Prayer For My Journey

1AC6FDBB-D623-4637-8A03-5AA9C70494EDI still look for your input and find it missing. I absentmindedly go to Facebook looking for your comments or look for our last text and email to see what you have to say about something. After years of your advice where does one go to hear wisdom from a godly sage?

Peers? No, my peers are on the same journey I am on. Maybe different circumstances but they aren’t looking back to advise their younger self as you were with me.

I remember the last time we spoke you said God had spoken and he was taking you on a new journey. You were so happy to hear and waiting in anticipating of what it might be. You said, “Oh Honey, at my age to be doing a new thing is exciting and scary all at once.” What we didn’t know was that the new thing was going to be your greatest calling.

A heart attack the very next week and the words that I didn’t want to hear, “Nothing more we can do.” But you rejoiced. Your voice was breathy and strong as you said, “Oh Honey, I so love you but don’t pray for my healing. Pray for my journey that I not tarry here. I am excited to see Jesus face to face.” Then in your sarcastic way, which maybe would have scared me if you hadn’t have said it but you said, “I have friends coming out of the woodwork wanting to pray for my healing. I don’t want them to pray for my healing, I want them to pray for my journey. Honey, tell them not to pray for my healing.”

So when Pastor Ida called to find out the details, I spoke up as you have taught, “She is ready to go. She asked that we not pray for her healing but for her journey.” Pastor Ida comforted me as only she can. She was a dear, dear friend to you and has been wonderful to me.

The last call when you assured me that they were treating you well and spoiling you rotten and that you loved me didn’t go unnoticed. You wanted us to know how much you loved us and you didn’t want us to worry.

Even in your passing from this temporal life to your eternal home you taught me to stand strong on my faith. You never ceased being a mentor in this Jesus life we live.

To always follow Jesus.

To put your fears aside.

To carry on because an unimaginable hope awaits.

To pray for our journey.

One step at a time.

So today if you are reading this, my spiritual mother, Doris Avila has gone on to be with Jesus. Never one to be shy about her faith she taught me to stand strong. Over and over again she offered advice, counseled, prayed, gave words of knowledge, heard my heart, told me when I was wrong, and loved me through it all.

If you don’t have a mentor, I urge you to get one. Then I urge you to listen. My very first visit to her home she corrected me. “We say Grace in this home before we put food in our mouth.” I was embarrassed at my misstep. I apologized and got on with the meal because as I was to find out, she was an excellent cook. To think, I would have lost all of that precious advice had I walked away offended. Instead I stayed and listened and gleaned. Find that one, my friend. She will make your journey one of blessing. As you read this, pray for my journey as I walk it out without one who always had a listening ear. That voice for me is gone in the physical realm but her words still ring strong in my heart. May it be so for you.

 

Manipulation

Manipulation is the skillful handling, controlling or using of something or someone. Whether it’s the sculpture you made in art class or how you convinced your friend to do your homework — both are considered manipulation.

 

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This week after having a way over the top reaction to manipulation, I kept this question in front of me:

“Why does manipulation make you so angry?”

Knowing that anger generally masks a primary emotion I examined myself. This morning as I was going through my chores doing the laundry and I realized that manipulation feeds on an unresolved need or desire. It is predator characteristic and it preys on the ones who are non-confrontational, or people pleasers. The moment I see it I get out of its way because I know its damage first hand.

Do we recognize it? 

When manipulation knocks on your door do you see it, smell it, hear it? Or do you cower to it? No one can manipulate you without your consent. So how does manipulation work? Have you ever had someone come and say these things to you?

“I’ll just go away. Obviously, I’m too much of a bother. I have done a lot for you but you have your own life now, and you’ll never have to hear from me again!”

These people get the academy award for emotional manipulation because they are a master of their craft.  You have to either confirm their statement or backtrack. When push comes to shove most people backtrack.

“No matter how much I try to get ahead, something always knocks me down and I know people are tired of helping me, but they don’t understand that life has been hard since (and you can fill in the blank of what tragedy has fallen upon them)”

Be it a death of loved one, an unfulfilled marriage, a loss of job, or whatever else they deem the stopping point of their life, it is now somehow on you to fix it. Social media makes this manipulation tactic extremely helpful as they will post their latest dilemma and then a shout out to their loss.

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“I know I said that, did that, but you don’t know what was said to me, and I don’t want to burden you with it. Never mind, I’ll take the fall for what you consider bad behavior. I always do.” 

Victim thinking and the hint of a bigger picture can keep us in manipulation’s hand.

“You’re not going to help me? Don’t you go to church? Do you think that’s the way a Christian should behave? Aren’t you being judgmental?” 

This is one I have heard a lot. As if a spiritual walks makes it necessary to give up your common sense.

“I know this puts you in a bad position but I think if you do this God will honor you for it.” 

Do you hear this person? They are actually telling you they are putting you in harm’s way and hoping God intervenes on your behalf.

“My tribe always shows up when I need them. We always have each others back and we love deep.” 

Basically, if you want to be one of us you have to conform to how we do things. We move together and if you have an opposing view or decide not to follow then you’re out of the tribe.

“You’re tired? I’m exhausted. You have no idea what I go through.”

This either puts you in defense mode or makes you feel petty for having an emotion. This too is emotional manipulation.

“<sigh> I have been putting so many hours into helping you. I don’t understand why we have to do all of this. <groan> I wish I would have known what I was getting myself into. <ha!> I am not complaining, of course I want to help you silly, don’t be so sensitive!” 

This person is the martyr. They work so hard and so tirelessly and you don’t acknowledge what they do for you. Then they make you feel like you’re insane for asking if they don’t want to do it.

So why does it make me angry? I realized this week that when I question the insanity of a manipulative person out loud that I feel shame. I should be a kind, compassionate, a willing to help person. Instead I feel hurt, resentful, and frustrated at what they are doing to others. These aren’t emotions that are becoming to anyone, and I don’t like to see these emotions in myself.

What can I do to get healthy in this arena? I can be mindful of the true needs of others in my life. I can ask myself if the person is truly experiencing a need or are they merely trying to make their problem my problem? Will this be a one-time help or is this a pattern of ongoing mismanagement of life? Are they making others responsible for their poor lifestyle choices and if so is it any of my business and I would have to say no. I want to shout, “You’re being manipulated!”, but what does that solve?

Today I realized my anger came from my assumption that if I don’t speak out then I’m an awful person. When I sat down and truly examined my feelings, I realized wisdom and discernment and saying no is not bad. I am mindful of what I help with and I am not one to nurse dysfunction and I think that is a good trait.

What about you? Do you fall for manipulation or do you recognize it? When you know you are being manipulated do you get resentful or do you just say yes to keep the peace and continue to keep the feeling of being adored? What are you going to do to get healthy?

 

 

 

 

 

Twisted Theology

@MrChurchGuy writes: When people say that “God showed up” for their worship service, do they count Him in the attendance numbers?

If so, does He count as 3 or just as 1? 😊

God Showed Up

 

The statement that “God showed up” or “God is here” always puzzles me. Jesus shows up whenever two or three are gathered. Why are we, Christ followers, surprised when the Bible turns out to be true?

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ESV

If you are new to this Christian faith please forgive us. Sometimes we have these Christian-ese statements that we can’t back up with scripture which I’m sure may confuse you.

You see, when we are surprised that God showed up we forget that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere all of the time. We also make the false assumption that Jesus only shows up when we perform for him. If in fact, the church is the bride of Christ then that would make him a pretty bad fiancé, and since we know that he isn’t, then the statement doesn’t hold true. You can find comfort in God. At the whisper of His name He comes.

When we are further surprised that he showed up at church, well, please look around. I’m sure there were more than a few of you there and I’m taking a big leap here but I’m guessing at least two people in that group and hopefully three showed up with a heart that was ready to worship their Savior.

 

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So the conclusion I make to these statements is that these are heart issues of the person professing to see or feel Christ’s presence in a service. The fact is we all have issues of one sort or another and sometimes those issues get in the way of our relationship with God and could sometimes cause us to not have the feeling of being in his presence. It doesn’t make it so, but perception is what we have to go on as humans.

Jesus is in the unlikeliest places. Places you and I would never think he would be, and yet, there he is, whether we feel him or not.

So, grab a friend this week and pray together, if you’re blessed, grab a few friends and pray. I guarantee you he will be there for SURE. If you find yourself alone say a simple prayer and He will be there. If you find yourself not able to utter a sound, too broken to grasp for words, or too blessed to formulate the words to explain the gratitude you feel, or you just plain don’t know what to pray for, even that works, because the Holy Spirit comes and helps us.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. ESV

God really does show up! Because the truth of the matter is God isn’t out there somewhere. If you’ve answered the call he is living inside of you and wherever you are there he is.

 

 

Keep Fighting

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In the midst of a carjacking in 2001 I cried out to Jesus. I heard Him powerfully speak, “Keep fighting, he is just as scared as you are.”

This morning as I awoke from a dream, I saw myself standing with a sword lifted in front of me. I knew deep down that I would never have to use it in the natural realm but that I had been properly trained to. The sword felt comfortable in my hand and the grip was made to fit me. This sword had been given to me as a gift and I had studied its use and practiced to be able to use it with skill. In that moment as I stood my ground it was enough to know that I knew how to use it and that I could, and would, push through fear to victory.

If, in fact, everything happens for a reason, then the carjacking taught me a lesson. I may fight like a girl, but with God I am mighty and equipped to defeat anything that is coming my way that is not of God. So are you.

What have you been through in your life that has taught you to know who you are?

Now ask yourself, are you properly trained? Do you know how wield a sword? A weapon in unskilled hands will be turned against you.

Boundaries

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I admit it. I was a little crispy fried a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a full day off in a few weeks. A few hours here and there but there were a couple of short term projects that needed to be completed and this wasn’t the normal schedule.

Finally, Wednesday came, our day off and and I took full advantage of it. I woke up early, and stretched out and decided I had nowhere to go, so I read, watched some TV and stayed in my pajamas. Until about 10:30 then Doug and I got ready to go out to eat.

He surprised me by heading out of town to go have some fun. Both of our phones kept ringing. Work, counseling, work, advice, work. At one frustrated point, I said,

“Wait! Everyone knows it’s our day off. Why do they call us anyway with non-emergencies?”

The answer was simple, we didn’t have boundaries.

The calls weren’t emergencies. They were simple things. I wasn’t mad at the people, I was annoyed with myself knowing that I hadn’t set boundaries to protect time off.

Sometimes, things are your own fault. So when you are feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I doing to cause this?”

No, you didn’t set up the phone calls but you did respond even if it was just to open and read the text message or the email or listen to the voicemail.

What boundaries do you have to put into place so that you can get quiet and have some down time?

Remember, Sabbath is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

 

 

 

Leading

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God can use a car to teach a lesson.

Last year, I bought a new car. I hadn’t bought a new car since 1999 so I want to keep it looking nice. Now, mind you, I had no business buying a new car. Dave Ramsey says if you don’t have a million dollars in the bank you can’t afford a new car and folks, I don’t have a million dollars. 2017 sent me off course in many ways and I am now reaping the consequences of getting back on track. So I’ll share my lessons over the next few weeks with you. Hopefully, they can help you.

I now find the farthest parking space in any parking lot because I don’t want the car to get dinged up. No matter where I park though, someone is typically parked next to me when I come back out to get into my vehicle. There can be many parking spots but someone has to park right next to me.

They can’t even skip a space.

It is so frustrating. Coming back to my vehicle the other day I see one other car in the entire row I parked in and of course, right next to me. I opened the trunk and put my bags in and got into the driver’s seat. The Holy Spirit prompted me,

“Why are you angry?”

“Because no matter where I park, someone comes and parks next to me.”

“People follow leaders.”

Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear. I am not leading at the mall. I am shopping. It’s down time.

However,

I need to think more deeply on this because there is a bigger picture that the Lord is trying to get me to see here. Oh yeah guys, he is into teachable moments and this was one.

It means I am being watched. No, not in a stalking way, but:

  • Where am I going?
  • What am I reading?
  • What am I saying?
  • What am I watching?
  • Who am I listening to?
  • Am I leading to Christ?
  • If not, then who I am leading to?

These are great questions to ask yourself. Sometimes we pick up bad habits along the way or we have an area in our life that we’ve neglected to work on. Thank God that He isn’t looking for sinless perfection but neither is he ignoring unrepentant sin or as we like to call them, bad habits because it sounds nicer and more excusable.

Where are you? This question gets asked in many forms but do you take the time to examine yourself and make sure you are still in alignment with where God has called and placed you?

When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

Before It Breaks

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I had been noticing that a line was forming on the back of my wedding ring but honestly, we’re pastors and the Christmas season is busy. I mean seriously, it has to wait because what pastor is working anywhere else but church during the second most important day of the year?

It began snagging things right after Christmas. Honestly, how does this happen? Sheesh! I’ll have to stop and take it to the shop, next week maybe. UGH what an inconvenience.

On New Year’s Day during our New Year’s Dinner it broke entirely. The weld came loose and my engagement ring and my wedding ring came apart. Not slowly either, just poof it was broken.

BAM! Then it hit me looking at my wedding ring on the kitchen counter that marriage is like that. The signs of trouble come up at the most inopportune times. We ignore them because we think there is a bigger picture and it will hang on, and vows, and forever, and all that.  After all, our marriage, like our ring is platinum, it’s not white gold. Platinum is 95% pure while white gold is 58% pure. We’re good, we’re in it for the long haul. These problems will wait until we have time to fix them.  So we keep going on with life as if there isn’t a problem brewing.

Things begin to hit a snag. An argument here, a passive aggressive action there, and we think we’ll get through it as we keep moving forward in other areas. We’re a team, teams have ups and downs.

Then all of a sudden it’s broken. Just like that. It isn’t like we didn’t know. It isn’t like we didn’t see it coming. It was never out of the blue. We may lie and say we didn’t know but we saw the crack and felt the snag.

Take the time to get your marriage serviced. Even the most loyal people have their limits. Even the most loving people make mistakes. Even the person with the upmost integrity breaks.

I read a study that said that 75% of all divorced couples say they made a mistake five years later they felt they quit too soon. Often it’s too late to go back and repair. One or the other has moved on. One or the other has had other children. It’s too late.

Thankfully for me, it was only my rings that are broken. My husband I work on diligently on our marriage because we know how important it is. We will alert each other to signs as they come up and we will take the time to fix any cracks as they arise. We aren’t perfect but we keep a line of communication open to one another and we examine ourselves regularly. We haven’t been opposed to getting professional help when needed either in the early years of blending our family. As my husband loves to tell people, “We’re in this for life. No one is leaving this marriage except in a box. Hmm I wonder if this is why sometimes I wake up with a pillow over my head?”

Yes, I married the comedian.

How’s your marriage?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?