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.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How Much Did It Cost?

Several mornings a week, we travel to Sheetz ( a convenience store) to gas up the mowers for the day's work. My husband almost always buys me breakfast and a drink.  This morning I had a breakfast burrito, a slice of yummy pound cake, and a Gatorade.   As I sat in the truck eating them on the way to our first job, I realized that I hadn't thanked him for them so I said "thank you for breakfast honey!"

While pondering my lack of manners, I realized that sometimes I just take his provision for granted.  My hubby WORKS--HARD!  And almost every penny he makes he spends on giving us a house, food, cars, clothing, and many enjoyments that others around the world don't even know about!  He never complains.  He loves to do it!  He sacrifices his time, his energy, and his resources so that I can be happy and cared for.

 I've grown so accustomed to having all these things that I don't always think about what it costs him to provide them and therefore am not always grateful for them.  It's then I look at him and see the dark circles under his eyes and the lines on his face that let me know he's tired.  I also see the look of pleasure in his eyes when he knows he has made me happy...and it makes me fall in love with him all over again.

I think I do this to God from time to time.  I get so accustomed to all the things that God has blessed me with that I forget to say "thank you Lord!"   In fact, sometimes I become ungrateful or dissatisfied with what God has provided.  How often do I stop and remember what my salvation and it's ensuing blessing cost my God?  It cost Him His Son.  It cost my Savior His blood.  And yet, He loved to do it.  And as I look once again at the love of my Heavenly Father for me, and the sacrifice of the Son, when I think about all that was happily sacrificed to save my lost soul...well...it makes me fall in love with Him all over again!

Today I will ponder on these things so that I will make the Lord happy!

"Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us...that we should be called the sons of God!"  1 John 3:1

Thursday, May 24, 2012

God is a Rewarder of Those That Seek Him!

Faith believes...

Believes that He is...
     That He exists...
     That He is God...
          That if He is God, then He is divine and perfect, infallible...therefore He cannot lie

Believes that He hears...
     Therefore He answers

Believes that He is a rewarder. of those who seek Him...
     Rewards with what you ask Him for, not something else
     Rewards because all the requirement for reward were met in Christ and He is pleased to reward when
            we are found in Christ.

Sinners and doubters cannot receive anything from God.

Faith is substance and evidence, an assurance and a conviction.  It's a title deed that declares you own something even it you cannot see it.   To doubt is to call God a liar, therefore He is under no obligation to answer your prayer.  God cannot lie.

If you do not believe what the rewarder has said, then you have no reward.

This is why we must pray and ask in faith.
     God does nothing outside His will so before prayer discern the will of God.  His Word is His will.
     Then desire the will of God.
          Do not ask amiss or based on your own desires but that God may be glorified in it.
     Then pray knowing that God is pleased with our prayer because it lines up with His will.
          Believing, faith-filled, will-centered prayer will ALWAYS cause a "YES" from heaven!        

Monday, May 21, 2012

Milkshakes for breakfast

One morning not long ago, while discovering the world of smoothies, my daughter brought me her newest concoction as I was sitting in bed reading my morning devotions.  It was then that I realized that she doesn't know the difference between a smoothie and a milkshake.

As I looked at her "smoothie", I saw a thick layer of fat-laden ice cream floating on top.  "This isn't a smoothie, this is a milkshake", I told her.  "It's okay Mom, it's healthy for you.  It has milk and strawberries in it.  Those are healthy for you!", she said.    Realistically speaking, milk and strawberries are very good for you, so I drank it and enjoyed the creamy smoothness of the fat-laden drink.

If only we would look at what God brings to our plate the same way my daughter looks at her brand of smoothie.  So many times we look at God as one who will only feed us a balanced ration of meat, vegetables and fruit-just the right amount and not bit too much or too little.   Forget dessert and especially fat-laden ice cream!  We spiritualize it by saying that He feed us just enough to keep us a little hungry and wanting more.

When in truth God brings us strawberries "smoothies" for breakfast everyday.  Full of nutrients, but on the top is a thick layer of fat-laden yumminess for us to enjoy!

He is a God of abundance.  He does not know the word "sparingly".

When Abraham, our covenant father prayed the prayer of blessing over Issac in Genesis 27:28, he didn't pray that God would just give him what he needed and no more.  He prayed abundance in every area of his life.  How could he pray this?  Because this was the God he knew.  

"Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,
And of the fatness of the earth,
And an abundance of grain and new wine;"
When we look to Jehovah Jireh, what do we expect to receive from Him?  Do we see him as the one who blesses with fatness and abundance?  Do we know the same God that Abraham knew or is our God a little more strict, a little more conservative that his?  We only get what we expect and believe for by faith.  What kind of God do you have?

The father of the prodigal son told his older son, "...all I have is yours!"  That is what God says to us.  We are His family, His sons and daughters and God is saying  to us "all I have is your!"    God gave us "all" so that we could be blessed both here and in eternity!
Luke 18:29-31

29 And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”31  Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold,we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.

When I came to Christ, I left this world in my heart, so today I can expect goodness, abundance and blessing from God, as long as I obey His commands and keep my heart completely devoted to Him.   

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Basketball Game That Changed My Life

Most of us have defining moments in life, those things that happen in a moment of time that mold or direct the course of our lives.  It may be an experience, a trial, or in my case a chance meeting.  We rarely see these moments coming and usually only recognize them after they have passed.

It was January 19, 1979.  I was a freshman in college.  I had a basketball game that night.  I don't remember what team we played, if we wore our white or green jerseys, how many points I scored or how many rebounds I had.  I don't remember if the gymnasium was crowded or empty or even if my parents were there to watch me play.  I don't even remember if we won or lost.  All I remember was that the game went into double overtime.  And that is what started my life on the course it has remained on for the last 33 1/2 years.

I had made arrangements to go to the mall after the game with a girlfriend from high school whom I had not seen since we graduated.  By the time the game was over, showers were done and the gym lights were turned off, it was too late to go the mall.  She suggested that we go to a local bar on the wrong side of town.  Now I was no saint in college, but even I avoided this particular bar because it was well known that nice girls did not frequent this bar and I was a nice girl.  I nixed that idea immediately until she said "it's college night and everyone from here will be there."  So, I relented with the stipulation that I would be the one to drive and that if I wanted to leave and she didn't, she'd have to find her own ride out of there.  So off we went!

We arrived around 10pm.  There were quite a few friends from school there.  We all just stood around mostly watching other people dance on the dance floor.  I looked across the room and saw a tall, handsome, clean cut young man with the most amazing dark eyes I had ever seen.  For a fleeting moment I wondered what he might be like but as I saw all the other strikingly beautiful women in the room, I quickly put that thought to rest.  There were just too many really pretty girls there for me to even be in the running with someone that looked like him.  So we stood.

After a song finished, someone stumbled off the dance floor and barreled right into my friend, knocking her backwards into the group of guys that were standing behind us.  I turned to see that the guy behind her had caught her and kept her from falling on the floor.  As I straightened up after helping him get her to her feet, I glanced up at his friend to thank him too.  It was Mr. Dark Eyes.  Somehow we had ended up standing next to each other.  I quickly turned around as I felt my face starting to blush.  As the next song began, my friend's rescuer asked her to dance and she went off with him, leaving me standing in a bar where you never wanted to appear to be alone, so as an act of self preservation, I turned around and started a conversation with Mr. Dark Eyes and his buddy.  We chatted, finding out that they were from Pennsylvania.  You see, you could legally drink beer at age 18 in Maryland, so all the Pennsylvania people would come to MD to go to the bars so they could drink legally too.  But Mr. Dark Eyes didn't appear to be drinking and was actually very cognizant considering that it was now almost 11pm. I never drank much at all, but certainly never during basketball season.    A slow song started playing and I could see in those eyes that he wanted to ask me to dance, so I just waited.  Finally, he asked me if I would like to and of course, I said "yes".  I don't remember much about that first dance either except that I noticed we were the same height and that he had really strong arms.  After the dance, he announced that they had to go but before leaving asked if we would like to meet them there in two nights.  We agreed.

I honestly thought I would never see him again.  I thought that we would go there on a night that wasn't college night, that he wouldn't show up and then we would have to deal with all the not-so-desirable types until we could get out of there.   Having recently had my heart greatly disappointed by a childhood friendship that I thought might be turning into something more, I just wasn't ready or willing to take the rejection, so I determined that I wasn't going to go.  But again, my friend prevailed in convincing me to go-she also let me drive. :-)

So Thursday night came and we went back to that bar on the wrong side of town and lo and behold, he was there.  ( I later found out that he was not aware of the reputation of the bar because he was from a different state.)  That was the last time I ever dated anyone but him.  For the next 3 1/2 years, we were inseparable until on May 15, 1982, I married Mr. Dark Eyes.

In some ways it feels as if we have been together forever.  We can practically read each other's minds.  We finish each other's sentences.  We are even hungry for the same things at the same time.  I know every crinkle in the side of his face, especially when he smiles a certain way. I could pick his voice out of all the other voices in a crowded room.

Those eyes, looking into mine still make my face flush just as they did the first time he looked at me and I still feel the same excitement to be with him now as I did then, so in some ways, it feels as if we haven't been together very long at all, certainly not long enough to grow so comfortable with each other that we take one another for granted as happens with so many marriages.  I still watch the clock for the time when he will be coming through the front door and my heart beats a little bit faster when I hear his truck pulling into the driveway.  In the morning, the first thing I do is reach over and touch him because having him there is such a miracle to me.   Circumstances of life can be all over the place, but he is always the same and that gives me cause to always be thankful.

He is a gift to me.  Even after all this time, I still wonder at the wisdom and the mercy of God that He allowed me to marry such a man.  To think that I have had nearly a third of a century to spend loving and being loved by such a person as my husband is beyond anything I could have even thought to desire or plan for.    It is as scripture says "beyond all I could ask or think."  My life could have taken so many different turns, but somehow I ended up with the most incredible man I have ever known.  All I can think is that someone prayed about my husband long before I met him and as a result of God answering those prayers I received the biggest blessing of them all.  (I'm going to thank that person in heaven some day!)

If time will allow us another 30 years, it would still not be enough for us to express all the love we feel for each other, but we both realize that at some point, we won't be married any longer.  But I don't think that will bother us then because along the way we found an even greater love than the one we share with each other.  It is our love for Jesus Christ.  And that love for Christ supersedes our love, yet enhances and enriches all the love that we have for each other here on this earth. In fact, it is the source of our love for each other.   It is a love that is eternal.

But for now, we have been blessed with something that is precious and priceless.  Marriage is holy in the sight of God.  It is to be guarded, cherished, nurtured and enjoyed.

There are no words that can aptly express what my heart feels for this man.  As it says in Proverbs 31, I "can look to the future and smile" for I have eternity with Christ to look forward to, but I also have the added blessing of enjoying everyday of right now too......all because a basketball game went into overtime.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I Love The Quiet Times

I have two bird feeders hanging on the tree that overhangs my deck.  One is a finch feeder. The other holds larger nutmeats suitable for cardinals, blue jays and larger birds.  I enjoy sitting in my kitchen and gazing out the deck door at them as they come and go.  Some come and eat right at the feeder.  Others take a morsel, fly to a nearby branch, put the seed at their feet and peck at it, breaking it up into smaller, manageable pieces.  I have a pair of binoculars that my honey gave me so that I  can see them up close without scaring them away.

Over the years, I have enjoyed identifying what birds are at the feeder...and taking photos of them...and exploring different ways to feed them.  In spite of the fact that I watch birds just for the sheer pleasure of it, I find that bird watching provides me a few moments to quiet my mind and just enjoy the variety, the antics, and the beauty of the birds that grace my deck with their presence each day.

As I take the opportunity to sit and  quiet myself, the Lord takes the opportunity of a quiet mind to drop tidbits of knowledge, ponderings, or just whispers loving things to me.   It is a much longed for time in my otherwise "fast and furious" lifestyle.

Over the last year, the Lord has spoken so many things to me as I watched those delicate creatures.  So, in addition to lawn mower devotions, I now have several ideas which I want to title "Lessons Learned from a Bird".

I love the way God will just interject Himself into my day whether it be on a noisy, stinky mower or at my kitchen table as I sit in the quiet of the morning and watch birds at my feeder.  I see and hear so many things throughout the day as I go about my daily responsibilities that remind me of His presence in my life and I never feel alone.  I love the quiet times when my heart and mind are attuned to His voice.  I love the other times when He just drops something into my ears via another's words or actions....but I especially love the quiet times! :-)

(Now let it be known that I'm not the type to wander onto State Game Lands during hunting season to hunt and view birds!  That's just stupid!  Especially when they don't wear orange!  In fact, I just look at them and shake my head in disbelief wondering if the reason that they love birds that much is because their brains are all about the same size as a bird's brain.  I just let the birds come to me).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Our Godless Society" by Theodore Cuyler (follow up to "Living As An Alien In the Land Of Promise"

Theodore Cuyler 1883
"Do not be conformed to the world." Romans 12:2

The sin of modern civilization has been well described as "making more of status than it does of character." But the very essence of Bible religion, is to make character everything--and conduct the test and evidence of character.

Our godless society needs a strict, pure, honest, self-denying, godly-minded church! Conformity to the world--will never convert the world! We are not to accommodate Christianity to the thought and fashion of the times--but to keep it stoutly and steadily up to its original standards. We must stand fast, not only to the faith once delivered to the saints, but to the practices which are enjoined in God's Word.

Social life, with increase of wealth, has a trend towards demoralization. Luxury weakens morality. Popular amusements become sensualized and offer their temptations to the church. "Do not be conformed to the world" applies to the theater, the ball-room, the wine-cup, and to everything that would turn God's earth into a "Vanity Fair." Conformity to the world amounts, in the end, to more than the corruption of Christ's church. It puts out the light which Christ has kindled; it destroys the very leaven which He has prepared to purify and sweeten and save a "world lying in wickedness."

   ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

You would think that Theodore Cuyler lived in this present day.  It just goes to show that "worldliness" is a sin, not a sign of our times nor a "new" challenge of the church.  How else could someone write something that applied to his generation be so suitable and explanatory of society almost 130 years later?

And just as his description is so spot-on of the world in which we live, in America anyway, perhaps we should also heed his advice for solving the problem.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Living As An Alien In The Land of Promise

On Sunday morning we had testimony time.  If you took all the testimonies that were given, lumped them all together and outlined them, they would all say one thing.  DO NOT BE WORLDLY!  I love being in a congregation where the majority of the congregants are in tune with the Spirit.  And it never ceases to amaze me at how God can relay the same message to so many in such a variety of ways.  

I shared about how the Lord had shown me that there are only two really important things in this life, because there are only two things in life that are eternal.  GOD and the souls of people.  Nothing else really matters because it will all burn away when God renovates the earth.  

To further get this point across to me, God led me to Hebrews 11 this morning, AGAIN.  I've been done reading Hebrews for a while now, but God keeps taking me back there when I'm reading His Word.  Today I found this little tidbit.

Hebrews 11:8-10"By faith Abraham, when was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
Now lets think about this a minute.  God made a promise to Abraham.  God took Abraham to that promise.  But Abraham lived in the promise of God as an alien.  Dwelling in tents implies that at any moment, Abraham could pick up stakes and move somewhere else as God directed.  Tent dwelling is a sign that you do not intend for this residence to be permanent.  It's how Israel lived in the desert until they reached "the promised land."   

So here is Abraham.  He's arrived at the promised land!!!  But still he chooses to live without any permanent roots, as a foreigner lives in a strange country, because he's looking for "a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."  So even in the land of promise, Abraham does not put down any roots because he is looking forward to an even greater promise, the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven, the city of the Messiah. Eternity!

If you read on in Hebrews you will find that ALL those listed in what is commonly known as the Faith Hall of Fame also lived as Abraham, without any roots in this world.  It says all these died without receiving the promises (the promise of citizenship in Heaven), and chose to live as "strangers and exiles on the earth." (v. 13) "But as it is, they desired a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."  (v. 16)

Abraham saw eternity and desired it above every promise and blessing God had given him on earth, including his only son, Issac. Moses chose the promise of God over the riches of Egypt.
"And what more shall I say?  For time will fail me  if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets who by faith conquered...performed acts....obtained promises...shut mouths of lions...quenched powers..escaped the edge of the sword...were made strong...became mighty..raised the dead...and endured terrible sufferings, not accepting their release"......WHY?  "In order that they might obtain a better resurrection:" (v. 32-25)

Now as we look at scripture we have to first ask ourselves "What did this mean to the ones to whom it was written?"  Then we have to ask ourselves "What does this mean to me?"  It cannot mean something different to us than what it meant to them or it is out of context, therefore invalid.  In fact that is where a lot of Christian weirdness comes from!

As I thought about this two words just popped into my head.  ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.  They lived within the perspective of eternity.  Everything they did in faith, everything they did with the promises and blessings of God all focused forward on eternity.  Perhaps that is why they are in the famous Hall of Faith line-up.  Not a single one was attached to this earth.  

Were some famous?  Yes!  Were some mighty? Yes!  Did they have a name to be revered, respected and even feared on this earth?  Yes!  Were some rich?  Yes!  But there were also the cowards, the whores, and the weak ones listed there too.  ALL were looking to the greater promise....the promise that superseded every miracle, every blessing, every temporal experience of earth.  The eternal kingdom of God.  That is what it means to not be worldly.  

I had to ask myself.  Am I a tent dweller?  Do I live as if I could just pull up the tent stakes of what I call "life" and move on to something better?  Do I live as if I look at eternity as something better and more desirable than all the abundance and blessing I have on this earth?  Does everything I do, every decision that I make in life (both big and the little daily decisions) reflect the fact that my eyes are focused on what is to come?  

Or have my blessings become a curse in my life?  Have they grabbed my heart to the point that I no longer hold the "Blesser" in highest regard in my life because I have become too attached to the blessings that He gave me?  Do I live as a foreigner on this earth, just never feeling quite comfortable enough to call it home?  Is heaven a reality in my life?  

And what if God decided to take back some of those blessings?  Would He have to pry them out of my fingers or would I willingly hold them out to Him and say "here, take them.  I've got something much better waiting for me in eternity and I'm willing to give up ANYTHING on this earth to have it?"

Could I give up my nice house, my lucrative job, my status at work or in the community, my schedule, my way of life, this great country that I live in, the comforts that have become normal to me, the proximity to my family members, my health insurance, my life insurance, my security to obtain something that cannot be seen, touched, heard, tasted or felt as I live on this earth?

Am I willing to do as Hebrews 13:13-14 says:

"Hence, let us to out to Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.  (And as implied in the verse previous to this, in a sacrificial way, sacrificing ourselves.  Only as a living sacrifice this time and not as a dead one as referenced in this passage.)  For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come." (italics my own comments)

Jesus is calling us to simplistic, sacrificial, intentional living!  It's so easy to become worldly.  We must watch for it!  Just as varied as the content of the testimonies were on Sunday are the ways in which worldliness will try to invade and take over our hearts, our minds and our lives.  We must keep our eyes on the prize! We must value the prize above all other things!  My prayer every morning is two-fold.  I pray that God would order my day and that everything I do that day I would do with an eternal perspective.  Every place I choose to go, every word I choose to say, every though I choose to dwell on, that they would all be in light of the promise that God made to ALL his children-that we will dwell FOREVER with Him in the city with eternal foundations that cannot be shaken or moved!