Prioritize

Recently I was asked to write 25 random things about myself. I’m sure it was no surprise to those that know me very well at all that I included in that description that I am an avid list maker. When I was a young girl, around ten years-old, my parents let my sister and me host a party. I remember having a clipboard and writing down all the details for the evening’s events. Ever since then, when I have a task before me, the first thing I do is make a list of all the things to accomplish.

As an adult I’ve had a variety of planner books, but my favorite kind is where I can prioritize my week and day all on one page. At the beginning of the week I write in appointments and things I know are happening. Each morning I write (in their order of importance) the things I hope to accomplish that day. Things don’t always get done, however, because of one word I used earlier – priorities. Often my husband will need my help with something, and I need to lay aside what I was going to do and be his helper. A woman looking for “her rights” might scream out, “That’s not fair! Your schedule is important too!” My husband would surely agree with that, and is really very considerate when he knows I have things to do, but my heart wants to keep him my priority. The Lord is first, then Dale, then my girls, then ministry.

I get selfish sometimes and have to be reminded by the Holy Spirit’s sweet tug in my heart to make my marriage and my husband on the top of my list. Reading good books is one way I keep my heart turned towards God’s desires for my schedule. One such book is A Woman After God’s Own Heart, by Elizabeth George. I’m reminded that I was created to be my husband’s helpmeet, one suitable for him. Elizabeth says to keep the words, “Sure!” on the tip of your tongue when your husband comes and asks if I’d like to do something. It might be as simple as riding with him to town while he runs an errand. “Sure!” When our girls were young he would sometimes suggest taking me to dinner when in the back of my mind I’d think about how the girls would cry when we’d leave them with a babysitter. “Sure!” needed to be said anyway.

We have gone away for a week at a time when the girls were young. I can remember writing notes for the girls to read each day as they stayed with their grandparents in our absence. Were there tears upon leaving? From us both – yes! But everyone was fine and my husband was made my priority, not my girls. They were never neglected, never had their needs overlooked, but there were times when they needed to see that their daddy was my priority.

Now that one daughter is gone from home and the other is headed for college, I can see how wise God is in reminding wives that we need to keep on being our husband’s helper. If you maintain that relationship as your children are growing up, you won’t dread them leaving you alone with “what’s his name.” You’ll anticipate the time you can share with the man that stole your heart away and keeps doing just that all through your married years!

What can you do today to make your husband your priority? Have you read A Woman After God’s Own Heart? Even if you have and it’s been a while, read it again!

The Pastor and His Family

After the post that I wrote yesterday I wondered how many people would understand why the pressures of the ministry are present. The fact that they are there was stated in the news article I quoted from, but why is it so? Let me see if I can open the curtains of the parsonage so you can get a peek inside.

Often a pastor’s family is viewed as though they are different. If you saw any of the crazy pictures on the DVD we did for my husband’s 50th birthday you’d probably agree – “Yes, those Cunningham’s are different all right!” What I mean by different is that it’s perceived that the pastor’s family doesn’t struggle with the things a “normal” family struggles with. Marital issues, children that disobey, struggles to have consistent, meaningful devotions, sin in their personal lives, a cool heart, etc. They are viewed as incorrectly as a picture of Jesus’ mother with a halo around her head. She wasn’t a saint, and neither are the members of a pastor’s family…nor the pastor himself!

Sometimes people see the humanity of the pastor, his wife and children and are critical of that. Romans 3:23 reminds us that all are sinners; only Christ was born without a sin nature. God’s servants need regeneration just as the congregation does, and we will battle with our sinful nature until the day we’re taken to heaven either in death or the rapture. Be patient with a pastor and his family. The children are often placed on a higher level of expectations than the other children in the church simply because their dad is the pastor. There’s no guarantee that the owner of a car dealership is going to have maintenance- free cars just because he’s the head of the dealership; likewise, a pastor’s children may have some advantages, but there may still be some tune-ups or overhauls necessary along the way. Should the pastor’s son know more Bible answers at the quizzing than the other teens? He should be knowledgeable, but to say he should exceed the others is placing unreal expectations on him.

It seems that many look at the pastor and his family as “untouchable”. Who would want to sit with the pastor and his wife at the fellowship at church? Can it really be fun to be with them? They probably only want to discuss things like eschatology, angelology, Bibliology, or Christology, right? They are viewed as not needing friendships because of their busy lives. None of this could be farther from the truth! Pastors enjoy normal conversation about normal things – sports, vacation, funny scenarios, etc. Because of their busy schedules an outing or lunch with a friend is a welcomed break.

I say all of this not to make you wonder if our household is going into a tail spin; this has been our lives for the last 27 years and we love it! God enables and gives grace to serve Him, and gives joy in the midst of it all. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have written something like this, but as the years have passed I’ve realized there is very little said concerning the pastor and his family. I long to tell from my heart how you, as a member of a local church, can come alongside your pastor and his family and not only encourage them in the ministry, but befriend them as well. Look in the mirror and say, “Those folks are just like me!”, then treat them the way you would want to be treated. They’ll love you for it!

Lift Up Their Arms

I recently read an article that came from a small town newspaper that surprised me. The reason for the surprise was twofold: 1.) this newspaper printed an article about the ministry 2.) It listed statistics that were alarming. The statistics were concerning the pressures of a pastor’s life and ministry. They were as follows:

· 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
· 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could.
· 80% of seminary and Bible school grads who enter the ministry leave within the first five years.
· 70 % of pastors fight depression.
· 50% of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce
· 80% of pastor’s spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.

You might read that and think, “What’s wrong with those people? Can’t they just claim the promises they preach?” I’m sure they attempt to do just that on a daily basis. It’s just that there are so many things that come along on a daily basis that can dishearten a pastor. Let’s think about what I read recently concerning Moses ‘ministry and leadership. He faced hardships as the leader through:

· Criticism from the people – “you’ve brought us out here to the wilderness to die!”
· Lack of willingness from the people to follow and trust him – “We don’t want to leave

Egypt. You’ve caused enough trouble for us. Leave us alone!”
· Criticism from the people – “We want water!”
· His own body was physically tired – His arms grew weary in the battle of the Amalekites.
· Criticism from the people – “We want meat!”
· Physical and emotional exhaustion – He spent all day listening to the Israelites’ problems and helping them discern what was right.

That’s just up to Exodus 19! We know that still ahead is the disobedience of the people, continued complaining and criticism, serving other gods… and the cycle keeps on going!
This is not to say that there are not MANY blessings of being God’s man, called to do His work. Paul states in I Timothy 1:12 – “And I thank Christ Jesus our God who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” To see people trust Christ and grow in Him, to give out the Truth in preaching each week, and to encourage those that are going through hard times with the Scriptures is a blessing. But it isn’t without the hardships that are seen even in Moses’ ministry.

Is there a solution to the problem? Be to your pastor like an Aaron and Hur who lifted up Moses’ arms. Encourage those leaders that stand in the pulpit at your church. Grab their hand and express your appreciation to them for their faithful preaching of the Word, for being there when you need counsel, for staying faithful, even when they may feel like giving up! Pray for your pastor each day and remind him frequently of your prayer support. Encourage him with your face! While he’s preaching don’t sit and scowl; let the truth travel to your face. Nod, smile and encourage him that what he’s preaching is encouraging your heart! Don’t criticize your pastor and don’t listen to others’ criticism of him. You won’t agree with everything he does, but He is God’s man – stand behind him and love him. God will deal with him, when that is needed. Realize the difficulty of being in his place and determine not to be part of the bane of his ministry, but the blessing of it.

As a preacher’s wife I read articles such as the one in the paper and I know that it is true. I’m grateful for those that come alongside my husband to encourage him in His call. We have many people at BCBC that do just that. If you’re a member of another church, there are probably many you don’t know about that seek to support your pastor. Does that mean that your encouragement isn’t needed? Oh no! You may be just the one that could encourage him today like no one else could! However God leads you, hold up your pastor’s arms today so he can continue to fight the good fight and keep the faith! (I Timothy 4:7)

O “hold up the hands” of the worker for Christ,
Encourage his soul by your prayer;
A handclasp, a smile, or a word of good cheer,
Will help him life’s burdens to bear. — G. W.

Resurrection Day

Early yesterday morning I sat at my kitchen table with my Bible and coffee cup. I love my kitchen at that time of day because the sun shines in the French doors onto the kitchen table and the seats around it. As I studied and prayed, I was reminded of the reason we worship on Sunday, the first day of the week. Matthew 28:1 tells us that “early in the morning, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.” This was Resurrection Day, and ever since then we worship on Sunday to remember our Lord rising from the tomb. As the sun hit my face I thanked the Lord for the Truth of that day and how the fact that Jesus lives continues to impact every Sunday – and every other day.

Because Jesus lives:
· I can hear Him speak to me when I go to church.
· I can hear Him speak to me in my personal devotions.
· I have reason to sing and praise Him!
· I know He will hear me when I pray.
· I don’t have to worry about the future.
· I have a future full of promise!
· I know He’ll take care of me today.
· I have purpose for the day.
· I have a message to share with others!
The weekend is over, but “Sunday’s comin’” with all the hope of the Resurrection Day. You can live expectantly today just as the women at the tomb who saw the risen Savior. There is purpose for this day because Jesus lives!
*Not only has my blog received a face lift this weekend, but I believe the problem with leaving comments has been solved. Thanks for taking time to read RefreshHer!

Counterfeits

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “counterfeit?” Probably most of us would think of counterfeit money. The definition of the word counterfeit is: “an imitation (ie, a fake) made usually with the intent to deceptively represent its content or origins…” There are many kinds of counterfeit things in this world, paintings, antiques, jewelry, etc., but the most deadly is counterfeit teaching.

Many people call themselves Christians, yet have never been saved the Bible way (by grace through faith alone). Counterfeit beliefs are dreamed up then written up deceiving many and leading them astray from the Truth of God’s Word. They deny the very essence of the Gospel – the trinity, the hypo static union of Christ (perfect God, perfect man), the virgin birth, the inerrancy of the Scriptures, etc. People that deny these truths cannot be saved and their teaching will lead anyone that reads it to believe a lie.

If you heard false teaching would you know it? How do you discern between the truth and lies? How does the Secret Service learn to detect counterfeit money? They handle only the REAL thing, then when they touch or see the fake, they know it. We have to do the same thing! It is essential that we stay away from the error. If you hear that someone has written a book that is heresy, don’t read it. Instead, fill your mind with the Truth! Know God’s Word and its doctrines so well that you can detect error when you see it or hear it. Steer clear from counterfeit by loving and knowing the Truth!

BCBC Fellowship Meeting

This note is for the Boones Creek Bible Church Ladies regarding our upcoming ladies’ RefreshHer meeting.

“And some having compassion, making a difference.” Jude 22

Our monthly ladies’ fellowships will resume in February. Our first meeting will be Monday, February 9th from 7-9 p.m. (Tuesday nights are now designated for C.A.R.E.). The theme for the year is “Making a Difference.” Our heart’s desire is that as ladies we make a difference in our homes, our church and our community.
If you are new or relatively new at our church, I am making a special invitation to you. Please join us for this evening. We want to get to know you better, and the best way to do that is through a fellowship like this! At this meeting I will be sharing with you the calendar of events for the ladies’ ministry. We’re going to play a “getting to know you” game, we’ll have a challenge from God’s Word about compassion, and we will also be filling visitor bags for the C.A.R.E. ministry.

I’m asking those of you that are able to bring items to bag up for our C.A.R.E. Ministry. C.A.R.E. members will make visits and take them to recent visitors of BCBC. You will find this list of needed items following this article. This is one way we can make a difference in our church!

Items to bring:
· Wrapped treats like Little Debbie Cakes, small candy bars, etc
· Tea bags, hot chocolate mix
· Individually wrapped mints
· Treat bags
· Soup mix
· Small bottles of lotion
· Travel size Kleenex

Vital Truths from an Old Story

As I continue my reading through the One Year Bible I’m now entering the book of Exodus. These are such familiar stories to most of us. How clearly I remember seeing in my Sunday school class as a child the beautiful pictures showing the baby Moses in the basket being rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter. It can be easy to read over these familiar stories and not allow the Truths to penetrate our hearts. I prayed again this morning, “Oh Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Here’s what the Lord showed me in chapters 5:22 – 7:25:

  1. Even when you’re doing what God tells you to do things can be rough. The children of Israel were now having to work even harder than before! Be patient though, because God’s plan will be fulfilled.
  2. God is in control of what the Pharaoh (and what our president) does and God will ultimately get the glory. 7:3 God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart to accomplish His purposes.
  3. God will remember his covenant – vs.6:5 God didn’t forget the promise He made to the Israelites.
  4. Sometimes even those who are supposed to be “on our side” will also turn against us! – 6:9 The Israelites were very angry with Moses and Aaron.
  5. Satan will always have a counterfeit ready to deceive. 7:11 The magicians’ rods also became serpents.
  6. God is stronger than Satan. 7:12 Moses’ rod swallowed up the magicians’ rods.
  7. God knows everything that his children are going to do tomorrow, and He is also very aware of his enemies’ plans. 7:15 He knew Pharaoh would be at the river in the morning.
  8. When God wants us to do something He will give us all the details we need. 7:15 He told Moses to hold the rod over the water but He specified that it wasn’t just any rod, it was the rod that had become a serpent.

As I continued my reading into the Psalms and Proverbs I saw a thread being woven through my entire reading today. The psalm I read was the 23rd and I could see how God shepherded Moses in his pilgrimage through the wilderness. He led him by green pastures and still waters (literally!). His cup ran over. Goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life, and God will do the same for me. Then the proverb was from chapter 5:22-23 and says, “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” Is this not what happened to the Pharaoh? Yes indeed!

God’s Word is so precious. It is pertinent to what is going on in my life today, just as it applied to Moses’ life. What truths did you learn today? If you’re able, why not leave me a note and tell me – I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. Many have shared that they have tried to leave a comment and could not. I believe I have fixed the problem and anyone should be able to comment now.