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, December 31, 2010

Get Your New Year Started Right!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I must maintain a life of prayer in order to overcome spiritual dryness. Why is it that none of us pray as we should? We know that our burdens can all be lifted when we are shut in with him. The voice of the Holy Spirit keeps calling us to prayer, “Come!”

Come to the water that satisfies that soul thirst. Come to the Father, who pities his children. Come to the Lord of life, who promises to forgive every sin committed. Come to the One who refuses to condemn you or forsake you or hide from you.

We may try to hide from God because of guilt and condemnation but he never hides from us. Come boldly to his throne of grace, even when you have sinned and failed. He instantly forgives those who repent with godly sorrow. You don’t have to spend hours and days in remorse and guilt or earn your way back into his good graces. Go to the Father, bend your knees, open your heart, and cry out your agony and pain. Tell him about your loneliness, feelings of isolation, fears, and failures.

We try everything except prayer. We read books, looking for formulas and guidelines. We go to friends, ministers, and counselors, looking everywhere for a word of comfort or advice. We seek mediators and forget the one Mediator who has the answer to everything.

Nothing dispels dryness and emptiness more quickly than an hour or two shut in with God. Nothing can take the place of praying to the Father in that secluded secret closet. That is the solution to every dry spell.

“For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).

Posted by David Wilkerson

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wow, Church in America Sure Has Changed!

Nope!  This is no joke!  I wish it was.  But it's not. 
Awhile ago, there was an article in the paper about someone who started a church that met in a bar. The disturbing thing was that the Pastor was not against kicking back a few with the parishioners after the service. It seems to me that we in America have forgotten whose house we are attending. In a lot of churches, I fear that God has departed, but those in the church are so busy in their charismatic pursuits (or too drunk), they haven't even noticed that He left! 

Nope, I'm not against Charasmatics. I used to call myself one, but have switched from saying Charasmatic to saying Pentecostal (even though I fall dreadfully short from seeing what the pentecostals in the Bible saw, but I'm praying and believing that I too can and will walk as Christ walked on the earth.  It's what people need!  It's what I need!)  I'm well on my way to being a moldy oldy and I don't like the trend I see in what most people call "Charisma", so I choose not to associate myself with the term.

Phyrst Church, drink and pray. Come have a beer and hear a message of hope.  I just can't picture us sitting around in God's presence kickin back a few with the Good Ole Boy. 

Instead of making God feel comfortable in HIS house, which would automatically make sinners uncomfortable, we now do whatever it takes to make sinners comfortable, even at the expense of God's comfort and at the expense of His holiness.  I think Jesus took issue with this very thing twice when he "cleansed" (what a sanitary term) the temple.  Really what he did was deliberately made a whip and went in and wreaked havoc in a fit of righteous indignation which we know was alright because Jesus is sinless!  So when my "ire" (yes, I have Irish blood flowing through my veins, just no red hair to show for it.  Loreal sees to that),  gets up when I see some things that people now call "having church", I don't feel guilty.   

Sinners used to come to church and leave as saints. Now they come and leave as sinners, but they feel better about themselves. Unfortunately, their eternal destination has not changed at all!

People used to come to church drunk and leave sober. Now they come sober and leave drunk, and rarely do they leave drunk in the Spirit.

Addicts used to come to church and leave clean. Now they come and leave with the same addictions they had when they arrived, but thinking that God is some kind of 12 step program instead of one who can, by his great power, deliver them instantly.  I don't recall that Christ ever needed time to deliver anyone from anything, but because psychology has told us over and over again that time is necessary to get delivered from anything, we don't have faith to just believe that Jesus can deliver instantaneously.

Worship songs used to be more about God than us. Now they are all about us with a little God thrown in for good measure.  Otherwise, we couldn't call it worship. 

People actually used to pray at the "Wednesday Evening Prayer Meeting". Now they do everything but pray and it is abundantly evident in the state of the church in America.

We used to come to church and sing "How Great Thou Art", and now we come to church and sing "How Great We Are Because of You". And yes, there is a huge difference!

People used to come to church where Pastors that were actually called stood in the pulpit and declared the truth of God's Word.  People would leave with a sense and awe of how great God was.  Now they come and leave with a sense and awe of how great the worship team is and how wonderful the many programs are.

People used to respect the Pastor and welcome his input in their lives.  Now they are respectful to him, but not respectful of him and what he has to say, especially when they don't agree.  I heard a great joke that illustrates this perfectly.  A Pastor and two of his parishoners went deer hunting.  At the exact same moment they all saw the same buck and simaltaneously took a shot.  The deer dropped right where it stood.  When they got to the buck, there was only one bullet hole, so they weren't sure who had actually bagged the buck.  The game warden came across them standing over the buck, looking quite perplexed and asked if he could do anything to help them.  "Well, one of them said, we all took a shot at this buck, but we can't tell which one of us actually hit him."  "I can tell you", said the game warden, it was definetely the Pastor's bullet."  "How can you tell?", they all asked.  "Because the game warden said, the bullet went in one ear and out the other."  This would be funny if it weren't so true.  

The sermon used to be the pinnacle and highlight of every service.  Now, it's what we do on the downside of worship to fill in the time, play on our Blackberries, or use to get a much needed nap. 

Oh yes!  Our churches are full.  That is true.  But full of what?  If the rapture happened during a Sunday morning service, in some churches, things would continue on as usual.  They would not even notice that He had returned.  It's not the number of butts you have in a pew that determines your success.  It's not how comfortable, accepted, and valued the butts that are sitting there feel that determines how effective you are for Christ. 

What counts is how many of those butts have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  How many have old things that have passed away and all things that have become new?  How many can truly say, I remember the day, the hour, the minute that God transformed my life, when he brought me out of darkness and into light, when he changed me from the inside out?  If you can't, then you are just participating in the very thing Christ came to destroy-religion.  Religion may get you some brownie points here on earth, but they count for nothing in God's economy. 

Many preachers in America claim from time to time to have revival.  But if we study revival, we will see that true revival will change a town.  In the past great revivals, bars shut down.  They didn't become churches that served alcohol or Starbucks coffee.  We have been decieved by the spirit of our culture that says "bigger is better".  NO!  Bigger is just bigger, that's it!  Quality is determined by the amount of obvious change there is in a life and how much of that change reflects the Holy Word of God.   Even people in cults change their behavior, but they're just as lost as they always were.  They lack the spiritual element of the life-changing, life producing power of the Holy Spirit which is the very beginning of true salvation. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dedication Prayer

Here are some lyrics to a song that I wrote for a friend who graduated from a secular university.  Graduation from anything is a pivotol point in one's life and often determines which direction they choose to walk.  As a Christian, this is the direction I choose to walk. 
Lord, I give my life
To honor You
No higher goal
Can I pursue

Lord I pledge my all
To fulfill the call
And live a life that pleases you

When I think of what You've done for me
Of Your great love and generosity
My only thought is to fall on my knees
And praise the One who gave His life for me

So Lord, I take my place
With the ones who seek Your face
To see Your kingdom come on earth
And when the time has come
I want to hear You say "well done"
"You've been my good and faithful one"
This is my prayer to You, Oh Holy One

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fa La La La Fooey!

At the writing of this blog, it's 3 days til Christmas.  The seemingly endless list of things I wish would be done by Christmas is growing instead of shrinking despite the fact that my feet hurt, my back aches and I am hitting the floor running at 6am every morning.  I hate the pressure of Christmas!

Instead, I would prefer to spend time with family and friends even if there aren't any cookies to eat while we visit.  I would prefer to sit and discuss and injest the absolute miracle of the incarnation-God come to earth in human flesh.  A second Adam, a creation of God, untouched by the sinful DNA of Joseph and Mary, placed in the womb of a virgin to be born and walk this earth living a different kind of life than has been the experience of every other human being that ever lived or walked this earth.  Untouched by a sinful nature, but living in a sinful world, tempted by worldly vices but never falling into the temptation, unable to be deceived as Adam and Eve were because not only does he know the Word of God, he IS the Word of God!  Giving us a clear picture of the original intent of God and the life that Adam lived until he fell.  Telling us "This is what is possible again to mankind!"  He is a God of second chances.  He is a God of better chances.  Now he is not only Emmanuel, God with us, He is God IN us, living in us.  Strengthening us to walk and live  "just as He walked" on the earth.

I would love to sit and examine the life and character of Joseph and Mary, the two people chosen by God, out of all the human beings through all time that God could have chosen to raise the Messiah.  We get glimpses of their lives in scripture, but those few quick glances speak volumes to us if we would just sit down and think about it. 

I would love to sit and ponder the incredible love and forgiveness that caused a holy God to sacrifice His only son and the Son who willingly laid down all that was normal to him to fulfill a mission that would satisfy the heart of the Father that He loves so very much, even though the sacrifice for both of them was more than one would think could be made.

I should be disturbed to realize that it took an abdication, an incarnation, a crucifixion and a resurrection to save this sorry piece of flesh that I call "self".  And to realize that even if I had been the only human being on earth ever created, it would have been done for me just as it was for the whole world.  What love!

I should be consecrating myself to pursue this love, to receive All that was accomplished for me through Christ, and to submit myself to it's plans, purposes, and practical expressions while here on this earth. 

To me, that is what Christmas is all about.

But instead, I am running around with a list of gifts to buy (granted, if I had started awhile ago instead of waiting to 4 days before, it would have been easier, but I hate to shop, I hate the worldly longings spending so much time in the mall tries to awaken in me, I hate that people are more concerned about getting a good parking spot than the lives of people who are frantically trying to get from the parking lot to the mall entrance, and that most people I see are under the same pressure I'm trying to escape.)  Are they missing the true meaning of Christmas too?

I hate that Christmas has come under attack.  That it's been relegated into the classification of "just another holiday", as if it is no different than Memorial Day, Labor Day or Valentines Day.  It's almost become a dirty Word due to the fact that "the Christian God" is found in it's name.  Certainly we don't want to offend any of the millions of people that the Christ of Christmas gave his own life's blood to save and to provide an eternal life that would far exceed any life the goods and services of this world, even in abundance, could ever provide.  Even our government officials apologize for accidentally saying the word "Christmas" in press conferences, store clerks can be fired for wishing people "Merry Christmas", teachers and bus drivers cannot say the word either. 

Christmas needs an overhaul.  Cut the gifts, cut the baking, cut the shopping, the pressure, the hype.  Stop cutting Christ out of Christmas and then using His holy birth as an excuse to pressure people into buying and spending in order to fill the merchant's coffers!  Jesus fashioned a whip and cleansed the temple for this very thing. 

And yet, the true meaning of Christmas, the reality of the miracle birth, the sinless life, the shameful death and the glorious resurrection still lives on in the hearts of those who have experienced it's great power. 

So to the holiday of Christmas, I say Fooey!  But to the Christ of Christmas I say thank you, thank you, thank you, a billion times thank you.  Thank you for love, for mercy, for compassion, for forgiveness, for understanding, for humility, for sacrifice, for power, for healing, for restoration, for new life, for victory, for glory, and for a future that is as bright as the noon day sun. 

I remember the babe, born in a manger the King of Heaven and Earth.  I remember the way that He walked on the earth, the love that He brought, the life that He gave, the promise that will come to pass because He is completely faithful!

And I worship.

"O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finding The Right Church For You-True Woman Blog

I happened across this blog and I just wanted to jump up and down on my chair!  This topic is so important!  I just had to post it here!


If you had to move to a new city and had to start looking for a new church, what would the ‘non-negotiables’ be?

I think too many of us have a consumer mindset when it comes to churches. This week, I was trying to fix the ceiling fan in our bedroom. I fixed it all right. The fan still works, which is good, but I think the light socket will never provide illumination for the room again.

Oh well, I thought. The fan is probably 30 years old. And besides, there are probably fifty different fans to choose from at the Home Depot, with prices starting at something like $39. I can just go pick up a new one.

But which new one? How will I ever decide?

First, I’ll wait until Mary Ann and I can go look at fans together. I’ve learned in more than 30 years of marriage that this is not the kind of item a husband selects by himself.

But before I head to Home Depot, I’ll Google “what to look for in a ceiling fan.” I’ll do some research. I may even check out the most recent review of ceiling fans in a back issue of Consumer Reports at the library.

After all, I want to make sure I pick just the right ceiling fan.

That same mindset often carries over into trying to decide which church to attend or to join. And while there are important evaluative questions that we should ask as we think about where we go to church, I’m afraid our consumer mindset may have us too often valuing the wrong thing.

We ask questions like “do I like the style of music?”

Or “what kind of programs do they have for the children?”

Or “what time does the service start?” (Believe it or not, I’ve actually had someone tell me that the reason they don’t come to our church is because we start our service at 10:00, not 10:30 or 11:00).

It’s fine to take all kinds of issues into consideration as you decide on a church home for you and your family.

But there are more important issues to keep in mind as you determine where you should worship. Here are a few of the issues I’d put on my list:

1. Are the scriptures clearly taught? And not just biblical principles or concepts. Do I understand what the Bible teaches better because of what happens at church?

2. Is God worshipped with heart and mind? Am I engaged mentally and emotionally as God’s worth is being declared in song, in preaching, and in communion, or do I find myself distracted and disconnected?

3. Are there ways for me to serve others? Is there anything that would keep me from using my gifts and skills to minister to others in the church and to advance the cause of Christ outside of the church?

4. And perhaps most importantly, “Does everything point to Jesus and the good news of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope we have in Him?”

Whatever ceiling fan we eventually purchase will one day break, just as the last one has. It will end up in a landfill.

But the decision we make about where we will worship and serve and live in community with others, growing in grace and advancing the work of the Kingdom–those are eternal matters. Let’s make sure we’re making those decisions guided not by a consumer mindset but by Kingdom priorities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Hubby=Goodness (December Valentine)

It's time for another valentine!  I love writing these because I love the subject that I'm writing about! 

When thinking of my hubby for this monthly valentine, one word just kept coming to my mind.  Goodness.  No matter how you slice him, dice him, boil him, press him, or test him, all you get is goodness.  His goodness has been a refuge of security and peace for our whole family through all the years of trials, tests, and tribulations.  It has been the starting point of all the joys, fun, and fond memories.  It has been a sure foundation under our feet.  He has made the scrapbook of our lives one full of goodness, even when times were hard or bad. 

Scripture instructs us to "taste and see that the Lord is good."  And for some bizarre reason, God has chosen to display himself through human vessels.  Just spending a little bit of time around my hubby will convince even the greatest skeptic that there is goodness in this world.  And if they take the time to listen, they will know that this goodness comes from the character and nature of God.   Truly he is one person in whom it is obvious that "the love of God has been shed abroad in his heart."

Through the years I have seen my husband maligned, slandered, mis-judged, falsely accused, mis-understood, maliciously attacked and pressed beyond what would break any other human being.  What came out?  Goodness.

In the times when our marriage was rough due to my own immaturity, unrealistic expectations, and unreasonable demands, how did my husband respond?  Goodness.

When he was wronged by employers which once left us destitute, how did he retaliate?  Goodness.

When he was wronged by those in the church who used him as a whipping boy to cover up their own lack of character and selfish ambition, how did he respond?  Goodness.

When ripped off by customers who refused to pay for services that they specifically asked for and who we could have taken to court, what did he do to them?  Goodness.

When he can be justified with withholding something from someone, he responds with goodness.

Even when he feels he's being used, he still responds with acts of kindness and goodness. 

I make him sound like he is perfect, but he's not.  No one is.  But even in his imperfections,  his mistakes, his bad moments, I know that at the very end of it all, there will be goodness because that's just who he is.  It's very easy to give him grace in those fleeting and few tough times because I remember all the grace and goodness he has extended to me and others through the years.

When I grow dissatisfied with something in life, I can always come around to thinking about the man the Lord has blessed me with and immediately all the dissatisfaction vanishes.  Maybe he's not rich financially, maybe he's not famous, maybe we have to work a little harder than others, maybe no one knows his name except those privileged enough to call him "friend", but one thing he is--he is a "good" man.  It has been said that there are few truly "good" people in the world, but if there were a list, my hubby would be at the very top. 

I pay attention to people.  I pay attention to the relationships they have with others.  And I often see things that make me sad.  Even in other ministers that I know.  And when asked the question "what one thing of this world would you ask God for if you were assured that He would grant that request?", I have to honestly say that after weighing all that is available to us as human beings in life, I would ask for one true friend and love.  I have that in my husband.  To me, he is larger than life.  I admire him, respect him and completely trust him in all things.  His life fills mine with goodness.

My husband truly has no concern for himself.  He considers others more important.  He has no concern for his life, what he will wear, where he will go, what he will become, how successful others will view him as, how important others make him feel.  And yet, he has a zest for life that is rarely visible in most people that you meet.  And every day, he makes me laugh and he warms my heart just by being himself.   His only concern is communicating a clear picture of the image and nature of the Lord whom he loves far more than his wife, his kids, his church family, or even himself.  And because of that....all you get when you deal with him is.....Goodness.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Country Girl

It was a beautiful fall day, a great day to be out in the country.  This is our country!  Isn't it beautiful?  Now you know why I love it here!

Since I home school daughter #2, it is up to me to get school photos taken every year.   So we headed out to where?  Well, to the country, of course!  Where else can a country girl go to have her photo taken?

We started by the water.  The sun was glistening off the water and her hair.

We moved to the covered bridge where she proceeded to get a little silly.

We did get some good shots too!

Then there was dog who decided that she wanted in the photo too.  They are a good match.  They both have the same color hair! LOL!

She sure loves that dog. And that dog sure loves her!  They're pretty much inseparable.

Unless, of course, there is a squirrel on the horizon!  She's scoping one out right now!

Then we walked back to the car to proceed to our next location.  There she is.  A country girl and her dog.  Makes a nice photo.  Makes a nice life.

We had lots of fun at the John Deere Dealer.  She is a John Deere fan.  She gets that from her Daddy.  Did I mention how good my hubby looks in a JD sweatshirt?  Oh, sorry!  Off subject...again!

Even the dog had a John Deere scarf on!  This made the JD dealer very happy--good advertisement.  However, he didn't offer to give me a good deal on my next piece of equipment.  Shucks!

We also visited an old church that had an interesting facade that I thought would make a nice background.  These bricks were what I was thinking of, but then I saw the bright red door!

The only frustration of the day was her hair! I must have said, "get your hair off your face!" at least a thousand times! I'm still having nightmares at night of mounds of hair covering my face and keeping me from seeing! Just kidding! The most scary thing that happens at our house at night is my snoring.

We ended up on top of the mountain that overlooks one of our many valleys.  She especially enjoyed the view!  I did too!  I think she meant the countryside.  I meant her!

On the way home, we passed by some silly dinosaurs that had been fashioned from scrap metal.  We were feeling a little punchy and very hungry by then and decided to stop and have some fun!

The photos could probably be better, but the day couldn't possibly be topped!

I love my country girl.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Guarding Against Defilement When Listening to an Evil Report

Just so you won't be thinking I 'm a great Bible scholar by the end of this blog, I'll let you know right up front that these are notes from a sermon preached by someone who is a great Bible scholar-my hubby.  This was a sermon he preached while preaching a series on "Healing the church."  This little beauty was packed into a sub-series, (or a bunny trail, whichever you choose to call it), on "love".

Hebrews 12:14-15 (KJV)
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: [15] Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

James 3:6 (KJV)
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

The main thing that causes conflicts in the church, breakdowns in relationships, and wrong responses to information is what the Bible calls an evil report.  An evil report is a distortion of information, or incomplete/false information.  It is given with wrong motives.  It causes the hearer to draw wrong conclusions.  It causes everyone involved to respond with wrong actions and wrong solutions.

Proverbs 16:28 (KJV)
A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.

There are stages of defilement due to an evil report. 

Stage One-Ignorance
In many churches, Christians are ignorant of things they need to know in order to deal correctly with an evil report.  They are ignorant of:

~how words destroy close relationships

~how the unclean will defile the clean.  (Hag. 2:11-14)  The unclean always defiles the clean. It would sure be wonderful if this were the other way around on many levels!  Good bye housework!  Good bye dirty dishes.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to put some clean dishes in the sink with some dirty ones and come back later and find them ALL spotless?

Note to self:  Ask God if dirt was dirty before the fall of Adam and Eve.

~what constitutes an evil report

~who gives evil reports
     ~the whisperer (spiritual cowards who won't deal with things Biblically)
     ~the gossip (one who sensualizes information)
     ~the slanderer (one who destroys the reputation of another)
     ~the busybody (someone who digs up things to talk about) (1 Pt. 4:15)
          In the words of the APW version (the atypical pastor's wife version)  MIND YOUR OWN SELF!
~what motivates evil reports
 ~how susceptible we are to evil reports-they can bring self exaltation or false vindication
~how Satan uses evil reports
          ~to discredit spiritual leadership
          ~to cause Christians to close their hearts to one another
          ~to multiply conflicts
          ~to promotes sinners to mock Christianity

Stage Two-Exposure
Proverbs 27:12 (KJV)
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

I wish that people were more prudent, but it seems that it is so easy to enter into a conversation with someone with an evil report. 

Proverbs 5:12 (KJV)
And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;

Psalm 101:5 (KJV)
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

We must learn to detect a carrier of an evil report. A carrier will feel you out before giving you an evil report.  They will:
~test your spirit before giving an evil report. 
~check the acceptance of a report by observing what you do with it. 
~get you to ask for the report by saying "have you heard?......"
~communicate an evil report by asking for counsel or sharing a concern, or by sharing an evil report in the form of a prayer request.  (To me this is extremely wicked and probably nauseates God too.)
~invoke vivid details of evil like they are some kind of detectives of darkness or something

There are five questions you should ask to detect an evil report.
1)  What is the reason you are telling me this?
2)  Where did you get your information?
3)  Have you gone to those involved?
4)  Have you personally checked out the facts?
5)  Can I quote you when I check into this?  (This is my favorite! You get some very interesting looks!  And a lot of back peddling.)

Stage 3-Defilement/Contamination
Proverbs 26:22 (KJV)
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Receiving, believing, or acting on an evil report like it's true will defile you soul and spirit.   If it is not cleansed from you, it will infect you.

Absalom is a perfect example of this.
2 Samuel 15:1-6 (KJV)
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. [2] And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. [3] And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee. [4] Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice! [5] And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. [6] And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

Stage Four-Infection
Some symptoms that you have been infected by an evil report are:
~You believe it
~It causes you to form negative opinions
~It give you a negative focus
~It causes you to back away in Spirit from the person in the report
~It causes you to tell everything to others-now the contagions are spreading!  (This is gossip, by the way.  Gossipers WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of Heaven!)

Stage Five-Disease
Proverbs 26:24-25 (KJV)
He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; [25] When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.

The flattery of one (the giver of the evil report) while defiling the other (the subject of the evil report) is a perfection of abomination.  The carrier of an evil report quenches the Holy Spirit by taking up the offense of someone else and making it their own.  They set themselves up as judges and gather others to themselves.  They believe that they are doing God's will.

How do we cleanse ourselves from evil reports?
~Ask God to cleanse our minds of all defilement, evil reports and our involvement in them
~Pray for a genuine love and humility towards the people we were once offended with  (I have found from being in the ministry that there is a supernatural love that only God can give for people that you find annoying, frustrating, and irritating.  And I'm pretty sure it's not just reserved for Pastors.)
~Ask for the forgiveness of those you have wronged through the evil report.

How do we know that our hearts are clean?
~You lose your urge to tell others an evil report.  Love covers, not exposes
~You grieve over the fact that an evil report was given
~You have a genuine love for that person
~You are prompt to examine your own life for failures first.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sermon Notes-The Finale!

With all this talk of sermon notes, I thought that maybe it would be a good thing to practically discuss how to take notes.

There are several ways to take notes.  One is that you get a voice recorder and record the sermon.  Then transfer them to paper later for storage or further study.  Some folks bring their computers or blackberries for notes.   For most of us, we just take notes the old fashioned way, with paper and pen. 

Each year I buy a notebook that will hold a whole year's worth of teaching and sermons.  My favorites are made by a company called Piccadilly.  They are wire-bound, 8.5 X 11, and have a hard cover that withstands all the trips to and from church in my bag.  I'm so excited!  Barnes and Noble has them dirt cheap right now!  I'm going to stock up!

Some folks just outline the sermon.  Others take more detailed notes.  I'm a detail note taker.  I try to get everything down in the very vernacular in which it's said.  This can be very interesting when the speaker is a converted red neck hick from the mountains of PA who spent 5 years developing his vocabulary in graduate school and has a habit of creating his own dictionary.  Are you feeling my pain?  But I must say, it adds much color to his sermons!

For each sermon, I start a new page being careful to include the date, title, and name of the speaker. 
In order to get down everything I want to, I have developed my own form of shorthand.  This is especially good when the speaker talks quickly or has a lot of good things to say.  Mine is a combination of short hand and symbols, but it works well for me.  I find that I can get almost everything down that I want to.  For small or very common words, I just use the first letter of the word.

For instance:
B4 u g 2 heaven, u m 1st recv X.  (Before you go to heaven, you must 1st receive Christ.)
s/t m b up. (something must be up-although for up I use an up arrow.)
repentance-confession--salvation (the dashs are actually arrows.  It's how I show progression.  It saves a lot of words!)
If possible, I draw a diagram.  I think in diagrams so this works well for me.. 

On Monday or Tuesday, or sometimes Sunday afternoon, I'll read through my notes, filling in any words that I fear may not make sense later.  For things that I find really important or profound and for things that I really want to remember and apply, I highlight with a highlighter.  I also look up all the scripture references again and read them prayerfully.  Then I review the whole sermon asking God to speak to me and apply it to my life. 

Sometimes in my reading and studying and praying through the notes, God will give me additional thoughts or scriptures that enhance or build on the sermon, so I'll write them on the page in a different color ink so that I'll be able to keep everything straight when I review it at a later date.  These also come in handy when I have to teach or share something at a meeting or in a service.  I have a plethora of resources to use in my study since my library is limited to what I can fit on my nightstand unless I drive to church and invade the Pastor's library.  I could spend eons in there!  It's a virtual treasure trove!

Someday, I'll arrange all my notes by subject or at least make a list of subjects and exactly where I can find notes on that subject, but even now it's not hard to find something I want to review.  For instance, our Pastor often does sermon series.  If he did a sermon series in that year's worth of notes, I'll list the title on the first page so that I can just flip open to the first page of every year's notes to see if it's located in that notebook. 

I have to admit that there are some Sundays when I just am not the best note taker in the world.  As you can see below, I didn't take the best notes, but I did get the main point of the day.

And then there are those days that I just stayed up too late the night before and I can't concentrate very well.  Which brings me to another important point.

Just as we prepare for other things, we should prepare for Sundays more than any other day of the week.  Really, what one thing do you do that is more important than going to God's house, being with God's people, hearing God's Word to you for your life, and taking the very best that you have to offer to give to God on His day?  Should we not prepare for this?  Should this not be the pinnacle event of our week?  If it's not, I suggest you get your priorities in order. 

So I do the following:
-I get my outfit and my kid's clothing ready to wear on Saturday.   That way we're not running around looking for shoes, socks, and belts on Sunday morning.  I also prepare my offering envelope.  Offering time is part of the worship service and should be an act of worship to God.  When I arrive at church, I've already prayed about my giving and have put what God required in an envelope.

-On Sunday morning, I rise early and spend time in the Word and worship myself.  I feel that Sundays are a day where I am to give, both to God out of the abundance of my heart that He has filled all week long, and to the body of Christ where God has placed me and gifted me with something that is needful for the whole body.  By the time I get to church, my mind is focused, the weeks problems and concerns are put away, and my heart is ready to worship God wholly. 

This means that I go to bed at a decent time on Saturday night.  (To be truthful, I have to admit that I start my bedtime on the couch on Saturday nights because my hubby goes to bed way early to pray, meditate and ruminate in his sermon for the next morning.  So I sleep on the couch until I wake up at some ungodly hour and then I quietly move into my bed making sure that hubby is sleeping quite soundly.  And I have to admit that it is a real challenge for me this time of year because I absolutely love Christmas movies and there are so many good ones on right now.  Fortunately for me, they are on at least 20 times before Christmas so it's not hard for me to delay my viewing to a later date.) 

So many people sit in church with a glazed or bored look over their faces because they didn't get enough sleep the night before.  So they arrive tired and unable to focus, thus unable to glean from the service what God has prepared for them.  This leaves them unequipped for the week.  Some people just sit and sleep, which I find very irreverent and rude.  I've even been services where grown men snore loudly or fall so far over in the pew that half their body is hanging out into the aisle.  Personally I feared that he was dead because I couldn't imagine that anyone could actually sleep in that position.  And then there's the boggle heads.  Their heads drop down and jerk up, drop down and jerk up.  Just let me interject my own personal opinion here.   If you can't stay awake in church, then stay home and sleep.  You aren't getting anything out of the service, and frankly, you are a distraction to others that are trying to listen. 

Sunday morning is the favorite part of my week.  I love to worship and to hear the Word  preached and to experience the moving of the Spirit in the service and in my heart.  That is why I write down as much as I can so that I can remember everything God wants me to get. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sermon Notes, pt. 2

It's funny to me that I would actually have two blogs concerning sermon notes, but you know what?  That's really a lot of what the Bible is--sermon notes.  So sermon notes must be important because God took time to make sure that His sermons were recorded in written form.  They are what are life food, strength and growth to us because they are HIS word and they are life.

So , why are sermon notes important?

A sermon is not written by a Pastor.  A sermon is a message received by the Pastor.  The message comes from God.  So a sermon is a message, sent through a messenger from God to me.  When we receive messages from people on our answering machines, we write down the things that are important that we need to remember.  So why should our attitudes about God's messages to us be any different?  Too often we spend much too much time looking at or judging the messenger, so if we don't write down what he says, we might miss the message altogether.  And I would dare say that ANY and ALL messages to us from God are vitally important, even if we don't like the packaging they may come in.

Sermons are preached to a select group of people.  We might think that we picked our church, but hopefully God picked our church for us.  (Way too many people do not involve God in the church picking process which is why they struggle in their Christian walk.)  So although the sermons being preached in our town might be as varied as a box of chocolates, the sermon WE are hearing was tailored just for us.  (yes, even the "ouchy" sermons!)  We are part of the universal  Body of Christ, but we live that out as part of a local body.  So the sermon we hear is a message from God to us personally and to the local body that we are a part of. 

If we do not take the time to assimilate what the message means to each of us on a personal level, then the effect that the message can have on us corporately will be hindered.  It will cause a diverse vision amongst those whose who should have the same vision that God has laid on the heart of the Pastor. This causes an imbalance in the body that often leads to strife, confusion and disunity.  When a Pastor preaches for or against something and there are "hold outs" in the body, it sends a mixed message to the young in the Lord which causes confusion and lack of respect for either the Pastor or the one holding back on complying with the direction of the Lord that has come through the Pastor.  What is way worse is when the holdout is someone in leadership who arrogantly thinks that they know better than the Pastor does.  This is just plain sinful.  They are just plain unfit for ministry.

Why do we go to church anyway?  We can all spout off the spiritual reasons that we go to church, but honestly if we look at our lives, what do they tell us about our reasons and motivations for going to church?  Do we really go to meet with a Holy, Almighty, All-deserving God?  Do we come, as those in scripture, to hang on every holy word that is spoken?  Or are we more Pharisaical in our attendance, attending because we would look bad if we didn't, it's just what we do as part of the "Christian" experience, or our flesh is soothed/comforted or excited/exhilarated by the worship?  Do we really come to offer to God sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise and to hear the message from the Holy Scriptures?  Do we come ready to be used by God if He so desires? 

And if we do come to hear, what do we do to prove that we are thoroughly interested in what God has to say? We would never attend a class without a notebook.  We usually don't make any big decisions without sitting down and counting the cost and looking over the information that we need to implement that decision.  Many even take a notebook to the doctor's office to write down what the doctor tells them so that it can be deciphered later.  There is no way that we can remember everything that is said in a sermon unless we write some things down.  I can guarantee that if I go to church, the Lord will say at least one thing that applies to me but more times than not, He says a WHOLE lot!  And it is a blessing in my life!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sermon Notes

From the very first day that I became a Christian and started to attend church, I was taught to take sermon notes.  No one sat me down and told me to take notes.  I just noticed that very often the people I most respected in the faith were note takers.  So I started to take notes.  For awhile I took them on backs of bulletins and on random pieces of paper.

At some point in my Christian walk, I heard a lady say that she always had a pen and paper ready whenever she was in church or prayer.  She did this because she felt that if we were interested enough to write down what God had to say, He'd probably be more apt to say something that He wanted us to remember.  

For a long time, I took the notes but I didn't do anything with them after I took them.  Then I started storing them in a 3-ring binder according to subject for future reference. 

About 5 years ago, I got real intentional about keeping my sermon notes.  At the beginning of each year, I bought a notebook that would hold the years sermon notes, so I have 5 binders of organized sermon notes on my bookshelf, all neat and tidy.

Last week, I spent some time organizing my bookcases.  I came across nearly 27 years worth of sermon notes.  So one morning when I was feeling lazy, I sat down and began to read through the sermon notes I had taken in the last 3 years.  Some of it no longer made sense because I had forgotten the context in which it had been said (poor note taking), but a lot of it blessed me all over again!  And frankly, a lot of it convicted me because I could not honestly say that I had heeded what had been preached enough to be able to see a difference in my life.  That's probably because I did not follow up on what I heard.

Jesus always followed up on what He taught with his disciples later.  He would tell a parable, purposely trying to confuse the listener because He would not cast pearls before swine.  Then later he would gather his disciples around him and would explain to them what he had meant.  It was during this time of intimate conversation that what he had preached really began to make sense to them on a personal level.

There is a great lesson in this example for me.  It's good that I write down what the messenger of God says each week.  I do glean truths from what I hear as I sit and write, but the true gleaning, the real impartation comes in the days following as I take those notes to Christ and allow him, through the Holy Spirit, to explain to me what he meant and how it applies to me on personal level.  It is in that place that the true impartation of spiritual truth occurs.

If I am blessed with the gift of a Godly Pastor who is student of the Word and a man of prayer, I am under obligation to appreciate this gift from God to me.  How better can I show God my appreciation than by making an effort to hear, remember, and do all that God has told him to say to me?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

The following is a blog post I read just after writing the Prov. 31 post.  It illustrates from scripture perfectly the points I was making.  May it be an encouragement to us all.

monday, November 01, 2010
Serving: A Distraction to Listening?
(Desiring God Ministries: Jon Bloom)

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42-42)

Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.

"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of the real good.

Yet that's not how it felt to Martha at the time. She thought she was doing the right thing. That's why she appealed to Jesus to exhort Mary to get off her rear and get busy serving. Martha was tired of carrying the load herself.

She was shocked to hear that Jesus didn’t value her serving as much as Mary’s listening.

A constant battle we face is letting the fragmentation of urgent demands distract us from the good of listening to Jesus. There is so much to do. If we believe things will change when we get on top of things, that we’ll finally have the time to listen more to Jesus after we’ve plowed through these demanding tasks hanging over our heads, we’re likely being deceived.

We tend to value the volume of things accomplished, and call that "productivity." God values the importance of things accomplished, and calls it "fruitfulness" (John 15:5). And here’s what’s important to God: that we listen to and believe Jesus. "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent" (John 6:29).

So beware of your perceptions. Listening often doesn’t feel like doing. But it might just be the most important thing God wants you to get done today.

Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What People Don't Read on my Blog

I've noticed a trend.  No one reads my hubby's valentines.  Not even my hubby.  LOL!  (He's not computer savvy!  And doesn't want to be.)

That's understandable.  I hate it when people brag to me about their families as if there is no other family better than theirs.  A little of that goes a long, long way-especially if at that time things at home are not running as smoothly as I would like.  I do have teenagers, you know.  Why do we feel that we have to toot our own horns, especially when it has a damaging effect on the self-esteem and encouragement of others?  When people are participating in this annoying behavior, I don't let it bother me on a personal level, but it does make me want to stick my finger down my throat and gag myself.

I don't really care that no one reads my valentines.  So I'm sitting here trying to figure out exactly why I write them.  Because this is what I want to write!  I think I write them to encourage others to believe that there are Godly men on this earth that can be trusted, respected, and to whom you can give yourself with total abandonment.   I'm trying to keep hope alive that true love really does exist.  I write them because of all the things that sublet space in my heart, my hubby owns the largest piece of property. I am just crazy in love with this man which is why I like to talk about him. (I feel the same way about Jesus so if you don't like either of these men, don't talk to me!) The Bible does say "let another man praise you", and my hubby would never toot his own horn.  Come to think of if, neither would Jesus.  Maybe that's why He needs us to do it.

I didn't always like my husband.  And frankly, he was sick and tired of me.  In fact, if we hadn't gotten saved when we did, we would be divorced today.  So even after we were saved, it took awhile for our relationship to get to where we are today. I'm so glad we stuck it out!  Before we got here though, several things had to happen.

1) I had to grow up.  I finally realized that I wasn't the center of the universe, I don't know everything, and I'm not perfect in every way.  Yes, firstly, I had to look at what part I was playing in my disastrous relationship that some people referred to as marriage.  You see, there is shared responsibility in EVERY relationship and until you face up to yourself first, that relationship will never get any better.

2) I had to start looking at my husband firstly as my brother in Christ and treating him accordingly.  This included:
     ~having the same mind that was in Christ Jesus and considering others before myself, including my husband
     ~Doing unto my husband as I wished he would do unto me, even when he didn't.
     ~Allowing the fruit of the Spirit to grow and be evident in my life by spending much time in prayer and waiting on the Lord.  This made me more desirable to my husband.  If we would just obey all that the Bible tells all Christians to do, we wouldn't need all the extra teaching on being a good spouse.  It would just happen naturally. 
     ~Choosing to practice 1 Corinthians 13 (amplified version) by "always thinking the best of him."  Even when he didn't exemplify the best, I still chose to think it of him.  I wasn't making excuses for him, I was just setting his bar back where it had been in the days of our first romantic thoughts of each other.  Funny!  He responded!  I started saying good things about him that I hadn't said in awhile.  He must have thought "oh my goodness!"  She still thinks I'm ___________ and then he would start to be it again. 
     ~Accepting the things he did to show me his love with gratitude even though it might not have been what I would prefer. 

My husband HATES chick flicks.  Let's face it, those kinds of stories seldom play out in real life the way they do on the big screen.  Most women love them because they would like to just once experience  the exhilaration depicted in the final moments of their favorite film.  But honestly, there is so much more to the kind of love that a woman really wants. 

For instance, I have every letter that my husband ever wrote me while I was away at college for 3 years.  And he wrote me practically every day.  (Please don't tell him.  He'll find them and burn them.  I promise I'll disclose their location in my last will and testament-if I die before he does.)  Most of them are written on Snoopy stationary because I absolutely adored Snoopy and Woodstock.  I read one the other day that had strayed from the box and almost had to get a barf bucket.  Oh my goodness!  Talk about love sick.  If he talked to me like that now, I'd probably take his temperature.  We're soooooo past that.  Thank God!  The feelings are still there, only much more deep and intense, but if we walked around talking to each other this way, people would probably think we just started dating or we're having an affair with each other.  We often have waitstaff and clerks ask us how long we've been dating.  They are usually shocked beyond words when they find out we've been together for almost 34 years and have 4 children.)

I love it when my hubby:
~ sneaks me out the house for cheesecake and some magazine reading at Barnes and Noble-without the kids,

~ gives me a back rub every night before we fall asleep,

~wakes me early on Saturdays to whisk me to Sheetz for a romantic breakfast of tastycakes and cuppocino-without the kids or the candlelight (I'm seeing a trend here), 

~buys me my  very own box of 100-9mm cartridges to shoot at the shooting range,

~thinks up silly rhymes to make me laugh (He's quite talented!  And no, he didn't write my answering machine message.  That is a whole other story!),

~always speaks well of me in public and from the pulpit (that's now that I've convinced him that certain ailments caused by childbirth are NOT to be used as sermon illustrations, even if they ARE in the Bible.  Yes, he had to learn some things too),

~generally spends as much time with me as he can.  He uses the words "I love you" sparingly because he believes actions speak louder than words, he's never been much of a talker, and he's right when he says that those words get used way too flippantly in today's society.  It's really not necessary for him to say them though because I get it--he loves me!  On the other hand, I absolutely love it when he tells me. 

Some people think that there can never be enough romance in a relationship, but romance is a very subjective term.  It is also true that romance is compounded exponentially when friendship is also involved.  Romance, in the sense of how the world depicts it, is highly overrated, has the tendency to be shallow and unrealistic, and is affected by circumstances far too easily.  But true love (that perfect blending of romance and friendship), is solid and unwavering.  That is how my husband makes me feel-truly, truly loved.  And that's more than enough for me.

I love you E!