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.

Those That Came Before Us

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I was driving by what we in our town call “The Old Catholic Church”. For some reason I looked at it with fresh eyes. It was build in the 1920’s and was turned into the city’s Arts Council Building not too many years ago. I have entered this beautiful building to see plays, and musicals, and weddings, and galas but today I looked at it with a different perspective.

There once was a dream of building a house of worship there, a building dedicated to the Lord. People put resources together, prayed, and came up with a design. They must have  searched for a location centralized to make a beautiful place for a church service on a Sunday morning. And while I know that a building doesn’t make a church I wonder what those who helped build it would think?

Perhaps my heart was open as I had just received a postcard of a church for sale. Seeing that postcard made me sigh at the thought of another church possibly closing. I have traveled through Europe and seen beautiful cathedrals why does this old Catholic Church move my soul today?

As more and more churches close in America and pastors leave the pulpit by the thousands, perhaps for me, this church stands of a symbol of what we are facing in the future.

 

 

Multicultural Church

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Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs–we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” NKJV

Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. NKJV

I am crazy enough to believe that multicultural means just that, all cultures in one. However that is not the common process in church. We like segregation. It suits us to have what we want. I was surprised to hear a pastor teach recently that what we have in today’s church is not multicultural but rather multicolored. Each group in its own service talking about doing life together. So that if you take a picture of the church it doesn’t look like a mosaic.

The reason for this is that while we can preach mosaic all day long, we go home primarily to segregation. We prefer to be insulated in our own culture so it makes sense to segregate each in our churches. And this is not just about language. This is about color, socioeconomics, male and female, even raising our hands in church. Oh we can do a wave at a football game but raise your hand in certain segregated churches and you’re an apostate. I actually heard of a pastor who didn’t want his youth group to mingle with other youth groups because they may be exposed to youth who raise their hands. HUH?

I am still crazy enough to continue to believe that one day we will see a multicultural church. Notice I didn’t say churches. Don’t miss that. One day we will hear the sound of nations worshipping together in one mind and one accord. For now, we continue to be happy with multicolored segregation where the lesser meets in an adjoining room, each getting what we want. One day though we’ll catch a glimpse of heaven where everyone is in one place with all things in common. One day Your Kingdom Come will become an actuality and I think some will be shocked.

Too Poor To Date

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Couple Receiving Their Check

Here’s an excerpt from Heather Jensen’s article on Relationship Deal Breakers that for some reason popped up in my newsfeed:

If you can’t afford a cell phone bill, rent or even a dinner out, you really shouldn’t be in a relationship. Guys, this goes for you too – if you can’t take your lady out, that can definitely be a relationship deal breaker! You don’t have to be rich, you just have to have enough money for savings and not to be completely broke all of the time. 

“Of course!” I thought, “Except college students who are generally poor while studying but yes, anyone over 30 shouldn’t be dating if they have to spend every dime they have to do so. This should be a Dave Ramsey blog.” Then I did a search on too poor to date and article after article talked about how we shouldn’t be dating if we can’t pay the bills. One man said that because he had student loans, and a car debt, he considered himself undatable because financially he couldn’t offer much yet. One woman said, she had an IRS debt and until that was paid she would not be dating. No surprise there but what was surprising were the comments.

Generally speaking most women said they agreed with the concept of not dating until you can afford to do so. I wasn’t surprised by that response because a woman’s number one need to is to feel secure in a relationship. What did surprise me were the men. Generally speaking the men disagreed. They felt that a woman should pay her portion of a date and that it was archaic to expect to ask a woman out on a date and then be expected to pay for her portion of the date. In fact, a survey concluded that 51% of men want to split the bill on a first date.

Here are a couple of comments I read:

“I can afford going out to grab drinks and eat a reasonably priced restaurant but only if she foots her own half of the bill.”

“I’ve never once taken the full bill for a restaurant. Coffee or something yeah, but not full meals. Is that something that’s still expected?”

So I went to my resident expert my Southern Bred Husband.

“Baby, I’m reading about being too poor to date and most men feel that since women fought for equality that we should be paying for our half of the bill when a man ask us out on dates. What do you think about this?”

“Well, you did fight for equality.”

“So you think we ought to pay for our portion of a date?”

“Darlin’ I’m a Southern Gentleman. I would never think to go out to eat where I couldn’t pay the bill and I would never allow a woman to pay for a date.”

Which is true because even when we go out to eat and it’s the same debit card coming out of the same joint account, he always grabs the bill and doesn’t let me pay, except a couple of times when he apologized profusely because he left his wallet in his briefcase when I picked him up for lunch and that’s after being married over a decade.

So what do you think? If a man asks a woman out on a date does she need to bring her own money? Is there such a thing as too poor to date?

 

 

Social Media

 

20141117180945-right-business-wrong-social-media-culturephoto from www.entrepreneur.com

I read a quote recently:

Welcome to Facebook. The place where all relationships are perfect, liars believe their own stories, and the world show off that they are living a great life. Where your enemies are the ones who visit your page the most and someone is always taking things the wrong way. 

I stopped to think about how we use social media and how it can be filled with misunderstandings. I took a look at what I had posted over the past week and thought about the why in my posts. I tend to post quite a few scriptures, quotes I think are worth repeating or humorous to me, articles that I find thought provoking or beneficial, fun stuff about my life, opinions about current events, and then just random stuff.   I post the funny things in my marriage. I don’t post about the arguments. Listen, even the word argument is an argument between us because my husband says we don’t really argue, we discuss. Our arguments, I mean discussions, tend to be boring because we don’t really get that creative and worked up about stuff for the most part. We argue about things like my rants: “Do we really have to watch CNN for one more minute? Isn’t there a DIY something on HGTV?”, don’t laugh this is a serious gripe, or his rants: “Chicken again? I am a man. Men eat steak!”. I mean really, do I want to invite you in on this stuff? Not really. Does my posting our fun stuff mean I want you to believe we have a perfect relationship? No.

I firmly believe in your common sense.

I don’t think you think anyone has a perfect relationship. I believe I have a great relationship and I believe I am loved deeply and love him more but we are nowhere near perfect. We just work hard on our marriage. I don’t have perfect kids. I think they’re pretty amazing but I don’t have to prove it.

I like social media posts. I have taken notifications off of my phone to avoid the Pavlov classical conditioning response and I accept very few tags. What I am bothered by this platform is that because it’s faceless it is often used to bash people. The things a civilized society would not say to each other’s face is fair game and the public shaming is cringe worthy. My husband will come to me and say, “Who is _______ fighting with now?” To be clear, my husband is not a person into drama and he often overlooks typical social clues and doesn’t take things personally, so for him to notice means it’s blatant and for him to say “now” means he’s noticed a pattern.

The rants that are posted are usually about people who didn’t get their way and the raves are about how they did. In the end it doesn’t add much to life. There are those who take all of your posts as being directed towards them. You only posted that to make them mad or hurt their feelings. Everything you post is looked at the magnifying glass of victimization.  That one is a tough one because if you deny it then you’re lying and if you don’t say anything it’s because you are guilty. You won’t win. After the take everything personally posts there are the Break Up To Make Up posts. They unfriend you one day, block you the next, then send you a friend request. Their anger over their life oozes like slime and is not an indication of who you are, it’s merely their dissatisfaction with their life. Like the song says,

Break up to make up that’s all we do, First you love me, then you hate me, that’s a game for fools..

I’d rather focus on the  development of a life rich and colorful and filled with real relationships where we meet over coffee and talk face to face. Thankfully my life doesn’t hang in the balance of social media. I want to be happy when you’re happy and send you love when you’re not. I believe social media is a great tool for communicating general ideas and staying in touch with friends far away but I don’t think its intention is as deep as we make it. My prayers are that we move towards real connection once again.

Click Here for a great video on how to best to use Social Media by Faye de Muyshondt with Socialskilz

A Little Respect Please

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For those of you who find some words offensive you may want to move on to another post. I will not use a word frivolously but in the context of this post it will be necessary.

A young, college-aged woman is dating her boyfriend. They are like all college students, studying to move towards a career, finding their way in life, and enjoying the time when there aren’t a lot of pressures. It’s a great stage of life.

Their relationship is progressing forward but there are a couple of seemingly insignificant issues that has popped up for her. She puts the thought away as it seems so small. Her friends all think it’s not a big deal. So she calls her friend, that would be me, to talk it over with someone who is older and maybe can tell her she is overreacting and change her heart towards this topic. Only, maybe she’s an old soul, maybe she feels things more deeply, maybe she is right about her feelings of something being off.

She begins hesitantly with me knowing I’m more than twice her age, “It doesn’t seem like a big deal when I say it out loud but there is just something about it that irritates me. He seems to try to push me into making decisions his way. He pulls towards spending all of his time with me and his friends which should be flattering but it feels a little constricting and the second thing is that he called me a bitch.” She says the second part almost like an afterthought.

“Well”, now it’s my turn to be careful with my words, “I think you are right to be concerned and I think you need cut yourself a break. Dating is a time where we get to know each other. It sounds like this may not be a match. Now listen, I am going to sound way, way old-fashioned here but calling you a bitch speaks to a greater issue. It speaks to a disrespect of women from a weak man. He is saying he thinks of you as less than human. He is also intimidated by you and has a need to control you to make himself feel better. I know it’s not a big deal in today’s culture, but it is still a big deal, and as women we can either ignore it or we can take a stand of respect. You’re not thinking about this now, but we as women raise our sons to be men of honor and men who learn to treat women with respect by how they are taught to respect their mother. So don’t discount this.  Then there’s the spending the time the way he wants to. Is that how you can envision your life? You’re an independent girl with goals and vision. Is that supposed to go away for him? And at what point will you tire of this behavior and want your life back? How about him showing a little respect for you and your life?”

We continued our conversation along with a warning from me that I was going to blog about this topic. Listen, bottom line, if you don’t put boundaries in place no one will do it for you. Ladies, we aren’t pretzels that bend at the whim of a man. Instead we are called to partner with them. The biggest downfall I see in continuing to date a man who we have doubts over is that we give our emotions away and then marry the wrong person.

And while we are here on this topic this goes for men as well. If she wants to control where you go, how you dress, who your friends are, if she is disrespectful with her words she will not value the whole of you. Maybe it’s time to move on.