Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Thriving or Surviving??

I have been in three different states (Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio) the past three weekends speaking to women of all ages and backgrounds and life stories.  Even though the women lived in totally different states…they all had two things in common.  The women were either thriving or surviving......or somewhere in between thriving and surviving!!  (OK, so maybe they had three things in common, not two!)

For the most part every living thing or relationship or organization is either thriving or surviving…or somewhere in between.  Marriages are either thriving or surviving.  Churches are thriving or barely surviving.  Families are thriving or simply surviving.  Businesses are thriving or just surviving to make the quarter sales.

How about you?  Right this moment….do you feel like you are thriving?  Spiritually healthy?  Strong?  Powerful?  Free?  Or do you feel like you are barely holding on….barely holding things together?  Barely surviving?

Take a look at the scale below….put a mental ‘dot’ on the place you feel like you are right now.  Then….ponder….what would it take to move closer to thriving?

Thriving_____________________ Surviving

Second Timothy 3 talks about women who are vulnerable, weak, and silly (I’d venture to say that they are barely surviving!!) who are burdened with the guilt of sin, controlled by many desires and always learning but never coming to understand the truth!!  Yikes!!  No wonder they are vulnerable and weak and silly!!  No wonder they are simply surviving!!

So….how do we move toward thriving rather than staying stuck in the cycle of simply surviving each day?  Do the opposite of what the women Paul was referring to in second Timothy were doing!!

First of all, we must let go of the burden of sin!!  Christ died so we could be free from sin NOT be burdened with it or by it!!!  Recognize it!!  Confess it!  Repent of it!!  Let it go!!  Freedom!  Running without carrying all of that extra baggage!!  Stop carrying around guilt trip bags!!!  Leave them with the baggage keeper!!  Put them on the conveyor belt never to be heard from again!!!

Second, we must stop allowing our desires control us!!!  The desires to be richer, smarter, cuter, younger or thinner can control us!!!  The desires to have more things or a better job or more children or a church with nicer people are controlling us!!  The desire for time on Facebook or twitter or Instagram is controlling how we spend our time!!  The desire for a godly marriage or fruitful ministry can even control us….(sad that it is possible to be married to a minister and not have a godly marriage or to be a part of a ministry that is bearing no fruit.)  What controls you?  What controls me?  We know that scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit is what should control us…not anything else.

Third…we must stop learning without understanding Truth!!  It is not enough to go to church or Bible studies…we must come to understand truth!!  Crazy, isn’t it, that it is totally possible to attend church, lead Bible studies, teach Sunday school….and not understand Truth!!  Stop.  Ponder what you are reading in your study.  Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand the truth!!!

No wonder we are barely surviving!!  I truly believe that God wants us to thrive!!  He came to give us life abundant!!!  So….stop.  Take a simple personal assessment and determine where on that scale of thriving/surviving you are…then…take action and thrive my friend, thrive!!!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Blessings in Disguise

“God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters.”  Max Lucado

For me a disaster occurs when my supply of M & M’s runs empty.  Panic sets in.  Then wonders of all wonders I discover a mini snack size bag of my “Happy Pills” tucked away in a drawer.  What a joyous blessing! Of course I am only joking about the M & M‘s disaster.  However, the above statement by Max Lucado is so true.

In May 2010, the Nashville, Tennessee area experienced one of the most devastating floods in the state’s history.  My husband and I were serving in a church in the Bellevue area which was one of the hardest hit areas.  We watched from our bedroom window as our neighbors’ homes filled with dirty river water.  Our church suffered over $200,000 in damages from sewage drains backing up into the church.  In our small suburb community, many people lost all their earthly possessions. Our home suffered damage as well but we considered ourselves blessed compared to so many of our church families and the rest of Nashville.

As soon as the disastrous flood waters receded, God poured out great blessings.  Total strangers stopped by homes that were a total loss handing out cleaning supplies, bottled water, or to assist in immediate tearing out of drywall, flooring or to help salvage some personal belongings of the homeowner.  In our neighborhood, people, who normally only waved at each other, were sharing whatever they had with their hurting neighbor.  One church member was even asked by a gentleman if they would like to sleep in his spare bedroom for the night.

Throughout the weeks and months of recovery from the Nashville flood, God provided so many blessings.  We saw our church congregation pull together to minister to its own hurting and invest in witnessing through service to our lost community.  Watching the ministry take place caused this ministry family to smile because it meant God’s people were doing exactly what the Bible calls us to do-share His love.

Never will another May pass that I do not remember the flood disaster.  I will remember how God brought together an entire Metropolitan city and surrounding area.  He broke down socioeconomic, racial, and religious barriers and united us to stand strong.  Max Lucado is right.  God often disguises disasters as blessings.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spiritual Droughts

Throughout the world, many places are experiencing droughts from the lack of rain.  When droughts happen crops cannot grow, food shortages occur, and in some situations, people die from starvation and disease.  In my home if the chocolate drawer is running dry, my sweet tooth suffers from a chocolate drought.

Seriously, have you ever experienced a spiritual drought in your personal life?  Perhaps you feel your prayers get no higher than the ceilings.  Maybe you feel abandoned and forgotten.  I believe every Christian experiences a spiritual drought at some point in their spiritual walk.  Yet, can a minister’s wife experience it?  Oh yes, sisters, we can!

There have been so many times in my life as a pastor’s wife that I have felt so alone and forgotten.  I questioned God in our calling to certain churches, in trials in the ministry, and even in my own person life.  About three years ago I literally screamed at God and asked “where are you, God?”  It seemed that every way I turned I saw no end to the storm I was in.  I was lost, confused, afraid, and doubting.  For me, it was a scary place to be in.  I mean I am a pastor’s wife after all.  Seriously, I should know that God is right there with me.

Still I am human.  I have days when I see God all over the place.  However, there are those dark days when I wonder if God is sleeping.  At times, I have not voiced my struggle because I feared God was too busy to be concerned about my silly problems.  What this failure led to was a deep spiritual drought.

Earlier this week, I felt a drought coming.  I was concerned with a situation that involves a dear loved one.  At first I found myself asking why.  As I sat down for my quiet time, I voiced a short prayer. “God, you know what is happening.  You know the trial. You know my heart is questioning.  Please provide assurance and peace.”   God was already answering my prayer.  My quiet time passage that day was Psalms 37:23-24 where God promises to never let go of our hand.  Wow, I needed those verses and I shared them with my loved one.  Later that afternoon God sent another hug my way that continued to assure me that He knows all the details of all we go through.  These sweet reminders staved off an oncoming spiritual drought.

Have you ever watched an old western movie where a cowboy is lost in the desert and desperate for water?  He is at a point of death.  Suddenly, he scans the horizon and spots an oasis.  You see the relief he feels on his face as he soaks up the cool water.  Likewise, when we are walking through a spiritual drought, we are desperate for God to appear.  We keep searching and pleading with God.  Suddenly, just as we are at the point of giving up hope, we see God’s answer and plan.  Psalms 121:1-2 states, “I raise my eyes toward the mountains.  Where will my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Sisters, I say all this to assure you that spiritual droughts are okay.  Sometimes we have to experience them in order to see God’s big plan and His miracle working right before our eyes.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What Is The Truth?

In this present day and time, we are exposed to a diverse number of opinions on many issues, and those who are passionate about their stance on a matter feel that they are correct in what they believe. But which side of an issue is right? What is the truth? Who has the absolute truth on a matter?

When our Savior stood before Pilate, he asked the Lord Jesus, “What is truth?” Little did he know it, Pilate was looking at Truth face to face.

Shortly before the Lord went to the cross, as He spent those final intimate hours with his disciples, He left no doubt about the essence of truth when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6

My sisters, isn’t it good to know that we have a Savior, One who is Faithful and True, that no matter what we face in life, we can go to Him and trust that He will speak truth to our hearts about any situation.

We can all get discouraged on life’s journey, since trials come from many different sources such as conflicts in marriages, wayward children, strained family relationships, broken friendships, interactions with “unsaintly” church members, and other things like these.

When these situations seem to get the best of us, the best place to turn is not a self-help book, is not the latest issue of a popular magazine, and is not advice from a popular talk show host. The media and our culture have their own opinions about what is right and what is wrong, and what is good and what is evil.

But what does the Truth say?

All the more as we see our society moving away from “absolute truths”, and saying , “what is truth for you, may not be truth for me” and those in the culture calling “good evil and evil good”, may we remember that there is One who embodies all things good, honorable, pure, holy, and true. My sisters, let us hold on to the fact that our Lord will always give us the truth; the Scriptures say that He cannot lie…..that is not in His divine nature!

If we want to know how to be a better woman, which includes being a better wife (some of us a better pastor’s wife), a better mom, a better daughter, a better friend, a better sister, and so on, let us look to the Truth; let us look to Jesus who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Now that’s the truth, and nothing but the truth!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring Break Conclusion.....

This is our son, her sister's little girl and our daughter-in-law.

As I mentioned earlier this week...........sometimes it is okay to STOP everything else and enjoy the moment.  This has been a wonderful Spring Break, even though the weather as not been perfect.

I got to spend the first part of the week with the grand-babies and got to conclude the week by visiting with out son and daughter-in-law in Gallatin.  They are both in school:  he is with the Corp. of Engineer Hydro Training p\Program and she is working on her Masters in Education............so we don't get to spend near enough time with them.  We would not trade the year they lived with us for anything.......and are so proud of them for following God's lead and their hearts.

We live in such a busy world that it is so easy to get caught up in "stuff" and not take time for the "important things."  Remember.....GOD FIRST, Family Second, Church third, and everything else afterwards.  

I hope you have had as blessed of a week as I have.  Good bye and I will see you in five weeks.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring Cleaning

In the middle of my Spring Break, I did take out a day for some "Spring Cleaning".  I went through drawers and cleaned out my closet.  Whewww......how does a person accumulate so much?  I have to be IN THE MOOD and when I am......watch out.  I accumulated a huge black garbage bag of clothes to take to Good Will or We Care.  I decided....if they have not been worn, even if I liked them....chunk them.

Doesn't it feel great after you "clean out"?  I love to pull open my three drawers and look in my closet.  What a feeling of accomplishment.

I got to thinking in the middle of it all.....wouldn't it be nice if it was as easy to "clean out our spiritual baggage?"  You know what I mean...............those people that drag you down. Those "Debbie Downers".  Those people you have devoted many hours, days or months to just to finally realize you can't help a person if they do not want to be helped.

Being the pastor's wife, you can not always totally "clean house".......but you can commit to not letting them take control of your life.

I am going to make an attempt to pull myself away from "negative" people and things that pull me down.  In this crazy world that we live in, we need to surround ourselves with people and things that lift us up.

May we always be the "lifter" and not the "downer"!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Break

I teach school and we are on Spring Break this week.  If I appear pre-occupied.....it is because I AM.
Cooking breakfast with Mimi.

Stroll in the new Easter wagon.

Painting Fun.

Messy Painting Fun.

Feeding Ducks

And Craft-time.

Sometimes it okay to stop out from our BUSY schedules and BUSY lives and just enjoy the simple things.  I pray that you too will stop and enjoy life.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Satan is REAL

Satan is REAL.  Don't EVER let your guard down.  He knows your weaknesses and that is where he will attack.

I look around me and there are soooo many hurting people.  Most of the hurt has been because Christians have let their guards down. 

Marriages are in trouble.....homes are falling apart......children are disowning their parents....parents are disowning their children.

Many times I get too comfortable in my "present state" and can't imagine HOW any of this could happen. 
  • How can spouses stray? 
  • How can couples give up on their marriages? 
  • How can children and parents break ties? 
THEN....while praying for a family going through one of these situations, it just hit me.... It is ONLY by God's Grace that I am not wearing "those shoes." 
  • I am human. 
  • My husband is human.
  • My family is human. 
It could happen to us...................if we let our guards down and allow Satan to work.  That is EVEN MORE of a reason of why we need to PRAY, STUDY GOD'S WORD and keep an OPEN COMMUNICATION with our loved ones..  Do not allow Satan ANY room to work.

Please join me in praying for all of the hurting folks around.................and join me in praying that we ALL guard ourselves so that we may never wear "those shoes".

Monday, April 6, 2015

Late Easter

Happy LATE Easter!!!  I trust that you had a wonderful day, celebrating the resurrection of our Lord.  For many, your days began early with the Sunrise Service....and concluded with an late afternoon nap.  Smile.

We had a wonderful day......my little preschoolers looked soooo cute in their Easter outfits.  The singing was wonderful, children's message was great and sermon was awesome.  We concluded the service with the Lord's Supper.

Our son and daughter-in-law drove from Nashville and we got to see them for just a little bit before they left to go to her Grandmothers.  When we got home, our daughter, son-in-law and grandbabies were at our house.  We eat WAY too much.......hid Easter Eggs, played and played, watched a Veggie Tale Easter Movie and took a nap.  Whewwww......fun day!

I think that Easter is my favorite holiday!  It makes me stop and realize how blessed I am and how blessed we are.

As my preschoolers said, "Today is a HAPPY day because Jesus is ALIVE!"

Thursday, April 2, 2015

To Buy My Own Cross

As a result of my blogging and prayer life this week, I need to make a trip to Hobby Lobby. I think I can fully justify to my husband a NEED to buy one of those decorative crosses I mentioned yesterday. In fact, maybe we should pick one out together to hang prominently in our home. . .

As a symbol, the cross is very weighty.

I spent my time blogging yesterday on just a small part of what Christ accomplished on it for our behalf. For those reasons alone, we should use the cross as a symbol, reminding us of its significance to the believer.

But let's not forget that Jesus himself used the cross as a symbol. In Luke 9:23, He tells us that we must daily take up our cross and follow him.

How do we boast in the cross of Christ as Paul said?

By daily allowing our old self to crucified with Him, so we no longer live, but that He would make us alive in Him. In Galatians 6:14 where Paul tells that he will boast only in the cross of Christ, he also says that it by the cross the world has been crucified to him and he to the world.

The cross is a symbolic reminder that we daily die to our worldly, fleshly desires in order that we will  live for Him.

Again, the cross shows both cruel death and simple hope. The death of my flesh that my spirit will live.

The cross points out that He must increase, I must decrease. The cross reminds me to lay aside my old self and focus on Him, the Author and Perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2) with all its shame and pain and cruelty.

His cross compels me to pick up mine.

While I am not sure the kind of decorative cross that I want to buy at Hobby Lobby, I know I want to hang this symbolic reminder some place in my house that when I look I at it I will truly see it, stopping to contemplate all that it personally represents to me.

  • I want to think about how His death sentence and punishment should've been mine. (I don't think the one I buy will be too frilly.)
  • I want to be reminded about all that He accomplished for me on that tree. (I think it needs to be of a pretty good size.)
  • I want to pick up my cross, bearing the burden of putting to death my flesh so I can live for Him. (Maybe  it just needs to be a simple, no-nonsense kind of cross...)

Can you see my journey this week? From looking over all the crosses to being overwhelmed with all they represent, God has patiently led me into a deeper understanding and appreciation for what the cross truly symbolizes.

I pray that this Holy Week, you will allow Him to lead you closer to the cross as well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter's Defibrillator

There is a whole entire aisle at our local Hobby Lobby dedicated to decorative crosses. Some are rustic while others more intricate and detailed. Some are quite large and others quite small with every size in between available for purchase. There are lots of Pinterest pins on how to make our own and how to best decorate with all types of crosses. 

In my last post, I shared how I was convicted over not truly seeing the cross for the instrument of death that it is. Since then, I've been contemplating how and why a cross, a symbol of capital punishment has come to be a symbol of so much more. 

Internationally, it is THE symbol of Christianity. Radical muslims world-wide burn and destroy crosses, tearing them down from churches and ripping them from the walls of believers' homes. 

Personally, the cross represents so very much more. My feelings toward the cross are much more intimate but far from private. 

Why is the cross a big deal? Why should we boast in the cross of Christ as Paul said? 

  • On the cross, Jesus became our curse. (Galatians 3:13)
  • On the cross, Jesus brought us to God, putting to death the flesh and making the spirit alive. (1 Peter 3:18)
  • On the cross, God nailed our legal record of debt, forgiving us our trespasses and making us alive together with Him. (Colossians 2:13-15)
  • On the cross, God made Christ sin so that we might become His righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • On the cross, we are delivered from this present evil age according to God's will. (Galatians 1:3-4)
  • On the cross, we are ransomed, being made a kingdom of priests to our God for us to reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9-10)
These are just a few reasons the cross is precious to the believer, to me. It is symbolic of a whole lot more than my religion. As I contemplate the above verses I am humbled. I am left in awe of the significance of this symbol. The "Old Rugged Cross" is the very center of my entire faith, and as a result my entire life. 

The cross is much more than Easter's Electric Chair. The cross is Easter's defibrillator, making a way to bring life into what once was dead. The cross is a symbol of death, but it also offers hope. There is no hope in an electric chair.