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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When World and Word Collide!

Did you ever glance at something and think, "oh, that's a great thing" but then after thinking about it for a few minutes come to realize how stupid it was?  That's what I thought when I read this quote.  I have to admit I'm no fan of Oprah's but I didn't even realize that it was her quote when I read it because all I could see on my computer screen was the quote itself.  So we can set aside any kind of prejudice or personal preference and just examine this statement for a minute from a Christian perspective.

My first question was, if everyone had this attitude then there would be no one to lift me a little higher because they wouldn't bother with me at all since I would not be able to benefit them.  So the facts of the matter would be that the only time I would bother with a "lesser" human would be if there was some way my interactions with them would benefit me, right?

Secondly, is this really what life is all about anyway?  Is it all about us getting as "high" as we can in life?  Is that what determines a person's success in life?  Is it like a contest and the person with the highest position wins?

And what happens then when the person that is elevating you has reached their own plateau?  Do you then shove them aside or use them as a footstool to climb to the next person forgetting that it was them that got you to that point?  That's happened to me.  It's called ungratefulness.

What if we thought of our children this way?  What if God thought of his children this way?

Thank heavens God did not have this attitude.  Or Jesus!  If he had, he would have only hung around the religious leaders and left the dregs of society to rot on their own.  Realistically, he wouldn't have come at all!    But Jesus did come and he went to the broken, the poor, the sick, the hurting.  They had absolutely nothing to offer him.  In fact, his associations with them often brought him stout criticism from those who could have elevated him in his earthly ministry.  And there lies the heart of the issue, I guess.  Jesus was not concerned about earthly anything.  His eyes were on an eternal kingdom.  An eternal kingdom that does not operate on earthly principles.  He was not moved by the pressures of his culture to be or do or achieve a certain position.  

When I first read this, I immediately began to think of people that I could get around that might elevate or benefit me in some way.  That is when reality kicked in because immediately I thought of many people whom the Lord has given me to shepherd and care for through the years.  Very few of them had anything, in Oprah's way of thinking, that would have elevated me in any way.  Fact was, God had placed them in my life so that I could reach down and elevate them to where I was.  Furthermore I believe that I am to give them all I have so that they can move beyond where I am!

Think of it.  The Apostle Paul, as great as he was, poured into young Timothy!  Timothy, therefore, did not have to re-invent the faith-wheel, but was able to take Paul's wisdom at a young age and apply it.  This set him up potentially to exceed where Paul was when he reached Paul's age.  Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said that we would do "even greater works" than He did.  What could be greater than raising the dead?  But if we take His Spirit within us and go into all the world, we can be so many places at one time, affecting so many people at the same time, filling the earth with his glory by being willing vessels of His Spirit and power!  This is what I believe Jesus was talking about.  Not the "Wow factor" of the deeds, but the volume of deeds!  Instead of one bottle of oil, there would be many, everywhere, pouring out over all the earth until the earth was truly filled with His glory!

Scripture is very clear that Jesus did not elevate Himself.  He humbled Himself.  Psalms even tells us that Almighty God humbles Himself when he minds the things of earth.  Christ was our example.  The perfect reflection of the Father.  And we are to follow His example.  Personally, the people who have elevated me the most in my spiritual walk are those that are extremely humble and unassuming.  Their joy and security is found solely in the fact they know and love Christ and they know His love for them.  This frees them to be and touch whomever the Lord desires regardless of the public notoriety or position they receive.

"But, you say, the Bible says that if we humble ourselves then we will be lifted up!"  Yes, that is true, but we can never ascend any higher than Christ is, who still sits under the Father's authority and who still serves those that are lower than Him by constantly interceding on our behalf.  He came and remains in servant hood.   

Servants do not look to their masters as someone that can elevate them.  A servants heart looks to see how they can elevate their master.  That is our highest calling and our greatest joy!  Our reward is not of this earth.  It resides in those heavenly principles that dictate a heavenly kingdom.  Their perspective and their duration is eternal.  

"But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."  Matt. 6:20

As for me, I will focus on "the least of these", as Jesus did.  It's only fitting that another paradox of scripture is that when you reach lower to those who can offer you nothing, then you are elevated in the Kingdom of God and given all it's blessings.  Because "when you have done good to the least of these, you have done it unto God."  And God takes notice of it and he repays.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our Remembering Forgetting God

Life has a way of causing us to always think about what's coming next.  We find ourselves strategizing, planning, saving, and striving to reach some point that is ahead of us.  Normally I would say that this is a good thing.  It's good to be proactive and prepared and I'm a big one for "forgetting those things which are behind and pressing ahead.." but...it's also good to remember those things that are already passed.

When I get discouraged with my daughter's progress in recovering her life from brain injury because I get to looking at all the things she still can't do or at how she is so different from other kids her age, and I start to strategize at how I'm going to help her find gainful employment, or I think about her future spouse or if she will ever marry, and I wonder who will help oversee her when I'm no longer able to do so, well, it is just very easy to be overwhelmed!  But when I look back to where she was after her initial injury, what the doctors said was possible and how far above and beyond she has gone, it gives me strength to continue on knowing that the same God who got us this far will get us the rest of the way.

In the last few days, I've had many opportunities to look back at my spiritual roots and to remember a lot of "firsts" in my Christian walk and I've once again experienced the wonder, the awe, the amazement and the grace that was present the first time.

Most of the time we focus on God forgetting.  He forgets our sins and our transgressions after he declares us not guilty and cleanses us of the stain of them.  He forgets our failures and weaknesses too and when figuring out our worth, they do not come into play in His mind.  But God is also a great remember-er as well.

Genesis 9:15
I will [earnestly] remember My covenant or solemn pledge which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy and make all flesh corrupt.

Genesis 19:29
When God ravaged and destroyed the cities of the plain [of Siddim], He [earnestly] remembered Abraham [imprinted and fixed him indelibly on His mind], and He sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when He overthrew the cities where Lot lived.

Jeremiah 2:2
Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the Lord: I [earnestly] remember the kindness and devotion of your youth, your love after your betrothal [in Egypt] and marriage [at Sinai] when you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

From these three verses we find that He remembers His covenant and works to keep every word of it.  He remembers his people.  He knows exactly where we are, what is going on and where we need to be and then takes whatever step He needs to take in order to get us there.  He remembers the good things about our relationship with Him instead of allowing everything that is wrong about it to influence His feelings toward us.  Oh, if we, as humans could learn to do this, it would make such a big difference in our marriages, our families, in our relationship with God, and in the church.

God's desire is for us to push ahead, run the race, fight the fight and keep our eyes on the prize ahead.  Sometimes, in order to do that, we need to look back and remember from whence we came.  You see understanding our origin and how we began helps us to understand ourselves and when we have an accurate understanding of ourselves, we can be honest with ourselves and God and we can push ahead, run the race and fight the fight until we obtain the prize because we can see that our beginnings are what give us the DNA to do it!!!  We've been hardwired for victory through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost!

Ephesians 2:10-12

Amplified Bible (AMP)

10For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
11Therefore, remember that at one time you were Gentiles (heathens) in the flesh, called Uncircumcision by those who called themselves Circumcision, [itself a mere mark] in the flesh made by human hands.
12[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God's agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God.

I love this next verse!  God is writing a "book of remembrance"  of those who fear Him and talk often of Him.  He wants to remember and record the words of those who reverenced, meditated on, worshiped and feared His name.

Malachi 3:16
Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worship fully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.

Lord, I pray that the book of remembrance you are writing or my life will a thick one!  That I will talk often of you, extol you, magnify you, witness of you, fear you, reverence you, worship and fear you.  May my life, my thoughts, my words and my actions all speak of the glories of you!  May the works that you prepared for me to walk in be a testament of you're calling me out of sin and into the light and manifest the power of the cross of Jesus Christ!  May I never forget!  May I always look back and remember from whence you brought me and may my life always reflect the gratitude and thanksgiving due you for Your marvelous work and deeds in my life.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sometimes the Ground Does Not Feel So Firm

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the end of my year was rather chaotic on many levels.  At some points I felt as if I was sinking.  At others, it felt as if the ground was shaking.  Many times I was searching for "the green pastures and the still waters."  I wish I could say that everything is completely resolved and life is back to normal, but it's not.  The events of the last half of last year still haunt me, cause me to wonder, and spur me on to search God's Word for solid answers.

The most disturbing, perplexing and troubling thing that happened was the death of a friend from Lou Gehrig's disease.  She had been one of "my girls", a student that was involved in our campus ministry at PSU.  I can't rightly explain the connection that I had with those young women.  I only know that although time and distance have separated many of us, I still think of them as "my girls."  A part of my life was invested in them and that connection is still strong in me.  They were and are, for all intent and purposes my "kids".

Although I lived in the same town as this young woman, I rarely saw her.  I visited her a few times when she had children and we would see each other in stores from time to time.  Her and her husband attended another church in town, so we didn't have occasion to spend a lot of time together.  Our little congregation keeps me busy and my main focus is the people that God has given us to shepherd.

When I found out that she was sick, I immediately called and set up a time to go and see her.  I ended up having to cancel because my father also fell ill and I was running between 2 states to visit him.  I happened to see a member of her church soon after that who told me that there were people ministering to her on a regular basis, praying with her, helping her and her family.  I kind of got the impression that what they didn't say was more strong than what they did.  I felt very unwelcome.  After speaking with my husband about the situation he reminded me that there are certain ministerial ethics that we have to abide by, one of which includes not going into another shepherd's flock to minister.  He reminded me that they chose the church they would attend, the Pastor they would come under, the people they would fellowship with, the teaching they would embrace and we had to respect that.  So, other than sending my well-wishes, there really wasn't much I could do except pray, which I did, through all the years that she was sick.  There were some other circumstances that came into play that really hindered my being highly involved with her, even in her sickness which I won't get into, but it was very hard for me-to say the least.

One Thursday afternoon I got a call from her husband.  She wanted to see me.  I knew she was deteriorating.  I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit so I decided to go see her the next day.  I went out to breakfast and was walking out of the restaurant to get in my car and go see her when I got a call.  Someone had gone by her house and saw a hearse in the driveway.  I was too late.  I was devastated.  For days the thoughts of "what did she want to say to me", "did she want me to do something for her?", "was she angry because I didn't come sooner?", they haunted me.

For weeks I was tormented by the feeling that I had failed her in some way.  The only thing that finally brought me some relief was the word God spoke to my heart.  He reminded me that she was with Him and she understood EVERYTHING and that if she was angry or hurt or disappointed by my actions, she no longer was.

In retrospect I learned some things and made some decisions about what I will do if I am ever in that situation again.  There were some things I could have and should have done much better.  There were some things that I did right, even though they were hard for me.

The ground feels a little firmer beneath my feet now but I still think of her quite often and I pray for her husband and four children who are left to press on without her.  Her death has caused me to ask many questions of God and I know that God has used it to open up His Word to me and to teach me about faith.  It's funny.  God brought her into my life so that I could minister to her as a young woman, but now it seems that God is using her death to minister to me.  My comfort lies in the fact that this is not over.  Some day she and I can walk and talk about all that transpired here on earth and we will both understand.   I look forward to that!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When Things Don't Add Up...part 4

The second statement the Father made to the oldest son in Lk. 15:31 was
"All I have is yours."
Now usually we find this statement being spoken from man to God, especially nowadays.  I can think of several songs that have this line in them.  Unfortunately, when we say this to God, He isn't getting much, even though it's all we have to give.

It's amazing to consider this statement.  ALL God has is ours!  We have His best.  We have His all.  He gave us Christ!  He did not withhold, even the very best from a sinful, God-dishonoring world.  The oldest son had everything that belonged to the Father.  His proximity to the Father gave him many benefits!

Not only are we given close proximity to God through the reconciliation and cleansing brought through the blood, we now are sons and daughters and have inherited all that Christ has inherited!  What has Christ inherited??? Everything!!   We know that "all things" are under his feet!  He is Lord over ALL!  Every power, every principality, every authority is subject to the name of Christ.  And we are his fellow heirs!  This is what the Bible states and I'm one that believes that God meant what He said.

So why....why do we not experience this in every day life?  Why do people die before their time?  Why do people die of sickness at all?  Why can catastrophic things happen to people and take their lives?  Why do many believers live in lack and want and despair?

I'm no theologian but there has to be a logical explanation to this.  God is logical.  And if He didn't want us to know and understand Him why did He go to all the trouble to write the Bible and give us the Holy Spirit so that we could come to understand it?

One reason I believe that bad things happen to Godly people is that we live in a sinful world.  We are in this world, but we are not of it.  Still the things that affect the world affect us as well. We're not immune from everything that happens in the world.  Often the consequences of other's sin affect us.   However, as Christians, sin should not affect us.  We are no longer under it's dominion if Christ lives in us.  The two cannot reside in the same body or we would explode!

But as the scriptures say, we are not OF this world.  There is a plethora of blessing and rights and privileges that are ours as born again believers.  We should not be living as the unsaved do.  But many times we do.  Many times we needlessly suffer through things just as the unsaved do when it's not necessary. 

One reason is ignorance of the Word of God.  I was barren until I saw that God's will was for me to have children.  Even after conceiving and giving birth to our first child,  I needlessly lost 3 children to miscarriage because I was ignorant of the promises made to the redeemed concerning miscarriage.  Miscarriage is a curse in scripture.  Until I realized that I was no longer under a curse, I lost baby after baby.  But when I realized that Satan was stealing from me something he had no right to take, the miscarriages stopped and the births started. 

One of my friends lost a child at 16 weeks.  It was devastating to her.  When I tried to show her scripture, she said to me "I would rather believe that God took my baby than that Satan stole something from me."  That sounds all well and good to some.  But to me, she had just opened the door for a lifetime of burglary.  Furthermore, the truth was not that God killed her baby.  What kind of a God would give a child and then steal it before it was even born???  He's not schizophrenic!  Yes, He allowed it to happen, but He neither desired for it to happen or caused it to happen.  It's not God's will nor desire that ANY should perish, but they do, by the millions everyday.  God doesn't cause it, but He allows it.  WHY?  I believe that the answer lies more with us than with Him. 

Everything we receive from God must be by faith.  It we don't have faith to believe that a promise is ours, it cannot come to us.  The circumstances that we find ourselves in sometimes are not always God's will.  Those that perish and end up in hell are not there because God didn't love them.  They are there because they did not receive the promised one by faith!  So why would any of the other promises be any different?

Too many times Christians read something in scripture and pray that it will come true in their lives and it doesn't.  What then is their response?  So many times I hear this statement.  "God is sovereign."  Yes, he is, but He has revealed His sovereign will in scripture which is why we can pray about things and expect that they will come to pass.  His Word is what our faith can attach itself to to receive from him. But when we don't we immediately say "God is sovereign" and off we go until we hit the next crisis in life and we start the whole process all over again.  If God is so sovereign that He can say one thing in His Word and do whatever even when it contradicts His Word, then can we really believe anything that He says?  Can we believe what He says about provision, healing and most importantly salvation?  We can accept God's sovereignty over our finances and the healing of our bodies, but we wouldn't ever say that about our salvation.  But the truth of scripture reveals that healing is part of the atonement!  So if our sins have been atoned for, so has our health! 

Instead, when our experience does not line up with the Word of God, we ought to be looking at ourselves.  Where did my faith fall short?  Where was there doubt and unbelief in my approach?  Was there unconfessed sin? Did I ask amiss?  Did I try to apply a promise to this situation that does not apply or was out of context?  Because if we don't do this, what has happened to every movement of God throughout most of history will happen to us.  We will start to change our doctrine based on our own experience until it looks nothing like what it was originally.  In fact, based on the knowledge that this has happened so many times, maybe what we are basing our beliefs on is already faulty thus yielding the wrong results.  As I study Christian history, it amazes me how much doctrine has changed especially in the last 50 years.

I believe that people die "in the Lord."  But I don't believe that God ever intended that to happen except for the case of dying in persecution of the gospel.  He said if any man suffer, let it be for the sake of the gospel.  Many people who believe that their poverty, their lack, their suffering is "suffering for Jesus" are actually accepting something that God has already provided for so that they don't have to suffer it.  The only cause of this is either ignorance, or unconfessed sin or doubt and unbelief.   That sounds harsh, but in light of scripture, what other explanation can we really offer?  At the end of the day, fault will not be found in God, His promises, or His Word.  It will be found in us.

If we study scripture, we find Jesus forgiving sin as part of healing.  We find doubt and unbelief hindering healing.  We find also that sickness can be caused by demonic forces as in the woman bent over.  So many times especially with healing, I find myself just praying for healing without identifying what might be causing it.    When I was having miscarriages, God helped me identify what was causing them.  Literally, the moment I prayed about what God had shown me, the miscarriages stopped and I got pregnant.

I know some will think I sound judgemental.  I'm not trying to be.  I'm trying to figure out why I don't live in the promises of God the way He has set them forth in His Word and as I have been open before God to inquire for understanding I am coming to the conclusion that I, and many other Christians that I know, do not understand what faith really is.  The problem is not God's will being contrary to what His Word says He provided through the cross.  The problem is that my faith is not an appropriating faith in that I can appropriate all of God's promises into my life and see them working there.  I have knowledge, but knowledge is not faith.  I have experiences, many of them miraculous but that does not mean that my faith is completely perfected.  So, my first priority this year is to seek and find the true definition of faith and begin to exercise it.  It's daunting, challenging and exciting all rolled up together!

Hebrews 12 tells us of the faith that has gone before us.  There is a great cloud of witnesses that can attest to the true-ness of the promises of God.  They were men and women who appropriated faith without the indwelling of the Holy Ghost!  Then there are those who came after the cross.  Men and women who we revere as part of our Christian history and heritage who also did the "greater works" that Christ promised his disciples.  None of them were any different than I am.  They were flesh and blood.  So if I will do what they did-fix my eyes on Jesus and run the race-I can see and know and experience all that they did, perhaps even more!  It's a lofty goal.  I realize that.  But it's a good goal.  I will never be perfect, but I can be better, much, much better.