The Undisciplined Pursuit of More

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We’ve heard the term, we point fingers at those who live this lifestyle but are we checking ourselves to see if this is where we are failing as well? I recently found myself with too many projects once again and realized I had stepped out of a winner focused mentality back to a loser spray mindset. So I stopped booking myself so far in advance.

With six weeks left to go before my first grandchild is born, I have to clear my plate of a few things. I need to focus on getting things together so that I can make the time I will need in this coming season. It’s the usual places where failure finds me. The same things I put off again and again, they are patterns that manifest out of undisciplined pursuits.

So what happens to get me off track? Well, I have a goal and a purpose and then someone asks me to help with their goal and purpose and if it’s worthwhile I help and pretty soon I am so busy that I have lost sight of the path I was heading on.

SQUIRREL!

Even though I know better, I still fall into traps that if I had just lifted my eyes for a minute I would have seen. It’s my fault, for forgetting who I am. Again. It happens. It happened to Paul, it happened Moses, it happened to Elijah. I am no better or worse. I just AM.

So what is it that you are in pursuit of and why do you sometimes find yourself off track? Or rather why do I? There are so many things that pull at my time. Staying focused on the things we are in pursuit of is essential. In the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he asks the question:

“What do I want to go big on?” 

That is the question that keeps us focused on the right thing. Often we have a few things we want to go big on. We want to go big on another home, we want to go big on a Walmart shopping spree, we want to go big on another project, and we want to to go big on that promotion, we want our kids to go big, we want our spouses to go big. Well truth is we can’t focus on all of that and stay true to ourselves so what is the ONE THING that we want to go big on? I get stuck there sometimes. Multitasking is often a waste of my time. There I said it.

This week, focus on determining what that ONE THING is. Then write down how to make it happen. Let me help you. It isn’t always QUITTING your job. It isn’t always RUNNING to the next distraction. The job may be the source to allow the pursuit. The place may be the open door to the pursuit once distractions leave. Even in opposition there are lessons to be learned. Ask yourself why you walked away or why you want to? Generally, there are selfish reasons that have nothing that can be gained, although this sometimes is hard to swallow once you’ve convinced yourself. The problem may be the distractions themselves that have you in and out of pursuit. It’s easier to blame the distraction rather than ourselves.

My husband and I have a weekly ministry meetings. We either order food in or go out for lunch and we sit and strategize together about our ministry ONE THING. We are intentional about it. If we don’t meet for a week or two our focus becomes one-sided and we have to come back to focus.

It leaves that quickly.

What have you let go of that has caused you to doubt where you are? For you, it might be a weekly focus calendar, or your team meeting, or your family meeting. Here is what IT IS NOT because in these places the ONE THING becomes the OUR THING and these aren’t places to hash out differences, although I fail here too if I’m honest :

  • It’s not your date night.
  • It’s not your family time.
  • It’s not your sabbath rest.

Distractions don’t allow time for the stillness that is required for my/your focus. I opted to take back my peace and not allow the boisterous voices to question my identity no matter how loud and negatively persistent they may be. Just because they are loud and persistent doesn’t mean they are true. The enemy roars like a lion but the roar, if heeded, only causes the prey, us, to run in the wrong direction.

Stop running friends! Stop running towards that wrong thing and stand in the place the Lord has put you in, not looking around in criticism but with eyes of an eagle that can make it better than it is. The Lord is ready to help you. Let’s get focused on the ONE THING.

 

 

When You’re Tired

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It’s been a hectic six months. Reconciling the death of my father has been tougher than I thought. Things that I thought I had let go years ago came back up to be dealt with.

Merging three churches together was a lot of work with the promise of a lighter load that hasn’t happened yet but instead has increased.

My first grandson arrived on the scene and he is so amazing to me. I want to do better with him than I did with my own children. By that I mean, I want to slow down and not be so busy because I know my role is different than his parents. I realized I was putting undo pressure on myself which is my typical mode of operation. Go back to the first paragraph of reconciling issues.

My stepdad who has always been healthy and invincible wakes up one day with chest pain and ends up having a triple bypass. This brought new challenges as I realized things for my parents are changing and this was quite a bit of stress for my mom. My strong mom who has always been our leader suddenly looked at us with fear in her eyes. Somehow it affected me in way that I am still processing. It was unsettling and I realized I am stepping up in places that I hadn’t considered stepping up in.

As this parental crisis was happening, my Uncle Fred passed away and although he had been ill, I just happen to think our patriarchs are going to pull through. We’re a stubborn breed.

My Godmother turned 90, sharp as a tack mentally, with a body that is failing her and there isn’t much we seem to be able to do to stop this process.

Lulu the Wonder Dog develops a tumor and off to the vet we go on the same day I’m heading out to a conference. This seemed to be the straw that left me feeling, I don’t even know how to describe it other than profoundly tired.

I left the vet’s office and cried. I cried for a whole bunch of reasons but sometimes the strong one, the one everyone expects to be unflappable needs to just be vulnerable for a minute. Life can be tricky sometimes and as weird as this reads, I was catching a glimpse of a whole lot of things I had to deal with personally within myself.

As great as God is, he speaks strength to my soul as I ask him for direction.

He spoke in a podcast: If you’re a leader whose not willing to do the tiring thing what in the world are you doing? Leadership is tiring. Buck up, it’s the nature of the job. It’s leading people. It’s going first, you’re the first one through the door, you’re the one finding the the problems so that your team can help you find the solution and breaking barriers. So yes that is exhausting because the promise isn’t easy and following the crowd is not creating new ways. If it were easy to follow and nothing needed to change we’d still be leeching people to cure disease. Leadership is a multiplying effect and so yes it’s tiring.

He spoke through the word:“We put our hope in the Lord; he is our protector and our help. We are glad because of him; we trust in his holy name. May your constant love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:20-22‬ ‭GNT‬‬

He spoke through friends who called and said that the Lord was asking them to pray for me. That’s always great and always appreciated deeply. Isn’t it wonderful when people look up and see you might need some help? As a pastor most people expect you to have it all together, and when you don’t it’s because you’ve committed some grave sin or you don’t have enough faith, only life happens even to us in ministry as well. I step out from time to time to work on myself and so as not in infect others and in those seasons the criticism comes from those who haven’t bothered to ask what is going on, I’m just supposed to be in my place. No excuses they are partly right.

God spoke through the picture I posted above. I want you to know that he brings hope to the hopeless and I am confident  proof of that.

Here is a key to His great love:  I first had to admit I didn’t have it all together, I had to ask for help, and then I had to deal with my stuff.

So if you’re feeling desperate or overwhelmed there is a Heavenly Father who wants to help. All you have to do is get humble enough to ask for help and stay still enough to listen. Listen even when you want to run. Listen even if don’t like what you hear. Just listen. Then get up and move toward the healing, comfort, strength, love, encouragement, and peace that is being offered.  He’s right there for you.  Blessings!

 

My Weapon of Choice

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You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side ~ Chris Tomlin

Sitting in church this morning as we sang this song in semi-unison, I need to remember that the bible says make a joyful noise and even though we clap and sing to different beats and tones we are here for one purpose.  I felt such total peace. To stand under the wing of the One who formed me before the foundation of the earth knowing I am secure because the weapons of my warfare are not designed in the earthly realm, and since I don’t war people, there is no need.  I war thought processes and mindsets that crept into my soul making me feel that I wasn’t enough on my own and that there were things I needed that I didn’t have. I war perceived inadequacies in relationships that make me feel unloved, and until I gain clarity on the situation at hand, I stand feeling unworthy and helpless.  Yet when I read the bible it says I am more than enough in fact, I was created with everything I would ever need downloaded.

Isaiah 54:15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. 16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

When I read that no weapon formed against me will prevail it tells me that weapons will be formed to take me out but they can’t. It takes me back to when I was a kid and I wanted to be Wonder Woman only now I really am. I can stand as the arrows fly, and people say and do whatever they say and do and as long as I don’t respond with the same arrows, they fly by. Sure, the threat hurts my feelings, but feelings are up and down and I don’t live my life by them.

Know who you are and especially whose you are and then whatever arrows try to come to distract you from your God-given path know that they can’t harm you. You’re not out until God says you’re out.

 

It’s About Fear

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EGO= Edging God Out. It’s acting in the flesh without a heart of love. It’s when we are there in that ego spot where we deny culpability and find ourselves away from where we were designed to be. Ego stems from pride and pride separates us from God. Pride and ultimately fear cause distrust and distrust opens up offense when corrected.

Ask yourself what happens when you are corrected? When we are responding in ego we take our ball and go home. We do what I call pounce and flounce. We get an ‘I’ll show you’ attitude and then walk away without dialogue. We begin to work off of  destructive life patterns that take us away from relationship all the while blaming others and not looking at ourselves. That tantrum we threw when we were three years old may have worked then. It no longer works when we’re 25 and it looks silly when we’re 35.  Wounds begin to take us further down a path of destructive behavior where true relationship can’t be found because things have to be our way or we can’t function. What happens when no one chases us begging us to come back? What happens when life goes on business as usual? It’s in that pain and realization that more wounds happens and distrust solidifies.

Sometimes the offense at correction can stem from a parental wound. Despite how we reshape history, sometimes we have pretty messed up crazy childhoods that seem normal to us because we don’t know any better. We begin living out life patterns that take us in circles and we begin to see that although it’s different people, a different day and time, it’s still the same issue of pride, fear, and distrust and an unwillingness to face the matter. When correction comes from an authority figure in our adult life we choose to act in ego and forego the healing that can come from faith and submission.

Submission is only a word until we disagree.

It’s in this place of disagreement that we have a choice to make. We can give a silent treatment and go home, or we can decide to not be offended at correction and have a dialogue, resolve the issue, and live a life of freedom, but we can’t do it without acknowledging that there is a problem within us.

Let’s deal with our issues so that our issues quit dealing with us.

 

Unexpected Blow

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http://lifehacker.com/5829523/how-to-throw-a-punch-correctly

A few weeks ago the men’s group was having their weekly meeting. A man peered through the window as if trying to see what was going on. One the church leaders thought he was a new visitor and walked over to the door and said, “Hi, are you…..” He never finished the sentence when the man swung his fist at him. Our leader dodged and ended up getting punched in the shoulder instead of the jaw. Total shock and chaos ensued as men began to chase him, and the police were called.

Sometimes life hands you unexpected blows.

Unannounced attacks in ministry often happen in just this manner. They are extremely painful, because not only does it involve shocking pain, but there is an effect on our body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes it affects our ability to trust others. Sometimes it affects our ability to trust God. Wounds from a ministry leader are often so painful because the betrayal is so heart-wrentching.

Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me.

Oh, how David ached at the fact that he thought he had a loyal friend who was walking along in unity with him and felt they were on the same page working toward the same goals. Betrayal hurts and the wounds are sometimes painfully worse than the physical blow our leader shockingly took that night.

Through a vivid dream I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to compile stories of unexpected blows in ministry and write them in book form.  I need your help. If you are/were on staff at a church and have had an unexpected blow from a leader whom you considered a mentor or friend I’d like to hear your story.

Send me the details. Include your name and phone number so I can speak with you directly if I have any questions. Send your letters to Susan Young, 1005 I St., Los Banos, CA 93635 or you can email me at pastorasusan@gmail.com.

It doesn’t ring true to my ears to say that I look forward to hearing from you because I know the pain of ministry and I know the cost of the betrayal of a friend on my very own soul and the healing process that has to take place. When you trust someone with your well-being it is ever so painful and I get that. So instead I leave you with a prayer that the Lord richly bless you and minister to you and that you be made whole body, mind, and spirit.

3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

The Order Of Things

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Joe Quatrone Jr.  

A self-described “Old Guy”, meaning a man I hold in esteem who has retired from ministry spoke this wisdom in a conversation.

“Before there can be mercy, there has to be judgment.”

It was a drop the mic moment. I took it home and mulled it over. I often relate things to my experience as a mother. It’s quite true that when my children misbehaved I corrected first and then made them see what they did wrong. Okay makes sense but…

I then had to reconcile that with

James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

In order to show mercy we have to have judgment. Mercy comes through judgment. It’s a great revelation. It may not sit well with the “don’t judge me Christian” but it isn’t biblical. Mercy triumphs over judgement but judgment is first.

It’s as my husband explains, giving mercy out of order is like giving a cure for a disease you didn’t know you had. There is no recognition of the healing.

 

Effective Prayer

imageIf you go to The Lord in prayer and you come out feeling the exact same way, burdened by the same problems, heavy with a load too big for your shoulders, then all you have done is effectively complained.

Effectively praying puts a few simple principles in place. Confess your sin, pray specifically, believe there is an answer on the way. Most of all leave your burden with the only One who can help you.