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.

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

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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! 


Friday, November 12, 2010

The Godless Proverbs 31 Woman

http://www.girlsgonewise.com/the-superwoman-complex-the-godless-proverbs-31-woman/  (Also included in it's entirety at the bottom of this blog.)
The Superwoman Complex- The Godless Proverbs 31 Woman

Diane Montgomery
November 1, 2010
Comments (0)

Superwoman complex: A woman’s desire to be excellent at all her roles (leader, professional, mother, wife, etc.), that often leads to psychological stress or an expectation of being a Superwoman that can and should do everything.

If you look this term up in the dictionary, you’ll find my picture next to it. I didn’t realize I fit into this category until a few months ago. I was new to marriage, taking summer school, cooking dinner 3-4 times a week, working out every day, involved in church ministry, working 40 hours a week, reading 200 pages a day for class, trying to be a friend, daughter, and the perfect wife. I was exhausted and didn’t even have kids yet! But after working 10 hours one Saturday afternoon, I finally broke down.

Why was I so upset, so exhausted? My husband was well fed, the house was clean, I was making good grades, and church ministry was going well. It seemed like I was doing what the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to do, so why was I breaking down? What’s wrong with being Superwoman?

1. Superwoman is Too Busy for God.

At the end of every day being “Superwoman,” I was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep to be able to save the day again. I told God, “I’m too busy for you. I have to do everything tomorrow and need my sleep so I can’t read your Word.” The way God was going to speak to me and bring me peace, contentment, and joy was what I was rejecting. Scripture breathes life into our souls and I was becoming spiritually and physically exhausted without it.

The Proverbs 31 woman is refreshed daily, speaks with wisdom, and is exemplary because she seeks the source of all wisdom and faithful instruction….God. (Prov. 31:24). I was doomed for failure as Superwoman because I didn’t have the one thing that would revive my soul everyday (Ps. 19:7). Rather than trying to be Superwoman, I needed to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman, seeking the Lord and His Word, which brings light to the eyes and joy to the heart (Ps.19:8).

2. Superwoman Thinks She Can Save the Day.

When you try to be a superhero, there’s no room for God to save the day. I thought I could do it all on my own and, foolishly, I thought I didn’t need God’s help. I was the controller of my life, not God. When He is not your center, when He is not in control, your life will not be peaceful or successful (Prov. 3:5-6).

If you’re trying to be Superwoman, you will eventually fail and break down (Prov. 14:12), but when God is in control, there is peace and rest. I was putting my trust in myself which seems pretty stupid when I think about it, because I’m a sinful, simpleton of a woman. Why was I trusting in that kind of person when I have a Savior who is perfect (Ps. 18:30), loving, strong, in control of the entire world and wants to do good for me (Deut. 30:16, Ps. 37:4-5)? That’s who I want to save the day!

3. Superwoman Tries to Be Perfect.

A lot of Christian women think of the Proverbs 31 woman as a type of Superwoman. She’s Susie-homemaker, smart, good with money, can sew, and her husband and children think she’s the best. She’s perfect!

God requires His daughters to be like that, right? Aren’t all those things in Scripture? They are and God does want them from us but there’s a big difference between Superwoman and the Proverbs 31 woman. The difference is: God.

You can do all the actions of the Proverbs 31 woman but if your heart isn’t God-centered then you’re just a Superwoman destined to fail. God knows that only He and His Son, Jesus Christ are perfect, so why are we trying to be perfect in every area? Is it so you’ll appear to be the most talented girl in the dorm, the best wife in your small group, or the most desirable single woman? Unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of all these “Me”-driven motives. The Superwoman complex is centered on: Self.

God does not value outward perfection, awards, or praises from man like we do. The only thing God requires is that we seek Him and fear Him, like the Proverbs 31 woman (Prov. 31:30). God doesn’t call us to be Superwomen; he calls us to be godly women.

When you put your long to-do lists and full schedules on His shoulders the burden is much lighter because He’s carrying it for you (Matt. 11:28). He knows you can’t handle the weight of being Superwoman. You’ll collapse under it, like I did.

If you have been like the Proverbs 31 woman, putting everything in God’s hands, thank you! You’ve been an example to your sisters and we need more women like you. I pray I become more like you and less like Superwoman.

So let’s all take off the cape and let God save the day

This blog really spoke to me.  As a Pastor's wife, I have been continually pressured to fit into other's perceptions of a Proverbs 31 woman.  I have also been judged because to some, I don't fit into their image of a Proverbs 31 woman.  So I liked that this blog really brought out that the Proverbs 31 woman is first and foremost a spiritual woman.  The Spirit forms us into the image of the Proverbs 31 woman that HE desires for US.  He makes us the kind of helpmate that we need to be and it may look very different in every woman and in every household-practically speaking.  Still, when you meet a Proverbs 31 woman in spirit, she is easily recognizable because they all look alike in attitude and demeanor. 

This means that we have to spend time in the Spirit's presence because that is where He changes and forms us. 

As a woman with a Franklin day planner, I know how easy it can be to regulate God's presence in my life to a block of time called devotions.  I have been guilty of sitting down to read my Bible and throw up a prayer so that I can check God off of my to-do list for the day.  Someone told me once "well at least God is on your to-do list", but I disagree. 

Many years ago I was walking and praying at a retreat center we were staying at with a group of college kids.  As I walked I was lamenting to God about the amount of time my husband and I could spend alone and just generally where I wished our relationship would be different.  As I poured out my heart to him concerning my husband's shortcomings in this area, God spoke very clearly to me and he said "I feel the same way about you."  What a dagger pierced my heart!  I realized that I was doing the same thing to God that I felt my husband was doing to me.  I would have never heard God say that if I had just regulated him to my 30 minute devotional time where I was just trying to accomplish my religious duties for the day. 

From that day forward I established a practice in my life.  When I went into my time with God, I determined that I would not leave until I knew that I had been with Him and He had been with me.  Through the years this has meant anywhere from 10 minutes to 3 hours.  It has included reading the Word, prayer, worship, thanksgiving, intercession, or any combination of these things.  I just let God decide.  In all the years I've practiced this, God has never once made me late for an important appointment, my children never suffered, and He gave me grace and strength to get everything done in my day that needed to be done. 

At times it meant that my house was not immaculate.  (Seriously I can't blame that on God.  I'm just not a very good house cleaner.)  It may have meant that the clothes sat in the dryer and were a little more wrinkly than they would have been if I had heeded the alarm buzzer that told me they were done drying.  It may have meant that I went to the park alone instead of with the other women that went at a certain time everyday.  It may have meant that supper was a little late but I can honestly say that my husband either never noticed or didn't care.  However, it has meant that I have had a vital, active, intimate relationship and fellowship with God.  I didn't allow excuses.  Truly using your children as an excuse is just inexcusable. 

Choosing your schedule over God as your first priority is a big, red flag that there is something not right in your heart!  You are tied to the things of the world.  Test your heart.  Ask yourself this question, if I treated my husband and children the way I treat God, if I interacted with them the way I do, or don't do, with God, would our relationships be thriving, healthy, and joyful?  Don't shortchange God.  You can't afford it!  It will cost you dearly in all the things you are scurrying around trying to accomplish. 

Martin Luther once said something to this effect.  "On my busiest days, I spend twice the amount of time in prayer than I normally do."  You know, God cannot resist getting  all up in your business when you have this attitude.  You will be surprised at how smoothly your day can run, how quickly things seem to get accomplished, and how different your attitudes, reactions and emotions will be when you have made God the #1 priority of your day.


Monday, November 8, 2010

More About the Birthday-As Promised

In September my youngest daughter had a birthday.  We don't celebrate extravagantly.  We just make sure that the one celebrating feels special.

This is the birthday girl.

 Birthdays would not be the same without All the siblings being present.  Her sister made sure she was there.

Gifts are opened.  Here are some beautiful stones from her Aunt.  Apparently my sister's real name and the word "banana" sounded really similar to my daughter when she was a toddler, thus the dubbing "Aunt Banana".  She asked me several years later, "who in the world would name their kid 'banana'?" 

This shirt was a big hit.  It's "country!" 
My daughter loves anything country!  I think this is mostly because the people who love her the most and treat her the best are country folk.  I have to agree with her that there is nothing like the raw, down-to-earth honesty and common sense of country folk.  Because of her fondness for all things country, we planted a garden this summer and became very familiar with her favorite store--tractor supply.
 The wrapping of the gifts is usually left up to those not celebrating which this year was my two sons.  I think they'll need a little more instruction before Christmas.

 I wish she would move her hair!!!!!!

This guy comes for the food!

Please keep an eye on the lower left hand corner.  That black thing is the hanger/clip off my daughter's new cowboy hat.  You WILL see this again.  No one can fault my kids for not being inventive!

 This was her gag gift.  You find all kinds of interesting things at Tractor Supply including "Monkey Butt Powder" and this!

 Notice, it does say that it contains no poop!  I would never give poop to my child!

 The main dish?  Cowboy Calazones created from "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" cookbook which was given to me as a gift but I haven't seen it since my daughter discovered it was "country."

Ladies and Gentleman!    Are you tired of eating chips and getting orange fingers?  Are you frustrated with those nasty orange and yellow stains on your shirts and jeans?  Well, we have the solution!  No more frustration.  Introducing the "Chip Clip". 
 It can also be used as a hat hanger in any local "country" store.

 Which she loved, by the way.

Isn't she cute?!!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pastor's Appreciation

As I mentioned in a former post, there are certain things that people give and do for their Pastor that hold exceptional meaning and blessing.  The following is a sentiment written and given to us by a precious family in our church.  These are the kinds of things that make ministry worth all the guff, all the time, all the inconvenience, and all the pain that it can so frequently bring into the life of a minister.

The outside was sprinkled with all the things my husband loves--a pickup truck with a golden retriever in the bed, a Bible, a target and a gun, a field with a tractor in it.  On the inside was a hilarious photo of a soldier standing beside a sheep whom had been donned with his combat helment.  Above it was written Jeremiah 3:15. 

That verse says "And I give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." 

On the other page was written the following:
There's not very many more wonderful things a human could do,
than remind himself that he is nothing and help others see that too
We're glad we have a pastor who knows he's just a man
Whom the Word is his strength, whose God makes him stand
Who tells the truth because he knows the truth sets free
Who knows the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy
Who doesn't often grow weary, because he works unto the Lord
Who carried a 45 and who drives a Ford (This cracked us up!)

What a dear family, what a touching sentiment. 

See, I told you we have the best people! :-)