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.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Grace Gem

I love blessing people.  I find great joy and satisfaction in  doing little things, like smiling at the Wal-Mart Greeter and asking her how she is, or helping a short person get something off a high shelf, or helping a Mom in the parking lot by taking her cart back to the cart holder, or thanking the girl at Sheetz for fixing breakfast when I order a breakfast burrito, or picking up a trash can lid off the street and replacing it on a total stranger's can before someone else runs over it and smashes it.  It doesn't matter to me if anyone knows I did it or not.  I can't explain that, but it's just how I am.  

Sometimes though the thoughts come to me..."that really isn't doing anything to further the gospel.  They'll think you're a nice person, but it really won't do anything to get them closer to the Kingdom."    So when I read this Grace Gem this morning, it really blessed me.  So, since you are reading this blog, I thought it might bless you as well and encourage you too.   

The noblest life
(J. R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8

Jesus taught that we should live, "not to be served--but to serve". This is a lesson that it is very hard to learn. It is easy enough to utter sentimental platitudes about the nobleness of service--but no one can truly live after this heavenly pattern, until his being is saturated with divine grace.

"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

There are countless opportunities for usefulness and helpfulness open to earnest Christians. Every day's life is full of occasions where good may be done by simple deeds, or words of kindness. The value of these unpurposed things is very great. We may live all day and every day--so that each step of our path shall be brightened by loving service. The world needs our love continually. We meet no one from morning until night--whom we may not help in some little way at least. It is possible for us to make a good deal more than most of us do, of these opportunities for the service of love.
Every individual Christian is the center of a circle whose hearts he may touch with a blessing of love. He is a custodian of blessing which he is to impart to others.The noblest life, is the one that is given up most unselfishly to serving.

God has so ordered, that we cannot love and serve Him--and not also love and serve our fellow-men. Jesus made this very plain in His picture of the last judgment, when He said that He is hungry--in every hungry little one of His; that He is sick--in every least one of His who is sick; that in the stranger who comes to our door--He stands before us, waiting for the hospitality of love.

In serving His people--we are serving Him!
In neglecting His people--we neglect Him!

We cannot fulfill our duty of loving Christ and serving Him--while we ignore our fellow-men. He accepts no such service. If we say we love Him--He points to the needy, the hungry, the sick, the burdened ones, the suffering all about us, and says: "Show your love to My people. I do not need service now--but these need it. Serve them in My name. Look at each one of them--as if I were Myself the one in pain or need--and do for these, My brethren, just what you would do for Me if I were actually in their condition."

To act selfishly toward a believer--is to act selfishly toward Christ. To neglect a believer who needs our help--is to neglect Christ Himself. To do good to any in Christ's name--is to serve Christ Himself. We must look upon every believer--as if he were Christ.

We dare not pass by anyone carelessly. We know not to whom we may have aduty of love. We are always safe in assuming that we have an errand of love to everyone we meet. We need not announce our mission, and we must neverdisplay ostentation in the discharge of our duty of love. We need only to hold ourselves in readiness, with all of love's humility, alacrity, and gentleness, to do whatever heart or hand may find to do in serving him. Our duty to him, may be nothing more than the showing of kindness in our manner, the giving of a hearty greeting, or the inspiration of a cheerful countenance. But however small the service may be which it is ours to render, it is a divine ministry!
No mere theoretical acknowledgment of this universal obligation will avail. Lofty sentiment is not enough; we must get the sentiment into practical life. We must bring our visions down out of ethereal mists--into something substantial and real. We must let the love of our heart, flow out in life, and act, and helpful ministry. In this world in which there is so much need, sorrow, and heart-hunger--loving service has a holy mission everywhere. If we would be Christlike, we must, like our Master, go about doing good. "I am among you--as the One who serves." Luke 22:27

We can learn this divine lesson of service--by regarding every person we meet, as one to whom we are sent on an errand of love. This will put an end to all our supercilious pride and haughtiness. We shall no more set ourselves up on little pedestals of self-conceit, demanding homage from others. Rather, like our Master, we shall stand with basin and towel, ready to wash the feet of the lowliest.

Then I read this verse.

Luke 16:10
“ He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.

It is my prayer that I would continue and increase in being faithful in the little things so that when God brings me to a place of "much", I will not fail Him or shame Him.  Until then, I'll continue pleasing Him in the little opportunities that I have each day to be a ray of light in a dark world, even if all it means is that brightened someone's day just for a second.     

Monday, August 20, 2012

A True "Lifestyle Lift"

Almost everyday, someone puts a photo on their Facebook wall of something that is so far outdated that only those considered "old" would know what it is.  Usually I not only know what it is, I either still have one or used one throughout my lifetime.  As I think back to the days where these things were everyday tools, toys or products and I look at what tools, toys and products are available today, I've come to the following conclusion-our society has grown excessively narcissistic.

Come on, honestly, is it a major tragedy if your eye lashes thin with age, or your chin sags a little, or an age spot or two is visible on your face or hands?   Is it truly repulsive that you have a little extra around the middle because you have helped populate the earth by delivering perhaps more than your fair share of children?  Why not have a few wisdom hairs on your head or a whole head full? After all, you probably earned them!  They should be a badge of honor and courage instead of an embarrassment.

Our culture is fixated on reversing something that is going to happen, no matter what we do!  We cannot reverse "the curse" of aging or dying!  Sadly, even Christians are jumping on this band wagon too.  Christian stations that should and could be delivering the gospel message are now peddling health food products and skin lotions and "gospel" exercise programs instead.  T.V. preachers are the most vain, getting face lifts and surgeries to make themselves more desirable to look at.  Perhaps if they would heed what the Bible says about age and the aged, they would actually embrace the stage of life that God has them in and truly be full of wisdom instead of their prosperity cliches and money making schemes.  If they would, we would be seeing an increase in people coming to Jesus and the power of God in our country and the world instead of this fleshy and carnal pandering to a Christian audience gone the way of the world.

Honestly people, we need to get a grip!!!  There are perks in any stage of life!!  Besides, getting older gets us one step closer to our destiny-an eternity in the presence of our God and Savior.  I am looking forward to  some of the changes and the stages that I am quickly approaching.  I do not feel hindered by graying hair and eyebrows or that my skin is a little less taut than it used to be, or that there are jiggles when I walk that I just refuse to fix by buying the latest "Jiggling for Jesus" exercise program!  WE ARE NOT GOING TO LIVE FOREVER IN THIS BODY!!  Thank God!!!  I can't wait to get a gander at my glorified body!  I dream of it!  It will be perfect in every respect!  I won't even have to shop at tall shops to find clothing to cover it!!  Now, THAT'S living!

No wonder people are so messed up.  No matter what they do, they will never be as perfect as all the advertising says we can be.  Why not just realize that God made you the way you are because that's how He likes you to be?  Wouldn't that be so freeing?  Personally I don't want to end up like Michael Jackson did-looking like a Mutant Ninja Turtle and totally unrecognizable from the way God created him.  We need to realize once again that beauty is within.  As one of our students used to say "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly is to the bone", that is to say you can't cover up ugliness on the inside by putting beauty on the outside.  Eventually the ugliness will show itself and leak through the surface beauty and reveal the truth of what lies within.  That's so true!

So, in conclusion, instead of paying for a "Lifestyle Lift" that will make you appear younger than you really are and will stretch your skin and pocketbook, why not get a for-real lifestyle lift?  Go into a quiet room, grab your Bible off the shelf, dust it off, sit down, open the pages and READ and READ and READ!  I guarantee that you will get a life lifter like none other you have ever experienced--FOR FREE!  You can get as many as you need whenever you need and they are cumulative.  They just keep building upon each other until you will be so different and so much better that you won't even recognize yourself when you look in the mirror!  And the best benefit is that when old age and death finally catch up to you-and it will-that won't be the end.  It won't have been in vain.  It will catapult you into the next life with a glory and reward that words cannot describe and you will hear the words "Well done, my good and faithful servant.  Enter into my rest."   Now that is a true "Lifestyle Lift"!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Ugly Side of Salvation

In most Evangelical churches today, there will be a call to salvation at the end of the sermon.  It's an invitation to come and join the family of God.

But...we are not called to salvation, we are called to repentance!  Salvation is the result of repentance.

Repentance is a turning away from something that we come to realize is opposed to the expressed will and desire of God.  It is an admission of our wrongness (our sin) and a confession of His rightness and perfection.  

The ugly side of salvation is US-in sin, unholy, abominable in God's sight, at odds with a flawless God, at war with a holy God, in rebellion against supremacy, against all that is good and perfect and right and pure.  It is the state of every human being.

In Mk. 7:6-9  Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and Scribes.
"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men."  "Neglecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."  

Many in the church world teach and preach "Things have never been better in the church than they are today!  The best is yet to come!"  What is true is that church is much different than it's every been.  We now have mega churches in almost every major metropolitan area.  We have a program to meet every need any person could possibly ever imagine.  We have churches whose badge of honor is that they are "nontraditional".  But is this really "better"?  

When we progress from one place to another, we move.  We move away from one thing and to something else.  We leave something behind and embrace something new.  In doing so, the things that had been the basis for our belief and experience is no longer because something else has become the basis for what we now believe and practice.  

If you look at a timeline you will notice that time for many years streamed from it's beginning to the Advent of Jesus Christ.  Since that Advent, time has flowed from it.  All history is to and from and because of Christ.  He is at the center of history and time.  

Someone once said that "all movement is not progress, just as all motion is not forward."

The church of today seems to take much pride in where it is.  Progression is their catch phrase and there badge of honor.  But I have to wonder, what have we progressed away from?

In this passage Jesus is rebuking the church for it's progression and he uses the same words of Isaiah's rebuke of Israel hundreds of years before.   The church had certainly progressed but it had not moved forward.  In fact, all of scripture is full of God calling people to turn back, to turn aside from, to return to the basis of faith first established by God.   Christ is perfect.  His teachings that established the doctrines of the church were and are perfect as well.
Jeremiah 6:16Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

How have we progressed past perfection?  By relegating established Bible doctrine to the past and viewing it as outdated, antiquated, or non-seeker friendly, are we really progressing?  By shaping our doctrine around the cultural and societal norms and pressures, are we progressing in faith and spirituality? By determining that talk of sin, holiness, repentance, and hell is not palatable to the sinner, are we not digressing instead and replacing doctrine with the current traditions of men, just as both Isaiah and Jesus charged in this passage?

Isn't it just arrogant that we decry the men and doctrine that has gotten us to this point and produced some of the greatest moves of God the world has ever seen and sorely needs to see again?

What is the result?  Verse 7 says if very clearly.  "But in vain do they worship me."

Last week I caught the tail end of a service held in one of the large mega-churches in the Midwest United States.  After a call for people to come to salvation a prayer was prayed.  Not once was the word sin mentioned.  Not once were the ones praying told to confess their sins against God.  Not once were they instructed to ask for His mercy or forgiveness.  All they were led in prayer about was adding Jesus to their lives for their own betterment with a little phrase about glorifying him thrown in.  Not once was the contrast between the saint and the sinner explained or mentioned.  After the last amen, a round of applause was given for  those who had prayed and they were told "now you are a child of God!"  REALLY????

Scripture is very clear that the process of salvation has to be:

You cannot throw out any of the steps.  They are ALL imperative!

We are further from what Christ established as church than we have ever been, both historically and spiritually.  Our church meetings neither look or sound like those in the New Testament.  We teach the traditions of men (or society) as the doctrines of God, creating an image of God that is so skewed that He is not recognizable.  And when a true picture of Him is rightly presented, He appears mean, hateful, unloving, and unjust.  This plays right into the devil's hands and sends people to hell in their doubt and unbelief.

Our traditions may make better men, but they do not make spiritual men.  They do not regenerate a man's souls, they do not quicken a man's spirit.

We need to ask ourselves, "what do I believe?"  "Why do I believe it?"  "Is it plainly seen in the Word of God?"  "What things do I see in God's Word that my life and experience do not line up with?"

"Progressive" may be a positive word in our society, but it is not in God's Kingdom.  We must return to the basics of our faith and doctrine.  We must repent of our arrogance and our wanderings from His Word and His established pattern of faith, teaching, and conduct or we, like Israel, will end up a Godless nation.

How do we do this?

Mk. 7:6 provides the answer.  We must return in our hearts to God by allowing Him to en-graft our lives into His.  We must  be willing to admit, confess, and change what we believe by returning to the message and to the lifestyle of living that He has established as right, good and necessary for salvation.

Lord, let my worship not be in vain.  Let it neither be vain in your sight.  Let it not be an empty, hollow, exercise in religious activity.  Let the words of my mouth honor you.  Let them come from a heart that is so engrafted into yours that it is not even recognizable as my own.  Let them honor you, magnify your greatness, character and awesomeness in truth!  Take me back Lord, to the basic doctrine and tenets of the faith.  Keep, guard and protect my heart from the traditions of men that arrogantly present themselves as more important than your doctrine.  Let my feet walk the highway of holiness.  Let them travel the old paths that lead me back to a simple, pure and unadulterated relationship with you.  Bring me to the life of power and peace that can only be obtained by pure religion and that presents me blameless before your throne and unspotted by the world.  Make my life a life that honors you in every respect.  In Jesus' name I come and for His glory alone I ask.  Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Christians Have All The Fun!

What bores the world can thrill the Christian.  We're not that hard to please.  Simple things afford us much pleasure.  The uncomplicated is our desired fair, therefore opening up a whole plethora of possibilities for happiness and enjoyment.

The world's joy and fun is temporary.  It always lusts for more.  It fades and corrodes as it becomes normal and mundane and requires something more advanced or complicated to satisfy .

The Christians joy, on the other hand is abiding.  It is a full joy and is eternal.

This is why what bores the world can thrill the Christian.  Christians can have joy in every situation and under every circumstance because our joy is resident within  us as believers.  The world's joy comes from a source that is outside and temporary.  The sinner's joy is often evasive and fleeting.  It often comes at a high price and can only be secured from the one whose mission it is to "kill, steal, and destroy."   Jesus (the one who came to bring us life and abundant life) purchased our joy with His own blood and freely gives it by faith and through Holy Spirit.  "Freely we have received."  Mt. 10:8

The sinner has joy only when things are good, or fun.  The Christian's joy is continual, even in suffering.  1 Pt. 4:13

When we find ourselves feeling joyless, we can, as David did, say "Why so downcast, oh my soul."   Our hope and trust is in the God who is a never-ending supply of help and who never fails.  In the midst of trouble, exile, loneliness and circumstances that would try to worry, discourage, condemn, or frighten us, we can have joy because we are not dependent on temporal situations for joy.   Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian prison.  Their joy was resident in them, therefore it was with them in that cell.  David encouraged himself in the Lord.  As he fixed his mind on the eternal things of the unseen world, his troubles soon turned to praise for the joy and comfort we have in Christ.

For the Christian, joy is a choice.  On a daily basis and in every circumstance we choose what our response will be.  We can respond in joy or without.  But be careful.  Without is usually accompanied by doubt and unbelief and we become just as the world.  If Paul and Silas had been singing "Gloom and despair and agony on me.  Deep, dark depression, excessive misery.  If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all.  Gloom and despair and agony on me" in the Philippian jail, I doubt that they, much less the other prisoners in the jail, would have been delivered and saved.  But because they had a joy and peace resident in them through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, they, the prisoners, the jailer and his whole family were saved.

For the sinner, joy comes only by chance.  50/50 is not very good odds.  The sinner wastes time, money, resources and sometimes health to search for and acquire the things that they hope will bring them some joy.  Most often it is temporary, if it works at all.  

 Joy is much deeper and richer than any happiness the world has to offer.  It can only truly been found in the abiding presence of Jesus Christ in a heart and life.  Christians have no excuse to be downcast, anxious, worriers, or complainers.  Our joy is not tied to the things of this world or the circumstances this world imposes on us.  Yes, we go through some things, but we can choose to have joy, even in the midst of trouble and tribulation just as Paul and Silas did.  In the end our joy will speak on behalf of the power of God to a world that  frantically seeks after it.  And they too can enter into the life of joy, peace and stability that only Christ offers and only He can provide.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Just One Word

A few weeks ago, we had the awesome privilege to eat lunch with a couple who had been part of our campus ministry at Penn State in the early 1990's.  Both were in the engineering program.  She received a bachelor's degree and he received his doctorate.  They've been living in the north central part of the US where he works for a major company that you would recognize if I mentioned it, but because I did not ask their permission to mention them, I will decline to.

My husband and I are college graduates but not in any type of engineering.  We both hold Bachelor's of Science, but quite honestly, we feel more like we have preschool certificates when we sit down and talk with this couple.  Their intellect has always been way above our own as far as science is concerned and probably always will be unless one of us gets struck by lightning and a miracle occurs.

This couple are very dear to our hearts and we were so blessed that they went out of their way to come and visit us while they were relatively close by.   They were a blessing to Pastor, one of those couples that you wish there were more of.

As we sat at lunch, the PhD proceeded to expound on the latest science concerning atoms, and parts of atoms and that's as far as my mind could comprehend except for a few words here and there that sounded vaguely familiar.  Although he went on much farther, I was lost way back at the beginning of the conversation.  As my husband and I thought about the conversation, he brought up a point that totally blew my socks off!  He said, "it has taken man this long to discover this piece of science and there is still so much to discover about His creation but it only took God speaking one word, just A word to create it all."

How awesome and wonderful and powerful is our God!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

JC Penney Would Have Eaten At Chick-Fil-A Today

It's astounding to me that Dan Cathy's comments supporting traditional marriage have caused such a fire storm.  Nothing he said was inflammatory.  He simply said that he supports traditional marriage.  When pushed, he simply said that he supports the Bible's stance on marriage.  After all, God ordained marriage so He is the one who gets to define it!  To be honest, the homosexual community's gripe is not with Christians, Chick Fil-A or right-wingers.  Their gripe is with God himself.

The Bible is clear that those who obey and live according to God's standards will be blessed and those who do not will be cursed.  (I didn't write it!  I'm just telling you what it says!)  That applies to everyone!  God is not discriminatory!

Evidently it also applies to businesses.  When JC Penney first founded his company, he operated his business according to Biblical principles, basically "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."    As a result his business grew into one of the most successful department store chains the world has ever seen.

Here is a little of his background:

J. C. Penney's father was a farmer and unpaid Baptist minister who taught his children to believe in the Golden Rule. Young Penney wanted to be a lawyer but could not afford college tuition. After high school he worked on his father's farm and found employment as a clerk in a local dry goods store. He moved to Colorado, where he opened his own butcher shop, which promptly failed. He went to work in another dry goods store, and after a few years he was offered the job of assistant manager at a Wyoming shop called the Golden Rule Store. The store's name reflected his own philosophy of life, so he believed it was God's will that he take the job.
When the Golden Rule Store proved prosperous, Penney was offered a chance to buy a one-third share in a new store, in Kemmerer, Wyo. The price was $2,000, and he had only $500 in savings, but he signed an I.O.U. for the rest. The Golden Rule Store in Kemmerer opened on 14 Apr 1902, with manager and co-owner Penney living in the attic, and it is now considered the first store in the Penney chain. Within a few years Penney was a partner in three Golden Rule stores, and in 1907 he bought out his partners.
His stores were among the first retailers to offer "one price for all" instead of haggling on almost every sale, and Penney set the price low enough to earn "a fair remuneration and not all the profits the traffic will bear". He instituted a profit-sharing program for store managers, which was later expanded to include all employees. Within seven years he had twenty-two stores, and in 1913 the business was incorporated as J.C. Penney Stores Company, keeping "the Golden Rule" as an informal motto. For many years he oversaw the company's hiring, and explained his philosophy as, "Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk". When the owner of his home town dry goods store retired in 1927, Penney bought the Hamilton, Missouri, store where he had first worked, and made it Penney's 500th store.
                                                                                                            NNDB. com

About a year ago, JC Penney abandoned the founder's set of principles and hired a known gay activist as their spokesperson.  They then proceeded to publish both Mother's Day and Father's Day advertisements featuring gay parents playing with their children.  This caused a violent reaction from the public, most of which support more traditional thought.  Here is an excerpt from an article written by the Family Research Council.

 J.C. Penney has lost its way--and in the process, its profits! "Is J.C. Penney trying to become GayC Penney?" ABC News is asking--and so are customers. In the last several months, the company once known for its Christian roots has undergone a radical transformation. It started last year, when J.C. Penney hired Ellen DeGeneres, a vocal proponent of same-sex "marriage," as its spokesperson.
The choice drew fire from several people who thought DeGeneres was a departure from the store's longstanding values. When organizations like American Family Association's One Million Moms complained, J.C. Penney's new president, Michael Francis, stubbornly dug in his heels. On Mothers' Day, the company shocked consumers with a blatant endorsement of homosexuality in an ad that featured two moms. The grassroots protested again. J.C. Penney responded with another same-sex ad for Father's Day. Underneath, the text read, "What makes Dad so cool? He's the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer, and hug giver--all rolled into one. Or two."
As Ford Motors will tell you, siding with radical homosexuals has its price. And in J.C. Penney's case, the cost is about $163 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, J.C. Penney's stock "has lost more than a third of its value since a disastrous earnings report in mid-May, when Penney's posted a $163 million loss and said sales fell 20% in the first three months of its fiscal year." CEO Ron Johnson also admitted that Father's Day sales were a bust. "Penney's shares fell 8.8% Tuesday to their lowest level in a year, [and] store traffic was down 10%."
Obviously, the company's far-Left approach is driving away shoppers--and its executives. Michael Francis was fired after just eight months on the job. Whether J.C. Penney will learn from its mistakes is yet to be seen. But its freefall should serve as a warning to other companies who are itching to jump on the same-sex bandwagon. Catering to homosexuals may earn you a pat on the back from the Human Rights Campaign, but in the long term, it's bad business. Americans want corporate neutrality in the culture wars, and when they don't find it, they'll go elsewhere--like my family has done with J.C. Penney. Shoppers are shrewd enough to know that speaking up is important--but sometimes what speaks the loudest is their wallets."

I just don't understand this!!  WHY do corporations feel that they must take a stand and draw a line along the issue of sexual preference??   Wouldn't it make more sense to donate charity dollars to a charity that directly benefits ALL of it's customer base?  There are oodles of charities that money could be given to that wouldn't ostracize any one people group.  Medical research and social programs to benefit the poor who could then maybe afford to shop at their stores would be an excellent choice!  I don't care who or what anyone prefers to sleep with!  It's TOO MUCH INFORMATION and a matter between them and God alone.  Please close the doors of your bedrooms and adopt the motto "what goes on in the bedroom, stays in the bedroom!"

God said that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."  And evidently it is also a reproach to businesses as well.  Perhaps Pepsi, Betty Crocker, Oreo, Gap, Office Depot and all the others who now have decided to support same sex marriage ought to stand up and take notice!

If JC Penney were alive today, he would have eaten at Chick-Fil-A today in support of Biblical values, in support of free enterprise, in support of our first amendment right to have an opinion and to not be bullied by those who disagree, in support of the traditional values that have built this country into the great nation that it is-for now.  He would decry the decisions made by the company that he spent his lifetime building and would certainly recognize that pandering to small, but loud, and divisive minority is bad for business.

JC Penney is often lauded as a great example of how to successfully build a business, I'm sure even by his own executives.  Perhaps instead of making him an idol, they should follow his example instead.