Living Life As a Woman In Ministry

Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

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Breathe

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You’re Supposed To Be The Church

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Here are some things I am thinking about today as I was told I am not a Christian and I am a liar because I chose to believe in our staff and our store policy.

Sometimes love say no.

Sometimes love has discipline.

Sometimes love has boundaries.

Sometimes love doesn’t allow the trampling of a soul.

Sometimes love points out wrongs.

People have this misconception about church that we are supposed to do everything anyone asks because we’re supposed to love. So we get these crazy asks sometimes. Take for example our thrift store. The conversation goes something like this:

“I’m sorry we won’t be able to take your couch, it has to be usable and without the cushions it isn’t usable.”

“Well, don’t you people help poor people? Beggars can’t be choosy. My dogs tore up the cushions but it’s still good for the homeless.”

Alright so at this point in the conversation I’m not thinking nice things, in fact my thoughts are quite sarcastic and this I realize is why I will never hold political office. My thoughts are going in the direction of why would we donate a couch to a homeless person? Sleeping bags, clothes, food, blankets, tents, yes but a couch? Not so much buddy. Not even on my radar. I know, I can’t say these things and maintain customer service as much as I would like to. These are thoughts though and I gather myself together and get back on track.

“Yes we do help people in need but this couch doesn’t help them. They can’t sit on it like this.”

“Well what I am supposed to do with it?”

“Well you can take it to the local dump.”

“WHAT? DO YOU KNOW THAT COSTS MONEY? I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE THE CHURCH?” Huff, puff, slam and yell, “SO YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT? YOU GUYS DON’T HELP PEOPLE.”

“I understand the dump is expensive. It would cost us $20 to take the couch to the dump. We don’t get a Christian break or anything and we run on a very tight margin here. If you’d like us to take it to the dump for you, we can but you’ll have to pay the $20.”

He elects not to do that.

Whenever I hear the phrase, “I thought you were supposed to be the church.” or “I thought you were Christians.”, what I hear is, “You’re not doing what I want.”

I know your next question. What are some things we’ve been asked to do because we are the church? Mostly things that are wrong or unwise to us.

Cashing checks for people we’ve never seen before. 

Making exceptions to policy when it will ultimately hurt us. 

Writing letters of reference for people we don’t know. 

Loaning our vehicles to people without a license. 

Doing things that compromise our moral belief. 

Where do we get this idea that Christians are weenies who should do everything that is asked even when it’s contrary to their belief system thus saying no means they are hateful or not Christian? Jesus didn’t do everything asked of him and he asked people to make some very tough choices for the betterment of their life. Yet he was Christ. Not everything goes our way nor should it.

Oh and by the way, the guy came by and dumped the couch on our property after hours. Guess he showed us! So pray for me as I work through the nonsense of a thought process that I don’t understand and learn to let it go and move on.

 

The Hireling and The Called

The Shepherd by Julien Dupre (1851-1910)

The Shepherd by Julien Dupre (1851-1910)

Sitting in the hot tub after a long day of ministry my husband and I were laughing and talking about a 4 year-old who was discussing the state of the world with me. Then it got quiet.

My husband quietly said, “You really shocked me a few days ago.”

Not knowing at all what he was referring to my mind began to think of what could be so shocking? I couldn’t put my finger on a single thing and yet I knew this statement was important as he’d been mulling it over, so I said, “What did I say that shocked you?”

“Well, when we began to budget for Project X you said we could take your salary and put it towards it and you didn’t hesitate.”

Trying to make this moment lighter, and being sarcastic by nature I replied, “Hey, there was a time when I had to pay to be in ministry, giving up a salary is a new level.”

We laughed and then it got quiet again and I felt I had to explain myself.

“Look, it’s not as self-sacrificing as you’re making it seem. I walk in the realm of big faith. I believe that God will take care of my needs and provide for them. I don’t doubt that for a minute. He has never let me down.”

My husband just smiled at me and said, “That’s why we’re here. We’re called. It’s not about what we can get, it’s about what we can give. Others might have given up if it was about a paycheck but because it’s a mission it becomes a lifestyle.”

John 10:12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. ESV

I thought on this conversation over the last couple of days. What makes one shift from the money aspect, which let’s face it, is a real issue and one that needs to be discussed, to the aspect of the calling? The calling is a place where you could take your education and experience and turn it into a money making proposition and sell it to the highest bidder only you wouldn’t be comfortable with yourself. It wouldn’t sit right. You’d feel a missed opportunity, you’d long for the day when you’d be called back to the ministry. Honestly, there is that space between God and reality where the bills come in and the hesitation starts. Only for me, and I don’t profess to know what it is for others, the faith that while I may not have it all, I have all I need, is the sustaining force that keeps me steady when the waves of doubt come crashing in. When the promise of being all in when the stress of ministry and the expectations of what we are called to do are overwhelming, I stop and tell myself that I promised, and more importantly, I trust my Lord.

I pray that wherever you are sitting and reading this post right now, that you are sitting under a pastor who is called and not a hireling. You will know the difference when life hits. I pray that pastors who are truly called never give up.

 

Fasting and Fun

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Fasting and fun sort of don’t go together except they do when it works. We’re coming to an end of our 21 days of fasting and this time our church let us decide what we’d be fasting. I chose to fast Social Media, Sugar, and Shopping. Honestly, I thought shopping would be the hardest. It wasn’t. I thought of myself as a shopper but my husband kept saying I was a selective shopper meaning I’d go in spurts where I’d want to go shopping then I’d get it out of my system and not shop at all for long periods of time. I guess so. I didn’t miss it except once when I wanted a new eye shadow but I abstained and it didn’t even matter.

I had a much harder time with sugar. Sugar has me. I am not even going to lie, I miss it still. Everyone says you lose your taste for it. I can’t say it’s so for me. I dreamed of going to the Mexican bakery and buying a star cookie, which is a cinnamon sugar concoction, to go with my coffee. I can taste it as I write. One day I was so on edge I was trying to justify how if I just did shopping and social media it would be more than most people did. I’m glad I let that thought go and stayed in my own lane minding my own business, keeping my word, and doing what I know to do. But it was close. Temptation is such a slippery slope, take one lazy side step and you’re there.

Social Media, now here’s a kicker, not reading FB was like a vacation. I didn’t read all the negative stuff. I know I will definitely limit my time on FB from now on. It was refreshing.

When you fast and pray to set the oppressed free the devil gets really mad. So anything that could go wrong did. I caught a cold that turned into a sinus infection and has lasted three weeks. Some unresolved issues began to blow up with serious attitude, but here’s the kicker; Doug and I remained firm, praying, and together. The power of prayer and unity kept us tight, in love and in each other’s corner, and advancing the Kingdom. We saw people receive salvation, we saw people set free, we saw people prosper, and all it cost me was sugar, shopping, and social media. Not a bad trade off.

And as far as the Fresh Eyes post, and taking a new look around my life, here is what I see:

We ended our bible study on James and I do really love the book of James now and I miss it. We started a new bible study on Prayer last week. It’s so necessary in the church.

We hosted a luncheon for pastors from 5 different churches. It is possible to fix a feast, enjoy a meal, and not indulge in the forbidden parts of the meal during a fast. I didn’t feel like Esther or anything but I didn’t have to announce it either. No one paid attention. We just had fun with friends.

We spent a sick day at home wrapped in blankets and watching season 5 of Downton Abbey. Life wasn’t any less complicated in the 1920’s.

 

 

Fresh Eyes

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As we put away all of the Christmas decorations and hauled the tree out to the old faithful Dodge Ram I am closing out a old year and ringing in a new one. What will this year have for us? 2014 was pretty good to us. I am expecting 2015 to be even better. I have a few secret desires in my heart for this year but not ones I am willing to share just yet. I hope it’s the same for you.

I am preparing the house for a pastoral luncheon this weekend. Pastors from several churches in our city will meet to celebrate the New Year, pray for one another, and enjoy my husband’s BBQ brisket. It’s always a great time of fellowship and friendship and when we are all together I always take a moment to take a step back and view the body of Christ as it was intended to be. Isn’t it wonderful when we can break bread together knowing that each have a differing view on the method but not the intention? While some of us may speak in tongues and others not we still love Jesus and food! This year will be more about hospitality than perfection.

This year, I plan to do a lot more of that looking at life with fresh eyes business. Rather than nose to the grindstone living I am going to be intentionally taking a step back to take it all in before I miss another moment.  This year I am going to continually remind myself of things that were missed while I was plowing and be more intentional about breaks.

I’m turning 50 this year. I have lived a very blessed life, even in the hardest times, I learned forever lessons that will hold me until the end of my life here on earth and I think I have a genuine gratitude for my life. I have made real friendships, lasting loves, beautiful children, and memories that make me smile. I am married to the most amazing man ever too so that is icing! Somehow though, day to day stuff tries to come in and taints the happiness I have found.

So what does this year hold for you? I pray it’s filled with plenty of good things. I hope that life keeps you busy in serving others and not just yourself. I hope that life brings to you fresh eyes in which to see the beauty of the holiness of a life well lived and not squandered on the minutia that fills a brain and does nothing to fill a heart.

This year I plan to learn from Lulu The Wonder Dog who plays for awhile, takes deep naps, comes and demands attention when needed, is pleased to see everyone anytime, enjoys her food, and takes deep naps, wags her tail vigorously to show her approval, puts her ears down at the things she hates but moves towards it anyhow, takes deep naps, long walks, romps with her friends, never worries about her weight, or whether she took a bath today or not, sighs deeply, shares always, and loves wholeheartedly. I think she has in her seven short years of life learned what it took me 49 years to learn. So maybe this post should be titled, I’m not smarter than my dog.

Flesh Eaters

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picture from http://www.alphacoders.com

There is the word Gheebah in the Muslim faith that means backbiter but even more so they translate it flesh eater. There is an interesting teaching on it that was shared with me and I’d like to share it with you.

“If what you say is true about your brother then you have backbitten him. If what you say is not true about your brother than you have slandered him.”

Have you ever thought about the word backbiter? It describes someone who eats the flesh of a friend or family member. Muslim or Christian I doubt it’s worthy of our faith. In reading books on psychology, backbiting is said to be a trait of young people, only I disagree. I know women who are in their 30’s who are professional flesh eaters. The bible says backbiters soothe their own appetite. Flesh eaters. What a horrible description of a person of faith. It actually made me shudder.

Galatians 5:15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Is eating live flesh something you’d like to be a part of? You can’t stop the flesh eater’s insatiable appetite but you can stop them from eating others in your presence by not participating in the flesh eating frenzy. The bible says when we have an issue with someone there is a way to handle it. It’s taught in Matthew 18. If the flesh eater continues to devour then ask yourself if the person is a believer? Even the devil knows the word of God.

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

What causes a person to continually backbite? Honestly, they are bored people who have nothing else to do. They look for things to be critical of and people whom they are jealous of to tear apart. Think about the picture of a person who bites someone in the back. They are biting the back of a person. They are behind that person, not in their own lane guided by the Holy Spirit, handling their own business. These are hopefully not the people we wish to be nor is it the people who we call friends because can I be honest with you? It’s all fine until they begin to eat you alive.

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The Pastor’s Wife

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When you hear the words, The Pastor’s Wife, what does she conjure up for you mentally? For so many she is the object of perfection in the church. She has it all together, her children are perfect, her responses are wonderful, and her life is one to be admired and emulated. For others of you, she is a working woman, playing the piano, leading the women’s group, feeding the homeless, and running the children’s ministry seamlessly. Yet for others, she is the epitome of judgment. She glances at you head to toe and makes a sad determination. Sadly, you’d be right with all three versions because she exists in all of these forms.

Back in the day there was the thought process that the Pastor’s Wife was to be set apart. She was not to mingle with the commoners of the church and she was to be held in high regard. Only that doesn’t really fly in the face of scripture does it? Jesus says he is gentle and lowly in heart. Jesus says he is set apart by believing and obeying his Father. It wasn’t about being set apart from the people, it was about being among the people and being set apart in action.

The question that has been stirring in my heart as I see this attitude is what false hope it gives to women in the body. To think that any life is really that perfect and the average woman cannot attain it because it’s for an elite group is just not realistic. There are no scriptures to back this thought process up. There is no elite group of  Navy Seal Christian Woman. There are women who achieve great things and who have applied godly principles of life to their everyday walk but no one’s life is pure perfection. There are Pastors Wives who silently suffer, and because they are supposed to have this perfect image, they can speak to absolutely no one about it. So they put their makeup on and hide behind a smile and because no one really looks at each other anymore they are able to pose.

The problem with that is that we are called to mentor and to love and to help. We can’t ever say we have a problem because then we have this perception that no one will think we are as perfect as we pretend to be and therefore leave the church. So we lift up this unattainable goal to woman in the church that they too can be a perfect woman in Christ and she flounders because she never can quite get there. She feels inadequate and that’s good for us because it makes us feel more powerful.

I will never forget a story I heard Ruth Graham tell. She was Billy Graham’s wife who has now gone on to be with Jesus. Because her husband was often traveling she raised her children primarily alone. She said her son Franklin Graham, who is now an evangelist himself, gave her fits on a regular basis. One day while out and about he was acting out so much that she threatened to put him in the trunk of the car if he continued his behavior. Of course Franklin continued and she pulled the car over and stuck him in the trunk and drove on. Yes, she admits not a crowning moment for her but instead a desperate mom moment. While none of us would advocate putting your kid in a trunk, we relate to the feeling.

I have learned a few things in my life as a Pastor’s wife over the years. I know that life happens to the Pastor’s Wife. She gets flat tires on the way to a meeting. She has bad hair days. She has arguments with her husband sometimes. She yells at her kids. She sometimes skips her devotional time in the morning. She blows it at work. She gets mad at people who cut her off in traffic. She has issues. Her life is just as full and as busy as the next woman. She has flaws and temptations and everything else going on in her life. She isn’t married to a calling or a church. She is married to a man and she has been called, just as any wife, to minister to her family and then the church. So pray for your Pastor’s Wife because she’s as human as every other woman but sometimes she can’t say it.

 

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