Monday, November 8, 2021

It’s a gift?

November 08, 2021 0

 

Yesterday, we studied Romans chapter 12. Go read it if it’s been awhile. It talks a lot about gifts. The interesting thing is that even though we give spiritual gifts a ranking, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the Spirit. Instead, the priority for gifts is how we interact with them. 

It reminds me that in order to be a blessing to others, we have to take time to be deeply rooted in Christ. Even though that feels like it should be a natural by product of serving the church, it’s not. When our focus is completely on pouring out into others, we can easily miss out on our personal need to be filled by Christ. 

I’m going to tell you something that no body every mentioned in seminary, taking time to read the Bible and practice other spiritual disciplines for no other purpose than to spend time with God can change every aspect of our ministry. In case you missed the important part of that sentence, for no other purpose than to spend time with God. Not to prepare for Bible study, not to get ideas for the upcoming women’s retreat, not to complain about Gertrude and her awful cottage cheese salad, just to be with God. 

We can get so caught up in using our gifts to help others grow that we neglect spending time with the gift giver. When we take a few minutes out of our day just to be with God then the ability to use our gifts with enthusiasm, imagination, and love becomes second nature. If we’re just pushing forward with the goal of service things can go haywire. 

Being rooted in Christ helps us not only be joyful about our spiritual gifts, it helps us reach the those that need it the most, and it helps us from abusing those gifts. So, take a moment or two today, dust off your favorite spiritual discipline and hang out with the gift giver.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Mess? What mess?

October 26, 2021 0

 

Have you ever been to visit someone’s home, been admiring how clean everything is and then they say “I’m sorry things are such a mess!”? I don’t have one of this homes. 

No one has ever remarked on how clean our current home is but they have used other words like cozy, quiet, peaceful. Sometimes we get so caught up in cleaning and creating the allusion of tidy that we miss some of the most important work of hospitality, making others feel welcomed. 

Yes of course things should be clean enough that people don’t sit on the couch and get a big stain on their pants, people shouldn’t be afraid of catching something because they used your bathroom. But don’t forget that people that entertained Christ in their homes probably had dirt floors. 

By all means toss the trash and sweep your floors before guests arrive but don’t wear yourself out cleaning corners you haven’t looked at since the last time someone visited. Take time to also prepare your heart and quiet your spirit. These things are just as an important of a mess to clean up as the dust bunnies in the living room. Maybe even more so. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Covered Dish

October 25, 2021 0

 

There are several ways to approach bringing a dish to the church potluck. You can bring your favorite dish, Pastor’s favorite dish, if you have kids then their favorite, or you can go out on a limb and bring something you’ve never made before. Nine times out of ten, I bring something I’ve never made before. And here’s why

At every church we’ve ever been to, Joel is one of the last people through the line. Part of that is personality and part of it is responsibilities that keep him from sitting and having a bite. Because of this, if he knows I made his favorite dish and gets to the line and it’s all gone or just a bite or two is left, how disappointing is that? Same for with the kids dishes and they may or may not be the type to let me know about it. So instead of setting my family up for disappointment, I instead use the potluck as my testing grounds. When people like something I keep track of it and bring it again. If the family likes it, it may go into regular rotation of meals. And here’s the best part, if it’s a flop i don’t feel any guilt about it languishing in my fridge until garbage day. I tried it just wasn’t good, toss the rest of it. 

What about you? What types of things do you normally take to potlucks? 


PS If you keep track of your recipes on Pinterest then you can easily share winners with folks that ask for recipes. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Loose leash

October 23, 2021 0

 

This past winter, we adopted a two year old Germans shepherd dog from the humane society. For the first few months with us, she was undergoing heart worm treatment. That meant that she always had to be on leash in the yard and wasn’t allowed to take walks. Around the beginning of June, she was given the all clear to start moving. 

We were so excited to go for walks, she was so excited. We barely noticed that she was pulling on the leash. It felt like her exuberance for life was uncontainable and she just needed to get out there and explore the world. I figured she’d eventually get to the place where the novelty of outside would wear off and she’d stop pulling naturally. 

Well, that was not the case. She I think pulled more as her energy returned and the walks became more common. I was building my biceps but I knew that winter was on the horizon and images of slick ice and firm jerk had me thinking of ambulances. I doubled down on the research on gadgets to stop pulling. One of my friends said gadgets never work, you just have to be willing to look silly.

She suggested a method of the moment the dog puts tension on the leash to turn and walk the other direction. I figured it was worth a shot, it had to be better than an er trip on a cold winters day. Our mile walk that day barely made it out of the yard. It’s been a week or so since we started, we cover a mile in the distance of about a block so there’s improvement! 

Why do I bring this up? Because it reminds me of my relationship with God. You see, dogs pull because they think they’re in control of where they’re going. And in some ways that’s true, especially if they pull enough to break free. I’m often the dog in this example, pulling against the one who’s actually in control. Thinking I have to get to a certain place as quickly as possible, with no real concern for what I may be missing along the way. Just let me lead, I’m sure I know the way! You’re being too slow, Lord, hurry up already. 

But the truth is God is in control and staying close enough that ever transition isn’t a shard jerk to my well planned ideas is actually better. It’s more enjoyable for me when I keep that leash loose, I’m able to explore side adventures that I’d zoom past if I live life on the end of my leash. God wants us to be in relationship together, not me tethered to Him, being weighted down by my own desires. And that’s the real difference between the loose and the taut leash. A taut leash is so I don’t run away and lose myself. But a loose leash is really just a symbol that we belong to each other, it’s not needed for control, just a reminder to one another and the world that we’re in it together. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

For my enemies

October 20, 2021 0


 When I read and studied scripture before becoming a Mrs. Pastor, I always thought that praying for my enemies meant people at war with the United States. Little did I know that the enemy can live so much closer to home. 

Yes, as it turns out sometimes the people that we’re called to minister to are the very ones that qualify as our enemies. I’ve had so many hurtful things said about me, to me, behind my back that if I had a nickel for every time I could probably end world hunger. The worst part is the most hurtful things were said by the people I drew in the closest. Those that I thought were safe ended up tearing me down the most. 

I could get into details but if you’ve experienced this, you don’t need any wound stories and if you dint know what I’m talking about then praise the Lord and May it always be that way. I would like to say that it didn’t hurt but the truth is, I was very much wounded and haven’t felt the desire to be so transparent with people we minister to since. Now see I didn’t say that I’m not transparent with people, I just choose different variety of folks to share those parts of myself with. 

Unfortunately, pain like this can easily cause us to pull away from everyone. The only thing I’ve found that helps me to stay connected when the ugly rears its head is prayer. Reconnecting with the Holy Spirit does amazing things. It’s not always free form prayer, sometimes I pray scripture, others I pray ancient texts, sometimes modern prayers. And occasionally I will just break down and offer the Lord my brokenness. 


I recently read in a book from Matt Mikalatos that the only real cure for a broken heart is more love. And that is so very true when it comes to healing the pain of betrayal. We don’t get better in isolation but in community. And the only way we can make our way back to that is by praying for our enemies until there are no enemies left.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Frumpy

October 19, 2021 0


 I recently was reading some random tweets and one of me struck me all wrong. A young youth minister was told by her youth group that she dresses like a pastor’s wife. She was aghast. I was aghast!

Is it an insult to tell someone that they dress like a Mrs. Pastor? It certainly felt like that was the case when I read this tweet. But the reality is that we don’t have a dress code do we, Mrs. Pastor? We are women and men that dress the gambit from head coverings to high tops. We’re not required to wear frumpy clothes that hide our personality. We have freedom in Christ. Freedom to dress in ways that glorify God by celebrating our uniqueness. 

We’re allowed to pierce our noses, tuck our hair away in buns, wear mini skirts, or maxis. It’s not an insult to dress like a Mrs. Pastor. It should be a joy. A joy because when we know who we are, we’re comfortable in our skin and want our clothes to express that love of self, too. So the next time you or I randomly run across someone trying to besmirch how we dress, let’s remind them we dint have a dress code. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Growth

October 18, 2021 0


 What do you think of when you hear church growth? Often people think of increasing the number of Sunday worship attendance. And that is definitely a measurable way to look at church growth.

But what if instead of focusing on the number of people in the pews, we looked at how we’re living our lives. The church doesn’t actually grow when Christians start attending a new church. It grows when someone who didn’t know Jesus Christ before comes to know him and proclaim him as Lord of their life. That means in order for us to be focused on church growth, we need to be in relationship with non-believers. And it means that we need to be encouraging our church to minister to people who aren’t showing up on Sunday and have never been to a church. 

Yes, it’s wonderful when a Christian who’s been looking for a church shows up and finds a place to connect. It’s even more wonderful when someone who had no idea that God was seeking to be in relationship with them becomes a part of the body of believers.