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, January 22, 2013

Things That I Enjoy

The Nittany Lion and Sneezey, the Penn State Squirrel have both been speaking of their favorite things lately so I decided to make my own list.  (Not in order of preference, mind you!)  What are your favorite things?

~Having a day every now and then to sleep in until after the sun comes up
~Watching my husband's face slowly crinkle up on one side when he is smiling
~Staying in the shower until all the hot water is gone
~The quiet in my house when everyone is sleeping
~The antics of the birds every morning at the feeder
~Cinnamon tea
~Watching my kid's expressions when they open a gift at Christmas that wasn't on their list
~The aroma of Downey that unfolds with my clothes when I pull them out of my dresser
~the landmark reminders chronicled in the margins of my Bible
~napping with a cool gentle breeze blowing across the bed in the spring and summer
~Hot chocolate or Chai tea made with milk instead of water
~a mushroom & swiss cheese burger from Garfields (my new favorite)
~spending time with my kids and grandson
~doing things for others without them knowing it was me
~purple peonies and daisy bouquets
~getting snail mail that's addressed to me from somewhere other than the principal's office at the high school!
~being inspired
~Throwing a few down range
~listening to my husband of few words talk about something that excites him
~giving money to missions especially when I know it is going to people who have never heard the gospel
~watching babies being born
~eating the fresh produce of the summer harvest
~learning something new
~foot massages
~an ipod that can hold the whole New Testament PLUS sermons and music
~true, blue, I know you and still love you kind of friends
~the revelation and enlightening of the Holy Spirit as I read the Word especially when it just slaps me in the face and reminds that I'm not all that smart
~MY church people
~roller coaster rides
~sitting on the back deck with some sweet tea and a good book (even if it's cold enough to need a blanket)
~taking photographs
~listening to the sound of laughter
~tinkering on the piano
~knitting for charity
~beautiful sunsets/sunrises/ and landscapes
~and of course...blogging!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sometimes The Small Things Mean So Much

On Friday, I spent about an hour in Psalms.  I'm noticing that the Psalms are often written in bunches that all address the same idea.  I happened to be in the 70's-90's which talk a lot about the presence of the Lord that is with His people.  After reading I prayed and ask the Lord to help me to be mindful all day of His presence and the pleasure He finds in being with me.  (This I still do not fully comprehend.  An almighty God finding pleasure in my company.  His great love can be the only explanation.)

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a little ornery, in a fun loving kind of way.  It's not unusual to have soft objects flying around the living room when we are all sitting there together whether it be the pom-pom balls or the soft plastic balls from my grandson's toys, marshmallows that will never find their way into a cup of hot chocolate, or even a stray M&M or two.  We've kind of calmed down from the no holds barred-hide behind furniture- Nerf gun battles we used to have.

So I can appreciate a little fun loving ornery-ness coming my way from others.  As I walked from the bus stop to the building where I work, I thanked God that the wind was not blowing that day.  Usually I have a stiff, chilly headwind to contend with.  Just as I crossed the street and started up the sidewalk to my office a clump of snow fell from a tree and hit me squarely on top of the head.  As I looked up to see what had caused it, I just felt a little tickle inside, like I do when our family is all together in the living room throwing things when others are not looking and it reminded me of my prayer that morning. I just knew then that God was letting me know that He had heard and answered my prayer and I spent the day basking in His presence and pleasure, just as I had asked.

This may seem silly to you, but it was very real to me.  I find that God often communicates and interacts with me in a way that I can totally identify with.  He did create me so that we could have fellowship with one another.  He is perfectly capable and willing to relate to me in such a way that makes perfect sense to me. After all, my personality was His idea!   It was a small, silly clump of snow but it meant so much to me because it came from His hand just to remind me that He was pleased to be with me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Without Excuse

I used to think it was big accomplishment to read the Bible through in a year.  But after hearing these statistics from a friend, I am totally convicted.  He received an audio Bible as a Christmas gift.  Based on the number of minutes it takes to listen to the Bible at a moderate reading speed such as used in audio Bibles and the number of words contained in the Bible, reading the Bible though in a year is really not a difficult task.  In fact, it is possible with a modest amount of reading to read the bible multiple times a year.  
  • The Bible contains about 789,000 words, give or take depending on your translation
  • The Harry Potter series contains contains approx. 1,084,000 words
  • The Twilight Series contains approx. 520,000 words
This means that in the time in takes a 14 girl to read through the Harry Potter series and the Twilight series, she (or I) could have read through the Bible cover to cover twice.  

If you read the Bible just one hour a day for 6 days a week, in one year you can easily read through the bible FOUR TIMES!    

I've heard every excuse under the sun, but the most common is that you can't read through the Bible without stopping to study it.  That is true for most people.  But consider this.  If you wanted to truly study something, like a textbook with exhaustive history and facts on a certain subject, would you just pick and choose which chapter you would read or would you read the book all the way through and then go back and focus on the sections that interested you?  Why not do the same with the Bible.  If you can read the Bible 4 times in a year just by reading it 6 hours a week, why not take the first 11.8 weeks and just read from cover to cover to get the exhaustive view and then spend the rest of the year studying it book by book, chapter by chapter or verse by verse?  Wouldn't it make more sense to get a complete picture of God's plan for mankind from the beginning of time to the end of time before focusing on specific epochs of time?  Wouldn't this epoch of time in which we live make much more sense in the context of how and where it fits into the entire plan of God?  

Where are you going to find an hour a day to read the Bible?  Try doing it during a t.v. show you usually watch, or that just before bed reading time, or the time you spend doing a hobby, working out-"it profits little",  or talking on the phone, or reading blogs on the computer, or "fleshbooking" (oops, I mean Facebooking), or shopping (imagine how much money you would save!).  LOL!   Most of us waste at least an hour a day on something of no eternal value whatsoever!  It's a matter of priority!  It's a matter of what you really think about the Word of God and what you believe the Word can and will do in your life.  If the Word is life, wouldn't it be natural to want as much "life" as possible coming into your being?  Shouldn't a Christian hunger and thirst for the Word?  Shouldn't the Bible provide ALL pertaining to life and godliness for the Christian?  How much godliness are you desiring?  What are you willing do give up or change to get it? How much investment are you willing to make?

Just something to think about!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

When We Hinder the Lord

I live 5 minutes from my place of employment but it takes me 20-40 minutes to get to work.  I have to park on the outskirts of campus and take a bus to the stop closest to the building where I work.  Then I have to walk about 5 minutes more after exiting the bus.  So I take an ipod along with me to listen to while I'm in transport.

I never cease to be amazed at the things I pick up when listening to the Word of God that I don't catch when I'm reading it.  Friday, I was listening to Mark 1.  In it was the story of a man that Jesus healed.  After He healed him, Jesus told him not to tell anyone who had done it.  But the man didn't listen.  Instead he went all around the city broadcasting his healing and telling everyone who had healed him.  He didn't obey the instructions that Jesus had given him.  Consequently, Jesus had to go outside the city into the wilderness areas to preach instead of being able to stay close to the people in the city.  This healed man hindered the ability of the  Lord to minister in the lives of people!
Disobedience hinders the Lord.

This got me to thinking.  Can the Lord be hindered?  What hinders the all powerful God?  So I did a little (seriously, just a little) digging.  

In Matthew 15, Jesus went into his own hometown to preach, teach and perform miracles.  Because of their familiarity with Jesus on a human level, they could not relate to Him on a spiritual level so the spiritual works of Jesus were hindered because they could not believe that He was sent by God.  So "he did not do many miracles because of their unbelief."  In another book it says that He could only heal a few, minor problems because of their unbelief.  
Unbelief hinders the Lord.

In 1 Peter 3:7 it says that a man who does not honor a weaker vessel (in this case, his wife) as a fellow heir of the grace of life will hinder his own prayers.   I wonder if that wouldn't apply to anyone who looks down on another believer because that person possesses "lesser gifts" by God's design?  Or perhaps that person is not at the same level of maturation and knowledge so he is looked down on by those "more learned" (and I use that term lightly because anyone who does this is not very "learned" at all and "thinks more highly of himself than he ought")!  Example:  The Pharisee and the publican praying in the synagogue in Luke 18:10.
Dishonoring (lack of love and respect toward) others hinders the Lord.

In Luke 11:52, Jesus accused the lawyers of hindering the people by failing to have knowledge thus hindering themselves and others in the knowledge of God.  In Hosea 6, the Lord said that HIS people (not the heathen) are destroyed due to lack of knowledge!  Because of their rejection of the Word, they had forgotten the law of the Lord and the Lord rejected them!  (Ugh, I think that means that He didn't hear and answer their prayers.)
Ignorance of the Word and will of God hinders the Lord.

Scripture is very clear that there are things that can stand in the way of God keeping Him from ministering to us.  The problem is not on God's end either!  It's on our end!  When I am praying and seemingly not getting a response from God, I immediately allow the Holy Spirit to take a look-see into my heart to see if there is anything there that may be hindering the Lord.  Is there un-confessed sin?  Is there doubt?  Is there ignorance of what the will of God is?  Is there unresolved conflict in a relationship?  Is there pride?  Once that is taken care of, I can move on to praying about my needs or desires. 

I am a firm believer that God only answers the prayer of faith.  Faith knows the answer because it is the will of God.  We know the will of God by knowing the Word of God.  So anything we ask God for must be His will as revealed in His Word!  It is only then that we can pray knowing that our faith can get the answer from God.  Mark 11 clearly tells us that if we will pray the will of God in faith, God will give us our request every time.  This is why "if it be thy will" prayers often result in an answer we were not seeking-like in healing.  God only answers prayers that are according to His will.  How can you pray something according to God's will if you don't know what His will is?  We must first come to know the will of God and then we can pray in faith knowing that God will hear and respond to His own will and Word!  How can we know the will of God?  Know the Word of God!!!  He NEVER denies His own Word.  We can literally receive anything if we know the will of God and have faith!  The omission of either of these two things hinders God to the point that we cannot receive from Him!  

I've heard the trite little saying that when we pray God either says yes, no or wait.  This way of thinking pretty much leaves the chips to fall where they may leaving us really no control or expectation over what we were praying about. (That is not faith, by the way!)   The Word says that "God's promises are YES and AMEN!"  I don't see NO or WAIT anywhere in that verse.  When did Jesus ever deny anything to anyone who asked in faith and according to His will?  HE DIDN'T.   He never told anyone to WAIT either!   If you are praying and asking God for something that you know is according to His will and not receiving, then you better check your faith level.  If you have faith for something but are not seeing it, then you better double check to make sure that it falls within the parameters of God's will.  It really is this simple folks!  Once you you know where you are lacking, get into the Word of God so that you can fix it and get what you need from God!  This honors God!  This glorifies Him in your eyes and the eyes of those who know you.  Answered prayer testifies of the greatness, the love, the power, the mercy and the ability of God to everyone that knows you!  HE WANTS TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS!  HE WANTS TO MAKE HIMSELF KNOWN AND HE WANTS TO USE YOUR PRAYERS TO DO IT!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Not Hurled Headlong"

Today I read Psalm 37, one of my favorites.

"The steps of a man are established (or ordered) by the Lord.  And He delights in his way.  When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand." Ps. 37: 23-24

Many times we focus on verse 23 as we walk through this life.  It's comforting to know that your steps are being laid out before you by the Lord.  I have a friend who prays everyday "Lord, order my steps today" and by faith believes that He does!  If we follow the ordered steps of the Lord, we will reach our intended and ordained destination.  But verse 24 kind of breaks up our journey in a way we often don't want to think about.  It says "when he falls".  Not "if he falls", but "when" he falls.

When I was a little girl, my Daddy used to take me on walks.  Sometimes we would walk the quaint streets of the little town where he grew up.  Other times we would walk on the rocky shore of the Antietam creek so we could watch the carp frolicking in the waters below.  If we were home, we would walk the "big hill" that was part of the circular road that encompassed our neighborhood.  I used to love these walks because I could hold my Dad's hand the whole time.  His hand always felt so big and strong.  I knew that if I tripped over the uneven sidewalk, slipped on the damp rocks or stumbled on the big hill, my Dad's strong hand would pull me up just in the nick of time and I would not be hurt.  Occasionally I would stub a toe or scrape a knee, but I was never seriously injured on our little adventures.  If my scrapes made it uncomfortable to walk or I just got tired, my Dad would put me on his shoulders and carry me the rest of the way.  I would just lean over with my arms and hug his neck.  Not once did we ever fail to make it home.

I guess the thing we really don't like about verse 24 is that it confronts us with our humanity.  "When" we fall because we are fallible, vulnerable, imperfect beings.  As much as we live and grow in Christ, the fact remains that we are human and we fail from time to time.  We stumble along the way.  And from what this verse says, it happens even when we are walking in the steps ordered of the Lord.  But the promise remains that WHEN we do, His strong hand will be holding onto ours and will catch us before we fall headlong and really hurt ourselves.  Whether the result of our fall is a stubbed toe, a scraped knee or a broken heart, we will not be destroyed.  God will hold onto us and keep us on that path that He has ordained for us to walk.  And if the injury is so painful we feel we can't go on, He will pick us up and carry us until we can or until we reach our destination.

Today, walk through your day with the sense of our big God holding your small hand.  Know that if you stumble or if you fall, God will hold onto you and you will not be "hurled headlong".   His hand holding yours will guide you back onto the path and keep you there.  And even if you feel that you can't go on, He will carry you if He has to and you will reach your intended goal.  And while He carries you, be sure to reach down with your arms and give his neck a hug.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

John the Who?

Had some extra time this morning so I thought I would tackle the book of John.  I read a whole 27 verses and got stuck!  Every now and then the Lord will just arrest me somewhere along my planned reading and will keep me there for awhile.  The text was describing how the Pharisees sent messengers to John the Baptist to ask him if he was the Messiah, or Elijah returned to earth, or a prophet.  John, of course, denied all three and explained that he was a forerunner for the Messiah and that the Messiah had come.  He then went on to describe this one that he had been proclaiming throughout his entire ministry.   This is the verse that grabbed my attention.
"He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
The untying of sandals was a menial task performed by house servants.  When members of the household or a visitor would come to visit, a servant would untie their sandals and wash the dust from the road off their feet.  Now don't go all OCD on me, it was simply a gesture of respect and honor that said "we're glad you're here."  We all can testify to how refreshing it is to have clean feet, especially after they've been really dirty or sweaty.

John the Baptist labeled himself a servant, so low in relation to Christ that even untying his sandals would have been above him.

John could have connected himself to Christ in many ways that would have elevated him in the eyes the inquirers.  For instance, he could have touted his blood relationship and familiarity with the Christ as his cousin and childhood friend, but he didn't.  He could have talked of his miraculous birth and special calling, even from the womb to proceed the Messiah or made the case that his ministry was just as important.  He could have related the story that even while still in the womb there was this "connection" between him and Jesus when their still pregnant mothers met together.  But he didn't.

They thought he was Elijah or a prophet or the Messiah but his only response was I must decrease, He must increase.  We must also have this attitude as John and even Christ himself had.

We must be careful that in accepting all the blessings we get from and because of Christ, we do not equate ourselves with Christ by exalting ourselves to His level or by pulling Him down to ours.  He was John's relative but John never treated Him with nonchalant familiarity.  He was John's friend, but John always addressed Him with highest regard and deepest respect.

He never saw Himself as an equal partner in the relationship or in the mission from God but remained a humble servant to God in heaven and God in the flesh.  As a result, Christ honored and exalted John the Baptist.  John truly learned that his highest joy was to be in the lowest place.

"Among those born of women, there has not arisen any greater than John the Baptist."  Mt. 11:11    Andrew Murray wrote "make His glory your motivation to humble yourself; He will make your glory His motivation to perfect your humility."  "Every Christian who seeks to advance in holiness should remember this: there may be intense consecration and fervent zeal, and if the Lord himself does not step in, there may be unconscious self-exaltation.  let us learn the lesson that the greatest holiness comes in the deepest humility."

Christ humbled Himself-God exalted Him.
John humbled himself-Christ exalted Him.

"Christ will humble us and keep us humble, let us heartily consent, let us trustfully and joyfully accept all that humbles; the power of Christ will rest upon us.  We shall find that the deepest humility is the secret of the truest happiness, of a joy that nothing can destroy."

Even holy indignation or excitement of spiritual revelation and growth can so easily become unrighteous judgement and prideful arrogance.  Our boast must always be in Christ alone.
"Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you but that your name is written in heaven.  (none of which comes by or through anything in yourself.  It is the gift of God. "   (Luke 10 :20)  We must remain humble, like John, and remember that our highest place of exaltation can never and will never be above that place of at Christ's feet.

I ask myself:
Is Christ precious to me?
Is Christ holy in my sight?
Is He the treasure or is He common to me?
Has familiarity with Christ crossed the line into irreverence?
Is He like an old sweater or a costly garment to me?

Quotes from Andrew Murray's book on Humility.  Scriptures from NASB.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Les Miserables

I probably won't win any fans after writing this because my opinion of this movie is nothing like the opinions of those in the bathroom afterwards who were crying their eyes out because it was just "SO GOOD."  Honestly, do these types of people even have a life?

I rarely go to the theater, in fact, the last movies I remember going to see were "Letters to Juliet", "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", and "The Sponge Bob Movie".   I only went to this one because the group of people going are tons of fun and I hadn't been out with "the girls" in a very long time and they assured me that it was a "classic" and a very good story.   I knew there would be singing because it was heralded as a "musical".  I'm not a big fan of musicals (except for the Sound of Music, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady and the ever popular Mary Poppins), which is weird because I am a very musical person.  I had never read the book or seen any of the other movies made about this story.  I only knew that my daughter had to read it in school and really liked it and I trust her judgement-after all, I raised her.  LOL!

First let me say, this was no musical! (Which was just one of the many lies Hollywood used to get people to the theaters to see it.)   It was an opera!  And come on people, really, Russell Crowe singing?  For 2 LONG hours and 37 minutes??  "This is the song that never ends.  Yes, it goes on and on my friend.  Some people started singing it not knowing what it was, and they'll continue singing it forever just because....this is the song that never ends.   Yes it goes on and on....."  (Lambchop)

I will give it one thing.  The title totally describes the movie!  I was so "Miserable" that I wanted to shoot myself in the head!  For some of the parts I just sat there with my hands over my eyes and my thumbs in my ears because the gaudy filth was more than I wanted going through my eye-gate!  They even had to de-frock Santa Claus for goodness sake! (Just proof that when your job is finished, you should not stop for a drink but just go straight home even if you live at the North Pole.)   In fact, the whole movie was just dirty in one way or another.  If it wasn't perversion or way too much information, it was mud, dust, disease and sewage.  If I want to see that, I can just look in my son's bathroom for free!  My poor daughter was so disappointed that she kept on saying "that wasn't in the book or the last movie!"

The love-at-first-sight scene made me laugh hysterically, almost to the point of annoyance to those sitting around me, but after all that darkness, the contrast was just unbelievable!  It was either that or stick my finger down my throat and puke!  Honestly, were people that naive back then?  The only part I enjoyed was when Russell Crowe threw his body off a building and landed on a slab of concrete because I knew that surely the movie would have to end soon with his character being dead!

The actual story line was very good.  I can see why it has become so popular but as a Christian who is careful about what I watch, well, I just felt like I needed a bath (or at least some ice cream) after watching it which reminded me why I rarely go to the theater.  I have learned that when Hollywood applauds something, it's probably immoral and perverted and once again, Hollywood did not disappoint!  The "artistic license" they took with the original text (according to my daughter because like I said, I never read the book), was very broad!  And the singing, "oh the noise, oh the noise, oh the noise, noise, noise, noise! "  (Thank you Dr. Seuss!)

If you really want to read a good story of redemption, read the Bible!  It is the greatest story ever written.  It has all the action, romance, and adventure that one could ever want, but without the mind polluting pictures, confusing burlesque style music and rank, perverted language.  Well, it's not like a movie, you say?  It is if you allow the Holy Spirit to "bring it to life" in your heart!  :-)

If you are a Christian and take seriously what you allow to enter your mind, I highly recommend that you stay home from this one!  Especially if you are a single lady who is keeping yourself pure.  Especially if you are any kind of a lady at all!

This will probably be the one and only movie review I ever do because it will be a cold day in a hot place before I go to the theater sight unseen again!