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, September 26, 2011

Those Stinkin', Dirty Sparrows!

The bird on the left side of the feeder is named Max.  I know this because he has a "wanger feather".  One of his under feathers sticks up and is crooked.  That is how I can pick him out from the myriad of sparrows that all look alike.  You can't see his feather in this photo.  Every time I try to get a photo, he turns so that it's not showing.  I think Max is vain.  LOL!

Of all the birds that visit my feeders, Max is the plainest, most uninteresting of them all.  I often look around Max and his sort to see the beautiful colors of the gold finch, the cardinal, the blue jay, and most of all the grosbeak.  One day my daughter asked me, "Why did God make those birds so ugly?" That's like asking why God made mosquitoes--who knows?????   So I said,  "They aren't ugly to Him." 

I find it interesting that when God talks of the meticulous care that He takes with each person, he uses the sparrow as His example.  Not the flashy and beautiful cardinal.  Not the stunning blue jay.  Not the regal gold finch or the majestic grosbeak.   No, He uses the common, bland, everyday, run of the mill sparrow.  And while I'm not even paying them one bit of attention except to look around them at the more beautiful birds, God is noticing when one of their feathers falls to the ground or gets bent into a weird position.  Just as I can pick Max out of a crowd, God knows each of those sparrows intimately.  To Him they are beautiful too.

To Him, all of His creation is beautiful, even if it has a few ruffled feathers. 

So when I look for opportunities to witness or bless another person, do I see every person through God's eyes?  Do I see something seemingly plain and ordinary, seemingly ruffled and flustered, a "dime-a-dozen" kind of person or do I see each one as something created by God, desired by God, and needing God?  Do I tend to gravitate towards the more beautiful people-the successful people, the attractive people, the people with status and reputation?  Or can I look into a crowd of people and see a "Max" in every person?

Sometimes I think that we grow frustrated with witnessing because we have so few results.  But the reason that we have so few results is because we are witnessing to the wrong kinds of people.  In our minds we think that a beautiful person, or a successful person, or a person a lot like us could have so much impact for the Kingdom of God because of who or what they are in a worldly sense instead of looking at the Maxes of this world and imagining what they could become by the changing power of a loving and mighty God.  Jesus went to the needy, the lowly, the sick, and the oppressed.  He didn't see them as one of many dirty, weak, and needy people in a multitude.  Instead, He looked at them and saw the design the Father had for them when He knit them together in their mother's womb and He brought them back onto the path that would lead them to that end.  He understood the grace of God like no other and He knew the power that it has to make a person brand new.

I was a Max.  But I'm not anymore.  Now I'm a songbird with a beautiful melody.  Christ gave that to me.  When Christ came to me, He looked past the ugly, despondent, broken outside and saw what God had intended all along, and I became what I never thought I could be.  That's the power of His grace in a life.

Father, help me to see others through your eyes.  No matter how unlovely they may appear to me, let me see the plan you had for them all along.  Fill my heart with your compassion, your mercy, and your love for them.  Let me look past the ruffled feathers and see the seed of the songbird that you placed in them before they were even born.  And remind me Lord, of where I was when you found me that I might not judge them unjustly.  Let your grace be upon me so that they can also see the grace that you have for those who will ask you for it and help me to sing your song as a sweet melody to the world.  Amen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

God, You Really Didn't Mean "ALL", Did You?

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; 15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

These words from Philippians have been following me around for days.  We are to do "ALL" things without grumbling or disputing.  Most of the time I love the "alls" of the Bible, especially "He forgives ALL our sins and heals ALL our disease", but this one presents me with a challenge.  

I am to wash every dish, clean every bathroom, run every errand, navigate every inconvenience, solve every problem, handle every relationship and work every job without grumbling or disputing.  Why?

I am to appear as a light to the world!

Grumblers cannot shine! Grumbling dulls my light, fogging and clouding it to the point that no one around me can see the light that resides in me! What good am I in ministry if I am not shining? What good am I to the world if I am not shining?  If I am not a light, of what use am I to God? 

It takes light to see. My light, when it is shining, reveals the true nature of God.  It warms, it melts, and it defines all the desirable attributes of a loving God. 

Light in darkness draws things to itself.  A fire's light draws those that are cold to it's side and it's warmth provides them a sense of comfort and security. 

Last year, I planted a garden in the back yard.  The plants did not grow very fast so consequently they did not produce much, if any fruit.  There wasn't enough light.  Without light, nothing can grow. 

We are to be a light unto the world shining as a lighthouse beacon helping those traveling through life to avoid disaster, providing warmth and sight to those lost in the wilderness of life.

Grumbling and disputing douses the fire, hides the sight-giving light, and presents a cold and uncaring, callous God.  It causes us to act and react just as the world so why would they want what we have when it appears that we live in darkness just as they do? 

God has provided us grace to live above the situations of life so that we don't react the same way that the world does.  That's what makes us shine.  That's what causes us to burn with a fire that draws men in from the cold, finds the lost and the frightened and draws them to it's warmth.

We are commanded to shine in ALL situations!

Being  a light is not a hard thing.  Light bulbs do not strain to shine.  They just allow the power that flows into them to light them up.

If it wasn't possible, God wouldn't have commanded it.

It's something to think about.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Whineyland" (Lawn Mower Devotions Series)

I found myself in "whineyland" today!  I get this way every September.  In September homeschooling begins and I need more time at home, but public school also begins and they need my husband at the bus garage three times a day to drive a bus.  This takes me away from home doing the lawn business as my husband runs between me and the garage.  Lawn work is physically taxing on me (I am a grandma you know!)....plus, I just have always hated working outside.   Today I found myself left alone to mow what we refer to as "the trinity."  It's three 3/4 acre properties side by side.  With two people, it takes a little over an hour to mow and trim all three.  Alone, it takes an eternity!!  I was stuck in eternity!

I chatted with a friend as I was about to start mowing and mentioned where I was, that it wasn't my favorite thing to do and that my daughter had my ipod, so I was not going to get to listen to sermons or scripture or music as I mowed.  She said, "well, I guess you'll just be mowing and thinking."  "NO!, I said, I can't mow and think because my thoughts have not been going good places lately.  I keep thinking that I'll be 75 and still mowing yards just to pay the bills."  We're called to ministry but it seems that we really can't fully focus on it because we have to work so many other jobs too.   I find myself struggling with this almost every September.  I can think of everything bad about what we are doing and get myself in such a funk that I become a grumbler and my nose gets stuck in my navel as all I think about and see is me, me me.  So today, I told my friend that I needed to mow and pray, making my supplications WITH THANKSGIVING!!!

Mowing was really slow-going thanks to tropical storm Lee, who had consistently dumped rain on PA for nearly a week!  I would have been better to use a baler than our zero turn.  With each pass the mower labored to cut and threw large clumps amidst a thick blanket of clippings that soon covered all of the 2-1/4 acres!  My heart sank and my mood darkened as did the clouds directly above me.  I didn't realize it, but what the weather man calls an "isolated storm" was brewing overhead and in my heart. 

As I donned the backpack blower to blow the blanket of grass clippings off the trinity, I decided that I was going to spend that time being thankful and just reciting the promises of God encouraging myself in the Lord as David did.  I needed to get my perspective adjusted and my faith in operation!

 As I began, I immediately felt the help of the Holy Spirit bringing scripture after scripture to my mind.  Things were moving along really well.  The sun was shining and the sky was all blue except for a small patch of black cloud that loomed over my head.  It was hot, I was sweaty, and soon, like dewdrops from heaven, small raindrops began to fall on my head as quickly as the promises were falling into my heart!  "Oh Lord, thank you" I said.  It feels so refreshing both inside and out!" 

Then, those raindrops began to fall faster and they got larger and heavier until soon I was being pelted with stinging raindrops the size of quarters .  All the while I continued blowing an increasingly heavy and soggy blanket of grass clippings that were not moving very far or very fast!  "It figures", I said to myself, "I decided to be thankful and now it's raining at the worst possible moment!  Well, now I had a choice to make.  Either I was going to just believe or I was going to give in to a cruddy attitude.  So I decided to just be thankful anyway even though I was soaking wet and all the blowing was proving to be a lesson in futility.  But I continued, through clenched teeth, thanking God for all of the promises that were falling into my mind.  Faith is not always fun or easy, you know!  Sometimes it just means that you decide to believe something, no matter what you see or feel or experience simply because God said it is so.

Soon after my hubby arrived and took over the blowing.  I took my drippy head, my grass covered, exhausted body back to the truck to wallow in self-pity and frustration! I just felt miserable!  But as I went, I noticed something.  The fierce hardness and speed of the passing rain storm and those large raindrops had actually pounded a lot of the grass clippings right down into the ground.  As it turned out much less blowing was required than had been before the storm.  This creates what is called "thatch" and when thatch gets thick enough it requires "de-thatching"--a service our business provides!

Sometimes it's just hard to look at a situation and be able to believe that there is anything good to be found in the midst of it.  Storms appear that just seem to enshroud us like a burial cloth while the rest of world enjoys sunny skies.  It's only when we choose to believe what God said AND we act on it that God can intervene, even in the midst of a worsening situation.  That's faith.

"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain." Philippians 2:12-16

It's faith that originated with God, was placed in me by God, and works for me in God!  He both wills and works for His good pleasure!  He takes pleasure in placing it in us and in seeing it work for us!  It opens the door for His blessing and the completion of His promises in our lives and we profit by it.  The result is that we live in continual blessing and presence and He is glorified in us to the point that we are like a light shining in the dark places of the world! 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Have You Checked Your Account Balance Lately? (Lawn Mower Devotion Seriws)

As some of you already know, my husband and I are bi-vocational ministers which means we also work a secular job on top of the ministry.  We own a lawn and turf company so we do a lot of mowing, raking, bush trimming, fertilizing, spraying, mulching etc.  Business is as unpredictable as the weather, in fact, as the weather goes, so goes the business.  This past July we had no work for 3 weeks.  Fortunately June had proved to be very busy, so we were able to make it through July fine, financially speaking.  But in August, the July money was not nearly enough to make ends meet, but we believed God to provide.  He always has before. We did fine up until the last 10 days of August.  Then the money just dried up, along with the grass!  We landed a big clean-up job that was more than enough to get us through to the end of the month.   It was for our bank manager.  She had just moved into a new house and as a gift, her parents offered to pay to have the outside spruced up a bit.  They left the check with her so that she would have the money when we finished.  We like those kind of customers! LOL!  We rejoiced in God's provision!

We went over right away and did the work.  While we were working, the bank manager arrived home and even stopped to chat, but didn't offer to pay us.  So the next day, while at the bank, we gave her the invoice but still no pay.  Another day and another day and another day went by with no payment.  We had to say "no" to some fun opportunities for the kids, one of our boys started school in a pair of shoes that the soles were literally falling off of,  dinners were down to spagettio's and ramen noodles and "the pickins were very slim" as us rednecks say.  Both checkbook balances went all the way to "0" and we wondered "God, what in the world are you doing?"  We were a little perplexed.  The next time we went to the bank, the bank manager came out and said "Did you notice I put your payment in your account last week?"  We just stood there dumbfounded.  Because we hadn't gotten any checks in the mail, we hadn't gone to the bank and had no idea that there was any money in the account!  Here we were, barely living because we didn't know the money we needed was there so we didn't take advantage of what was in our account.

A lot of Christians live like this.  God has blessed us abundantly through the death and resurrection of His son.  Our account has not only been settled, but many deposits have been made.  As God's family, we have many rights and privileges such as peace, joy, comfort, provision, healing, protection, assurance, and abundant grace in every situation!  Jesus became accursed that we might be blessed with the blessing that He rightly deserves!  And that's NO SMALL blessing!  Problem is, a lot of times it is just sitting in our account not being used.  Some don't know it's there, so they don't even try to access and use it.  Other's read about it in the Bible but do not activate their faith and receive what's already been given.  Consequently, we walk around in lack, worrying, depressed, and feeling that somehow God has failed us because we seemingly have so much need.  Well, I'm here to tell you.....HEY!  Check your account!!!!!!!  It's in there!!!!  Everything you need to live a victorious, overcoming life has ALREADY been given.  Christ has done ALL that He is ever going to do for you!

How do we activate the blessings?????  By faith!  I heard a well known TV preacher the other day preaching that if we "just say God's Word, it will work in our lives."  He never once mentioned that we have to receive and speak God's Word in faith!  (I guess he missed the story of the 7 sons of Sceva.  They spoke the Word and got their butts kicked which proves that our faith must be in the author of those words and not the words themselves!)  There's no charismatic formula to say or do to get what you want or need.  We can't manipulate God.   There's only faith in the one who has already provided all that we need pertaining to life and godliness! Does your life show that you believe it?   It's very simple.  "Only believe"--that He is good and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.    Jesus often said that it's OUR faith that determines what we receive and what we don't.  Lack of faith on the part of the recipient was the only thing that kept Jesus from being able to provide whatever they needed or wanted. 

I have determined that I don't want to live another day leaving anything sitting in my account.  I want to take it out and use it to live a Godly life, a blessed life, a healthy life.  I don't want one blessing that cost Jesus his life to provide to go unused in my own!   When I read the Word, I pray that I would just take God at His Word, that I would see what He has provided and that I would take it and use it so that my life will glorify and reflect all that he is!  If that is what the world sees, then they will desire all that we have and they too will come to Christ!

Do you just believe what you read in God's Word?  Do you just figure that if He said it, He meant it and He'll do it?  I am doing that more and more and I see God working in my life so much more than before.  God delights performing His Word in our lives!!!!  In fact, He wanders to and fro looking for someone to show Himself strong to!!  Are you that person?  Is your account sitting unused?