Tip #2 for the Rookie Pastor’s Wife: TAKE IT SLOW

4cbaekkcgAs pastors’ wives, we’re apt to jump into our first church with all kinds of grand ideas for change. It’s great for us to be excited and normal for us to see things we’d like to improve, but we must proceed with care. What we do in those early months can do much good or much harm to our husband’s ministry and to our future relationships with (especially) the women of the church. Instead of running headlong into changes, we must take it slow. Here’s what I mean:

  •  Participate. For approximately the first year, we should join the women in their regular events—without sharing our big plans for improvement. For example, if I spend my time at the Annual Ladies’ Tea spouting off to my tablemates about how I’m going to make it an Annual Ladies’ Coffee next year, I’ll probably hurt some feelings and raise barriers I never intended to raise. Instead, I should simply sip my Earl Grey and chat about finger sandwiches and china teacups with my new friends.images (3)
  • Learn. Finding out the church’s history can help us better understand the congregation. For instance, let’s pretend I’m an accountant (for those of you who know me, I’m asking you to suspend your disbelief). Anyway, if I’m an accountant, it’s reasonable for me to think I’d be the perfect chair for next year’s Finance Committee. (I can hear you laughing! Remember…suspend your disbelief!) But what if one of my new friends at the Annual Ladies’ Tea tells me about the pastor’s wife from 1923 that stole an entire year’s worth of mission offerings? Hmmm, maybe it’s best if I stay far, far away from church finances after all (not just because I stink at math).
  • Love. As pastor’s wives, we need to build relationships with people and learn to love them as Christ loves them. If I let myself view the women in my church as “projects” or people I can manipulate with sweet words, they’ll want absolutely nothing to do with me (and rightfully so!). Instead, I need to build genuine friendships with people. I need to love and appreciate them for who they are. They’ll benefit, and so will I.x19395039
  • Trust. We must recognize that God is in charge of His church, not us, and He has His own timetable. As long as I push my own agenda for the church, I’m sure to fail. Instead, I have to trust God to work His perfect will. I have to trust that as my husband faithfully proclaims God’s Word, God is conforming His people into His image. And He’s also conforming me.

In case you missed it, here’s a link to Tip #1.

The Importance of Practice

This week’s post is an article by my son that appeared in the March 9, 2014, issue of Encounter Magazine. He shares some good thoughts on ways Christians can strengthen their faith through practicing spiritual disciplines. images (1)

Often people think that practice doesn’t matter, and that you only need to try in a game, whether the “game” is a sport or the Christian life. I’ve found that you need to try hard during both practices and games. Practice helps you to understand how to win the game.

For example, if you want to be a good soccer player, you have to practice certain skills. One of these is running. In soccer if you’re not constantly running, it’s almost impossible to score. You have to run a lot at times other than the game so that you can build up your stamina.

Second, you have to juggle. Juggling is bouncing the ball off of your feet, thighs, chest, and head without letting it touch the ground. It takes a long time to learn how to juggle. You have to understand how the ball bounces and how heavy it is in order to gauge the strength of your kicks. This teaches you ball control and strengthens your legs so you can play better during games.

Third, you have to practice striking the ball. Unless you strike the ball just right it will curve, go over the target, or just roll a few feet ahead of you. You have to practice a lot in order to get it right.Practice pinned on noticeboard

It’s not just sports you have to work on. You also have to work hard to act like Christ. Acting like Jesus all the time is very difficult. There are things to help you with that too.

One thing you can do is pray.  Ask God to give you help and patience, because acting like Christ takes time and effort. However, don’t just sit back and wait. Try to make it happen. Otherwise you are asking for one thing and really wanting it not to happen. Also, pray when things are going well, not just when you’re struggling. Like in soccer, you can’t wait until the game to start running, so you can’t wait until times of trial to start praying.

Second, read your Bible. The Bible explains how you are supposed to live. Without it, you can’t know what God wants you to do. You can only guess and hope you don’t mess up. You can’t wait until someone asks you a difficult question about your faith before you start reading your Bible regularly. You have to practice this discipline. It helps you be strong in your faith.

Third, you need to think about Christ. It’s hard to get angry about someone lying about you or not playing fair in a sports game when you consider how much worse Christ endured.

Finally, we all know what the point of a sports game is, but what is the point of the Christian life?

The answer is easy to say, but hard to do. The point is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In everything we think, say, and do, we must glorify our LORD. When you’re on a soccer team, the point is to bring glory to the team. When you’re on God’s “team,” the point is to glorify Him.

One of the ways we do this is by telling others about Him. If you really think God is amazing, then you should want to tell others. This isn’t always easy to do, but it gets easier when you try it, or put it into practice.

Another way is to sing His praises. Often, people think that you should just sing loud. I think you should try to sound good. After all, you’re singing to the Creator of the Universe, so you should at least try to sing well. We should give our best to our Savior, not just our loudest!  I’m not saying that we have to be perfect. I just think that God deserves the best we can give. This also requires practice. When I play in the Praise Team, I don’t just show up on Sunday morning right before it’s time to start. I practice throughout the week, and I get up early to practice with everyone else. Practice is the only way to give our best to God.

To do well at anything, whether something as unimportant as sports or as crucial as becoming like Christ, we must practice.

The Promise-Keeper

Two springs ago, I watched rain shoot in waves from our neighbor’s car-driving-rain-storm-abstract-background-13899452roof. Lightning flashed, a boom of thunder shook the house, and my wide-eyed children flocked to me.

“It’s okay,” I told them in what I hoped was a confident voice. “We’re safe.” And I knew we were, but as the rain fell in sheets, my anxiety for my husband grew. He had driven into the city to make a hospital visit. What if he had an accident in this storm? What would the children and I do if he were killed?

Later, when my husband finally arrived safe and well, I sagged into his arms. After he told of the many wrecks he’d barely missed in the flooded streets, our five-year-old looked up from his toys and said, “But Daddy, I thought God promised not to send floods anymore.”

My husband explained God promised never to flood the whole earth again, and that our city was only having flash flooding.

“That’s okay then,” our son said, turning back to his toys, “because God always keeps His promises.”

My little boy’s faith shamed me. Why was I so quick to fret when I knew, even if my husband died, God promised He’d never forsake me or my children?

And God always keeps His promises.

 

Snapshots of Courageous Faithfulness

ruth2In so many ways, our culture’s motto is “Do whatever feels right to you.” Believing that there is one right way set by God Himself and living according to that way takes a form of courage we often lack. Though thousands of years old, the book of Ruth gives us three snapshots of courageous faithfulness from which can we still learn today.

Naomi illustrates courageous repentance. The book of Ruth begins by recounting Elimelech and Naomi’s disobedience in moving to Moab because of a famine in Judah. Their actions reflect the sin of their time as shown in the last verse of Judges (just before Ruth in the English Bible), “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Reacting to the famine they could see rather than by faith in the One who delivered them from Egypt, Elimelech and Naomi rejected the inheritance God gave them and married their sons to two accursed Moabite women. In the midst of their unfaithfulness, Naomi’s husband and sons died. Left with only two young Moabite daughters-in-law, Naomi had to choose. Would she continue in unfaithfulness or repent and return to Israel? Perhaps in desperation, perhaps in courage, Naomi chose repentance. Though she renamed herself Mara out of bitterness at God’s discipline, yet she resumed her trust in Him. She returned to the land of promise, even bringing Ruth, physical proof of her disobedience, home with her.

Ruth illustrates courageous conversion. Raised an idolater, Ruth is instead engrafted into God’s people. When Naomi urged her to return to her own people, Ruth told Naomi, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16).  Ruth’s statement is one of the most famous examples of faithfulness in Scripture, and she isn’t even a Hebrew. In fact, most Hebrew Bibles order the book of Ruth directly after Proverbs 31, the poetic rendering of a woman of excellence, reinforcing Ruth’s character as a living and breathing woman of excellence (Ruth 3:11), one who courageously left all she knew to become part of God’s people.

In this and every story, God is the ultimate example of courageous faithfulness. Working sinlessly through the sin of Naomi’s family, God wooed Ruth to Himself. Out of His great faithfulness, He provided Israel with food that tempted Naomi’s return. Through Boaz, He provided for both women’s physical needs. Through Ruth and Boaz’s descendant Jesus, He provided for their—and our—spiritual needs.

Just as they did in Ruth’s time, people in today’s culture do whatever seems right in their own eyes. Still today we must, like Ruth, be courageous enough to align ourselves with God’s people. Like Naomi, we must be courageous enough to repent of our sins, accept God’s discipline, and return to His people. We must place our trust in the One who is faithful beyond all we can imagine—King Jesus.