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, December 31, 2014

Before Judging Others-4 Steps to Creating Unity and Peace in the Body of Christ

As a Christian, there is nothing as disturbing to me as pettiness between brothers and sisters in Christ.

Over the past few weeks, I've been having an ongoing discussion with some Pastor's wives about different things that go on in church that we find appalling and we are 99.9999% sure the Lord feels the same way! Then my daughter wrote a thought provoking blog that caused me to think even further. Both conversations had to deal with forgiveness and not exposing the sins of others.  As a Pastor's wife, I have plenty of opportunities to make judgments, a lot of which I wish I didn't have to make. The truth is that we have to make judgments everyday about our daily lives, situations we are involved in, and critical situations when dealing with people. That is not the same thing as judging people unfairly although it may involve coming to a conclusion that the person wouldn't like.

When having to make judgments and BEFORE becoming judgmental, take the following steps:

1) Look at your own actions first.  Their actions might well be a reasonable reaction to your actions, attitudes and narrative. If in doubt, before accusing and/or exposing others, approach them and ask! It's God's prescribed method of dealing with glitches in Body life.  Don't over-spiritualize your own experience in an effort to validate ways of thinking that need to change in your own life.

2) Think the best. Think about who that person is.  That they claim to love the Lord....just like you do.  That they endeavor to follow Christ and emulate Him...just like you do. Think about all the good qualities, all the good times, all the things that made you love that person in the first place and realize that more than likely they are that same person. Give them the benefit of the doubt. (Works with husbands too)  There is nothing more hurtful than to be betrayed by another person in the Body of Christ because they believed what they heard about you from another brother or sister in Christ or they perceived some wrong doing by your actions without fully considering and investigating them first. I believe that the Bible refers to this as "devouring one another." Why is it that church people are so quick to believe the bad they hear or perceive about another member? 

Many years ago, a colleague slandered and defamed us as people and ministers.  The ramifications of these actions changed the whole course of our ministry.  Although we had some insight as to the motives behind it, what hurt us the most was that people who knew us well, some who had raised us in the Lord and mentored us believed what was said without ever questioning us about it. They had only known this colleague for a short time.  They had known us much, much longer and should have known better than to believe what was being said about us. And if they thought that what was being said was true, why didn't they come to us out of concern for our souls and question us about it? In some ways we could sympathize with King David when he said in Psalm 41 "even my close friend whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me". In his case, he had sinned.  In our case, we had not and that made it even harder. Friends that we had trusted betrayed us and shunned us and distanced themselves from us. Fortunately a few of our friends supported us saying that when they heard these things they knew they weren't true because they knew who God had made us to be. They had eaten with us, fellowshipped with us, and sat under our ministry.  They knew what kind of people we were. It's in times like these that you find out who your true friends are.  So when dealing with the Body of Christ, treat them as family because they are.  Treat them as you want to be treated.  Give them the same benefit of the doubt that you give your blood relatives or that you would want people to give you.

3. Cover. Even if it turns out that the person was in the wrong, cover their sin, don't expose it. It amazes me the things that end up on the internet. As a Pastor's wife, I cringe when I read blogs where church members correct one another on line, in public, for the whole world to see.  What a horrible witness! Don't validate your venting because you didn't go to a person who you perceived wronged you as some sort of spiritual exercise to help enlighten others or to justify your own feelings of unforgiveness and violation. And for the sake of the name of Christ, keep the church's dirty laundry in the church! Exposing perceived wrongs (see #1 of this list) in a public forum only strengthens scoffer’s arguments that church is no different than the world.  Although it may be representative in the church, the world sees it as representative of that body of believers or the church universal.  I do not believe that God takes that lightly considering what it cost Him to provide them a way of salvation. Plus, these are His kids you are attacking and God does not feel kindly towards bullies.

4. Forgive.  For goodness sake, just forgive and move on.  Jesus suffered much worse and still died for those nailing him to a tree.  In comparison, your petty little grievances are really not that monumental unless you allow them to become so. Forgiveness is not a service you provide for the sake of others. It is something God has provided for your own sake to keep you at peace and in His good graces.   If you truly have forgiven a person, their wrongs will not still be following you around months or years later. In fact, you will be more inclined to remember the good interactions you had with that person over the bad ones. Perhaps you never forget, but those things should not still be causing you to have anger, hurt, resentment or pain in your heart. I will never forget what the wrongful actions cost us as a couple, but they don't bother me anymore.  In fact, I rarely think about them. I chose to forgive a long, long time ago. Did I learn from them? Yes! They were valuable lessons and in many ways were used to create positive changes in my mind and heart bringing me more stability in life. Unforgiveness is a terrible taskmaster! It steals kills and destroys because it is from its creator-the devil.

A small mouse nibbling can create a big hole!  Don't be nibbling on your brothers and sisters in Christ. It's destructive to the Body of which Christ is the head.  Nibbling on His body is the same as doing it to Him. In a world that endeavors to devour you, you need those church members. Don't destroy what God has given you as a great gift by unforgiveness, self-centeredness and pettiness!

Why Santa Claus is not Part of our Christmas Celebration

We raised four kids.  At no time during their childhood did we ever tell them that Santa Claus was real. We didn't go so far as to ban him from wrapping paper or candy wrappers, but if our kids ever believed in Santa, it was not because we told them he was legit.  When we went to the mall and my kids saw other children getting candy and coloring books from Santa, I would allow them to go and see him if they wanted but they knew he was just a man in a suit. They always knew that Santa is what those without Christ did to have a reason to celebrate Christmas.

We decided early on that we would never lie to our children. Every time you lie to your children, you plant a seed and eventually that lie will come to the light.  Ultimately they will know that there is no Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny or Leprechans and they will remember that Mom and Dad were the ones who sold them that bill of goods. The fact that it's all in good fun does not change that it was a lie and one that parents worked very effectively to perpetuate. The result is that there is the thought that Mom and Dad didn't always tell the truth in the back of their minds which will give them reason to not trust what parents say about other things that are important.

Beyond that, the Christmas story is a wonderful story! Not only is it a story, it is the truth! There is enough magic in the supernatural events of Christmas to more than rival the man in the red suit. Santa is a poor substitute for God.

Jesus IS the reason that we have Christmas at all! Without Christ there would be no Christmas as we know it. Why not enthrall your kids with the redemption story, with the miracle of the incarnation, with a knowledge that God saw that we were bad, very bad and loved us anyway by giving us the greatest gift that one could ever receive? Now that is miraculous! Tell them that God is not up in His "North Pole", but He is with us and in us everyday not just watching what we do, but helping us by making us good and aiding us in doing good. In fact, this was such an incredible event that even the angels of heaven were intrigued and still wonder at it.

I remember one year my kids did something very bad.  They made a huge mess that literally took weeks to completely clean up. When they saw my shocked face, they knew it was hammer time. It was 2 weeks before Christmas.  One of them said, "are we still going to get something for Christmas?" It was then that the Lord gave me a golden opportunity to share with them what Christmas is all about when I said to them, "of course, because Christmas is all about God giving us a gift that we don't deserve. We were bad and sinned against Him, but he sent us the most wonderful gift in His Son.  So yes, we will be having Christmas and giving gifts this year because God gave when we deserved punishment."

My kids were not scarred by not celebrating holidays the world's way. They still got money for their teeth. When I took them out of school during Halloween parties, we took rakes and went to the park and made huge piles of leaves and jumped in them.  The darkness of the house during trick of treat was the perfect platform for playing games by candlelight (what kid doesn't like fire?) and chasing each other in a robust game of flashlight tag. Easter, renamed Ressurection Sunday always included a gift of some kind and a basket of candy to share.  We even hid eggs for them to find but they always knew the significance of the day.  It was never confused with the world's interpretations or fabrications.

We never made a big deal about it, making the worldly ways of celebrating seem evil.  We just explained to our children that celebrations should have a reason behind them. That's what makes them a celebration. So we stuck to American and Christian holidays because that's what we are, therefore that's what gives us a reason to celebrate. They didn't suffer by not hearing all the myths and stories that surround the holidays because they got to hear the greatest story ever told and that story is truly miraculous!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Adoption Love

I was in the kitchen with a co-worker who is pregnant.  I asked how her pregnancy was going and the usual chit chat.  She mentioned that she would like to have another one after this, her second, but she just hates being pregnant. (Of course, her non-pregnancy body is one of those incredibly fit and skinny ones, so that makes sense). I mentioned that maybe she could adopt.  She was skeptical that she would love an adopted child as much as her natural children and I quickly assured her that she would. She asked me if I had adopted.  I told her no, but that I had over the years taken many people into my home and found that I loved them just as much as if they were my own family. She decided that she would think about it.

I have friends who recently adopted a child.  It is obvious that they love him as much I have ever loved any of my naturally born children. He is one blessed little guy!

A thought popped into my head as a result of that conversation and thinking about my friends.  Of course, it is possible to love an adopted child as much as a natural one.  God does. In fact, God loved us so much that he wanted to adopt us all, even though it cost Him His "naturally born son", in a manner of speaking, Scripture tells us that we have been adopted into the family of God, that God is now our Father and Jesus is our brother. This is demonstrated in "that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  We have been adopted and can now cry "Abba, Father" and God listens as if we are His naturally born offspring. We are spiritually born, but the only equivalent we have to compare that kind of adoption is natural adoption. We have been born into God's family and as far as He is concerned we are HIS. What an amazing thought! When we come to God as children, He responds just as we would to our own children, but in a more perfect way because everything He does is right and perfect.  Think about it-our Father is perfect in everything He is and everything He does!

And with Christmas season upon us, this knowledge just makes the season seem a little more special because it was at Christmas that this whole adoption process began. Imagine if it took us 33 years to complete the adoption process! And we think a few years is a long time.  I wonder if God felt the same anticipation about adopting us into His family as we do when we are adopting a child into our own family.  I can only imagine.

So if God can love His adopted children as much as His first born son, then we can too because He has shed his love abroad in our hearts. I'm past the age and patience level to adopt small children but I can truly appreciate the hearts of parents that adopt. May we all learn to appreciate the love of our Father for His own adopted children.