taking heart snapshots of them laughing and enjoying themselves. We watched an absolutely hilarious DVD that I have personally seen at least 20 times and it still makes me laugh hysterically!

We have the greatest group of college kids. They genuinely love the Lord. They are just "normal" and transparent, and I love that about them! They don't try to act like something they aren't because they're around the pastor. They just "are". They just "hang" at our house from time to time and I feel privileged and blessed to welcome them into our home! And even though they "hang", they laugh, and they tease (yes, Jamel, I saw you tickling Katie's ear), they do it all with the obvious respect and honor they have for us as their spiritual leadership. I truly hope they realize how special they are, both to the Lord and to us.

And if any of them are reading this blog, please note:
Some of you have voiced that you want to be like the Chi Alpha group. But I say, just be yourselves! You are a unique, wonderful group! It's a different time and a different day. As far as what made the Chi Alpha group special, well, I see those things in a lot of you. You're closer than you think in the things that really matter!
We love having you in our home. Please don't be a stranger! Our door and our hearts are always open to you! Thanks again for being such a practical and genuine blessing to us! We are proud to claim you as part of our local body.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blast From The Past--What a Hoot!

I just checked out the pics from my 30th high school reunion! What a HOOT! Yes, for those of you who aren't good at math, that means I graduated in the previous century, 1978 to be exact. Those high school years were some of the most miserable years of my life and many of those pictured in the photos were responsible for that misery.

I recognized the names under the pics, but if I had fallen over them in the street, I wouldn't have known them. They were all fat, bald, wrinkled and gray, except for two. Many of them have several children and were never married. Still many, many others are divorced and are, at age 48, just now finding their "soul mates". Looking at some of those mugs and readin' those bios has made me feel like a very fortunate woman.

Here's why:
~I've been married to my only boyfriend for 26 years. We are still madly in love, in fact, even more so than when we got married. Yes, we almost got divorced in the early years, but we stuck it out, with the Lord's help and the Lord has made our marriage my most treasured possession here on earth. My husband is not perfect, but he is my absolute "bestest friend" in the world. He makes me laugh, he tells me the truth, and he always has our good in mind in every decision that he makes. He is a selfless person and a true example of Christlike living. And to top it all off, he just makes life fun!

~My hubby is still as handsome as he was the day I married him. Yes, his goatee tickles me and yes, there is a bit more of him to love, but he's still good looking enough that sometimes on Sunday mornings I'm more interested in how he looks in a suit than I am in what he's saying! (confessions of a Pastor's wife). He's not gray! He's not bald! He's not fat!

~My kids not only know who their Daddy is, they all have the same one. He lives and loves in the same residence with us. My kids absolutely adore their Dad. He always brings a smile to their faces, unless they did something really bad. Even then, it isn't long after the punishment that they are back in his lap watching sports, yapping about everything under the sun, or pulling him out the door for a walk or some ball playing.

~I've had an interesting life. I've been a lot of places and done a lot of things. I have never been stuck in a dead end job that bores me to tears for too long. My world is much larger than the little dinky town where I went to high school, so my perspective on life, the world, and what's important is a little different than it would have been if I, like so many of them, had stayed in that town for the last 30 years. I'm not saying their perspectives are skewed, I'm just saying that I'm glad for all the places, people and events in my life because they have shaped me into someone who is truly secure in who I am, generally happy on a daily basis, and not easily swayed or disturbed.

~I don't need to have that red, alcohol induced glow on my face to be convinced that I have had a good time. I actually remember my good times and who I had them with! I have no regrets or hangovers in the morning after having a good time. I don't need to wait 5 years to have a special place to go to have fun with my friends. Anywhere my friends are is already special and guaranteed to be a fun place!

~I have no desire to go to a reunion and remember. My future is so exciting that I find the past quite boring and passe. Besides, I am no longer that girl that I was in high school or college. I've gotten over myself and figured out that the world doesn't revolve around me. Why would I want to go back and reminisce about what a jerk I was?

I did think of going back to a reunion, just once, but chickened out because I was the brunt of many jokes in high school and I didn't want to give those who had never grown up any more fun at my expense. (I understand that people have a tendency to regress at these kinds of functions and I didn't want to end up punching someone in the mouth for calling me "Big Bird". ) You see, I grew way too fast and developed a condition called "I'm so clumsy, I can't walk and chew gum at the same time" and was the brunt of many a joke from the "cooler", more coordinated crowd. But few of them went on to play college sports, or do anything significant, but if I recall, Big Bird made it really BIG! HA!

Anyway, I'm very thankful and grateful to God for leading me where He has lead me in life, giving me a wonderful marriage, husband, family, home, friends, job, and all other things pertaining to really living, and living Godly! I feel very blessed!

And Some Say That My Answering Machine Message Is Too Long!

Check out this one!!! Taken from the blog Lifenut

My new outgoing message on our answering machine
(said most cheerily)

Hi, you’ve reached the Lifenut residence!

Chances are we are home, but we do not want to answer the phone! We don’t want to talk to pollsters, campaigners, volunteers, committee members, earnest college freshmen, hired prisoners, or anyone affiliated with any political candidate or cause.

Your constitutional amendment is confusing and we know that you’ve worded it in such a way that my “no” vote will actually be a “yes” and vice versa. You shameless dirty stinking weasels. Your referendums are boring and petty and that’s why I avoided signing your petition outside the grocery store a year ago—because the last thing we need is to clog up law books and our very state constitution with minutia and personal crusades against liquor stores and black bears. Really, aren’t there more pressing problems to solve?

I don’t want to spend 15 minutes on the phone strongly agreeing, agreeing, somewhat agreeing, somewhat disagreeing, disagreeing, or strongly disagreeing. I don’t want to rate your candidate or cause on a scale of 1 to 10. I don’t want to join your focus group where you pretend to care what I think, while at the same time you try to sway me toward your issue and/or candidate. The free coffee in the biodegradable cup isn’t that enticing.

I don’t want a sign for my yard, a bumper sticker, a button. We try to avoid being the victims of vandalization and personal assault.

Can you count on my support November 4th? Maybe, if you stop filling our mailbox with pamphlets, post cards, frantic letters, and lies. Newsflash, scooter: We don’t read any of the junk mail you send. Not. One. Even from the candidates and causes we feel slightly friendly about. Every time I open the mailbox and see the words Gas Prices! or Higher Taxes! or She Took a PAY RAISE! on a glossy tri-folded flyer, I die a little inside. I may not make it to November.

Dead of infuriation overload.

Sorry we are unavailable at this or any other time! We will see you on November 4th at the polls, where we will proudly cast our ballots knowing we did our best to avoid the moronic circus that you, dear pollster, helped create.

And exit pollers?

Don’t even think about it.