Thanksgiving Before Christmas

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Jeremiah 8:7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.

This time of year gets so busy that sometimes I forget that Jesus came to set us free from frantic endeavors. I  get caught up in the rush of this season. This year, I don’t want to scramble through this time feeling pressured.  I don’t want to be so busy that I  can’t  or don’t take time to bless people with the love that Jesus came to leave with us.

I found myself making a Christmas list and it was October. This season does go by fast but so does every season. I put the list away and determined to wait until after Thanksgiving to continue this list.

You see, I love Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is special. Thanksgiving is special food, special preparation, special tradition, it’s looking back on the year and being grateful for everything, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Christmas is a different kind of special. I love shopping for special gifts, wrapping them up and then giving them. I like to pick thoughtful gifts and I am made in the image of my Father in heaven so I know this isn’t a fluke thing, I was made to be a gift giver and so are you.

That’s what Jesus is to me. He’s the special gift that God sent especially for me and for you. He wrapped Himself plainly so we would have to look for the value of Him and the heart of the One who gave the gift. God had to wait for the perfect time to give it. Not too early and not too late but just in time. I wonder as I write this if God felt the anticipation of waiting for the season to arrive as we do? Timing is everything.

I’m not going to rush this season. I am going to take my time. I am going to bless like Jesus and not get so busy that I forget we have a Thanksgiving before we have a Christmas.  I am going to enjoy the special services. I am going to meditate on the gift. The truth is that I have trouble with receiving gifts.  I don’t want people to make a fuss about me but you know what? That’s often pride. So I’m going to learn to receive and I’m going to wait to give in the proper season. I am going to appreciate our life and take one season at a time.

So do you find yourself so busy with the hectic Christmas season that it becomes a to-do list and not a get-to celebrate season? Does it get stressful as you budget to give? Can you take time to stop this year and enjoy the moments and bless as Jesus blesses by being present as a present?

 

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Don’t Grow Weary

29262-Anonymous-Quote-When-you-feel-like-quitting-think-about-why-youGalatians 6:And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I was feeling very discouraged and weary over the past few weeks. In ministry there are lots of critics and you have to keep a good handle on your heart but sometimes your hand slips and your heart gets a little tainted with the mess of another. The best thing to do is to take a step back, cleanse, pray, and get back in the game but sometimes when it happens over and over, the shock of seeing mud again from the same source on your heart makes you sigh deeply and think about the ease of quitting and not moving towards cleansing.

I was met with a naysayer to ministry. “You’re not doing it right. If you were doing it right, you’d do it like I do.” On the left hand, “We love you and we love what you are doing.” On the right hand, “You’re wrong and it’s incredible that you have been able to get this far.” I knew intellectually this was a manifestation of a heart awry BUT, AND THIS IS A BIG LESSON, sometimes, you override what you know to be true for a false thing if you aren’t careful.

I remember in one of my psychology classes Dr. Johns said, “If I tell you every single day that the sky is green and that you have believed a lie and that you are naive in ever believing it was blue, you’ll eventually question yourself.”

And I did.

I did you guys! I questioned the color of the sky. Never mind that my ministry spoke for itself and had its own measure of success.

I questioned the color of the sky in a question, “What am I not giving the naysayer? Why do they have the need to issue a beat down? Is our ministry clueless and heading down the wrong direction?” The Holy Spirit swept in and let me see that the complaining had absolutely nothing to do with me but by then I had allowed myself to get weary. It had been months of public criticism. The problem with thinking of quitting ministry is that ministry isn’t a career, it’s a calling and if you begin to think it’s a career you’ll shop it around and miss the calling of where God called you to be.

We’ve heard it said that the average pastor who leaves the ministry leaves due to the words and actions of eight people. Eight. People in ministry, like us, choose every day to get in the truck and leave their calling behind because they let an average of eight people steal their joy and steal their calling. ~ Leading and Loving It

Folks sadly, I was below average in letting one person’s rant get the best of me. That’s what weariness does.

We must show mercy and yet stand firm and the only way to do that is knowing who you are. Good thing I had done the work for that long before this moment.

Anne Lamott says mercy is tough. In her book Hallelujah Anyhow she writes:

Mother Theresa cradling strangers at dawn is very romantic, but in life, there is also your thirsty bigoted father, your lying sister, the whole human race, living and dying and rising with Christ.  

Don’t quit. There is a harvest at the end of it all if you don’t quit.

Have you ever felt like quitting? Sometimes it is warranted but most times it delays the prize. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of what God has called you to do. Seek God. He will lead you through.

 

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Daughter of The King

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1Peter 2:9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

I saw this beautiful picture by Rebecca Halton and got goosebumps.

Daughter of the Most High King your Father calls you Chosen, Royal, Holy, His Possession. Your present condition does not determine His eternal position. Stop living in condemnation. Start being the conquerer that you were created to be. When you believe and know whose you are, you become unstoppable. Go out and make a difference!

Published in: on November 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Don’t Freak Out

Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

I often hear believers say, “I’m waiting on God.” They then quote Psalm 46:10 but only the first sentence. “Be still and know that I am God.” While they are correct that is a complete sentence, I don’t think it’s a call to inactivity. To quote The Princess Bride:

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It is said that whenever Martin Luther heard news that was disheartening he would answer with, “Come let us sing the 46th Psalm”. In other words, don’t freak out, God has got this. All of your effort and worry and doubt is calmed by the Great God of Jacob, your Father. The only one that should tremble is your enemy because he forgot you are armed with a God who loves you and who has given angels charge over you.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 

Very much like the Be Still verse is this verse in the midst of adversity. The Israelites have escaped slavery and they come to the Red Sea with the Egyptian Army charging down on them. They are faced with what looks like two choices, death by sword or by drowning and Moses starts this rally with, “Fear not, stand firm.” Are you kidding me? How do you not freak out at this moment? He ends the rally with what should calm us, the know that I am God part, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” In panic mode we make irrational decisions so the phrase and posture is the same, don’t freak out, God has got this.

Mark  4:39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Jesus is asleep during a great storm where fishermen were at the helm of a boat. It should have been relaxing but this great storm comes along that even men who know how to navigate the sea freak out over. Sometimes the things that you think you have control over take momentary control over you. That’s when Jesus comes in and calms it down. “Peace! Be Still”.  He speaks to the enemy let them rage no more against you for they don’t know who has your back.

Be still is not an excuse to do nothing. Be still is a posture of confidence as you continue your journey. So no more excuses of why you can’t. Instead stand firm, don’t freak out and move in the direction God is calling you to.

What have you been avoiding, or have been freaked out over, or is keeping you up at night with worry? Can you Fear not, stand firm, be still and know that He is God?

Then keep moving forward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 23, 2017 at 6:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Did You Do?

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Steve Harvey tells a story where he goes with a friend to visit his friend’s dying grandmother. He says the grandmother tells her grandson that she isn’t going to make it through this illness and is passing away but that she called him there to ask him a question.  The question she asks him is does he know the name of his great-grandfather? The friend answers his grandmother, “No, Madea I don’t know his name.” His grandmother answers, “That’s because he didn’t leave you anything.”

My husband says he prefers to officiate good funerals. Let me explain. The good funerals are the ones where people line up to testify to the mark someone made in their life. In other words, we could stay all day hearing story after story of what an impact someone made in their life and we all leave deeply saddened to have lost a loved one but deeply satisfied that they lived a good life that touched many people for good. Then there are those funerals where the family would like their family member to buried decently. The pastor reads the basic funeral service. End of story.

The question today is what do you want people to thank you for at your funeral? Is this a morbid thought? Well maybe, however if our mark is to be left for good we have to begin with the end in mind. So at the end of your days on earth, what do you want to be thanked for and how is that playing out today?

Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm  Comments (3)  

The Greatest Blessing

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I was interviewed recently and the question that gave me the most pause was the question:

“What is the greatest blessing of being a Pastor’s Wife?”

I received the questions in advance but I didn’t go over them too carefully since I wanted to be in the moment and not rehearsed. So when it was asked the first thing that popped into my head was, “Being married to Doug Young.”

It sounded silly even to my own ears but in retrospect over the last few weeks it was honest. I didn’t have my eye on a pastor. It wasn’t as if I was searching to marry a profession. I fell head over heels in love with this guy who was a pastor in real life. For me, the inside view of ministry is often brutally difficult but it comes with the territory of being Doug’s wife.

When I say the greatest blessing of a Pastor’s Wife is the Pastor I mean it. He is humble and kind. He’s not fake. There is a assuredness about him that I envy with my whole being. He can walk into a room and he never, ever, has measured himself up against who is in the room. He is who he is. I walk in to a room, determining whether I am the shortest, oldest, dressed correctly, dumbest, and well, you get the picture. When I say this out loud Doug says to me, “Really? Why does that matter and why do you even think like this?” He doesn’t come in and announce himself. He doesn’t come in and make a show of what he knows or what he’s learning, or what he’s preached on recently. His social media isn’t how great his kids are or his latest sermon. His self promotion went before him a long time ago or you missed it but he’s not going to point it out. It’s not his thing. You see, he understood essentialism before it was the title of book that I got my hands on. He understood the elements of attachment when I don’t even think I can honestly score myself a one on any of the scales. He understood all of this because he sees himself in light of Jesus. He’s studied and versed but that isn’t what makes him secure. He gets the thing I have been trying to attain my whole life. He is a man under authority and it shines through.

Yes, I see him pray with the sick. I see him lead people to Christ. I see him come into a stressed out place and settle it down in his role as Jesus Representative, but you know, if we’re honest, and I know we are, this is every Christian. This is ordinary. These are the things we should all be doing.

I think I’ll stand by my answer that the greatest blessing  of being a Pastor’s Wife is being Doug Young’s wife.

Tell me, what is the greatest blessing in your life?

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Even in Rural Areas

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I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

Divorce Is Not a Simple Never

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I hear Malachi 2:16 quoted often. It’s the verse generally quoted out of context that says God hates divorce. God also doesn’t like, manipulation, lying, violence, gossip, and a whole host of other things but when we’re counseling couples this is the go-to scripture. Except when it’s not. I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and just when I think I’ve heard it all, something new pops up. The question then becomes do I counsel and meet the status quo of the church or do I counsel in love?

In the case of the minor infidelity, I recognize it sounds like sarcasm but it isn’t because honestly infidelity is minor compared to what I hear, you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he has a crack.

In the case of the porn addiction you can transfer the fear of intimacy and get a marriage back on track but these are minor compared to the shattering realities of some marriages.

What do I tell the mother who has just found out her husband is molesting his child? Do I tell her God hates divorce?

What do I tell the wife who comes in and shows me her burn marks and bruises of abuse? “Go back home Daughter of the Most High King, for you see, your Father hates divorce.”

What do I tell the woman who has been told that her husband is going to be staying at their house sometimes, and his girlfriends house sometimes?

What do I tell the woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter and selling the video tapes to his friends for extra money?

What about the woman who has lost her home because her of her husband’s _____________ problem? Fill in the blank, I’ve heard them all, drug, gambling, spending, loaning.

Why am I only speaking about women and not men? Trust me, I know men have been wronged often more deeply than these examples if you can believe it. I get it but you see, I minister to women. I am surrounded by women. So I hear stories from women.

So instead of telling them that God hates divorce, instead sometimes I say, “Get to a safe place where you can think about what your next move is.” No where, not one place, in the bible does it say we must stay in an abusive situation, nor does it say God tolerates abuse. In fact, it talks of love, of bearing one another up. We must be wise, but we aren’t to be heartless and we certainly should never line up with sin.

The dogmatic response of never can’t stand in the face of truth. Life is complicated and sometimes nightmares and horror stories become real life. When I hear Never Divorce I wonder what you would tell your daughter? Well she’s God’s child and she wasn’t created for some of the things she has gone through.

 

 

 

Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

But She’s The Bride

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I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

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You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment