Living Life As a Woman In Ministry

Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Christianity Leaves Where Facebook Begins

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It’s not as simple as deleting a post or tweet. – Jake Iversen

I took a break from Social Media at the end of the year. I couldn’t take the whining and complaining and the perfection of selfies anymore. Not just others either, my own. I found myself wanting to respond in a negative way and it was no longer fun, nor good. Social media tends to leave manners at the door, and I was no exception. I have gone back on now and I’ve decided not to engage the meanies nor be one either. Some hot topics I will reserve for dinner conversations, live and in person because I have an opinion but sometimes I need you to hear my tone.

In church for the past month my husband has said every single Sunday, that if we have an issue with a brother, we are to go to that person as directed in the bible, not to Facebook. These are the kinds of things that people see and read and cause them to call us hypocrites.

They’d be right.

We can defend nothing.

We use people like pawns, those people who know nothing about the situation rush to the defense of the person who wrote the “cryptic” message, making the writer feel justified. Those who know what’s going on begin to text and call each other. Sadly it sets up a battle right in the middle of the congregation.

Which is exactly what the person posting wanted to have happen.

They won’t go face to face and confront but

anyone can be an attacker.

And it’s not just the church I attend, or the one you attend, or the one your friend attends, this is acceptable behavior in the Christian community, just as it is in any community these days. Only for us who call ourselves followers of Christ it’s not scriptural nor does it follow the example of Christ. And we think we invoke Jesus justifiably. We’ll preface it by saying, “I’m waiting on God’s will for this situation”, or “Is God trying to tell me something?” “I’m praying about what to do.” Then we proceed with the modern day Holy War. 

So when I took my social media break, I thought about not coming back on. I didn’t want to contribute to the negative stereotypes of Christians and because I have a sarcastic sense of humor and very opinionated views, it doesn’t always translate well on paper. Even more than that, I didn’t like how it made me feel and react.

We need to weigh our words. They aren’t anonymous and you can hurt people with them. You become a publisher and it’s more than ink on a page. It’s there for as long as the Internet is around, and right now, it isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

Parents Shouldn’t Be A Financial Burden

 

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Proverbs 13:22A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.

We’re a nation of consumers and that isn’t news nor is it going away. Reverse mortgages, check-cashing loans, credit card debt are rampant means of getting extra cash. Gone are the days in which we live within our means.

Have we stopped to consider our children in these situations?

Your average 21 year old comes out of college with a debt of $32,000 in student loans and $4,000 in credit card debt, according to the Dave Ramsey crew. How is that student going to pay that off when an entry level job isn’t going to pay anywhere near the money it will take to make a dent in that amount? As parents if we are not set up to help take care of these costs, we must rely on loans, grandparents, and family members to foot the bill.

With these statistics it is imperative that we should not take from our children nor be a burden to them. We need to begin wherever we are to save for our child’s education and their future. My godmother and I were talking recently and she said to me that as soon as I find out I am having a grandchild, I am to put $20 per week aside for that child’s future. So that ends up being about $20,000 with just simple interest. if I invested it, it would be more.

Do we even comprehend that $20 is one fast food meal skipped per week? 

I don’t profess to be a saver. I love a sale as much as anyone, but we have an emergency fund and funds set aside for our future. I don’t want to be a burden to my kids. The bible says we aren’t supposed to be. Could it be that this is why the Lord makes such archaic statements in the bible?

Save! Don’t consume all that you have.

Proverbs 21:20 There is desirable treasure, And oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man squanders it.

Give freely but don’t be a borrower.

Psalm 37:21 The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives.

We have to set this thing up better for the next generation or they won’t be afforded the life we were. We have to begin to look at the consequences of the whole picture and not look at what feels good right now. We love our children, and I believe that we do love our children, but are we looking out for them or are looking out for ourselves? Are we leaving them with a legacy of slavery to a system and a life of indebtedness or are we teaching practical principles like delayed gratification? We have got to do better for our next generation. Setbacks happen to everyone but there is a difference between a person who can’t recover and one who won’t.

Work and savings aren’t ugly words. My grandfather worked three jobs to give his kids a leg up. My parents both worked to give us an education. We worked to give our kids the things they needed. We didn’t always have new stuff but we had what we needed and we didn’t work a system, we worked to be free to make decisions.

 

Infallible Hero

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Recently at a bible study someone dared to say that one of our beloved bible heroes acted like a spoiled brat. The women immediately were up in arms. Bible heroes are heroes and therefore we overlook their flaws and make them somewhat godlike, but come on, truth is truth, and it’s actually beneficial to see the real person in the scheme of the heroic act.

You all know I am a huge Dr. Laura fan. I’ve been listening to her for almost 30 years. So it was no wonder that I imagined Jacob calling into the radio program as I studied the life of Joseph.  As he gives Dr. Laura the background we hear, Jacob is in love with Rachel, but marries her sister Leah and has a tribe of kids with her because Rachel can’t get pregnant, even though (Dr. Laura gets impatient with these words) he doesn’t love Leah. Finally Rachel has a son named Joseph and the bible tells us Joseph is Jacob’s favorite kid. Joseph, as a teen, has a dream that one day his older brothers will bow down to him. Joseph, dressed in this flashy coat, goes out to the field to tell his brothers about his dream. Now right about here is where I’m thinking this is one dysfunctional family.  So Joseph’s brothers take Joseph out on a walk and lose him and then go back home and tell their dad he was killed.

So I can hear Dr. Laura saying to Jacob, “What the hell were you thinking was going to happen?” At which point I usually think to myself and take a deep breath, “Buddy, do you ever listen to this program?”

You can actually do this with all the bible heroes. Moses’ parents and Dr. Laura, “Don’t have them if you won’t raise them.” Then to Pharoah’s daughter: “Give this child to an intact, two-parent home. Adopt an older child.”

To David’s parents: “I know you’re trying to raise your boy to be a man, but sending him out to places alone where he has to fight a bear? What the hell are you thinking?!”

Parts of these stories look so heroic that it’s easy to overlook the dysfunction they went through as children and only see the good these men did with God at their side. It’s easy to then say we have too much to overcome to get to a spot of actually making a difference but the bible shows us these thoughts are merely excuses. Everyone has stuff to overcome. The difference is in those who will do something despite their circumstances, and those who will wallow.

Which will you be? A Hero or Victim? It’s interesting, every Comic Hero that I can think of had a crazy childhood only to come out victorious. So what’s holding you back? You aren’t any different. Go out and do something heroic with your life. Teach a child to be a person of character, go out and feed some homeless people, go out and teach a class or coach a sport. Make a difference. The world is waiting for your gift.

I Want To Marry You

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The  most precious thing you have in your life is time.

You can’t get moments back. You have to make sure that your life is heading in the direction of forward progress toward your goals.

I recently spoke to a woman who has dated her boyfriend for five years. She wants a ring. Her boyfriend is happy with the way things are. He’s not in a rush and says it will happen ‘one day’. This causes an argument. So I asked her why she was waiting and why she thought he was THE ONE.

She loves him.

She sees herself driving his kids around in a minivan.

He has a good job.

He loves God.

They have a lot in common.

They love jogging together after work.

They attend the same church.

Their families get along.

They believe the same things.

WAIT!!!!! WAIT!!!! WAIT!!!!

I had to stop her right there.

They have a ton of stuff in common. They love to talk to each other. They love to spend time together, and although all that is true, I have no reason to believe she is lying to herself or to me, they aren’t heading to the same place. You see, even though they have lots of things in common, they are not headed in the same direction. Even though they love each other, their destination is different. She wants marriage, he still hasn’t figured out he needs a wife. She can whine, stomp her feet, and give him an ultimatum and he may cave, but they both will know they manipulated a situation and that is no way to live.

Neither of them is a bad person. Neither of them is wrong. The only problem here, and it’s the deal breaker, is they don’t have commonality in the goal. So this relationship needs to end. Why? Because all we have is time and wasting it in the push and pull of trying to get someone to go your way, only delays your destiny to find the person who really is the one for you.

I once heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say about letting go of relationships, “Don’t abort the future on the altar of your past.” This isn’t just good advice in a romantic relationship. This addresses all relationships. Not everyone is going with you and you’re not going with everyone no matter how much we love them and how much it hurts to part. There are people in your life with whom you are at a fork in the road with and some are going your way, and others aren’t, don’t change your destiny in a compromise. The misdirection will waste time and cause resentment over time.

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed. NKJV

No one is evil, it’s just that their destiny is parting from yours. You never know if this is a forever thing, or for a period of time, in either case, choose God’s will rather than yours. In time, you’ll see why it wasn’t meant to be.

 

The Pastor’s Wife

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October is the month we have Pastor’s Appreciation Month and I know it’s April, but actually, we need to be praying for our pastors all the time because they have a tough job. While not being physically exhausting most days, it’s mentally challenging and emotionally charged. And while you’re there, pray for his wife too. That’d be me.

Today I woke up with the burden of the Pastor’s wife on my heart. She is in a unique position. She watches her husband from a vantage point that no one else really gets to see. She watches as he walks the line that is unpopular in our culture. She watches as people from the outside presume to know what he is about. She watches as his critics swim like sharks who see chum in the water. Most days, she’s able to pray and walk forward with her day. Other days, she is exhausted at the prospect before the day even gets started. She shares her life with a man who has a calling on his life. It’s not like a job where he can go home and let it go. It follows him everywhere. She watches as he paces the floor in prayer and wonders what the stress is doing to his body.

Yet her life is blessed as she stands secure in the fact that her husband follows the One true desire of her heart, Jesus. She has that in common with him as they move the Kingdom forward. She loves her church family with her whole heart. She rests in knowing that they have placed their trust where she has and that is a big obligation he carries. She understands that although her church needs her, her first duty is to her husband. She knows she must keep him healthy, keep him loved, keep him in her prayers and undergird his desires.

Recently someone said to me that I didn’t understand what she and other women had to go through.  They have been hurt, they had been stabbed in the back and that they have had words spoken over them that they didn’t feel they deserved. I smiled and offered to pray. Inwardly, I wondered what makes her think I don’t go through this stuff? Some of the things a Pastor’s wife is told would make your hair curl. The criticism thrown at her, her children, and her husband would be laughable it it weren’t so painful. Just because she isn’t publicly bleeding doesn’t mean she isn’t wounded. She chooses to suck it up and move forward because the One she follows had a lot of heartache too, but recognized a short time frame when he saw one. Unfortunately, I’ve seen my share of wives get off the ride and decide to do something else because of the stress and pressure on her marriage and her family.

So today, my hat is off to all of you who are married to a Pastor. It’s a blessing to know you. It’s a blessing to pray for you. More importantly, it’s a blessing to be counted among you. I truly love each and everyone of you. May God continue to fashion you into His leading lady.

 

Stay In Your Own Movie

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Drama.

Some people are magnets for it. For the rest of us, we have enough drama in our own lives that we don’t need to go looking for more. I mean honestly, if you wanted a Emmy winning Lifetime movie you could look no further than my own life and I’m sure yours too. We’d have these nail-biting scenes where we wonder if I’ll ever get back into those jeans or not,  these amazing dramatic love scenes, break-ups and tears, and love and passion, then treacherous relationship that would make most soap operas look like amateur hour, and of course those scenes that look like blooper reels. Our own movies would be blockbuster hits!

So what makes us steer our car over to the drama of others and insert ourselves into their scenes? What makes us think we can do better?

EGO

We think somehow their drama is fixable, not like ours of course, because we are professionals. We think if we just share what we know, we can make it all better. Only let’s be real, what is it that we really know?

I love how Oprah does her famous question dramatically, “What’s the one thing you know for sure?” Then her guest look like they didn’t know the question was coming and they have to think about it. Trust me, if I were interviewed by Oprah, I’d know this question is coming up so I already have an answer. Are you ready?

“The one thing I know for sure, is the longer I live, the more I don’t know anything at all.”

But I guess that’s why I probably won’t be interviewed by Oprah. So her guests answer her question with pretty much a version of, “Well, Oprah the one thing I know for sure is that there is a force within us and we will return to that force one day.” And yeah, well I believe that too. Only I call my force Jesus.

EGO- I learned from a Wayne Dyer book that EGO can be an acronym for Edging God Out. In other words, when we come into the scene in rescue mode, often times we play God and none of us is fit to fill that position. Sorry to break it to you, when we act from a place of the mind, what we know, instead of spirit, what we don’t really know but discern from God,  we Edge God Out. I can hear some of you screaming “BUT WHAT IF”. My response is, “Even if”.  Stay in your own movie. Don’t go photo bombing someone else’s scene. Smile, close the door and know that if they will access Jesus they will work out a solution. Give advice when asked but please stay in your own movie.

 

Heaven, Hell and the Suicide Debate

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This question was raised again in my life this week: “How can someone who commits suicide go to heaven?”

What is the difference between a diabetic saint who through poor diet and a refusal of a  lifestyle change, begins to lose limbs and eventually dies, the overweight saint with high cholesterol who eats one more burger to a massive heart attack  which kills them, the careless saint who reads the warning not to step on the top of the ladder and does and falls to her death, or the saint who suffers from major depression? Did they not all take their own life?

We tend to have degrees of suicide or rather, forgivable suicides and unforgivable suicides. Does God have mercy on the obese but not the depressed? Or can we determine that his measuring stick is not ours and that he ultimately decides what he forgives and what he doesn’t?

 

With Every Head Bowed

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In churches across this nation there will be a time in the service on Sunday morning when the Pastor will say something like this:

“With every head bowed and every eye closed, if you came here today and you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior and you would like to, would you slip up your hand? I’d like to pray with you.”

Before I continue on my thought process let me say that I’m not indicting the church. I love the church and I believe in her ability. This post is about my working out how this all works and bringing you into my own conversation.

Luke 9:26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

We bow our heads and close our eyes to give someone the privacy to confess Christ. We don’t want to embarrass anyone or intimidate anyone into not making a decision for Christ. I get the sentiment but how does that fly with the scripture of public confession? If we had to confess in secret when do we proclaim in public? We then hear this:

“Let’s all join our voices with those who are confessing Christ for the first time and repeat this prayer.” What follows is what we church folk call the sinner’s prayer. It’s a good prayer, nothing wrong with the prayer, but we all confess so as not to call out the person receiving Christ for the first time as if it’s a bad thing. Did we tell them this is an every day confession? Did we tell them this was step one? Or did we let them walk away thinking they were good?

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

We all repeat the sinner’s prayer together. It doesn’t hurt anyone to say the prayer but it does hinder the congregation to know who is receiving Christ for the first time. Which leads me to my main point:

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Who came to Christ for the first time? My head was bowed and my eyes were closed. How do I disciple someone when I don’t know they raised their hand? Then there’s the question; what about conversion? How does conversion happen if I said a prayer in a group and no one told me that there was more to the kingdom and this new lifestyle called Christianity?

I hear so often about those who profess Christ on Sunday but cuss like sailors and live like hell the rest of the week and post all of their nonsense on Social Media and how bad a witness they are. Is that their fault? I don’t always think so. I think they may not know better. I think they may not be in the process of discipleship. I think we may have to cut them some slack until we begin to teach them to observe the things the Word demands of us.

An Uncomfortable Thought

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I first visited my current church in 1999. After coming from a big church with great programs we had moved to a smaller town and therefore a smaller church. Was the word sound? Yes. There wasn’t a band just background music and singers. You had to work to be a part of the congregation. On our third visit there were chastised for sitting in certain seats and told to move and take it up with the pastor if we didn’t like it. We got called into a meeting to ask why we didn’t laugh at jokes.

I asked my husband to please move churches. He said no. He explained that the word was sound and scripture was accurate. Instead, he asked me to look to God and see where I could help and what I could pray for. He assured me that if the Lord prompted us to move we would. I wish I could tell you that I received this well, but I can’t tell you that truthfully. I am eternally grateful for the lesson though.

Now 14 years later here I am. Same place. I love our church. It’s not perfect because we’re human. We have a band now. I wish we had some gospel, but I no longer worry about the music. I just sing. I see people who are trying to love Jesus. I see people who help each other.  They have their pluses and minuses of me as well and it’s more than likely fair. I don’t worry about it. We’re a family. They got me through the death of my husband and loved and judged me through my new marriage. I have done the same with them. Don’t worry, we all repent and get back up and love again. It’s just our flesh. Today, as before, I just see where I can help and see what I can pray for. I look towards the Lord for direction.

Today an uncomfortable thought came as I studied the word.

What if I had my way all those years ago and I had left the church?

That question led to more uncomfortable thoughts:

  • What would I have learned about Spirit guiding spirit? I wouldn’t have. I would have fed myself.
  • What if I decided the Pepto Bismol walls and wallpaper border were just over the top? Well, actually, I did decide they were over the top but what if that had been my measurement of whether to stay or go? By the way, the color was that of the one above.
  • What if I wanted a band like the one I was used to? I would have missed the process of the forming of the band we have now.
  • Would I have learned to love God and love his people? No, I would have learned that this Christianity is about me and what is good for me.
  • What if I had changed churches like I’ve changed diets? Church would have become a fad of what the masses are doing and not what I’m called to do.
  • What would my spirit look like if I only had it my way? I’d be fat, dumb and happy in the flesh, but I would not have learned obedience and comfort are two distinct things and not everything is about me.

I met a friend for lunch. “How’s your church?”, I asked. “It’s not what I’m used to, but until God says move, I’ll stay.” I smiled and reached for her hand, “I understand!”

I have learned through all of this that God is in control. He puts us where he needs us and he doesn’t ask opinions. He expects that when we get to a certain point in our walk with him, that we walk in obedience not always in comfort. So what will you do? Will you stay where you’re at until you’re called to move? Or you will wander, until you get what you want? Will you murmur and complain or will you work to love? I’m praying that you hear him clearly lead you in the direction you are destined to follow.

Baby, We Can Talk About Anything

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1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

This scripture was part of our marriage class homework. I read it thoughtfully. Are there any areas of my marriage in which I don’t feel safe bringing up a topic?

You see, the word perfect here doesn’t mean perfect, it actually means mature. Mature love casts out fear. Since we’re works in progress there may be areas of our marriage in which we are not yet perfected. In my marriage I discovered that there isn’t a topic I’m afraid to bring up. BUT there are topics I know will bring about a discussion and raise the heat level.

I love how these truths are revealed with a minuscule of honest thought process. So what about you? Are there areas in your life where there is fear? If so, don’t wait for someone else to deal with it. You need to do the work to deal with it. Perfect the love in your life!

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