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.

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Time

Yesterday our Pastor preached a very tough sermon to children and parents. One thing that he said was that as parents we have to do things for our children that we don't want to do because it may cause them to be quite uncomfortable, but we do it because it's right for them. And by doing it, they will walk in the blessing of God and live well upon the earth. I'm so glad that he picked yesterday to preach it because I really needed to hear it. Today is the day I had something scheduled that was going to make one of my children very uncomfortable.

Our daughter was brain injured at age 5. She's 16 now. Her whole brain was completely erased, so over the years, she has had to re-learn everything, but at a much slower pace. She has defied every doctor's report, every therapists opinion, and every statistic about her recovery, going way above and beyond any expectations they might have had for her. And now, she is ready to enter the community to do some volunteer/vocational types of things. The problem is that she is very comfortable at home. One of the residual effects of her brain injury is that she is fearful and unsure about most everything. Because it was such a distraction to her, it impeded her ability to learn in a regular academic setting, so we took her out of school and homeschooled her. And although she has advanced academically at an amazing rate, has learned a lot of things, and is probably more responsible, diligent and dependable than 99% of teens her age, she does not like to be out doing new things unless someone she loves and trusts is with her.

But I know that it's time for her to spread her wings, even though she doesn't think she's ready. So today, we met with the transitional coordinator at the local high school to discuss some Job shadowing opportunities that will hopefully lead to gainful employment on a part time basis for her in the near future. It was so hard to sit and watch the fear tears slip down her cheeks as we tried to reassure her that this is something everyone has to do and that it will seem silly to her in a year that she was even scared about it. She has been so good, so compliant, worked so hard for so long, it was really hard for me to put her in the a position where I knew she was going to be scared and unsure. But it had to be done. It's time.

I wonder if God's heart feels the same way when he looks at us with love and sees something that is holding us back from a fuller life in Him. I wonder if He too, holds back His own tears when He sees the "fear tears" running down our cheeks as we enter a part of His realm that is unknown to us. I can picture Him, my meticulous caretaker, looking at me with love, with a sigh and a smile and saying "it's time my child".

I can't go with my daughter and hold her hand in the new adventures that she is embarking on, but God will. This time, I can't be that security that she feels in the midst of strange surroundings, but God can. I can't be the author of the reassuring words that she'll need to hear as she is thrust into the unknown, but she will have a job counselor with her at first, and God's Word dwells in her heart.

There have been many "it's time" moments in my life. I'm in one of those currently. Thank God that He is one who sticks closer than a brother (or a mother). He NEVER leaves me nor forsakes me. He is my peace. His Word is planted in the deep recesses of my heart and when I need to hear them, the Holy Spirit brings them to my remembrance and I am calmed. And as I walk into this unknown territory, He will be right beside me holding my hand and spurring me on. He is my perfect Father. And... "it's time."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lawnmower Devotions--The Straight Path

I know I write a lot about mowing, but hey!, it's what I spend the large majority of my day doing!  But even in the seemingly mundane times of life--I mean, just how exciting can going around and around or back and forth, back and forth, be--I love how God will just interject Himself into my thoughts and mind's eye.  

  Sometimes I think that it's pretty lame that I could walk you through 40 lawns in our area and show you every bunny nest, every ground hog hole, and every partially exposed pipe on all 40 properties. ( I just wish I could show you the location of all of Jetta's balls (the ball loving dog of one of our customers).  I definitely will owe her a boat load of tennis balls by the end of the year.  Man those things really fly if they come out of the mower shoot just right!  I almost beaned our employee one day and he was at least 50 feet away! 

I remember when we dairy farmed, we milked 120 cows twice a day.  The group was basically the same, except for the shifting in and out between the dry cows and those that had just freshened, but over a period of a year, I was able to identify every single cow, and call them by name, just by looking at their udder.  Not their registered name, like Nappa's Champion Pride of Comstock, mind you, but their nickname, which is what we called them on the farm.  Names like Valerie, Ginger, Meda, Flo and Alice.  And I could look at 120 cows in a field and tell you who was who.  Now THAT'S amazing!

Did I mention that I have a goat named after me?

Anyway...back on track here!  When I mow I take several things into consideration. 

Firstly, safety.  We live in a mountainous area, so flat yards are practically non-existent.  And one thing building contractors never take into consideration when designing and landscaping a new property is the fact that some poor fool is going to have to mow it.  Hopefully without killing himself!  We have a few of those.  One in particular makes me want to don a WW2 Japanese fighter pilot hat and scream BANZAI while I defy gravity to mow it. 

Secondly, aesthetics.  Most of our accounts are very upscale properties, which they pay us a lot of money to care for, so as much as I can, I work to leave a symmetrical, neat and eye-pleasing pattern in the grass.  Diagonals are the best.  There are a few tricks to this.  In making a straight pass, you must never look at the grass.  You have to pick an object in the distance and drive right for it.  When you turn around and look at the end of the row, there is a perfectly straight line behind you.  Then it's easy to turn around and follow the edge back the other way, knowing that you are perfectly in line. 

Note to self:  Make sure you focus on a stationary item, not a cloud, a vehicle or the neighbor's dog!

Occasionally, little by little, my lines will somehow get a little crooked and I have to re-adjust them by starting out with a full row and gradually edging over into the previously mowed row to straighten it out.  I hate having to do this because I hate mowing over grass that is already mowed!  I'm practical that way!  It's a waste of time and gas!  I try to take as few of these detours as possible!

Life with God is a lot like this.  God leads us.  He wants us to look ahead and drive right for Him.   And after a little while, if we take time to look back, we will find a straight and narrow path path behind us.  Sometimes it feels like we are taking unnecessary detours, but as we look back over what the Lord lead us through, we will come to see how it was part of His perfect plan to leave a beautiful pattern for us and others to enjoy.  And He is glorified!  God is intentional in everything He does!  If anyone knows that time is short and cannot be wasted on bunny trails and detours, He knows. 

Sometimes I feel like God must be leading me on a 100 mile detour.  (feelings are so fickle!)  But when I stop to look back, I can see that it was really just a little pattern correction.  It's funny how our perspective can be so different than His.  I'm sure it makes Him laugh! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

However...... (True Woman Entry #2)

As I said in my introduction to the True Woman series I have agreed to review, the premise of the book is certainly necessary in the day and age in which we live. There is an incredible need for true Biblical Womanhood to be defined and practiced amongst professing Christian women, especially in America. This Biblical virtue has been so lost for so long in femininity, and it does need addressed.


Reading this book caused some questions to be raised in my mind that will probably fly in the face of some, maybe even the writers of this book. Keep in mind that I am looking at this from the perspective of local church ministry. My intention is not to discredit them or demean anything they have to say, because for the most part, I wholeheartedly agree with what they are trying to accomplish. The message is in danger of being lost. That is true. But if the message needs to be reformed in the hearts of Christian women, then maybe the method does too. These wonderful folks who wrote this book and who are working so diligently are only following the accepted patterns of ministry that have become established in the church. I'm not questioning the writers, their motives, or their work. What they are trying to accomplish is truly a need in today's Christian experience. But as I began to sit and really think about all of this, I began to see how the methods of ministry to women can actually foster some of the ideals that are trying to be eradicated by the ministry. So with that in mind, I'm going to throw these questions that arose in my mind on here for speculation and consideration. Then I will move on to the next chapter because there are some wonderful truths that have been presented by the authors of this book.

1) As a former feminist, I felt a little "ick" in my spirit when this return to Biblical standards of womanhood was labeled a "movement". Yes, we are trying to "move" women from one place to another, but if we are returning to Biblical womanhood, then there will have to be a dispersal. A dispersal of women back into the local church, under the authority of a local Pastor and her husband, a dispersal back into the priority of marriage and the family unit. A decreasing of group visibility and more of a melding into a local expression of Christ.

I think that we need to be very careful when we take women and define them as their own entity. This idea was solidly established very early in the women's movement. Tis true, we are different from men, but in terms of the Body of Christ, we are not our own entity. We are part of Christ's body and He has only ONE body. HE is the entity. And we are to reside in the body in such a way that we decrease and He increases. We die so that He can live through us.

The church is made up of men and women collectively. Our differences are part of that body, they bring completeness to that body in order to display the vastness of the personality and character of our God, but the ultimate goal is so that HE can be seen and known completely to His own glory! To segregate parts of the body according to sexual classification, to shine the spotlight on one part of the body is sometimes necessary, but I think that there is a very delicate balance that needs to be maintained. We live in a culture that "specializes" in everything! And I think that by "specializing" in the church, we have allowed a cultural influence to invade the Body to the point that it is divisive more than it is helpful.

We all have different spiritual gifts. We do not segregate and "hang" with others with those same gifts. Instead, we congregate with those whose giftings are different from our own in order to have a complete representation of the person of God. I would suggest that God is more gender neutral and color blind. When He looks at us, He does not see male or female. He does not see Black or White, Asian or European. He only sees the blackness of sin, or the redness of His Son's blood. So, if God is gender neutral in how He sees mankind, then why do we spend millions and millions of dollars segregating ourselves into groups for the purpose of worship?

Without berating those specific commands of scripture to the different sexes, we have to realize that the amount of commands separated by sex is very small compared to the amount of commands written to all the Body of Christ. And honestly, if we would be following and practicing the commands written to all, the commands written to separate sexes would, for the most part, be a natural outcome. Furthermore, teaching a woman how to operate according to the commands of scripture written specifically to women without first teaching her the commands written for all in the Body of Christ is really putting the cart before the horse. I see this in certain religions where women are these weak, poor, little robots who stand and tremble in the presence of their male authority. They live in bondage.

It can be dangerous to gather women, especially those that came after my generation, in a room together and exalt womanhood. As I sit and talk with young women about what womanhood was like when I was small, it becomes obvious that feminist ideals are just normal to their culture. They look at me like I have three eyeballs when I tell them what "the norm" was when I was a child.

I cringe when I hear teachers or preachers exalting our differences and talking about the "destiny" of women, without also expressing and stressing the importance of "local body life". It can disrupt the unity of spirit God desires for all mankind to have. That unity that melts into one another so completely that a perfect representation of the Lord Himself is presented, much like different waxes combine together to present one solid light when formed into a candle. I fear that losing this balance in teaching women puts us dangerously close to the edge of the cliff.

I hear it said a lot by ministers that "the message hasn't changed, the methods have." Well, the message has changed, which is why the people who wrote this book do what they do! But could it be that part of the reason the message has changed is because the methods have changed? Could it be that not only do we need to reform the message, we need to reform the methods?

I don't see anywhere in scripture where Greek and Jew, slaves and masters, or men and women were separated by classification for the purpose of ministry. What I do see is local bodies made up of all of these classifications of people with all their differences coming together to form the complete expression of God in their locality. I don't see them running to Jerusalem to attend the latest conference on "Biblical Living for Slaves" or "The Proverbs 31 Woman."

2) I question why it is that in order to get women to attend a conference on spiritual living, our first appeal has to be to their femininity instead of their spirituality. We draw them together because they are women first in order to try to build them up spiritually. Until the late 1900's, this was never done! Again, a cultural shift that was left in the church that maybe shouldn't have been.

In a Gospel that continually speaks of: dying to self, promotion of none other than Christ; and one Body, it makes me wonder why there is this tendency to separate body parts for the purpose of teaching them to function in the Body. We don't severe our arms so they can go to school and learn to work with the rest of the body. They learn through receiving messages from the brain and by the continual using of them everyday, learning to coordinate their movements with what the rest of the body is doing.

I guess I am questioning whether segregation of certain groups of people within the church is not more divisive than unifying. And I wonder what damage this does to the local church and the authority structure God set in place from the very beginning. That's not to say women should never congregate together for the purpose of ministry, teaching, fellowship and prayer. In our church, some of the sweetest times I've had have been with other women. But I believe that when women congregate for spiritual purposes, it should be in an atmosphere that promotes discipleship AND accountability.

I've known many women, who are more a pain in the tukus of their local pastor than a blessing, who run all over the country, seeking out teachings from women teachers, or seeking teaching on Biblical womanhood who will sit under an "acclaimed" teacher while they preach at them hard! I mean they will part your hair, knock you flat, cut you off at the knees and then stand there and watch you bleed and afterwards these women will stand and applaud and say "Wow! I really needed that!"

But if their local Pastor stands in the pulpit and preaches the exact same thing, they leave the church offended. I think the reason this happens is that when the God appointed local Pastor, the one that God says is to watch over their souls, preaches it, they are then held accountable to God, the Pastor and the their local body to bring the fruit of that teaching into their lives. In a large gathering of women at a conference, there is really no spiritual authority. There is really no lasting accountability and the problem of having knowledge, but denying it's power exists! God set up His church with an accountability system because He knows that the nature of human beings needs it!

3) I live in a Big 10 University town. At the forefront of every newspaper article, in every City council decision, in every classroom from the university on down to kindergarten is the idea of acceptance and celebration of the differences of others and the exalting of those diverse differences. On a basic level, that is not bad, BUT I have observed that it defeats it's own purpose because it causes people to look more at how they are different than how they are alike. There is a drastic change in the mood on campus from what was there before "diversity training" was made mandatory. In the early 1980's you could walk on campus and see students of every tribe and tongue working together in study groups, eating together, or just sitting and chatting. Now, you see the same, except that all the tribes are now sitting with their own kind. No longer do you see, black, white, African, Asian, and European mixed together in a study group. Now you see the Asians in one corner, the Africans in another, the Caucasians in another and so on. And sad to say, this is also prevalent in a lot of our churches as well. The very thing this "education" meant to eradicate has produced the opposite effect.

If I would identify any "problem" that needs to addressed, I think it would be the local church. Perhaps the decline of the power and purpose of the local church is what caused this type of ministry to arise. Or maybe because cultural influences so permeated the local church, this method of ministry arose. Perhaps the buckling of Pastors to the loudest voices aided in this type of ministry to occur. Either way, there needs to be a return, a "movement" back to the local church. There needs to a return to true Body ministry on the local level. Then I think that ministries to men and women separately could be done in a more effective, fruit producing way.

As you can probably tell, this issue weighs heavy on my heart. I've run full circle with the women's movement. I was born in 1960. I watched the evolution of the women's movement. As a teenager, I embraced the women's movement. As a Christian, saved when I was 23 years old, I left the women's movement. I don't claim to be "the perfect woman", but I've had perhaps much more to learn and change simply because of the time in which I was born.

For 28 years, I've been married to a Godly man, a fourth generation Pentecostal. Over the years as I observed his grandmother, his great grandmother, and my mother-in-law, and I see that they are truly spiritual women, full of power, full of joy, effective ministers of the gospel, satisfied with Christ and where He has positioned them, I realize that THIS is what women need and if they were honest, this is what they are looking for. But the women of their generations did not get what they were looking for by studying "women", although Godlier women I doubt I will ever find anywhere. In fact, a women's conference would have seemed totally odd to them! No, they found true womanhood by simply reading the Word, believing what it said, and putting it into practice. They found it by taking what the local Pastor preached and "praying through", as they call it. They found this blessedness in the paradoxes of freedom through submission, life through dying to self, and effectiveness by becoming unknown to anyone except God.

Okay, enough about the method. From here on out, we will be looking at the message.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mowing with Swallows

I love this time of year!  The birds that I love to watch so much are making their way back from their winter homes and are re-appearing in our area.  One of those that absolutely delight me are barn swallows.

Where I mow in the suburbs, they are plentiful. 

As I mow, I guess the mower not only sucks and cuts grass, but all the little insects that live in the grass.  So when the grass flies out the mower shoot, so do they.  It's then that I'm surrounded by swallows who are looking for an easy meal.  It's like the feeding frenzy at the shark tank!

They are all around me, like kamikaze pilots, weaving and bobbing, zipping and diving, as they scoop insects from the air.  I love how their red and white underbellies flash in front of me as they make a hard turn to avoid the mower.  And their back feathers and forked tails, that glisten in the sun bright blue like a jasper stone, are breathtakingly beautiful.  It kind of makes me feel like a Disney princess as she dances with the birds and butterflies flitting all around her.

I guess mowing with the swallows is the land lubbers version of swimming with the dolphins.  It's an experience not many can say they've had and it's one that you never forget. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

What I Do With My Spare Time

 For years and years, I've watched my husband play softball. He started playing with the local Parks and Rec league in 1991 at 31 years of age. Then at age 35, when his teammates that were of the same age left for the 35 over and league, he stayed where he was. At age 40, when his former team members from the 35 and over league moved on to the 40 and over league, he stayed where he was. And now, that 3 generations of former teammates are now playing in the 50 and over league, he remains playing with the "young bucks".

I've watched through the years as he scraped up his knees and elbows, received several impressive softball impressions in the meatier parts of his body and once, watched him break his leg while sliding into second base. Softball is not my "thing", but because I love him, I've been attending his softball games all these years.

This year we notice that he's not jumping as high as last year, not running as fast--well, that was always an issue, and his lateral motion on 3rd base is a bit less than in past years. But to his credit, he doesn't have to put on ankle supports, knee supports, and take vitamin I (ibuprophen) before every game like those young kids do! He just throws on some shoes and a ball cap and he's ready to roll.

We both know that one of these years will be his last on the softball field, although I do wonder if he's trying to set a record or something. So he will need a new hobby.

I think we found it!

See how happy it makes him?

He likes to shoot stuff!  Not people, but things like targets, potatoes, fruit, baseballs, and whatever he can find to shoot at.

This is just one of the guns he likes to shoot.

And he even has a shooting buddy!  This is our soon to be son-in-law.  They love to go to the range and shoot together.  He rarely goes without him. 

And I go too.  Do I watch?  Heck NO!  I've discovered that I like it too!  I have to admit, making mashed potatoes on the shooting range far exceeds the fun of making them in the kitchen!  Let's zoom in on the target on the far right. 

It looks like this.

And I did it at 12 feet with this.
Sure, it's a Saturday night special, but I found it works well on other days as well.  Now I own two guns.  For Christmas I got a really nice .22 target pistol.  It's cheaper to shoot and I get a better aim at longer distances.  Of all my pastor's wives friends, I was the only one with a Smith and Wesson 22A on my Christmas list. 

We often have a shoot-out at the local range, just between the 3 of us.  The loser buys lunch.  I haven't bought lunch once!  I think I'm going to like our new hobby.....if he ever retires from softball.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

True Woman-Introduction

As I said earlier, I have received a free book simply for reviewing it chapter by chapter on my blog. Today I start by introducing the book, presenting it's ideas, identifying the main authors of the book, since it is a compilation of teaching sessions from the True Woman conference held in October 2008, from which this movement was birthed.

I have read the whole book. I just can't read a book one chapter at a time. I read the whole thing and then go back and mark it up chapter by chapter. Maybe it's because I'm dense and just can't get everything the first time through, but I am the kind of right brained learner that has to see the whole picture first in order to see the details! It's my lot in life.

The books main author and the True Women's founder and leader is Nancy Lee DeMoss, a well known author, radio host and speaker, who speaks primarily to and about women's issues from a Christian perspective. I've read several of her books and find her to be Biblically sound, except for the doctrinal differences I described earlier. Other contributors to the book are John Piper, whose ideas and writing I find very encouraging; Mary Kassian, whose writing I am going to explore further; Joni Eareckson Tada, and Janet Parshall from the t.v. show Janet Parshall's America.

The premise of the book is that there needs to be a return by Christian Women to Biblical living, especially within the context of womanhood. I totally agree with this. (These ideals are expressed very clearly in the True Woman Manifesto that you can read by clicking on the True Woman button on the homepage of my blog.) It is an attempt to present a solution to the poor spiritual state in which many Christian women find themselves by showing that we have allowed feminist voices to permeate even our perceptions of Biblical doctrine concerning womanhood and have bought into those voices through the ages that tell us that Biblical womanhood is unfulfilling. Through an examiniation of history-both secular and Biblical, an exortation to flee "wimpy theology", a call to the return to a life of prayer, and the encouragement to start a "counter-revolution", this book attempts to inspire women to reclaim the definition of true womanhood which they define as Biblical womanhood.

I totally agree that womanhood, at least in the United States is probably the most dysfunctional it has ever been. I totally agree that there needs to be an Abraham experience amongst women where they pick up and follow the Lord to a place whose builder and maker is God alone, a country that GOD will show them! I totally agree that the task looks HUGE, but it is not impossible and it must start with the re-education of spiritual women concerning what the voice of God has to say about true womanhood and what it looks like practically in everyday living. But at the very crux, our greatest need is the intervention of the Holy Spirit and a sovereign move of God in the hearts of His church.

For me, having lived on both sides of feminism, I have a clearer idea of what we would be returning to, but for the generations born after mine, the ideals of feminism are deceptively normal. They understand that there is a problem. But normal for them is already tainted with the leaven of feministic ideals. It has been part of their culture from birth. And for so long, the ideals contained in Biblical womanhood have been promoted as oppressive, sexist, and undesirable by media, textbooks, the generations before them, that it has become natural for younger women to embrace this as the norm without even realizing that this image is skewed to the feminist side. It is not a neutral position. This is like trying to mix baking soda and vinegar which is why there is so much foaming and frothing, even between Christian women, on what Biblical womanhood truly is. Within Christiandom, they are as divided as the liberals and conservatives are in the political arena.

My husband and I have been in ministry for 25 years. And we are one of the fortunate/unfortunate?? couples that have not only seen the damage that feminism has done to marriage and the family, we have experienced the devestation it can cause first hand. I'm not blaming feminism, because the very root of my problem was carnality, but feminism is the great promoter of self-indulgence which is devastating to marriage. Praise God He is a God of redemption and restoration, even though for us, the restoration course was much like what an old piece of furniture goes through during the refinishing process. It was hard, it took time, and it hurt. Alot!

There are many things I like about this book, however...... (to be continued)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lawnmower Devotions-Isolated Storms

Today will be sunny with isolated showers! Highs around 73. Winds will be from the southeast at 5-10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

Since I work for a Lawn and Turf company, I am a regular watcher of "Your Local on the Eights." I plan my day around the weather, and the weather pretty much plans my day for me. If it's too cold, I can't spray. If it's too hot, we don't want to mulch. If it's too dry, we don't fertilize, unless we are sure rain is imminent. If it's too wet, we don't mow, however we will mow in the cold and mulch in the wet.

The terms "isolated showers" and "scattered showers" are a mystery to me. What do they mean? Usually nothing, especially if the percentage is as it is above-30%.

This year they have meant that I can be somewhere working in a torrential downpour while just 4 blocks away the sun is shining and everything is completely dry. At least once a week so far this season, we have been rendered completely soaked, scrambling to cover gas cans and equipment and heading for home when we discover that just across town, not a drop of rain has fallen and we can continue working. I'm guessing that is what they mean by an "isolated" shower. In just one small area, it can be raining cats and dogs, in the proverbial sense, but everywhere else is sunny and bright.

Life is a lot that way! A "shower" in one area of our lives can render us drowning in raindrops or teardrops and we are miserably trying to run for cover. Unfortunately, we fail to realize that most of the time, our "storms" are just "isolated showers" not the tornados or hurricanes we make them out to be.

Over the years, I have learned that most things in life are relative. It all depends on what you compare them to. If I am working on a 2 acre property with a million dollar house, my house looks quite small and dingy. But if I'm looking at the huts in the Philippines that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ live in, my house looks like a castle!

When 3 of our four children were in intensive care after a bad car accident, 2 of which were right at death's door and crossing back and forth over it's threshold, that was a bad storm. We could have been completely lost in it's powerful winds! But we chose to travel just a few blocks over to see that the sun was still shining. Our children, by God's miracle, were still alive! There were still 6 members in our family! We had a God who is still in the healing business, and at that time, we were His best customers! We had people we loved and who loved us all around us. All over the world, people were praying for our children petitioning God for their lives. And had things not turned out the way they did, we would have had the full assurance that our children were in a better place and that someday we would all be together again.

I often marvel at professing Christians who only see the "isolated showers" in their lives. They are just stuck there, crying in the rain instead of looking past the shower to see that so many other things are right in their lives. They stand and sing at the top of their lungs that old Linda Ronstadt song, "poor, poor, pitiful me, poor, poor pitiful me. All these storms won't let me be, Lord have mercy on me!" And it may be only that their clothes washer is broken or their car is in the garage. They seem shocked that something bad, or at least a little inconveniencing has happened to them and their underwear is in a major knot!

Don't we live in a fallen world? Don't we have a relentless enemy? Are we, by our good works, immune from pain, inconvenience and hurt? Heck no! Friends, we have a big red target on our backs if we are truly serious about serving and living for Christ! This ain't no Sunday school picnic! It's out and out war! Are we so self-absorbed that all we can see is what's wrong with our lives instead of the big picture that if you live in America, you are blessed beyond the majority of the rest of the world? And if you are alive in Christ, ALL the power of God is at your disposal! Does not petition with thanksgiving = ferverent, effective prayer which makes GREAT power available?

Instead of wallowing in self absorbant pity, why not put on your big girl pants and give God thanks that you have a car at all, or water to wash your clothes in? When things go wrong, why not look at them and in Pollyanna fashion say, "things could be a lot worse!" This will work in almost every situation! And you know what? When the unconverted see that in spite of all of our, what they would deem, "problems", we are still at peace and even thankful, that is a mystery to them!

Of all the people that my husband and I have led to the Lord, the large majority of them saw that we "weather" the storms of life in a way that they rarely see. They were intrigued and a little jealous and were so worn down from trying to figure us out that they asked us "what makes you the way that you are? How comes all the things you go through don't seem to bother you? If it were me, I'd be a basketcase!" What an open door to share the life and peace that can only come from the one who can walk on a raging sea and speak "Peace! Be still!" and it obeys?

Does that mean that we are totally unaffected by the storms and showers of life? Of course not! Just 2 weeks ago, we were faced with buying a new water heater, a new engine for our largest tractor, a wedding reception deposit, an $800.00 truck inspection, and a head gasket for our car all in the space of 5 days. Everyday it seemed that we were caught in an isolated storm while we were still wet from the previous day's shower. We had to battle hard to keep from giving in to desperation and frustration and asking "Why, God? Why?" But instead, we took a step back and began to thank God for all that we did have. We began to praise Him for His provision, which He has promised to provide. In this case, He rebuked the devourer. Our mechanic got "inspired" and was able to fix our tractor. God gave us discernment to see that our truck mechanic was really "taking us for a grand and glorious ride", so we took it somewhere else to have it inspected and it cost us $19.00. The head gasket turned out to be a $40.00 hose and some labor. The water heater is still leaking, but only because I have not called the repairman yet! I'm too busy working!

I don't believe that all this was coincidence. Nothing in our lives is, if God is really in control of them. Just that fact alone is enough to weather any shower you may be caught in, even if that shower turns into a tornado or a hurricane.

So next time something happens that knocks you a little off kilter, STOP! Look at it in the greater context! Leave it with God and travel just a few blocks over where the sun is still shining! "Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, praise worthy, think on these things! Those things that you have recieved, and heard and seen in Christ, DO! And the God of peace shall be with you!"

Friday, June 4, 2010

True Woman

I recently was given an opportunity to receive a free book if I would be willing to review it chapter by chapter on my blog. I never turn down an opportunity to receive a book! And this book is of interest to me since I am a woman! Because I am quickly becoming a moldy oldie, I witnessed the feminist movement nearly from it's very first day. I even held to feminist views for a short period of my life. Having said that, I am not one to obsess on the virtues of Christian womanhood to the point that I lose sight of the big picture.

Yes, I am a woman.

Yes, I am a Christian woman.

Yes, I am happily and willingly submitted to the authority of my husband and my Pastor. (I get off easy in this respect since they are the same man! LOL!). But the principles in scripture are written for all, man or woman. That, in itself, is equality! We are all presented with the same gospel, the same commands, the same judgements by God. How those things practically present themselves in real life vary a bit between the sexes for the purpose of completeness, but the principles are the same.

No, I do not own a "Woman's Bible." The version of the Bible that is no respecter of persons is good enough for me. In God there is no man or woman, slave or free..., so why would I need a "special" Bible. To me, it defeats the whole process of losing oneself in Christ and becoming nothing. The basic tenets of the Christian faith apply to and are required of ALL. And while I take those verses written to women very seriously, I have the tendency to think that if I will just obey what's in there, the woman thing will work itself out to the glory of God.

No, I do not attend "Christian Women's" groups mostly because the ones I have attended are influenced by the feminist ideals I laid at the foot of the cross when at age 25, I gave my life to Christ.

I am happy that God made me a woman because I believe that He is perfect in ALL He does. And if I was created me to live in submission and under authority, to be halfway or all the way down the totem pole, then that is where I will be the most happy. I really don't look at things as men vs. women. I tend to look at what God had in mind when He created me personally rather than lumped into one or the other of the sexes.

On the other hand, I find the distinctions between the sexes very intriguing and sometimes amusing. It is my heartfelt desire to fully accomplish all that God asks of me as a helpmate, a mother, and a representative of Christian womanhood to the world. I strive and pray that I would be that good example of purity, chastity, humility, quiet strength, tranquility that scripture so often associates with womanhood. If God made me a woman, then I want to be the very best example of what He created me to be.

Clearly those that collaborated to write this book have identified the need for change in Christian womanhood. From what I have gleaned so far, it is a returning more than a reformation, but the returning to the "old paths" of Christian womanhood from where we are today would indeed be very reforming.

I have always believed that the little good that the feminist movement has accomplished is far outweighed by the damage it has done. It has literally wreaked havoc in the family, marriage, and worst of all, the church. The self-actualizing, self-centered ideas that it brought to the forefront of society have evolved in such a hateful direction, that even the founders of the movement have jumped ship. Believe me, what the movement started out to do, and where the movement has ended up are worlds apart in doctrine and practice!

This "True Woman" movement as it is called is lead by very dedicated, Christian ministers and women. However, we vary in doctrine a bit. They tend to hold to more Calvinistic doctrine while I adhere to Armenian beliefs. Please note that the differences between our doctrines will keep neither of us from heaven nor from true Christian fellowship on the earth, but I will be interested to see how the differences influence my perceptions of the book.

With the busyness of the summer season, it's nice to have a preset focus and plan for my writing exercises. It's a little less work for me, which right now is a good thing. And as always, I'm looking forward to what God will teach me as a result of reading and thinking about the ideas presented in this book. I'm not nearly where I want to be. I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, what I should be, but I know that with each passing day I'm better than I was and that pleases God. And that's all that matters.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Heavenly Email

I love it when the Lord speaks to me in the normal things of my day. Right now, I don't have much time to sit and ponder the great things of life because I'm just too crazy busy! All the details of this are just too tiring to repeat, but my plate is fuller than it has ever been.

This morning, I was sending out email account information for my Sunday school class. After sending, my email account brought to my attention that I had sent several emails to people not in my contact list. It then gave me some options to either add them as a new contact or merge them with another address that had the same name and was already established. After clicking on "add as new contact", I received the following. "You have successfully saved so and so as a new contact."

Because I am a "saved" Christian, (I don't believe there is any other kind), I automatically thought to myself, "I wish it would be that easy to save another individual!" But then, as the Holy Spirit is so quick to do, He brought it all home to roost right at my address.

We cannot receive the acknowledgement that we are "saved" until we have set up an account with a "new contact." That new contact is Jesus Christ. He is the only one that can save us. His account was established before the beginning of time as we know it and it is an eternal account. The contact name will never change. The address will always be the same. So in order to be "saved", we must first make contact with Him and then we must merge our names and addresses into his account.

So when the Father wants to send us something, it comes through and because of Christ's account. And when we want to send something to the Father, it also goes through Christ's account as well. Christ is the central and essential part of any communication that we desire to have with God. God won't listen to us, but He will listen to Christ and because Christ is "ever interceding" for us, we can pray in His name and receive the things we ask for from God. God is pleased with Christ!!! So when we are "merged" into Christ's account, God is pleased with us!!! What a glorious thought!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lawnmower Devotions-If You Feed It, It'll Grow

I'm up to my eyeballs in mowing right now. Every yard has grass that has grown an average of 8 inches since last week and is going to seed! It's impossible to keep up with! What in the world is going on? Oh......that's right, we fertilized and it rained. If you feed the grass some fertilizer and a little water, it will grow! And grow! AND GROW! It's a God thing. It's one of those principles He put into place when He created the world.

And it works for humans too. If I feed my teenagers, they grow! Boy, do they grow! And the more they eat, the more they grow! Will they ever stop??? I'm buying a gallon of milk a day for 3 teenagers and rarely is there any left over to make dinner with. I'm always asking someone to go to the store to get milk. I'm thinking of buying a cow. I LOVE cows and I miss milking, but the neighbors would probably protest.

And it works spiritually too. Too many times, people view salvation as the goal. But honestly, it's the starting point. There is so much God wants to do in us, but the truth is, He can't do anything until we're saved. That is the point when He can really start to do things, but if we are satisfied to just sit and think "we made it", things could get ugly. We won't grow. We'll just get fat. Something that is not growing is unhealthy or dying. I tend to believe that the spiritual life is the same way. There is no such thing as stagnation, spiritually speaking. We are in one of two kingdoms, there is right and there is wrong, we are either moving forward of sliding back.

We need steady diet of the Word and prayer. Psalm 23 tells us that God prepares us a table and that our cup runs over. Well, what do you do at the table? YOU EAT! We MUST sit at God's table every day to receive what we need for that day. I make it a matter of habit that when I spend time with the Lord every morning to not leave that place until I know that I have recieved somthing from Him, and I have given something to Him. It may be just a word, or a verse, or an idea that I want to meditate on while I mow, but I make sure that I know that I've been with Him and He's been with me.

A mother once grew frustrated with getting her children to read their Bibles everyday. They seemed satisfied to just read it on Sunday at church. So to illustrate the danger of not recieving the Word on a daily basis, she set out 7 bowls of cereal for each of her children one morning for breakfast. When the kids came to table, they said, "Mom, we can't possibly eat all this cereal in one meal. Can we put it back in the box so that it lasts us all week?" The Mother replied, "I thought you could just eat all your breakfasts for the whole week today. Then I won't have to worry about making breakfast until next week." "But we will need something to eat tomorrow and the next day! We need something every morning!", said the kids. "Well, said their mother, just as you need physical food every morning for strength, you also need spiritual food every morning for strength as well. Just reading your Bible on Sunday is like trying to eat enough breakfast for 7 days in one meal. It can't be done." Point made!

And what do we eat? ALL the Word. Not just the bless me verses. I'm sure that God's table includes things that we wouldn't particularly choose for ourselves, like stewed tomatoes, land cress, and spinach. But He knows that we need a healthy balance of His will, His Word, and His commands. If we receive what God puts on the table for us each day, we will be healthy, strong Christians. How many times have we turned up our noses at what the Lord put on our plate and told Him that we don't like it? Are we willing to take a dose of our own medicine and eat it "just because He said so?"

Some days, when I don't like what's on my plate, I have to ask myself, "do I really trust God as my loving Father? Do I really believe that He has my good at the forefront of His thoughts? I have to re-affirm the faith that I have in the truthfulness of the Word and the steadfast, unchanging, perfect love of the one setting the table for me everyday. Then I can sit and eat whatever He has placed on my plate knowing that the end result is growth, strength and health. It doesn't always taste good and it's not always pleasant to my taste buds, but I receive it anyway.

When I find my strength to resist temptation is low, or my thoughts are not faith filled, or my will to do right seems to be whaning, I know that I need to pull up to the Father's table and eat whatever He has placed there for me that day. When my joy level is low, when I'm anxious or frustrated or just feeling "out of sorts", I know that I'm lacking the spiritual nutrition that God has for me that day and I run to the table and eat! God's Word is sweeter than honey and more satisfying than anything else I could take in.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing!" "He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul."