Tip #5: Be Longsuffering…But Not Too Long

As pastors’ wives, we have a special set of stressors that don’t affect most women in the church. Our husbands often have stretches of preaching one funeral after another or visiting folks in the hospital day after day for weeks on end. Or happy occasions fill his (and our) time, like six graduation parties on the same Saturday or a wedding a weekend for the next month.

No matter the reason, our husbands’ busy seasons mean we wives are left with most, if not all, of the responsibilities for home and family care. We have to mow the lawn, clean the house, shop for groceries (and all those graduation, wedding, sympathy, and get well cards/gifts), work our own jobs, take care of the kids, and handle anything else that might come up…all by ourselves. How can we possibly do it all with a godly attitude? images

  • Suffer long. If we step back and put things in perspective, we realize that these seasons of extreme busyness are typically short (though they may feel long at the time). Usually, I can better tolerate cleaning up after three kids with the stomach flu if I remind myself that my husband only has two more three-hour meetings this weekend before he comes home to help.
  • But not too long. When we feel our nerves stretch to the breaking point, we have to tell our husbands how we feel. Self-sacrifice for the good of the church can only go so far before that very sacrifice damages the church and our family. If we allow our marriages to break, all those hours as the martyr pastor’s wife are wasted. In other words, when I feel myself on the verge of snatching the hair from the heads of those women slandering my husband in the ladies’ room or when I’m ready to pack my bags and move home to Momma, leaving husband, children, and church behind, I’ve waited too long to speak up.
  • Ask for help from church leaders. If the too-busy seasons have stretched into too-busy months or too-busy years, we and our husbands have to talk to the church elders or deacons about getting him some help, either by restructuring the ministry roles of others or by hiring an associate pastor to share the load. If things reach the point where my kids no longer set a place for Daddy at the table because it’s been so long since he’s been home for supper, it’s definitely time to make changes in his schedule.
  • Seek God. In stressful seasons, it’s easy to let our responsibilities pull us away from personal times of Bible study and prayer, yet neglecting God is the worst thing we can do. God promised to be our rock and fortress through all the storms of life. We must seek Him in the crazy times as well as the calm.

Thinking Required

ani_thinkingcapI know, I know…when it comes time to plop down in front of the television, the last thing we want to do is think. We want to veg out and just have fun. Yet the Bible commands Christians to evaluate everything we take into our mind. Visual media—television, movies, plays, YouTube videos—can be a great way to experience places and adventures we might not otherwise experience or to feel what characters feel in sorrowful or exciting situations. Visual media can even strengthen our faith in God or help us introduce a non-Christian friend to Christ.

But not every movie, play, television show, or video is good for us. The Bible teaches in 1 John 4 that Christians must test the spirits to discern what’s true and what’s false. In other words, we have to test what we choose to watch. Sometimes rejecting a movie or television show is a no-brainer because our parents said we aren’t allowed to watch it or because the content is clearly bad for us. But what about those shows that fall into neutral territory? How do we decide which movies we should skip? How do we know which YouTube videos we should post on our Facebook wall? Here are three questions that can help us decide:

  1. What’s being said about Jesus? Lying spirits hate Jesus. If a television show spouts lies about Christ, we need to turn it off. No matter how much a play or movie stirs our emotions, we can’t embrace it if it actively denies the biblical truths that Jesus is God who became man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back one day.
  2. Does the world love it? Popularity doesn’t equal truth. In fact, if the world loves a play/movie/TV show/video, Christians should be wary. By nature, the world loves what is worldly and hates what is from God. Remember, labels can be deceiving. Just because somebody labels a show “inspirational” or “faith-based” doesn’t make it Christ-exalting. I’m not saying every “family-friendly” movie that gets nominated for an Academy Award is teaching lies. I’m just saying we can’t buy into it without careful testing because not everything labeled “faith-based” is based on faith in the right Person.
  3. Is it biblical? This question doesn’t let us be lazy. We can’t simply point to a tacked-on Bible verse at the end of a YouTube clip and call it godly. We have to ask if the verse is being interpreted right. We have to ask if it’s been taken out of context. In order to recognize whether something is biblical, we have to know what the Bible actually says. If we’re not sure whether something fits with the Bible’s teaching, we should ask for help from a parent, youth leader, pastor, or mature Christian friend. And of course, we should always pray for God’s help in discerning the truth.

So what do we do if we realize the latest, greatest movie or television show doesn’t pass the test? We don’t watch it—no matter how many of our church friends adore it. But if it passes the test, great. We can relax and enjoy the good gift God has allowed us.

God’s Underdog

We love underdog stories, don’t we? We cheer when the street rat Aladdin wins the hand of Princess Jasmine. We clap when the Little Engine That Could makes it over the mountain with all those toys and goodies for the children. We applaud when the weak boy Harry Potter defeats the wicked, powerful Lord Voldemort. download

We don’t like to be underdogs ourselves, though. We want to be strong and heroic. We want to have it all together. But sometimes we get weighed down with our own frailties. As Christians, we feel too weak to do anything worthwhile to help a world drowning in sin. Yet God doesn’t look at things the way we do.

God chose a young boy named David to defend His Name against the Philistine giant, Goliath. He chose tiny, insignificant Bethlehem to be the birthplace of the King of kings. He chose a helpless baby born to an unwed mother to save His people from their sins.

This world praises the strong, the rich, and the powerful. To the ungodly, the fact that the God of the Universe condescended to become a human makes no sense. Why would an omnipotent, immortal being ever choose to become human—much less a poor, weak Jewish baby?  Because, as 1 Corinthians 1:25 tells us, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

God loves to use what appears weak to mankind as a means of displaying His great power. Through His Son Jesus Christ, God gave us the gift of His strength.

That means in those disheartening moments when our frailty weighs us down, we should look up and see what God is doing. Who knows? He may just be working through our weakness to display His great strength.

With God in control of our lives, let’s be content to be His underdog.Underdog

Gram’s Treasure: A Short Story for Children

images (4)Hannah scurried into her older brother’s room and plopped onto his bed, heedless of the text books and papers sprawled across the quilt.

“Guess what I have,” she said, breathless.

“Hannah! Look what you made me do!” Jake scowled at her and started erasing the pencil line that marred his math homework.

“Sorry, but listen to this,” she said, bouncing a couple of times.

“Quit shaking the bed!”

Hannah huffed but sat still while Jake finished his erasing.

“What?” he finally said, snapping shut his math book.

Hannah leaned forward. “I overheard Mama and Daddy talking—”

“You shouldn’t be listening to other people’s conversations,” Jake said, crossing his arms over his chest.

Hannah pursed her lips. “I wasn’t trying to listen. I was just washing dishes and they were talking in the living room. I couldn’t help overhearing.”

Jake lifted one eyebrow.

“Do you want to hear or not?”

“You’re the one who came busting in my room wanting to tell me something.”

“Oh, all right, I’ll tell you.” She blew out a breath. “Remember that load of boxes Uncle Benjamin brought Mama last week? You know, of Gram’s things?” Mama and Uncle Benjamin’s grandmother had died a few months earlier.

“Yeah, so?”

“There’s a treasure hidden in it!”

“Hannah, you’ve been reading too many stories.” Jake rolled his eyes.

“I’m not making this up,” she said, glaring at him. “Mama told Daddy she was sorting Gram’s cedar chest today and found the key to her greatest treasure.”

“What key?”

“This one.” She held out her hand, and a small brass key gleamed dully in the lamplight.

“Where’d you get that?” Jake’s eyes widened. “Did you steal it?”

“No! Mama left it on the end table.” Hannah’s neck heated as she looked down at the key in her sweaty palm. “I just picked it up.”

Jake shook his head.

“I’ll put it back after I find the treasure.”

“Gram didn’t have any treasure,” he said. “She was as poor as we are.”

“That’s what we thought,” Hannah said, “but maybe she just didn’t live like she was rich.”

“Yeah, well, I just don’t think she’d hide her money in some box without telling somebody.”

“Maybe she wanted us to find it after she died.”

“You’d think she’d have just given it to us if she wanted us to have it,” Jake said.

“But that’s boring,” Hannah said. “She probably wanted someone to find the key and then go treasure hunting.”

“I don’t know.” Jake leaned back against the headboard. “Where exactly do you think this stash is?”

She shrugged. “Don’t know, but I’ll figure it out. Want to help?’

“Can’t,” Jake said. “Have to help Dad tomorrow and then I’ve got all this homework to do.” He tapped the cover of his book. “Besides, you really shouldn’t have taken that key without asking Mama’s permission.”

Hannah bit her lip. “I’ll tell after I find the treasure. She’ll be so happy about the extra money she won’t mind about the key then.”

downloadHannah woke at dawn on Saturday, even though she’d stayed up half the night imagining the treasure. Would she find jewels or gold or a big pile of money?

And where should she begin her search? Maybe she’d start by asking a few questions.

Hannah dressed quickly and slipped down to the kitchen where Mama was preparing breakfast.

“Mama,” Hannah said, trying not to finger the key in her pocket, “where’s all that stuff Uncle Benjamin brought you last week?”

“Gram’s cedar chest is in my room, but we stored everything else in the cellar until I can get time to look through it.” Mama flipped a pancake then set aside the spatula and turned to look at Hannah. “Why do you ask?”

The cellar! Hannah shrugged, holding in a grin. “Just wondered.”

Mama opened her mouth like she was about to say more, but the bacon started smoking so she turned back to the stove instead.

Hannah was too excited to eat much. Mama and the little ones were headed to Aunt Rebecca’s for the morning, and Dad and Jake had to patch the barn roof. That meant Hannah could search for the treasure as soon as everyone left.

An hour later, Hannah hesitated at the top of the cellar stairs, flashlight in hand. Mama usually sent Jake down there because Hannah hated the cellar. But you have to go, she thought, for the treasure. Straightening her spine, she started down. Her footfalls rasped on the bare wood steps, echoing through the dank darkness below. Hannah shivered and clicked on her flashlight then shone the light around, hoping the skittering sound she heard was just her thumping heart.

“You have to be brave,” she told herself then flinched at the sound of her own voice.

When Hannah reached the concrete floor, she peered around the room and wished her flashlight’s beam was stronger. What if the batteries died and she got stuck down there forever? Hannah shook her head and took a deep breath. The stale, cold air coated her nose and throat. She moved toward a stack of boxes, hoping they were labeled.

Baby clothes was scrawled across one box top. Probably not Gram’s. Hannah moved around the stack, farther from the stairs. Just before she reached another pile of cartons, something soft and sticky coated her face. She screamed and danced around, swiping at her head. Hannah’s flashlight dropped to the floor, and she stomped down on it. It rolled and she flailed wildly, grabbing at the cartons to steady herself. Hannah managed to stay on her feet, but just as she stooped to pick up the flickering flashlight, the pile began to totter.

“Oh, no,” Hannah said then covered her head with her arms as the boxes tumbled down around her.

Sudden silence made her peek from her sheltering arms. The flashlight spun in dizzying circles at her feet, highlighting the mess she’d made. Clothes and quilts and keepsakes lay scattered around the floor. Hannah sighed and squatted to start picking up, but the flashlight stopped spinning and the beam shone on a cardboard box. Gram’s Things.

Mouth hanging open, Hannah reached into the carton. “Ouch!” She jerked her hand back and sucked on her pricked finger. More careful this time, she picked up the light and searched the interior. Hannah moved aside a wool blanket and some fragments of a shattered vase then spied a wooden box. The wood looked old and was carved with flowers and letters. She moved the beam closer. “My Treasure,” it read. And below that was Gram’s name.

The treasure box!

Hannah bounced in excitement then calmed enough to lift the box for a better look. Beneath Gram’s name were some words: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” On the front was a brass lock with a tiny keyhole. She fumbled for the key in her pocket and stuck it into the lock. It fit. Pulse racing, Hannah turned the key and opened the lid. What would she find?

Just an old book. Tears filled her eyes. What kind of treasure was that?

“Hannah?”

Whirling around, Hannah saw Mama standing at the foot of the steps. Hannah’s eyes darted from her mother’s face to the jumble on the floor. Uh, oh. Why was Mama home so early? Now she was in for it.

“What happened?” Mama gestured toward the chaos.

“Um.” Hannah cast around in her mind for a good excuse. Nothing. She didn’t even have a treasure to offer.

“Did you get hurt?” Mama asked, and the gentle words made Hannah gulp back sudden tears.

She dropped the book on the floor then ran to her mama. “I’m sorry,” Hannah said, throwing her arms around Mama’s neck. “I didn’t mean to make such a mess.”

“What are you doing down here?” Mama’s hand made soothing circles on Hannah’s back.

“Treasure hunting.”

“Treasure hunting? In the cellar?” Mama pulled back and studied her face. “Why?”

“I heard you telling Daddy you’d found the key to Gram’s treasure.” Hannah turned to pull the key from the lock and held it out. “I took it so I could find the money.”

“Hannah,” Mama said, her eyes sad, “do you love money so much you would take what doesn’t belong to you?”

Sniffling, Hannah shook her head. “It wasn’t just for me. I was going to share with you and Daddy, so our family could get the stuff we need.”

“I see.” Mama gave her a small smile.

“But Gram lied, Mama.” Hannah released a sob. “She didn’t leave a treasure at all. Just a worthless old book.”

“Show me,” Mama said.

Hannah picked up the book and handed it to Mama, who studied the cover, then smiled.

“Hannah,” she said gently, “you did find Gram’s greatest treasure, and it’s far from worthless.”

Hannah blinked. “What do you mean?”

“It’s her Bible, and the wealth of wisdom Gram gained from it far exceeds anything money can buy.” Mama’s eyes filled with tears, but her smile remained. “I appreciate that you wanted to help your family, though you know taking the key was wrong, but Hannah, this Book holds more value than the most precious gold or jewels in the world.”

“How?” Hannah sniffled.

“Gram believed like the Psalmist, “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

Hannah’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t understand.”

Mama smiled. “Here.” She placed the book in Hannah’s hands. “Gram’s Bible is yours now. Read and find out why it was her treasure.” Britancy_vse_huzhe_znayut_bibliyu