Thursday, March 29, 2012

What a Friend

Read: John 10: 27-28

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

John proclaims that every known breakthrough that mankind makes comes from God (John 1:3). Before God created the heavens and the earth, He had a plan for each one of us (Ephesians 1:4). We did not then, nor do we now deserve His love; but He delights in spending time with us. He looks forward to our daily chats with Him in prayer and He wants us to listen to Him without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). He promises us through the words of James 4:8, that if we draw close to Him, He will also, most definitely, draw close to us.

What greater privilege can anyone experience than to have the Lord of the Universe loving us enough to spend time with us throughout the day. Do we go around with an unmet need, simply because we fail to trust Him to meet it? Do we pack our lives too full of trivial pursuits and fail to spend time praising Him, loving Him, enjoying His presence and listening to Him? The biggest question of all, however, is do we take the time to thank Him for everything He provides for us – for the air we breathe, for food and shelter, for soap, for a broom, for a comb or brush, for family and friends who cherish us and build us up, for twinkling stars at night and the sun to warm us all day long?

We show our love back to God by praising and listening to Him all though the day, by worshipping Him with other Believers, by living out the evidence of His love in our lives, by telling others the Gospel story, by sharing our resources with those in need and simply by inviting people to visit us at our local church. Let’s simplify our lives in order to make more room for loving God, listening to Him, worshipping Him and following His will for every moment of our day.


Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I love that you invited us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). You are a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), because You live inside of each and every one of us by Your Holy Spirit. I am amazed that though You are in me, you are also on Your throne in Heaven, interceding for us with the Father and protecting us from Satan’s wiles.

Thought for the Day:
Take some time to listen to God today. He is always within us and is only a prayer away.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Importance of the Soul

Read: Luke 16: 22-31

There is an age-old question about whether or not our soul - our mind, will and emotions - survives death. The question of the reality of the soul and distinguishing it from the body and spirit is among the most important quandaries of philosophical debate over the centuries of time. The question is made more difficult because the soul is also entangled in the doctrine of eternal life.

In the past, philosophers disagreed on the existence, function and description of the soul. Various cultures did take separate notice of the soul as distinct from the body. Archeologists and anthropologists discovered that even uncivilized people groups entertain the concept of the soul.

The Old Testament asserts or implies the distinct reality of the soul. Three terms are used for the soul: nephesh, nuah, and neshaman. Now, however, we know that these are three separate functions. The first was taken to refer to the animal and vegetative nature (body), the second to the ethical principle (soul), the third to the purely spiritual intelligence (spirit).

The soul’s function is to interpret the stimulus, which is experienced by the body. It also defines the ideas and beliefs by which we think. Another function is to register the emotions, which we feel. Then, it makes the decisions, which we carry out by our will. The soul is intangible, and requires a body in order to exist. We receive our body and soul at conception; however, the spirit is given to the regenerate Christian alone.

The soul is different from the spirit of man. The human spirit, dead in trespasses and sin, is instantly regenerated at Justification. Then, the soul takes the center stage for our Sanctification process, which takes a lifetime. The body will eventually be saved through Glorification the instant we see Jesus, for we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2).

According to this viewpoint of the Trichotomy of man, a perfect man (teleios) consists of three parts: body (soma), soul (psyche) and spirit (pneuma). Paul employed psyche and pneuma with great consistency. He used psyche to refer to the purely natural life; while he used pneuma to refer to the life of the supernatural nature of the Holy Spirit, dwelling and operating in the spirit of the born again Believer.

Paul takes this view when he showed his belief in a Trichotomy of man in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul also shows the Trichotomy in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow (body), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Even Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16: 22 –31 sheds some light on this topic of the soul. He relates to us the story of the death of a rich man and a beggar. The beggar, who receives the crumbs from the rich man’s table during his lifetime, was a Believer. He has a born again spirit, as well as a soul and body. When he dies, his soul and spirit go to heaven. The rich man who lived in unbelief and selfish debauchery all of his life has a spirit that is dead in trespasses and sin. Therefore, only his soul goes to hell.

Although their bodies are in the grave, they can both perceive thoughts and emotions through their soul, as well as experience in the soul what is normally registered only by the five senses of the physical body. Read with me from Luke 6:24…“So he called to him, 'Father Abraham (sight), have pity (emotion) on me and send Lazarus (thoughts) to dip the tip of his finger (taste) in water and cool my tongue (physical sensation), because I am in agony (physical sensation and emotion) in this fire (smell).” The rich man also experiences the sense of hearing when Abraham advises him about his request in the verses following this one.

This scripture gives us a clear picture that our soul “feels” all of the physical sensations, which our body feels. When our body goes to the grave, the soul goes to heaven or hell for eternity. The soul is the essence of mankind.

Even scientists observe that the soul is independent of and existent apart from the body. During our sleep, our soul carries on its work through our dreams. The physical proof of the soul’s existence comes from facts such as: the mysteries behind birth and death, the cessation of conscious thought during sleep, and the imagination and memory. All three of these are unassailable proof that there is an existence of some solid entity within us in addition to our vital organs and our spirit.

Yet, even with the obvious importance of the soul, mankind treats it with passing notice, sometimes even bordering on disdain. Some Christians insist that when we take up our cross daily, we crucify the God-given aspects of the soul, right along with the carnal, “fleshly” appetites. In my opinion, we need to pay equal amounts of attention to developing and nurturing our soul as we do with our body and spirit. Otherwise, we are like a stool with only two legs: unbalanced and virtually useless.

Genesis 2:7 illustrates the distinction between the body, spirit and soul, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit), and man became a living soul.” God told Adam that if he ate of the tree in the garden, that day he would surely die. When Adam disobeyed, and the angel of the Lord drove him from the garden, he did not die physically, but he did die spiritually.

Paul explains that the natural (unregenerate) man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. His spirit is dead. I like to visualize our triune state as a basketball. The outer pigskin is the body, the thin inner tube is the soul and the air inside (if one is born again) is the spirit. A person without the Spirit of God resembles a ball without air, lifeless and unable to bounce.

Our desires and affections are turned toward God when we realize our sinful condition, believe God and accept His grace in salvation. When the Spirit of God illuminates our spirit with divine light and life, we yield our affections and faculties - our whole body, soul and spirit - to God. The Christian who is enjoying unbroken communion with our Lord is able to say, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wholesome Speech

Read Eph 4:29-32

“He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” -Proverbs 13:3

My emotions boiled with anger and I wanted to rip my friend apart with a string of curses. Instead, I bit my tongue and walked the other way.

Psychiatrists teach us that if we suppress our feelings, they cause physical and psychological illnesses. I really wanted to express my feelings honestly, but I had no desire to stir up conflict. So, I went home and journaled instead.

From this I realized that when I get upset, I need to use considerate words and articulate the issues that actually bother me, rather than to use malicious words fueled by out-of-control emotions. Outbursts of anger put the other person on the defensive. Then they withdraw from us emotionally, and often physically as well. Or they get on the offensive and strike back at us with the same vehemence we show to them.

This mutual verbal assault solves nothing, especially if it results in physical blows, and it may even escalate with other problems in the future. I decided to follow God’s advice in II Corinthians 13:11 (NAS) “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”

Prayer:
Lord, help me use my words to express what actually bothers me. Put a guard on my tongue and help me to tame this most unruly member! Cause me to dwell in peace with all men, including myself! Amen.

Thought For the Day:
How do my words communicate God’s love to others?

Monday, March 26, 2012

WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST



This list (borrowed, not original) made a BIG difference in my life...hope it will in yours too. It is important to view ourselves as Christ views us.... 

I am accepted... I am complete in Christ ~ Colossians 2:9-10
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child ~ Ephesians 1:3-8
I have been bought with a price, and I belong to God ~ 1 Corin. 6:19-20
I am God's child ~ John 1:12
I am a friend of Jesus Christ ~ John 15:15
I have been justified ~ Romans 5:1
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit ~ 1 Corin. 6:17
I am a member of Christ's body ~ 1 Corin. 12:27
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins ~ Colossians 1:13-14
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ ~ Hebrews 4:14-16
I am the apple of God’s eye ~ Zech 2:8

I am secure... I am free from condemnation ~ Romans 8:1-2
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances ~ Romans 8:28
I am free from any condemnation brought against me, and I cannot be separated from the love of God ~ Romans 8:31-39
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God ~2 Corin. 1:21-22
I am hidden with Christ in God ~ Colossians 3:1-4
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me ~ Philippians 1:6
I am a citizen of Heaven ~ Philippians 3:20
I have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
I am born of God, and the evil one cannot touch me ~ 1 John 5:18

I am significant... I am the branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life ~ John 15:5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit ~ John 15:16
I am God's temple ~ 1 Corin. 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation for God ~ 2 Corin.5:17-21
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm ~ Ephesians 2:6
I am God's workmanship ~ Ephesians 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence ~ Ephesians 3:12
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me ~Philippians 4:13

Meditate on one of these verses every day until you actually believe it. Then go on to the next one. They will revolutionize your life and the way you view your self and other people...kat

Sunday, March 25, 2012

GRATITUDE

Read: Psalm 33:20-22

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. – James 1: 17

When we are actively grateful for life’s blessings and for what we have, we distract ourselves from what we think is wrong with our lives and what we think we need. Matthew 6:21 informs us that what we set our heart on actually becomes our treasure. Do we treasure the spiritual aspects of life or the natural? Do we obsess and brood on what is missing: or do we feel gratitude for what God provides for us? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 admonishes us to give thanks in all circumstances, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. Did you ever consider that the negative circumstances in your life occurred to bless you?

Romans 8: 28 reminds us that we can bank on the fact that all things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. So, hold out your arms wide and wait. He will fill them. It may not be what you want, but it will most certainly be what you need. It may not bring you happiness, but it will bring you abiding joy. It may not give you fame, riches, or worldly pleasure; but it will bring you a satisfying fulfillment that the world could never match. 

Psalm 100 gives us so many things to thank God for providing. Being thankful for family, friends, healthy minds and bodies, and daily provision for all of our needs helps us to focus on the positive (Psalm 107:1). Our ability to see, to breathe, to hear, to think, to reflect, to notice, to enjoy and to feel deeply comes from God and increases our sensitivity and awareness of the world within us and around us (Ephesians 5: 20). Appreciating all of the little blessings in our lives makes us ready to receive the bigger things God has planned for our future (Matthew 25:23).  

Sit at your Heavenly Father’s feet as a loving child. Rest your head in His lap and feel Him caressing your hair with His nail scarred hands. Praise Him for all that He gives you. Honestly share with Him your needs and concerns without any preconceived expectations. Then wait on Him with eager anticipation for whatever He has in store for you. Do not whine, nag, complain or dictate to Him. Just rest in His love and sit at His feet with eager anticipation of His supply (Psalm 50:23).  

Worry comes when we look too far ahead into the future or obsess over the past. The buzz words today are to “live in the moment” or “in the now”. These are very descriptive ways to describe how to live. We learn to appreciate all of the nuances of the moment if we focus on the here and now, instead of the past or future. When we overly analyze what is happening, or worse case scenario about what may happen in the future, or feel guilt and dread over the past, we rob our life of energy needed to follow God’s will in this minute of time. Put the past and the future in God’s capable hands and follow the leading of His Spirit as He directs you through each and every moment of the day.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God, and I will worship You. I give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good; for Your steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118:28-29).

Thought for the Day:
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. - Hebrews 12:28 

Friday, March 23, 2012

He First Loved Us

Read: John 13: 34-35

“If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” - 1 John 4: 20

People need love. They want to feel cherished, cared for and needed. When they do not receive this affirmation, they get discouraged and lose hope. God calls Christians to love. As we love others, we show gratitude to God and prove to the world that we are followers of Jesus Christ (John 13: 34-35). As we love, we mirror the joy and peace found only in Jesus. We are an extension of Christ’s love to everyone in our sphere of influence.

There are three main types of love: Eros, Philio and Agape. Eros is physical love and involves a chemical cocktail of adrenalin, dopamine, and serotonin that attracts us to certain other people. Philio is from our soul. It is the love of friends for one another. Agape is God’s love. His love transcends the physical and emotional realms of life. Therefore, it is possible to continue to love someone that we no longer feel physically attracted to or have any type of friendship with any longer. Christ’s love is self-sacrificing, yet not codependently so.

I am not talking about being a doormat, or allowing people to abuse us or to treat us rudely. Christ does not encourage us to stop caring for our own needs. If we do not love ourselves first, we can never love someone else (Mark 12:31). Jesus wore the best clothes (John 19:23-24); yet he did not have a place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). He did not seek worldly gain at another’s expense. He did, however, have everything He needed. The balance in enjoying a healthy sense of love for our “self” here has nothing to do with selfish ambition or vain conceit, but with humility in considering others better than our selves (Philippians 2:3) at the same time that we make sure our needs are met as well.

Dysfunctional love exists in our human relationships as a symptom of our spiritual disease. This maladjusted love is not in balance and harmony with God’s love. Fairytales and romance novels make us believe that we have to be in a relationship in order to be whole or complete. This is not true. We are not “halves” that cannot be whole without a relationship. As long as we believe that we need to have another person in our life in order to be happy and to feel loved, we are really using that person as our drug of choice.

The actual cause of this feeling of disconnection within us is our detachment from our Spiritual Source…Jesus Christ. This is toxic love and it will eventually kill us. We are addicted to the euphoria of another person’s presence for as long as these feelings last in our soul. Some people change the object of their obsession more often than rain waters the earth. That is not God’s true love - nor is it loving in the way that God intended. Christ’s love defies natural affection and loves in spite of the recipient’s attitude and behavior. God’s love works miracles in people’s lives. We receive God’s love unconditionally. Therefore, we can love our self and others unconditionally, because He first loved us (Romans 5:8). When we share His love, we bring glory and honor to His name.

God calls us to love others as Jesus loves us. Jesus loved us enough to leave the riches of Heaven, even though we are completely unlovable and sinful. This level of love inspires us to demonstrate this same love to one another. Sacrificial love gives and considers the needs of others ahead of our own, but not to the exclusion of our own needs. We give of our time, talents, empathy and even our material resources, if possible. We rejoice when others rejoice, and we cry when others hurt. Most of all, we forgive even the vilest offender, simply because Jesus forgave us.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help us to purify ourselves by obeying the truth, so that we have sincere love for our brothers. You showed us how to love one another deeply, from the heart (1 Peter 1:22). Help us to follow Your example. I want to give everyone what I owe him, including respect and honor (Romans 13:7).

Thought for the Day:
Unconditionally love yourself, just as you love those closest to you, despite their faults.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What does it mean to live a SURRENDERED life?

The opposite of surrender is control. People tend to control life in one, or in a combination of any of the following four ways:

A. Dominant/Aggressive people use force to control. We outright rebel against any form of control or authority.
1. We believe we have a monopoly on divining right and wrong. We believe we have a dispensation and the obligation to control life.
2. We dominate our fears by using anger, willpower, criticizing, guilt, fault-finding, condemnation and confrontation to control life.
3. We try to appear strong, although we actually feel weak and afraid. We are a stickler for rules and propriety to try to control life.
4. We often open doors to Satanic oppression, which causes us to abuse others physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.

B. Submissive/Passive people control life in subtle ways. We tend to be very introverted and seek a life-style involving little responsibility and the greatest amount of protection.
1. We seek to manipulate in order to change people’s mind or behavior as well as the outcome of a circumstance.
2. We try to strictly follow the rules in order to get our needs met. We use the silent treatment to let people know we are unhappy.
3. We have all of our pride invested in helping others and in trying to please them. We try to earn favors by acting affectionately, accommodatingly and submissively. We buy gifts, use flattery, and act very obediently and compliantly.
4. We try to “change” people’s feelings by talking them out of it or by trying to diminish the importance of their desires or we make shaming statements to cause people to see things our way.   

C. Passive/Aggressive people comply to get along. We agree to conform, but then do whatever we want to do in subversive ways. We undercut authority in devious ways, such as: avoidance, sarcasm or joking.
1. We will not be direct with our criticism. We use put-downs and shame to manipulate people to do our bidding.
2. We grow up not trusting our own decisions. We do not develop personal ideas, perceptions or needs. We do not develop a good conscience.
3. We use addictions to sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, people and shopping to get our own way.
4. We feel inadequate, powerless and out of control. We attract controlling people into our life so we will feel safe. We get others' sympathy and support, avoiding anxiety, responsibilities, or having to overcome our fears. 

D. ASSERTIVE people use open, honest, gentle and caring communication to understand our own and other peoples' feelings. We express thoughts and feelings while asking for what we want in appropriate ways without jeopardizing the rights and respect of others. This is our goal as Christians.
1. We are happy with who we are. We care for our “self” as well.
2. We are happy giving gifts and offering service that bring joy to others, and we willingly receive gifts from others.
3. We learn how to deal with anxiety-producing situations in productive ways, using the Serenity Prayer as our guide.
4. We feel an increased self-worth and closeness with people. 

2. Surrender is the doorway to freedom. It is a state of brokenness, of total dependence upon God, of receiving God’s forgiveness and of having a personal, daily relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  

3. God does not take our free will away from us. He asks us to surrender our will to His. He wants us to realize that life is not about “me.” Life is all about the Kingdom of God. As we seek first His Kingdom, then He will add to our life everything we need.  

When we surrender to God, we say, “Go ahead, Lord, and have Your way with me.” We allow Him to break our pride and our reliance on our “self” and we put our life into His capable hands. He will then restore us to the person He intends for us to be, free of emotional pain and guilt and equipped to serve Him in His chosen ministry for us.  

4. God knows everything, from the beginning to the end of our life. He sees the pitfalls and He knows the joys He prepared for each of us. Only as we surrender our will to His can we know the true riches of life on this earth (Romans 8: 28; Jeremiah 29:11 ).

5. Controlling usually produces the OPPOSITE effect of what we want. Our dependency on anything other than God: addictions, people, places, jobs, things, animals ~ puts us into bondage to them. Only God’s love produces true freedom. 

6. We adopt survival techniques as we age, because in the past, even though our caretakers did their best in most cases, they were unavailable to make sure we had what we needed at the time that we needed it. This caused us to be self-reliant in order to protect our “self”, and later our children as well. We try, by the sheer power of our will, to hold everything together. We think we have to handle our problems on our own. We search, often in vain, for any sense of justice in our life.

We come to believe everyone else has to conform to OUR way of doing things so we will be safe. We exhibit undue pressure and control on others to submit to our will and way. This fear and insecurity prevents us from trusting God as well. We overly attach to people, situations, jobs, etc to try to keep our life safe. What we do not realize is that anything that we depend upon holds power over our life. Only God deserves that much power over us.  

7. We blame God for the bad things that happen in our life. We forget that God created paradise for us. Paradise is God’s will for our lives. However, sin in our life and the lives of everyone around us causes these negative situations, which occur. The key to remember is that when we surrender to God, He always works out everything, even the negative things, for our good (Romans 8:28). 

Controlling life puts a tremendous amount of stress on us. We suffer mentally, emotionally and physically because we try to hold everything together. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We think that keeping our loved ones and us safe is up to us. This puts us into a lifestyle of controlling. 

8. Another key to surrender is to believe that the power of God truly CAN overcome any person or circumstance in our life. We cannot change people or circumstances, but GOD can. 

Every person alive has some form of dysfunction. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect people. Jesus Christ holds the market on perfection. It is only as we surrender the complete control of our life to Him, that we can walk in freedom, peace and joy.  

God reveals our faulty beliefs to us one at a time and produces in us both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2: 13). As we give His Spirit permission to replace our negative characteristics with His Fruit we find more and more fulfillment in our life.  

9. We try with all of our might to hang on, to fix it, to change it, to manage it or to try to make it right. God wants us to LET GO and to admit that we are powerless and we need His power in our life.  

Admitting we are powerless and that we need Him is the first step toward healing. God pleads with us to let GOD BE GOD in our life. God wants us to completely surrender our will and to be vulnerable before Him. This is called “dying to self.” 

10. “Dying to self” does not mean that we diminish our God given identity, personality, needs or giftedness. It simply means allowing God to replace our old, carnal sinful nature with His nature. We allow God to call the shots and to direct us according to His will instead of living according to our will.  

11. Read these verses:
Titus 3: 3, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.
          4 But — When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
                6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.  7 Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” 

Romans 6:6, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Galatians 2: 20, “My old (carnal) self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

2 Corinthians 12: 9, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

12. WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG. When we stop trying to control life and give God control over our life, we allow Him to provide for and to protect us. His mighty power starts working in us and through us. When we surrender our life to Him, He accomplishes infinitely more through our life than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3: 20).

13. Who is on the throne of your life:
Is Jesus on the outside with Self on the throne? OR is Jesus on the throne with Self in submission? Life is chaotic when “self” is on the throne. Life is peaceful and calm when Christ is on the throne, and only then can we live and walk in true Serenity. Surrender each moment of your day to the Lord and rejoice evermore.











                                       






Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What IS a Pastor's Wife?????

A new Believer asked me this question…“What is a Pastor’s Wife?”

For over 40 years, I served as a Pastor’s wife; yet, the role is so varied and complicated that I did not have a simple answer to give her. Although the Bible is full of scripture pertaining to the Pastor, it says nothing definite about the topic of his wife.

Jesus calls all of us to a life of ridicule, abandonment, torture, prison and even death if necessary. A Pastor and his family are not exempt from this calling. If the Lord calls a man into the ministry, He also calls his wife and family. I am one flesh with my pastor-husband, and some people even call me, “Mrs. Pastor” or “Sister Kevin”. The main area of responsibility for any wife is to support and to submit to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24).

One major difference from most people, however, is that the Pastor’s family is not allowed to work a 9:00-5:00 workday with week-ends free. The flock needs us "on call," at all hours of the day and night, seven days of the week. It is important to prioritize and to include some time in our schedule for personal reflection and relaxation; but there is usually something that comes up, which supersedes one or both of these priorities. The whole truth is that on the day I married my husband, I laid a “normal life” down on the altar of the ministry, and I watched it go up in smoke as a sacrifice to God. I have not regretted one moment of my life, however, because anything God calls us to do for Him, He supplies us with the desire and the power to do it (Philippians 2:13).

Sometimes, because a church is a microcosm of society, whether you live in the big city or in the country, you actually deal with many issues that are considered part of "small town life". Especially when you go to a new church, everyone is looking at you all the time, deciding whether or not they like you. They have very specific ideas on how you should spend your money, what you should wear, how you should fix your hair and whether or not you should get your nails done professionally. If your house is too nice, people will talk. If it's not nice enough, people will talk. Actually, they talk about everything and anything, which pertains to you and your family.

Church members also often like to talk to the Pastor’s wife about other church members. Therefore, it is important to use discretion and to say only nice things about people. Learning how to change topics quickly and gracefully is vitally important. For this reason, many Pastors’ wives despise committee meetings and women’s sewing circles. However, these are actually the perfect opportunities to share in decisions the church makes about your life, as well as to minister to the real needs of the individual, who happens to sit next to you.

In some churches in which we served over the years, I was compared to the wife of the previous pastor, who is always a paragon of virtue after she leaves. It took these churches time to love me for who I am, and to recognize the gifts and talents, which my husband and I brought to their church family. In other churches, the last pastor left under coercion with less than pleasant circumstances; therefore, the congregation transferred their hurt and mistrust to us; until God used us to bring about healing to their souls.

Making friends with members of the congregation can also be tricky. Some have ulterior motives and they want to control your time, your decisions and your sermon topics. They find it easier to criticize you and to expect you to support their pet events in the life of the church. Others want you to provide them with time for weekly gripe sessions, which they call counseling sessions. I even had a few young mothers who expected me to freely care for their children several times a week.

Most of the people, however, look out for your welfare. Sharing produce, helping with home repairs and giving gifts for birthdays and Christmas are common in some congregations and come as a special added blessing.

Since I had no real answer for her, this new Christian wanted to know, “Do you work?”

This was easier to answer. Yes, I work; but I do not get paid. I wear business casual clothes, but I do not punch a time card. I serve the public for over 50 hours a week, but I have no official job description. I get hand-me-down office equipment, I cannot afford my own car and I have no corner office with a window. I see things both from the pastoral position and from a member’s perspective, because I am also a member of the flock; yet I may not vote on any church issues. However, since I work for King Jesus, my job benefits are actually out of this world!

Then, she wanted to know “What exactly do you achieve?” This is another hard question to answer.

There are at least five differing sets of expectations of the Pastor and his wife from every new congregation, which no couple can possibly fulfill; yet no one has any idea about how to change this dilemma. In my years of serving as a Pastor’s wife, I have been expected to present visionary leadership as the director of the women’s ministries, or at least to attend all of their meetings; to function in some capacity as a teacher to the ladies or to children; to soothe the weary, protect the vulnerable, bind up the wounded, seek the lost and rescue the wandering. I am expected to know where the Pastor is at all times; so that I can tell any inquiring member where to find him.


Many Pastors’ wives run the Sunday school program, which I did at one time in my career. Some direct the choir, but with my lack of musical talent, our churches are glad I do not fill this role! Some plan all the church social events, which makes me break out in nervous hives, just thinking about doing that. I do have my special gifts and callings, however, and I try to stay within the parameter of God’s will for me in any church in which we serve.

I love to network! I connect people to other people and to places that can meet their needs. Just to name a few of the minor “miracles” God helped me to work in my lifetime: I find jobs, free furniture, future mates, best friends, free food, a new doctor and home assistance for people in need. Another talent and particular love for me is to mentor women, both younger and older. I love to listen and give sympathy, as well as empathy whenever I experienced the same malady they confide in me. I enjoy sharing the lessons I have learned in my life with women who are following in my spiritual footsteps. I also pass out our business cards, which have the plan of salvation included, to every new person that I meet. I invite them to call if they are ever in need of a friend, and to visit us at church whenever they have the time.

The best advice I could give to another Pastor’s wife is to talk with your husband in advance about the roles he expects you, as his wife, to fill in your current church. If he has unrealistic expectations, clarify how you feel about them and then suggest alternatives. Once you both agree, then he can help to protect you from the unreasonable expectations of some members of the congregation. Also, you will be more likely to be on the same page when challenges arise and to feel more content with your results when you agree on what roles are yours. If you know ahead of time what you feel called to do, then you can quickly volunteer for what you like to do. When a need arises in the church, which stresses you out or that you are uncomfortable with filling, then you can remind the congregant that you are already committed with other ministries and do not have the time to take on anything else.

Of course, the most important ministry of the Pastor’s Wife is to be the wife of the Pastor! I love, respect and admire my husband. I show this by speaking words of encouragement to counteract all of the doubts Satan sows in his mind throughout the day. I walk with him through every setback. I cheer him on through every victory. I laugh at his jokes – even those which make me look silly. I do not keep his long hours, but I do more than my fair share in order to help lessen his pressures. I always have a clean house, a stocked refrigerator, and clean, ironed clothes waiting for him each morning.

Overall, a Pastor and his family usually enjoy a very good experience in the churches to which they minister. I compare it to having a very big family looking out for you and caring for one another’s needs. My husband and I approach the ministry as something we do together, and that makes it very fulfilling for both of us. A spiritually active, outgoing pastor's wife is a valuable asset to any church in today's climate of apathy to the things of God.

Prayer:
King Jesus, lead us and keep us by Your Spirit every moment of every day. Help us to walk in Your ways and to accomplish everything You set out for us to do every day. Protect us from evil and provide for all of our daily needs. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory today and always.

Thought for the Day:
People who live in glass houses can never cast the first stone.

 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Free Love

Read: Galatians 3: 1-3

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him…” - Philippians 3:10 (Amplified)

As a baby Christian, I misunderstood His new life in me. I thought, “Now that I’ve found God, I no longer need to seek Him. Now I just need to be good enough to deserve His love.” So, I got up from my knees, sighed in determination, pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and went to work for God.

After ten years of striving, I finally heard what God wanted me to know. Our situation today is much the same as what existed among the foolish Galatians Christians, prior to Paul writing his letter to them. Having been born again by trusting in the finished work of Christ and the activity of the Holy Spirit, they had been seduced by Satan and the Judaizers ~ religious legalists, who imposed rules and regulations on them to allegedly guarantee them spiritual maturity. Their definition of abundant life had withered to a desperate struggle in which they sought to keep trying to please God. These Christians lived in a constant struggle to please God by keeping the Law of Do's and Don'ts. Does that sound like anyone you know?

Paul hit the nail on the head in Chapter 3: 1-3..."1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"

That just about sums it up, doesn't it? We trust in Christ for Salvation, but then we try to perfect our selves by our works. Sanctification ~ the process of becoming holy and pleasing to God ~ is a LIFELONG process. There is no shortcut. We did not come to Christ by our works (Titus 3:4-6; Eph 2:8-10), it was a free gift from God. Therefore, we cannot sanctify our selves by our works either; it is also a free gift from God.

There is no striving in our walk with God. We do not need to spend time nor energy on trying to overcome the flesh or on trying to earn God’s love. The only striving that the Bible commands us to do is:
1.) to enter his narrow gate through Salvation
2.) to enter into His rest.

Look at Hebrews 4:9-12… “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest."

We cannot be good enough, holy enough or spiritual enough to deserve God’s love. We already have God's love, which does not depend on our behavior. If the Christian walk depended on us, then we would have no need for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. He died because we can never be good enough to earn God’s love.

It’s tough to enter the rest of God. That’s why it takes effort and striving. Once we’re there, however, we can actually stop striving and rest. God gives us His unconditional love freely as a gift. We only have to open our hearts wide and receive His gift of love. When you realize the truth of this concept, you will sit in your quiet place and feel His love cascading over you like a waterfall. 

Jesus completed the work of our perfection on the cross. Now we only need to allow Jesus to help us make a conscious effort to walk in obedience to His Will, regardless of the circumstances around us. Now, the focus of our purpose in life is to follow hard after God, to drink as a hart from the waterbrook, to come into an intimate relationship with the Lover of our soul.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, whom do I have in heaven, but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; but God, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26) You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11)

Thought for the Day:
I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. Because Your love is better than life. - Psalm 63:2-3 (NIV)




Wednesday, March 14, 2012

True Freedom

Read: Eph 5:15-19

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." – Colossians 3: 16

It is a proven fact that money, fame, looks, success, and people do not make anyone happy. These things give a semblance of freedom, but come with their own handcuffs of discontent. The graveyards are full of people who died unhappily, even though they had one or more of these commonly considered guarantees to a happy life.

The debate of the ages pivots on the conflict between morality and dissipation. Some believe there is no freedom in the face of morality. Others contend that the only true freedom comes within the safe parameters of moral boundaries. We need not live a life of sin in order to be free. In John 8:34-37 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

Sin makes us subservient to itself; and there is no freedom in slavery. Immorality is only enjoyable for a time. The dividends of sin come in the form of ill health, addiction, unmanageable circumstances, jail terms, broken relationships, poverty and eventually a death without peace. Jesus said in Luke 21:34 "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close in on you unexpectedly like a trap.” NIV

There are many verses of advice in the Bible concerning freedom. Paul gives wise counsel on how to live in Eph 5:15-19 “Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” NIV

Our goal in life is to be led by God’s Spirit, and to do only the things which He directs us to do by His Holy Spirit. Henry Blackabe in Experiencing God puts it this way, "Find out what God is doing, and then join Him." This is what we call “walking in the Spirit,” "walking in the here and now," and "being present in the moment."

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, You are not only our brother, but also our very best friend. You sustain us, encourage us, exhort us, and develop us more fully than any human relationship, because You live within us. Eternal life is something that we can enjoy every day! Make this fact real to us a little more each day.

Thought for the Day:
As we take no thought for tomorrow, we can fully enjoy the moment in which we are abiding.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Only Believe

Read: Romans 10: 8-10

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." - Hebrews 8:10

People complain that the Bible is a book of rules and improbable stories. They disdain the thought of making any effort to follow its principles and they make fun of those who do. Their attitude is irreverent, skeptical and sarcastic. They constantly fight the Spirit as He draws them with His mercy and love.  

In truth, we only have one rule to follow. "Believe in the one He has sent." (John 6:29). Those who refuse to believe, condemn themselves already (John 3: 18) and face an eternity of torment. Those who do believe in Jesus take the first step towards an eternity with God. From the moment of our faith filled prayer, God starts the transforming process that revitalizes our life. He writes His laws in our minds and on our hearts. His Spirit guides and comforts us. He adopts us into His family. Steadily, He turns us into a "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Sometimes it is hard to put our trust in a God we cannot see. I love the fact that God deals even with this issue. Mark 9:24 tells us the story of a father who instantly cried out, "I do believe, but help me to overcome my unbelief!" We who believe in Jesus for salvation often lack the faith we need for any number of personal issues throughout our life. We struggle with believing God. In this story, God makes it clear that honesty is what God is looking for, rather than perfect little Saints. He wants us to admit our doubt and to look to Him to restore it for us. He is always present and forever faithful.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, completely redesign our relationship with You by Your grace. Let us see and feel Your love, and help us to trust You and obey You in word and deed.

Thought for the Day:
If we take the time to hear His voice, we cannot help but to believe and be saved.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life's Illusions, Misnomers and Paradoxes

An illusion describes a misinterpretation of a true sensation. Much of life is often an illusion. The brain processes information gathered by the eye; however, the perception given by the brain does not always measure up to reality. Therefore, we have the real possibility of being deceived by a false perception or false belief about something that is true.

A misnomer is a name wrongly or unsuitably applied. Misnomers are illusions of reality.

A paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition, that when investigated or explained, may actually prove to be well-founded and true.

Here are some examples. Can you think of any others?

*********************************************************************************************
Tin foil in not made of tin, but aluminum; and tin cans are made of steel.

Lead pencils are made from graphite.

Guinea pigs are not pigs, and do not come from Guinea.

Catgut is actually made from a sheep’s intestine.

The English Horn is not from England and is not a horn; and French Horns originated in Germany.

The “funny bone” is not a bone, but a nerve.

Sushi does not mean raw fish, but actually means “sour rice”.

The "banana tree" is in fact an herbaceous flowering plant. An herb, not a tree.

You cannot regard something any less than regardless. “Irregardless" is not a word!

Not all bats are blind. Because not all bats can echo-locate; those that cannot, have excellent night vision.

Jellyfish are not actually fish.

A Catch 22 is a situation where someone is in need of something that can only be had by not needing it.

A peanut is not a nut, but a legume (bean).

The sun does not rise or set…the earth turns.

In order for the self to live fully, we must first die to self.

Yesterday is the memory of what, at one time, was today; and tomorrow is merely an illusion of the promise of another day.

The obvious is not seen, until someone recognizes it.

A barber shaves all and only those men who do not shave themselves.

The caterpillar does not die, so that the butterfly can be born; it simply metamorphosizes.

What we teach the best is what we need to learn the most.

The next phrase is true, if the previous phrase is false.

What we view as a problem is usually the very gift that we need.

Knowledge is useless, unless we choose to use it.

The law of probability assures that there must be at least two people in the world with the same number of hairs on their heads at the same time.

Winning simply means that you did not lose.

A photo is not conclusive evidence, because it does not show what happened before or after that exact moment, which is immortalized on film.

Two people might not cooperate, even if it is in both of their best interests to do so.

The life we live is simply the accumulation of all of the consequences of our decisions.

We cannot be an overcomer, unless we have a problem to overcome.

We often waste today by dreaming about tomorrow.

People think they can control life, when it is actually uncontrollable.

Puppets are only as smart as the people who speak for them.

What would happen if an unstoppable force hit an immovable object?

Whatever goes up, must always come down, eventually.

Going left is never right.

When a cup of tea is stirred, the leaves assemble in the center, even though centrifugal force pushes them outward.

We can sew what we sow, but we cannot sow what we sew.

A pickle is a soured cucumber, a raisin is a dried up grape, and a prune is a shriveled up plum.

If one seeks happiness, he/she will never find it.

Nobody goes to that restaurant; it's too crowded.

Don't go near the water, until you have learned how to swim.

Someone said, "I always lie." Are they telling the truth? Or are they lying?

          ****************************************************************************

Most of life is an illusion, a misnomer or a paradox. The only reality that we can count on is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Yet, people who are born every day, end up dying everyday for lack of acceptance of this truth.

On the other hand, those who actually believe that Jesus Christ paid the penalty of our sins, rose again and lives in the hearts of every Born Again believer, he/she will never die (John 11: 26). When we take our last breath on earth, our next breath will be that of celestial air.