Turning Tears into Shouts of Joy

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joyPsalms 126:5 (NLT)

A friend sent me this scripture this morning.  As most of you know I am a pastors wife.  Being a leader can be very rewarding, however, at times it can be very hard and discouraging.  I have managed/led people in large and small corporations, for profit and non-profit and managed/led people in churches, for over 20 years.  The difference is that one is full of Christians and the other a mixture of saved and lost.

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What I can tell you is that people are people and sin is sin.  No matter whether it is church or business, the way people behave is not very different.  Sad but true.  I have watched our country change so much over the last 10 years.  Respect for the flag, respect for God, respect for pastors, respect for teachers, respect for parents and respect for each other is slowly becoming a thing of the past.  Bullying is now cool, even with adults, and gone are the days of treating your neighbor as yourself.

I am beginning to sound like a old person right? I hope not.  This is not a post to talk about the state of our country nor our young people but a post to encourage you.  Yes our world is different, the kids look and act different and even churches are not what they used to be, however our God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He has not changed and He loves us.  God knew exactly where this world was headed.  He knew exactly what the world and people would like in 2018.  And that is why, Christian you are here.

This world needs Christians who are trying to live out God’s word every day.  He wants us to trust Him and to stand firm times of trial and tribulations.  He wants us to see what the world can be, He wants us to be light in a darkened world and He wants us to live out share the good news of Jesus Christ.  God knows it is not always easy.  He knows we may take abuse, feel hopeless and even feel tired and alone.  Remember Jesus walked the earth as a human so He understands what we go through.  God knows your struggles are real.  Think about it.  He gave us this scripture to let us know that there will be times when we are trying to do what we are called to do and we need a minute to just cry.  It is ok to cry for a minute but don’t stay there.  God says that after our tears, our hard times, we will have shouts of joy.

I can tell you that in my time of ministry I have had both tears and shouts of joy.  I think the thing that has always hurt me the most was when Christians act like the world instead of Christians.  In those times, I cling to God’s promises in scripture, focus on the mission which is to share the share the gospel with the lost and trust God for the victory of the battle I am in.  Be of good faith.  Be encouraged.  Our Daddy is bigger than the demons daddy and our Daddy always wins.

Separated

Isaiah 59:2 But your wrongs have separated you from your God, and your sins have made him hide his face so that he doesn’t hear you.

1 Corinthians 15:33  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”    

Sin not only separates us from God but it separates us from other brothers and sisters in Christ and our church or it should anyway.  Not forever, but until they decide to get back on track with their spiritual life.  Does that mean that we stop loving them, stop praying for them, stop being nice to them?  The answer to all these questions is no.  We can still associate with them but because they have chosen to live a life contrary to what God has asked to do we need to take a break from hanging with them every day.  These are not my words only but God’s words.

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2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of Godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

We should love them and encourage them, we should pray for them and we should not act like we are better than they are because we are all sinners.  Ask yourself, do they know what they are doing is wrong yet purposefully choose to do it. Remember that God never stops loving them and neither should we.

Romans 8:35-39  35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Surround yourself with others who love The Lord as you.  My mother always said, birds of a feather flock together.  It is time to find a flock that flies for Jesus.  Together you can soar to heights that you never thought possible.

DIY Christian

Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …

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I am in the process of installing a small section of fence in my yard to keep my new puppy, a big lab, in my back yard.  After making a few calls I quickly discovered that the cost to install a small fence to keep her out of my flower bed is very expensive so I decided to check out DIY fences.

It made me wonder what DIY Christianity would look like.  If there was a Pinterest board or a website for it I think it would look a little like this.

DIY Christianity

  1.  Read the Bible for yourself.  No need to have a Pastor teach you anything.  I am smart enough to read it and understand it on my own.
  2.  Going to church isn’t important. Who needs to GO to church.  I can pick one I like on TV.  I can pick 3 or 4 different ones and watch them anytime I want to, while in my pj’s or cleaning house.
  3. Bible Studies aren’t necessary.  I can buy all kind of Christian book about anything and do my own study.  There is no reason to get dressed, take extra time away from my already busy schedule to meet with people to read and talk about a book together.  Study on a book of the Bible…well refer to number 1.
  4. Church Events are an inconvenience –  My schedule is already busy.  I clean house, cut grass, grocery shop, do laundry and home maintenance all day on Saturday. Sunday is my day to rest and I am too tired after working all week to add anything else to my schedule.
  5.   If I do go to church I don’t commit to just one.  I prefer to visit other churches to keep it interesting – The good news is if I don’t go to the same church each week then I won’t get bored with the same people, same music, or the same preacher.  I won’t be ask to volunteer and I won’t feel like I have to tithe since I don’t use their stuff every week.

Ok so maybe this DIY Christianity is real.  I think there are a lot of Christians that fall into DIY Christianity but that is not what God intended for us.  The scripture today says that he has equipped the saints to teach us and help us grow.  Without going to the same church and sitting under one pastors teaching it is hard to Christians to grow.  Bouncing around and not being committed to a body of believers in a church building allows you to be blown to and fro, which is not of God either.  Find a good church and get involved.  If you are trying DIY Christianity, try the real thing.  It is better than anything you can do on your own.  I PROMISE!

A Love Grown Cold

Cold Love

John 21:15-17 (ESV)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Ask yourself these questions?

  1. Do you say you love Jesus but people don’t see it?
  2. Are you excited about the mere mention of Christ name?
  3. Are you asking Jesus to make you more like him?
  4. Is He the priority in your life?
  5. Are serving Him at work, at your church, in your community?

Go back to the day you were saved.  Do you remember how you felt?  Most of us could hardly wait to get back to church the next week.  We read His word, talk about Him to everyone would listen and we wanted to know every thing we could about Heaven and Jesus.  So what happened?

  1. Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    We forget we are sinners in need of Christ forgiveness.  Either we are living in sin or we begin to judge others sins not our own, thinking that WE are ok.  We no longer pray for God to remove the sins in our life.

  2. We have become one or more of these things:  2 Timothy 3:1–4 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
  3. We have lost faith because we have stopped asking God for impossible things.Matthew 17:20 ESV He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
  4. We forgot how much He loves us.  Romans 5:8 (ESV) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 If your heart has grown cold for Jesus it is time to TURN THE HEAT UP!  It is time for your SOUL TO BE ON FIRE AGAIN!!

Ephesians 3:17b-19, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (NIV)

Two Are Better Than One

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Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 

I grew up in a generation where most of my neighbors were family and so were my best friends.  The one thing about family, in my generation, was that family was forever.  In-laws were called family not in-laws and Sunday dinner at Grandma’s and family reunions took place regularly.  Adults were called Aunt’s and Uncles and everyone was called granny, regardless of how old or young they were.  The older women gave their opinion to their grown daughters and daughter-n-laws on raising children, marriage, cooking and cleaning and no one got mad or at least didn’t show it.

In my youth, I saw very little fighting between the adults and when it did happen, they were right back at Granny’s house the next Sunday for dinner with the rest of the family.  All was forgiven and everyone was back to normal.  Why?  Because family was important. Cousins were our best friends, outside of school, because they were who we saw the most and played with all the time.  The younger Aunts and Uncles were more like our older cooler friends who steered us in the right direction than the adults they represented.

Today, so many people do not have the luxury of growing up with family near by.  Granny’s are called a number of different things and Aunts, Uncles and even mom and dads are called by their first name.  Cousins aren’t best friends because they rarely see each other due to distance and busy schedules AND there is no Sunday dinner at Granny’s house for most families.

I work at a local pregnancy center where I am blessed to meet so many couples, both young and old.  Many who come through the center are in a crisis, but no all.  When we ask if they attend church or know the Lord, the amount who say no is staggering.  There are a variety of reasons given for not attending church, from un-belief  to I used to believe/go to church, but don’t anymore.

We always find a way to share the gospel with those who will give us permission to do so.  Many of our patients are alone in our town.  Transplants.  No Granny’s.  No Aunt’s.  No Cousins. And for some, No friends.  This scripture comes to my mind so often.

You see life is hard.  Would you agree?  We all have ups and we all have downs.  The Bible says we will have trouble in this world, John 16:33. God is always with us so we are really never alone, but God knew from the beginning that man needed another human with him.  Genesis 2:18 ESV Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” It is not any different today.  We all need someone.

Now listen, my lady friends.  I know that some of you have been burned by other women so you don’t trust them.  I know that some of you don’t have those cousins, aunts, moms or granny’s nearby to be there to advise you in troubled times.  So as hard as it may be, I encourage you to find a Christian woman friend that you can lean on.  I say Christian friend because you and she and the Lord make three.

Friends may not stick around forever like our family, however a true friend for any amount of time is a blessing from God. Don’t look at it as you can’t trust women.  Look at it as God has taken your friendship with that person to it’s height and He is moving you on to a new level of friendship with someone new.  I am speaking from experience as I have been hurt, stabbed in the back, turned on, spit on, lied about and gossiped on by some of those who were once my best friends.  My hurt, and maybe yours too, was a double whammy because my best friends were Christians.  Each time I was in disbelief that God allowed it to happened.  In my past, I have sworn to never have best friends again in order avoid the complications that comes with them.

BUT, I am here to say that you do not need to be alone, nor do I.  If you have friends, hurt is going to be inevitable but God will always be there to help you get through the hurt and restore your faith in friendship.  A local church is a great place to find friends and support.  In those churches you will find imperfect people who are tying to be the best Christians they can be.  They are not perfect but they love the perfect one, Jesus Christ.  If you don’t have a local church come visit mine, The Body Church, in Rock Hill, SC.  Ask other people what church they attend.  Visit every Sunday until you find one that feels like a family.  Church is more than a check off box.  If you find a good one, church is about Christ and family, church family.

My prayer for you today is that you find that best friend that you can stick to closer than a brother and you that you both invite Christ to be your best friend too.  I will end with this quote from Joyce Meyers,

Don’t waste your time being upset about something you can’t change. Begin again and do it better this time.

 

The Bad-mouther

Proverbs 6:12-19 (ESV) 12 A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, 13 winks with his eyes, signals[a] with his feet, points with his finger, 14 with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; 15 therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. 16 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
 
The bad-mouther is a person who says something nasty about nearly everyone at the office, the member of your extended family who insults everyone in your family, or the guy in your local church who capitalizes on every opportunity to share how stupid, inept, and hypocritical another Christian is in your church or another one. The sad thing is that some of these are Christians
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How do these people get away with it? What is it about the strategy of bringing others down that works?
 
1) Because sometimes we get unwillingly involved in gossip because we don’t want to hurt feelings, say no, and decline the unsolicited information. When someone wants to gossip to you or in your presence: change the subject or just say you are sorry but you would rather not listen or talk about someone who is not present. It’s just a rule you set for yourself. You are encouraging another to sin. If the gossiper did not have you listening, he would not be gossiping. “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
 
2) People love gossip, whether it is true or not. “The things most people want to know about are usually none of their business.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
 
3) It leads to success if allowed to happen and/or continue. This is a way of creating fear in others at work, church and/or in the family. If a person has “TAKEN DOWN” people by sowing discord or gossip then they create fear from others in their circle. Others have seen what chaos this bad-mouther caused for someone else and they do not want it to happen to them so they give in to whatever the bad-mouther wants.
 
4) They plant bad seeds in your mind about the person they are talking about. You can’t forget it. It may or may not be true, but regardless, it could cause you to treat someone unfairly or love him less. Assumptions and reading into things with the person you heard gossip about begins to grow the seed planted when you listened.
 
5) Because what they are saying is truth. Truthful gossip is a way to distract you that it is still a sin. Unjust violation of the good reputation of another by revealing something true about him is wrong. We have no right to spread information that ruins something so precious as a good reputation unless it is necessary as in defense of self or of others. It would be great if we all focused on mastering ourselves, rather than wasting time gossiping, passing judgment, and betraying people behind their backs.
 
I leave you with these 3 quotes:
 
“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” ~ Jewish Proverb
 
“Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to.” ~ Author Unknown
 
1 Thessalonians 4:11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.

Another Health Care Blog…

Countdown to Health Care Reform

Today I was a bit distracted with all the negativity in the media regarding the new health care bill. I am very concerned about what this means to me personally but I also understand how some friends of mine are supporting it. I think America will stand on one side or the other and at this point I am not convinced that either of us are wrong. My husband and I do not have insurance. I work for a small firm that has a total of 4 employees including the owner and they have chosen not to offer insurance as an option to its employees. I knew that I when I took the job. My husband is a pastor for a small church that can not afford to pay for his insurance benefits so he does not have insurance. Thankfully we are both very healthy so not having insurance has not been an issue for us. My husband and I already pay so much into taxes and live on such a tight budget I wonder how we will budget for more taxes and insurance cost? I understand the need to insure everyone, however we will now HAVE to purchase insurance and I don’t know where the funds will come from to do that.

My parents are both retired with a lot of health problems and they receive Medicare and Medicaid that don’t cover their health cost now, how will they pay the bills when these funds are reduced? How will they afford more taxes to help pay for the new bill when they are already living from check to check.

On the other side I have a few friends who this plan will probably help and they are very excited about it. One has a baby who has had health issues since he was born and has already maxed out on his lifetime coverage. This plan will help him and his parents. Another friend of mine has wanted her husband to change jobs for the last two years but he couldn’t because her child had medical issues that would be considered pre-existing conditions and with the new bill this will allow him to change jobs.

I am concerned that this is going to be yet one more division of Americans and yes even Christians. I was always taught that you should never talk politics or religion at work, well I guess we need to add health care to that list.

Christians, don’t loose focus on Jesus no matter what side of the health care debate you stand on. We need to look for things that unify us not draw us apart. If you notice someone does not support your views on this issue than talk about how America needs Jesus. You may not can count on your congressman to vote your way but you can always count on Jesus. HE is the answer to all our issues.