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, February 28, 2011

Are You Part of the Pot?

We just received a tremendous blessing from God. 

Seventeen years ago, we pioneered a church. After meeting in schools, hotels and even a marital arts academy (the boxing ring came in handy for marital counseling), we rented a building. It suited us okay except that it was leaky, not handicapped accessible, had no parking (we rented parking from the surrounding property owners) and it wasn't really suited for the activities of a growing church. We dumped a lot of money into it to get it into some semblance of a church building.

Then two years ago, we lost that building because the owners finally sold it.  ( It had been for sale when we moved into it.  God had kept it for us for a long time.)  Upon the sale, we only had two weeks to find another building and move. We live in a Big 10 college town and property rents for around $24-$28 per square foot to start out-and that's for not so hot property as well.

Our congregation are great givers, but even those prices are a stretch because we refuse to cut into our missions budget, plus just about every piece of real estate that is open gets snatched up by the University for one thing or another or sits vacant because it's just too expensive. We had to move into a VERY small building that at one time was a small, 2 bedroom house.  It was the only thing we could find and afford on such short notice.  Our offices doubled up as Sunday school rooms and then one of those also was transformed every service into a nursery. We had two unisex bathrooms. We had our services in the living room with the "overflow" in the kitchen! We literally had to crawl over one another and practically sit on top of each other. We had to cut the worship team in half and didn't even have enough room for them up front. Just the keyboards and drums were up front. The back up singers and guitar player just plugged in and stood in amongst the congregation. Our people are great and realize that church is not a building and the church grew under these conditions. ( I told you before that we have the BEST congregation!  Eventually you will come to see that I am right on with my assessment!)  We didn't even have a sign out front because we were afraid that the city would think we were violating some code and shut us down even though we made sure not to exceed the fire code limit.

Well........GOD HAS BLESSED US WITH A HUGE BUILDING THAT IS PERFECT FOR US! And at 1/3 of the going rate with utilities included in the rental price. We are only going to pay a little more than we are currently paying for the small building.  All we'll have to do is have the carpet cleaned and paint the sanctuary and office walls to get into it. It has two foyers, one suitable for coat racks and shoe wiping. Then another which will suit our Sunday morning coffee and donut crowd! There is room for Sunday school classes without encroaching on an office, a room for a church office and the pastor's office, a place for a youth room, a huge nursery with it's own bathroom, and then two other bathrooms, one for each gender. There is a kitchen right off the nursery and the foyer we will use for coffee/donuts. The sanctuary is huge. We are going to build a platform for the worship team and pulpit. There is even a covered walk way off the driveway where people can be dropped off and picked up without getting wet. Even better is that it is on the only road between the University town and the county seat, so there is tons and tons of traffic, some brand new neighborhoods, and lots of visibility for our church! We are so excited.

Last Sunday we met the whole congregation there after church to let them look at it to see if they felt it was the right building and the right time.  I just kind of wandered around, having already seen it, listening to them chat with one another as they envisioned all that it could be.  You see, most of these people have been with us for a very long time so they are builders/workers/visionaries and they feel a sense of ownership and belonging with this congregation.  They all agreed, it's been a long time comin, but now that it's here we are ecstatic and looking forward to what God will be doing there!

In thinking about the new building and church in general, I thought about what most ministers refer to as "the corporate body" of a church.  Really, the corporate body IS the church.  We are spirits that live in a shell called the body.  The corporate body is the church that resides in a building.  The building is not "the church" just as our bodies are not really us.  Our "corporate body" really gets this.  I think that this building is part of their reward.  And if the building would have fallen through, they would have been disappointed for all of about 5 minutes because that is just the kind of people they are. 

Romans 12:3-5 (New American Standard Bible)
3For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
4For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,
5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:11-13 (New American Standard Bible)
11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
12For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

If this is true, then we, as Christians cannot think of ourselves in terms of individuality, except for the purpose of ministering to the whole.  Yes, we each have different giftings and callings, but we are part of a greater whole and are identified not by our own individuality but by the whole.  That whole is Christ.  We are His body.  He is the head!
Websters defines the word "corporate" as:

1a : formed into an association and endowed by law with the rights and liabilities of an individual :
2: of, relating to, or formed into a unified body of individuals

So when we join a church body, we are, in essence incorporating with the rest of that body.  We are "uniting or working into something already existent so as to form an indistinguishable whole; blending or combining thoroughly; giving material form to something."

One example that I read used the the idea of blending waxes together to make a candle.  Different colors and different scents are blended into one indistinguishable light.  The parts are lost in the whole, never to be identifiable again and only to be spent until extinguished. 

Are you a part of corporate body?

Do you see yourself this way, or are you holding onto the "identity" the world says you deserve?

Are you willing to throw yourself into the melting pot of a local body to the point of becoming unrecognizable for the good of the whole?

Are you willing to spend and be spent so that the Body of Christ, identifiable only by it's head, can be known?

Just food for thought.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The "Anything You Want Him To Be Bible"

Warning!  This is a vent or a rant of a righteous nature and it does contain tart sarcasm.  The surgeon general has made no ruling on sarcasm, but I thought I would warn you anyway.

First-The Rant!

Although I don't find most of the items I'm going to list offensive in some ways, I think that they are totally unnecessary and even damaging on certain levels.  Truly, I did not read any of these.  I did take exception to the image of God that they present.  We need to quit trying to make the Bible palatable by appealing to our whims and start making our whims palatable to the God of the Bible.  I'm not against presenting the Bible in different ways, especially to children who can't read, but this reeks of trying to re-package God in a way that strokes our sinful nature in hopes that by osmosis, something of the Spirit will seep in. 

Why not just put the Bible out there and let people read it?  It's worked through all the centuries that the Bible has existed!  We're not going to improve it.  It's perfection just the way it is.  You're not going to change a person's mind about a spiritual God by packaging Him in with something of this world that they admire or desire.  They must seek Him all by themselves.   It'd be better to let them open a Bible, pure and simple, than to distract them by adding things of this world that they find appealing.  It defeats the whole purpose from page one!  Instead of finding a Bible that presents God in a way that is palatable to people, why not just read the thing so that you will be palatable to God?

Now, the explanation.

I was searching for a Bible on a popular Christian book site.  There were over 4,000 entries under the keyword "bible".  Yep, 182 web pages of Bibles!  I wondered to myself "what's this all about?"  So I took a little time and flipped through.  What I found is that there is a Bible for every race, color and creed upon the earth.  As if we need a Bible tailored to our favorite color, favorite preacher, gender, age, hobbies, or dysfunctions!  Here are just a few I found.

The True Identity Bible for Women 
Now the only Bible I currently own is "The Holy Bible", but it says that when we are in Christ, we have no identity.  There is no Jew, Greek, slave, free, man or woman.  We died! We are simply part of the body of Christ and HE is our identity.  I do not need to be "uniquely me".  I need to let Him be "unique" in me.  IT'S NOT ABOUT ME--IT'S ALL ABOUT HIM!  I don't need to discover me.  I did that once and I did not like what I found!  I need to search for and find Jesus and who I am in HIM!  The Bible does a more than adequate job of this all by itself.

The Jewish Bible as opposed to what?  The gentile Bible??  Wasn't the church warned against identifying themselves with one preacher or another.  What's even weirder about this is that the preachers of both these Bibles is the same person!  I get the whole "you can get more meaning if you understand it from a Jewish standpoint thing", but a study Bible will handle that just fine.  If we are saved, Jew or Gentile, we are one in the same.  In the same body.  In the same church. Why should Jew be separate from Gentile?  Didn't God declare us all clean?  Am I saying that we should forget our heritage???  Hold on to your sacred cow!  YEP!  That's exactly what I'm saying.  We are all of the same bloodline.  We all belong to the same kingdom.  We all have the same king.  We are all His subjects.  Jew and Gentile alike will stand together at the throne of God.  I honestly doubt that there will be a Jewish section and  a Gentile section. 

I appreciate Jewish history probably more than most.  I love to sit and listen to born again Rabbi's expound on the Word of God.  (I highly recommend Rabbi Schneider of "Discovering the Jewish Jesus").  But...we do not need a separate Bible. "Well, it's the same Bible dummy."  I heard that!  My point is that when we choose to departmentalize ourselves into smaller groups, it does bring division and almost always animosity to some degree.

 I belong to Ravelry.com, a needlework site on-line.   I love to knit.  I can crochet, but much more prefer knitting.  So, when I'm on ravelry, I exclude crocheting from what I read because I don't do it.   I appreciate that there is such a thing as crochet and I appreciate the talents of those that crochet, but I just don't hang with them even though they are part of the needlework network that I know as ravelry. 

So keeping this thought in mind, here are the rest of the Bibles that I looked at.

Becoming--a Biblezine!  Now that's rich!
"Want a new you in the New Year? Tailoring transforming truth into a cutting-edge women's magazine format, this take-anywhere "Biblezine" brims with practical tips for fitting your life to your faith!Easy-reading NCV text * Articles on worship, beauty, men, health, career, relationships, and more * Size: 8" x 10.75" x .75" * 400 pages, softcover from Nelson"

This infuriated me so much I don't even know where to start!  If the only way one will read the Bible is if it is presented in the same seedy format used by gossip rags, and worldly, fleshy magazines, then they shouldn't bother!  If they read it simply to improve themselves, then they are way off base!  The Bible is not a book about what God can do for us.  It's about what we should and can do for God because of who He is, because of what He's done, and because He is worthy of it and we're not!

I know that God can use just about anything to bring a person to Himself.  But this is just appealing to a part of us that should be prepared to die if we truly want Christ.  There is a cost to salvation.  Sure, to gain it is totally free and there is nothing that we can do to earn it.  But once it is ours, there are things that have to happen and those things cost us, and make us uncomfortable, and yes, they kill us!

Teen study bible
I get the need to make things relative for the reader.  But I was under the impression that this is what the Holy Spirit is for.  I guess after all this time, the Holy Spirit is out of touch with the younger generation.  I guess all the younger generations of yesteryear were really not younger after all because they seemed to be touched by the same Bible the adults were reading.  Hmmmm....who knew?
C.S Lewis Bible-as if the bible is not thought provoking enough!  "The C.S. Lewis Bible pairs thought-provoking meditations from C.S. Lewis’s spiritual writings with corresponding passages from the authoritative NRSV Bible. This one-of-a-kind Bible for devotional reading, reflection, and inspiration is perfect for readers of Lewis’s Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, or his other works of seminal Christian writing. Fans of Lewis’s widely-beloved allegorical fantasy series, the Chronicles of Narnia, will love this chance to engage with the author’s more deeply spiritual side after reading favorites like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Hmmm....I thought the purpose of reading the Bible was to engage with God's more deeply spiritual side.

The words "devotional reading, reflection, and inspiration" caught my attention.  What about reproof, correction, and just a good swift kick in the pants when one needs it?  Probably if people would read the Bible looking for ways to get changed more than looking for a way to change things, we would be much closer to our goal!

The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible " is designed to lead believers into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and into growth and maturity. The Bible is built around thirty life principles that Dr. Stanley has gleaned from the Word through his years of Bible teaching and pastoral ministry."

No offense Chuck, but I don't need to read about your 30 life principles that you hijacked from the teaching of Jesus.  I can just read them for myself, with the light and direction of the Holy Spirit.  I appreciate all your hard work, but I cannot get revelation knowledge from your 30 principles unless they are first breathed into me by the life giver Himself.

The comic book Bible
This is just too over the top for me to even comment on and remain a Christian.

Horse Lover's Bible-"What girl doesn’t love horses? Filled with beautiful features and photographs, horse lovers will be inspired by this NIV Bible."  Inspired HOW????  I'm sure that I will want God SO much more if I think He's a horse lover.  If He loves horses, He has to be good. 

Since when do horses inspire us to seek God?  Someone is spending way too much time wading through the barn poop and breathing in the fumes!

The Apologetics Study Bible- "will help today's Christian better understand, defend and proclaim their beliefs in this age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. More than one-hundred key questions and articles placed throughout the volume about faith and science prompt a rewarding study experience at every reading.
Highlights of this new thinking person’s edition of God’s Word include the full text of the popular Holman CSB® translation, an introduction to each Bible book focusing on its inherent elements of apologetics, and profiles of historic Christian apologists from Justin Martyr to C.S. Lewis. Also featured are valuable contributions from a who’s-who of modern apologists such as Chuck Colson, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, Ravi Zacharias, and many more  (photo)"

I'm not against apologetics, but when they supersede the reality of the experience that we have with Jesus Christ, it's nothing but wood, hay and stubble.  Man never has and never will understand spiritual things through natural or intellectual means.  Although I highly revere the men listed above, there is nothing that can defend the Bible more than the working of the Spirit and witness and testimony of one believer to another.

I've seen Ravi Z. in person many times.  I enjoy listening to how brilliant he is.  But he is so beyond me in brain wave length that I can hardly remember anything he said after he's done that I could actually use in witnessing, yet I'm able to lead people to Christ anyway just by telling them who He is and what He's done for me.  We can go out armed with all kinds of information and not get one single soul saved.  In fact, I have found that the most effective soul winners are people who are newly saved who know absolutely nothing except that they were once lost and now they're found.  Their passion, zeal, and obvious change says enough about what happened to them and it is very inviting.

Here's a novel idea!  When Jesus and disciples preached the Word, signs and wonders followed.  Perhaps we should just know the Word enough that it is power in our lives and when we witness to people and pray for them we should actually expect that something miraculous and supernatural is going to happen!

"But that doesn't make sense!"  EXACTLY!  The supernatural never makes sense!

Celebrate recovery Bible-"The Celebrate Recovery Bible is an ideal real life spiritual guide for those struggling with the circumstances of their lives and the habits they are trying to control. Featuring a special foreword written by Rick Warren, this Bible includes articles that explain the eight recovery principles and accompanying Christ-centered twelve steps, 30 days of devotional readings, and over 50 full-page biblical character studies."

Hmmmm....I must have the Reader's Digest Condensed version of the Bible because I can't find anywhere where Christ used a 12-step program to help someone.  I don't see anywhere that there were meetings scheduled on different nights in different cities to move from one step to another!  All my Bible says is that He touched them, or He spoke to them and they were fixed-completely-forever! As far as I can tell, Jesus had a one step method.

The American Patriot's Bible-"THE ONE BIBLE THAT SHOWS HOW ’A LIGHT FROM ABOVE’ SHAPED OUR NATION. Never has a version of the Bible targeted the spiritual needs of those who love our country more than The American Patriot’s Bible. This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation’s history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text"

Volumes have been written on how we, as Americans, tend to mix God and country to the point of heresy.  Suffice it to say, we have a rich heritage, but our laws and political system do not always align with scripture.

I think the Bible also "targets the spiritual needs" of those that don't love our nation as well.  In fact, the Bible targets the spiritual needs of human being that has ever or will ever exist!  And last time I read the Bible, the only nation God is "connected" to is Israel.  There's no covenant made with America.  It's as if they think the Bible validates America or America validates the Bible. 

I am a patriot.  For heaven's sake, I even have an NRA membership!  But I in no way mix love of country and love of God.  Our country has in the past and will probably in the future fail us as Christians.  Then what?   

My Princess Bible "shares stories of 19 women of the Bible through a rhyming story and a short takeaway summary in prose. Each story ends with two lines that remind the reader of valuable character traits of a princess; the little princesses are even encouraged to recite the learning of the biblical princess using her name in the blank instead: “________ is God’s special princess; ________ is sad when she does something bad” (the takeaway from the story of Eve). This format helps children see biblical women as princesses who teach us about godly principles. It also helps reinforce that the little girl reader is special and seen as a princess because she is created by God. The final story (number 20) is taken from Psalm 139 and features the reader as the godly princess. It reminds the reader that princesses are daughters of the King and are loved by God. Little girls will love to read My Princess Bible over and over to learn about God’s princesses

My Princess Bible is based on the popular format of My Pajama Bible. (OH goodness!) The new board book combines princess-like art of women of the Bible with art more reflective of the modern-day princesses who will learn of biblical women."  (A recipe for dysfunction!)

And we wonder why our children are self-centered and struggle so much with self image!  We mourn over the number of "princesses" that struggle with eating disorders, cutting, sexual promiscuity etc.  What happens when God actually wants them to see themselves as sinners in need of a savior?  What then?  He appears as the wicked witch of the west and they want nothing to do with Him!

Every woman needs HUGS! " This Bible is a great gift for any reason, for any season, and for any woman in your life. Give a Hugs Bible and give the gift of encouragement all year long with over 250 inspiring devotionals licensed from the writers of the giftbook series that has sold over 7 million copies."

Oh my soul, my soul, my soul!  I can't take any more!!!!

If you want someone to get interested in the Bible, why not try the ole tried and true way that is sanctioned by God and has been consistently effective throughout the history of the world?  Get down on your bony knees and pray!  A few sacrificial hours of prayer will far supersede a few dollars spent to get a person in the Word.

If you say you want God just dust off the uninteresting looking Bible you got as a vacation Bible school prize, open the pages and READ!!!!!!  You'll be surprised at how the Holy Spirit will be able to speak to you without the aid of comics, horses, little warm fuzzy devotionals, deep intellectual treatises, and kudos from men who are talented writers or speakers.  He promises that "if you seek Me, you will find me, if you seek me with all of your heart!"

Okay, I feel a little better now.  Please excuse my sarcasm and indignation.  It just hit me the wrong way!

I've decided to re-glue and re-tape my old Bible--one more time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Laws of Life's Harvest

From the sermon "The Laws of Life's Harvest"

This sermon was so encouraging to me, I just had to post it.

Galations 6:6-10
6The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  9Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 
10So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

There are many theories that people believe about life.  Some say that life is like a crap shoot.  You never know what the next roll will be.  Others say that God orchestrates everything about their life, so they really don't have to do much except just roll with the punches.  Others believe that they have some choice in how their lives go, that there are certain principles they can work to determine to some degree what their lives will be like.

There are laws that govern things in our world.  The law of gravity says that if you jump off a 20 story building, you won't live to tell about it.  Our bodies have a law that says that they need so much water everyday or they won't function properly and eventually will shut down altogether.  We can't change these laws, no matter how much we might like to.

God has established laws for living as well.  One of them is "your life is completely in your hands!"  Now, before you think I'm a heretic, hear me out.  I fully believe that God is intricately involved in everything that happens in my life but before He could be, I had to make the decision to allow Him to be.  In that respect, my life was in my own hands until I willingly decided to put it into His.  Upon putting it into His, I gave up my life to His control, so now I can say that God is truly in control of my life.

God created us in his image and gave us a free will.  We are allowed to make choices in life. 

All farming revolves around sowing and reaping.  When a farmer plants seed in the ground, he is hoping for one thing-a harvest.  There are many factors that affect if he gets a harvest, and how big the harvest will be.

The same principle holds true in God's laws.  There is one certainty and that is that there WILL be a harvest.  Whatever you plant, you will harvest and depending on how you planted it, that harvest could be good or bad, large or small.

Romans 2:2-6
2And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

Deeds are seeds!  God will judge our deeds!  Every thought, every word, every action is a seed.  We will reap a harvest for every seed sown.  When we are in right standing, it will produce right doings!  What's on the inside of the seed will be evident for all to see at the time of reaping!

In the passage in Galations we see that the Christian life involves works, or deeds.  If it didn't how would God judge us for them.  There is a lot of controversy these days about "works" vs. "faith".  Many choose to focus just on the "faith" part and render "works" as evil wood, hay and stubble.  Others think that "works" will produce faith or, at the very least, favor with God and so they try to work their way into God's blessing.  But this passage clearly shows us that:


In 1 Peter, we are told that God has already prepared good works for us to do.  So works can't be evil.  Our salvation comes as a result of grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  There is no working involved except that of the Holy Spirit.  However, once the Holy Spirit has wrought that salvation in our hearts, our new nature causes us to do good works, just as Christ did.

Whatever we sow to, that is what we will reap.  Some think that they can sow to the flesh and reap the spirit.  That's just crazy!  It defies the very law of sowing and reaping!  If we sow meanness, we reap meanness.  If we sow trouble, we reap trouble.  If we sow bad things, we reap bad things.  If we sow encouragement, we reap encouragement.  If we sow help to those in trouble, we reap help in times of trouble.  Every deed produces a harvest after it's own kind.

One thing is FOR SURE--there is a certainty of a harvest! Whatever you have sown, there is a certainty that you will reap a harvest! 

Notice, God is not the one doing the sowing, you are!  God gives us seed for sowing, but He won't sow it for us.  God establishes, executes and enforces the law of sowing and reaping, but He does not exercise it.  That is our part.

The one who mocks sowing and reaping is sowing for a harvest.

Proverbs 1:25-27
25And you neglected all my counsel  And did not want my reproof; 26I will also laugh at your calamity;  I will mock when your dread comes,  27When your dread comes like a storm  And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,  When distress and anguish come upon you.

This is the harvest of the one that neglects the law of life's harvest.  A writer which still to this day remains anonymous once said "man is free to choose, but is not free to choose the consequence of his choice."  The consequences of our choices lie within the laws of life's harvest, established by God.

The thought occurred to me that life is a whole lot more enjoyable when we are sowing good things.  It becomes even better when the harvest of those things starts to appear as well.  As a mother this encouraged me.  There is a certainty of a harvest for the parent who "trains up a child in the way that he should go".  My reward is coming.  It helps me to keep diligent even when it doesn't appear that I'm having any effect.  Some of my seedlings have not yet broken the surface for me to see.  But that doesn't mean that they aren't there!  Every seedling already holds the harvest within it's leaves.  It just takes time to see it. 

In verse 9 of the Galations passage the Bible say that in "due season" or "due time", we will reap.  Some of our harvest may not be temporal, but eternal.  If we sow to the spirit, we will reap of the spirit.  The Spirit is eternal.  He is both now and in the future.  Some of what we sow today we will not see until eternity.

Hebrews 11:13
"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."

It's good to just leave this up to God.  The rewards we receive now are at best temporary.  The rewards we receive later are eternal!  Heaven and all it's blessings are the reward for earthly sowing! 

Some people grow weary in well doing because they are expecting something out of season. We must trust God to meet out our reward when it is in due season.  I guarantee that He knows what He is doing and whatever He is doing is GOOD!  

Hebrews 10:32-39
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”  38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”  39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Hang in there!  Your reward is coming!

Live life with the end in mind!

In v. 10, we see that we are to be especially thoughtful of those of the household of faith!  Be good to the church and God's people.

But what if you have sown bad things????

It is true that reaping may produce enduring consequences even after repentance and forgiveness have occurred.  David lost his son and reaped a lifetime of strife amongst his family members even though he was forgiven.  But he didn't allow himself to be tormented by those consequences.  He moved on and began to sow rightly.  He didn't fret over what he couldn't change.  He just trusted God to help in the times when those consequences were an issue in his life.   

A harvest is coming and you can decide if it's good or bad!  There is no such thing as fate.  There is only fusion with God's laws for life's harvest.  He established it so that you could have a good life.  All you need to do is work it.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

When Facing Your Own Mortality--Biopsy

A few weeks ago I wrote about my mammogram and my colonoscopy.  I confused a few of you because I said that the colonoscopy didn't hurt at all, but yet the day following it, I was in extreme pain.  That is because on the day after the colonoscopy I returned to the doctor's office to get a biopsy.  I am still to this day trying to figure out why they put you to sleep to shoot some air and a camera up your backside but leave you awake to go inside a body cavity and cut a little piece of it out to examine. 

I didn't mention the biopsy because the term is always the first thing you hear before you hear the word "cancer", and since I hadn't received the results, I really didn't want people worrying over me when there probably wasn't anything to worry about.  I don't believe in worrying about something when there is not yet anything to worry about.  I also don't believe in worrying when there is something that you could legitimately worry over.  Worry is just sinful and a lack of faith in the provision of God, so I very rarely allow myself to participate in it.  Not that I'm not ever tempted.  I'm human, but there are scripture verses for this condition as well! :-)

 I was right.   There is nothing to worry about.  I have been officially declared "normal"-something that makes my husband laugh hysterically. 

But I have to be honest.  The day I was called by the doctor and told that I needed to have a biopsy and the sooner, the better, it caught me off guard.  You see I have dreams of growing old with my husband and traveling to every shooting range in the United States, dreams of being out of debt and able to do some things that up until now have been limited by finances like buying clothes for my kids because they see something they like and not because they can't possibly get them zipped or buttoned one more day, dreams of playing with my grandchildren and filling them with sugar and stockpiling them with toys, dreams of writing a book that someone might actually want to read, dreams of inventing something useful like grocery bags that walk themselves from the car to the kitchen, dreams of all the souls I want to see saved-the list keeps getting longer, dreams of all the books I want to read by the great soul winners through history, dreams and aspirations that my last years on earth will be my best and most productive for the Kingdom of God--dreams and plans and hopes and aspirations--I have a few. 

For several days, I kept it to myself.  It was the week before my oldest daughter's wedding.  I didn't want to hang a cloud over the day.  It was hard though because it's already an emotional management miracle to actually stay sane the week before the wedding of your first child.  You're okay as long as you're so busy you can see yourself coming and going but then everything just hits you like a ton of bricks falling on your heart.  And it's always at an inopportune time.  Just sayin'.

So I did tell one or two close friends because I was battling fear in a big way.  In fact, I was struggling more with it than I did 10 years ago when I was told that I actually did have cancer, which was not life threatening, but cancer just the same.  If this test came back positive, I was looking at a life threatening illness.  They prayed with me and for me throughout the time between the doctor's call and the wedding. It helped to know that I was not alone.

I love the Word of God.   I love how if you have hidden it in your heart, just the right verse pops up at just the right time in every situation.  You see, worry is a sin and scripture tells us specifically to not let our hearts be troubled, and that especially holds true when there is actually something that would try to trouble us.  That verse of scripture kept running through my head- "when I am afraid, I will trust in you".  What a comfort it brought to me.  David didn't live without fear.  He just didn't worry.  He trusted and so I put myself in the Lord's hands and when some negative or terrifying thought would raise it's ugly head, I would say to it, "when I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord", and my heart would settle back down and I'd go on my way. 

But those few weeks that I waited for the results, to know if I was going to travel down the cancer road were ones of extreme life examination and evaluation.

Life is so unpredictable.  We really never know what a day may hold.

When you realize how short and unpredictable life can be.  How do you handle it?

It has surely changed me.  It has changed how I view others.  It has changed how I deal with others.  Coming so close to facing a life threatening disease has really made me realize how precious life is. It's kind of like the difference between head knowledge and knowledge by the the revelation of the Spirit of God.  We all know "life is short", "we're not guaranteed tomorrow", "things are always subject to change".  It's so cliche.  It takes the little jolts in life to really convince us that these things ARE true and are worthy of some thought.

This experience has challenged me to be more intentional about all the things I do.  Even the little things.  When I tempted to retaliate to injustices, I don't.  When I think about what my day will contain, I'm careful about what I plan and do, and I've taken a very long look at my list of priorities-refining, eliminating, and adjusting.  I choose to not get involved in things that really don't concern me.  I  choose to not let things bother me that used to.  I live one day at a time.  Frankly, it's all that I can handle.  A wise man once said that "anyone can believe God for today".   I fall into that "anyone" category.  It simplifies my life in such a way that I can actually enjoy it.

I didn't like the scare.  It's not the first jolt I've had in life.  It wasn't even the most severe jolt I've had in life but I sure like that it jolted me enough to make me stop and take a look-see at where I was, what I was, and where I'm going.  I'm believing God for some good changes and I love this new and improved way of looking at life. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

To My Valentine-Hubby's Monthly Valentine

To the love of my life-Happy Valentine's Day! I know cards are not your "cup of tea", but I wanted to tell you how much I love you anyway.
I love you more than standing in a hot shower until all the hot water is gone.

I love you more than sleeping in a bed where many layers of blankets are piled on top of flannel sheets, all neat and tidy, and where fluffy pillows are all around my head.

I love you more than grilled steak, french fries, and strawberry shortcake that has been prepared while I lounged on the back deck with a good book and a glass of sweet tea.

I love you more than a navy blue 2010 Ford F150 four door pick up truck--I think.  I'll let you know for sure when I actually own one. :-)

I love you more than pistols, rifles, bird poop targets, and a carton of 9mm ammunition that says "for women only"!

I love you more than crisp autumn days that require blue jeans and a sweatshirt.

I love you more than a limitless credit card and a shopping spree at the mall.  (I'd really like to prove this to you!)

I love you more than every chick flick I've ever seen and re-seen and re-seen-all put together!  Those hunky actors just can't hold a candle to you. 

I love you more than popcorn!  And you know how much I LOVE popcorn!

I love you more than fuzzy socks, cinnamon tea, and apple dumplings.

I love you more than rare books.  You're far more valuable and easier to read-most of the time.

I love you more than NCAA basketball, March Madness, and the Duke Blue Devils. 

I love you more than a romantic Hawaiian vacation but some day when we are looking for something dull to do, let's try it.

I love you more than I could ever express in words.  There hasn't been a word invented yet that truly says how I feel about you, not even in Greek! :-)

The thing I love the most is "US"--together.  There's just NO topping it!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Every Fishbowl, There's A LIttle Poop

I was at a prayer meeting with some ladies and the subject of "fishbowl living" came up. (Just let me say how much I LOVE the ladies in my prayer group!  They are the best!)   Fishbowl living is a term used mostly by Pastor's wives.  It describes the scrutiny they get from congregation members, neighbors, and unfortunately other Pastor's wives. 

Some of the ladies asked me (or maybe I just told them) how I felt about living in a fishbowl.  I replied "I love living in a fishbowl!"  This wasn't what they were expecting.

I have a living, wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ.  Being loved and accepted by Jesus Christ has removed any need for me to cover any aspects of my life.  I am free to be who Christ has made me to be.  I rest in the knowledge that Christ is making me more and more like himself everyday and I want people to see Christ.  I invite people to come and see what Christ has done in me, in my marriage and in my family.  Come and observe the kind of life I have because of him!

Am I perfect?  FAR FROM IT!  I have faults, shortcomings, and times of weakness both in living and in character.  I go through the same things everyone else does.  I don't care if people see that I'm not perfect.  That's what makes me human.  What I do want them to see is that I am in a process of being perfected. 

One of the ladies put it perfectly when she said, "I guess in every fishbowl, there's a little poop."  I can look in  a fishbowl and appreciate the beauty of the fish even if I see a little poop floating around in there.  Poop happens!  To everyone!  And usually when it does, someone is watching! 

At some point, I'm going to disappoint or offend someone-just by being me, in all my imperfection.  Even those things already perfected in me will offend some.  I know this because it happened to Christ.  This means that not everyone at church is going to like me.  I may not be invited to some things that others are invited to.  I may be looked down on because I'm a Pastor's wife.  I may be patronized because I'm the Pastor's wife.  You know what?  I don't care!  I can love everyone at my church, even if I don't particularly like them.  Even Jesus had his favorites.

God didn't call me to be liked by everyone.  Good heavens, His son is perfect and he was put to death by church people!  At the end of it all, he only had 120 followers.  But those 120 had his back.  The older I get, the more I realize that at the end of life if you can say that you had a couple "true" friends, you can consider yourself very blessed.  Hey, it was Christ's experience!

And evidently, in reality, that little bit of poop in the Pastor's fishbowl must  not be all that bad.  Where do people go when there's so much poop in their own life that they don't know how to handle it?  To the Pastor's fishbowl!  And what do they expect from the Pastor?  To be loved, encouraged, helped and accepted, regardless of how much or how stinky their fishbowl poop may be.  I think I made my point.

For the most part, my fishbowl may be clean and spotless.  (probably not my house, but my fishbowl!) LOL!  But the longer you stand and stare into that fishbowl, the more probable it is that you are going to see some poop.  Does that mean that the fishbowl was neglected.  NO!  Does it mean that there is something wrong with the fish?  NO!  In fact, it means that the fish are alive!  If there was never any poop, it would most certainly mean that the fish were dead. 

So just because I may not be all that everyone perceives a Pastor's wife should be--an impossible feat even for the most qualified of Pastor's wives--it doesn't mean that I am a failure.  Truly, a Pastor's wife is just that--the wife of a Pastor.  His helpmate.  His wife.  The mother of his children.  So if I am succeeding in just doing that, then I am successful. 

In my case, I wasn't the one called to ministry.  I just happened to be married to the one who was.  God knew this before we were even married.  My only responsibility is to my husband, to the giftings in my life and to the commandments of God to the Body of Christ.  Do I always meet those responsibilities perfectly?  NO!  When I fail, His grace is sufficient.  When I triumph, His grace is sufficient.  When I'm discouraged, His grace is sufficient.  When I am hurt or angry, His grace is sufficient.  Suffice it to say HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!

I've heard people say that ministers are held to a higher moral standard than lay people.  That is bunk!  Most of the time it is just an excuse to justify their own poopy behavior or to feed their unsanctified desires to criticize and judge so that they can be elevated in their own minds. 

We are all held to the same standards in the body of Christ and will be judged by them.  With whatever judgement people judge, they will be held to that same judgement themselves.  I wish people realized that!  I fear for some of them.  Yes, there are certain qualifications that should be found in a person that serves in leadership but those qualifications are only fruit that the person is spiritually mature enough and capable enough to be a Godly leader. 

So, if you are living in a fishbowl, get up and dance!  Be all that Christ has made you to be-whatever that looks like!  Don't be afraid to swim in your fishbowl.  Explore every corner of it!  His grace is sufficient!  Take advantage of the position in which you find yourself and live out all that He has done in your life!  Make others desire to live in your fishbowl.  And if when there is poop, don't sweat it.  His grace is sufficient.  And when there are naysayers, his grace is sufficient.  And when others come knocking on the door of your fishbowl, his grace is sufficient!  God knew what He was doing when He dropped you in that fishbowl.  Don't doubt His wisdom, embrace it!  And swim, swim, swim!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Life is not a crap shoot

Some people think that life is like shooting craps but it's not!  It's true that we must trust God for our lives, but God didn't plan your life the way we shoot craps.  He didn't mix up a bunch of trials, joys, traits, and appointments in a bag, roll them out into some heavenly corner and pick the best roll out of three.  No, His plans for our lives were deliberate and well thought out. 

The thing we tend to forget is that God is good!  His plans for us are good!  His desires for us are good!  Unfortunately, not everything that happens to us is good.  God doesn't always get His way because sometimes we get in His way. 

Even in the worst of circumstances, I believe that God is up to something good.

Even if He didn't lead us there, He follows us there and He stays there with us and helps us get out.

 He will "take what the devil meant for harm and bring good".  But we must believe that He's that kind of God.  How much better things would be and we would be if in the midst of our dark nights, long days, most trying trials, we looked to God to see what good thing He was doing in the midst of it all.  Paul and Silas understood this and it caused them to sing even though they were facing almost certain death at the next sunrise!

It is an amazing thing to go through something hard with God.  At the end of it all, if we have looked for His goodness in the midst of it, we come out on the other side with a sense of awe at His mercy, His power, and His unceasing love.  We build spiritual muscle that supports and protects us.  It readies us for the next trial.  Jesus said that "in this world, you will have trouble".  But He also told us that he "has overcome the world."  We are seated in heavenly places with Christ, therefore we have overcome through Him!  Jesus causes us to "always triumph".  Sometimes the victory is more about what happens in us than what happens to us.