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.

Just Sing!

Yesterday was a day that will long be remembered in the history of our country. The people voted and got what they wanted, and now a new president has been sworn into office. I reminded myself of God’s control and sovereignty – not only of my individual life, but also of this country. I have to admit that my heart was heavy, so I turned some music on my computer while I was working. The Abiding Radio station that this blog has a link to (top left corner) is what I began listening to. I usually listen to the instrumentals, but this time I listened to the sacred, which plays both vocal numbers and instrumentals.

I cannot tell you what that music did for my heart. It encouraged me so much that I did something I never do and left it on all day. I listened as I cleaned, cooked and worked around the house. I cranked the volume up so I could hear it in the other rooms. I heard, “Now I Belong to Jesus” played by the majesty brass. What a blessing to sing in my heart – Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity! Another instrumental number of “America” played, bringing tears to my eyes as I sang along. I listened to the words of “At the Cross” and was reminded of the place where my burdens all rolled away. “Amazing Grace,” “Bow the Knee” and so many other songs made my heart flood over with rejoicing. Oh, the power of good music!

There are somewhere around 527 references in the Bible to singing. Think about just a few references – at the Red Sea after their deliverance Moses and the children of Israel “sang this song unto the Lord – I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously…” (Exodus15:1) Paul and Silas sang hymns while they were in prison. At the Last Supper the disciples sang a hymn before they left. The psalms are full of verses about singing to the Lord at times of joy and sorrow alike. God knows that good music will encourage our hearts, and He tells us over and over to sing to Him.

If your heart is sad today, sing! If you feel overwhelmed, sing! If you are rejoicing, sing! If you feel lonely, sing! If you are discouraged, sing! If you are in a trial, sing! Use the tool of some good music to get your heart in tune.

Psalm 146:2 – While I live will I praise the LORD; I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.