Does it bother God when we are limited in our faith? I am reminded of the story in the 8th Chapter of Matthew when Jesus became aggravated with his disciples when they woke him up from a good nap to tell him about the horrible storm they were experiencing out on the sea. Then again in the 17th chapter of Matthew, Jesus was disturbed by the lack of faith the disciples had to heal a boy of epilepsy. Here were men who had spent extended time with Jesus yet they still suffered from a lack of faith. What about in your own life, is your faith restricted?
I was reading the devotional book “God Calling” and ran across the term “sublime audacity”. I wasn’t sure what the term meant so I looked up each word separately and tried to put them together to understand the meaning. Sublime refers to being elevated or lofty in thought or inspirational, magnificent and heavenly while audacity refers to boldness, fearlessness and courageousness. When I put them together what I got out of the lesson is that we should be bold in our faith and believe that God can do the impossible.
“Dare to suffer, dare to conquer, be filled with My sublime audacity. Remember that. Claim the unclaimable. Just what the world would think impossible can always be yours. Remember, My children, sublime audacity.”
So do we place limits on what we believe God can do? Do we only ask him for the things that we feel like we can accomplish with our own skills and abilities? Have you ever been in need of a financial blessing and just asked God for the bare minimum rather than taking a leap of faith and asking for the full amount and the extra money that you needed? Have you ever asked God for a miracle and were afraid of asking for the full miracle? Have you dared to dream big thinking it would never happen for you?
According to Pastor Mark Batterson, the author of the Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, “God isn’t offended by our biggest dreams and boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less”. He further states that “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers.”
In my own life I have limited God by limiting my prayers and requests with what I thought was possible in my restricted mind. When I became a published author and was asked about the number of books that I wanted to sell, I thought to myself that I wanted to sell at least 1,000 to 2,000 books. I basically looked at my own network and my own abilities and concluded that I could probably sell that many books. Since I had never imagined myself being a published author in the first place, I thought the miracle was in getting published so I began to limit God on the number of books I thought I could sell. So my prayer was Lord let me sell a book to everyone I know and a another thousand or so people.
What I was afraid to speak out loud less lone pray was that in the back of my mind I really wanted to someday have a book that could become a New York Times best seller which would require that over a million books be sold. I have read book after book that had on the jacket New York Times Bestseller, yet I was afraid to ask God for the miracle. According to Batterson, we are one prayer away from a dream fulfilled, a promise kept, or a miracle performed.
I have read the Circle Maker at least three times and have two favorite quotes:
In other words, we need to have “sublime audacity” believing that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:30). We need to believe what Luke 18:27 says, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Or Matthew 19:26 “But with God all things are possible.”
Here are four things to remember when we want the miracle:
It is a good idea to keep a regular prayer journal so that you can see God’s hand at work in our lives. I love looking back a year or two at my prayer journal and seeing the miracles God had done in my life. A few years ago we needed a financial miracle. Based on our own power it would take 7 to 10 years to have what we needed for what we were trying to do. I took the advice offered in the Circle Maker and begin to pray boldly and persistently. I took the risk and asked for the miracle and within two years my dream and our prayer became our reality. Look at God!
Go ahead and trust God to fix your situation. Whether it be a relationship issue, a wayward child, a financial issue, a spiritual need, a dream or your greatest fear, start asking and believing that God will come through for you more than you could have ever imagined.
I will close with another passage form Mark Batterson’s book. “When you live by faith, it often feels like you are risking your reputation. You’re not. You’re risking God’s reputation. It’s not your faith that is on the line. It’s His faithfulness. Why? Because God is the one who made the promise, and He is the only one who can keep it. The battle doesn’t belong to you it belongs to God. And because the battle doesn’t belong to you, neither does the glory. God answers prayer to bring glory to His name, the name that is above all names.”
No one wants to hear the word cancer, as it is one of the most dreaded words in the English language. The word itself had been likened to a thief that comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10a) One cancer diagnosis can have a ripple effect on many people including family, friends, co-workers, churches and especially caregivers. Cancer attacks individuals physically, mentally and spiritually and most importantly can cause people to lose hope. When individuals are hurting and losing hope, the one place they should be able to turn to for help is the church. But how many churches do you know that offer cancer ministries? Most churches minister to the sick and shut in list but there are not individuals who have been specifically trained within the church to deal with this devastating disease.
The Bible says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:15-17.
In our own church cancer has wreaked havoc. Families in our congregations have lost mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, grandfathers and uncles. At any given time we may have at least two to three individuals who are dealing with some form of cancer or have a close relative who is. Two years ago my husband and I were led to start a cancer care ministry in our church and received specialized instruction to bring back to our membership through the “Our Journey of Hope” cancer care leadership training.
The Our Journey of Hope ministry training program at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America was created because of the significant need in our nation, as well as in the body of Christ, to care for those dealing with cancer. With the cancer statistics indicating that over 12 million people in the United States are living with or have been personally diagnosed with cancer, that means that in a church of 200 people, approximately eight people are living with cancer and two more will be diagnosed with it every year.
We are taught in Jeremiah 29:11 that hope is God’s plan for each of us. “For I know the plans I have for you.” Declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” But cancer can bring fear and tests everyone affected by it. The need for someone to bring them news of hope has never been greater than it is today. For those who are willing, God desires to give the ability to take His precious gift to the hurting and change their difficult road into a journey of hope.
According to information and research shared with us during the training, cancer patients often feel abandoned because of their cancer. Dr. Camile Wortman, a noted psychologist, conducted a study in 1987 of the perceived support available to breast cancer patients. Approximately 72% of the respondents reported they were treated differently after people knew they had cancer. Of these, 75% indicated they were misunderstood by others, and more than 50% reported they were avoided or feared. Upon hearing about this research, I was convicted regarding my own actions.
This month is breast cancer awareness month, but there are other forms of cancer that have plagued our churches such as lung cancer, colon, and prostate cancer. Regardless of the type of cancer, diagnosed individuals have some common needs. Here are a few:
Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Our prayer is that all of our loved ones and our brothers and sisters in Christ live a more abundant life. This year our church, the 2nd Baptist Church of Olathe will worship in pink on Sunday, October 23, 2016. We will set aside time to educate members on breast cancer, we will honor our cancer survivors, and minister to our members and their caregivers who are currently dealing with cancer. Why not establish your own cancer care ministry and make a choice to show your support by worshipping in PINK. For more information on how to start a cancer care ministry visit http://ourjouneyofhope.com
For years I have tried to accomplish many things and sometimes even the impossible all the while repeating to myself Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Any time I am worn out and need a little more strength, I repeat to myself again, Christ will give me the strength to do whatever I need to do so I must keep pushing. Even when I am afraid to step out on faith and attempt to do something, I repeat to myself that I can do all things.
Time and time again whether I am dealing with personal, professional, emotional, spiritual, physical or even family situations, I continue to remind myself that because I have Christ in my life I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to do. But is anything and everything I set my mind to do in the will of God or what He has chosen for me to do?
I was recently reading the inspirational classic God Calling devotional by A. J. Russell and read an entry for April 24 that caused me to stop and reflect upon this scripture differently. Here’s what the entry read: “When Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he did not mean that he was to do all things and then rely on Me to find strength. He meant that for all I told him to do he could rely on My supplying the strength.”
As I sat a pondered upon what I had read, I began to think of all the “to do” items I had added to my own life. Yes, I had sought God’ guidance before I took on many duties, but how many of those duties were self-assigned tasks? Even as I am tired after being at the hospital all day with my sister, I keep saying to myself, God will give me the strength to not only write this blog tonight before I go to bed, but He will also give me the strength to study tomorrow so I can finish the doctoral class I am enrolled in this semester. As I sit here barely able to keep my eyes open, maybe God was telling me instead that I need to get a good night’s sleep because the work he had planned for me was to be present with my sister tomorrow.
So what has God told us to do that we are too busy and too tired to do because we are busy doing what we think we are supposed to be doing? Do you ever find yourself complaining about being tired all the time? If “I’m tired” comes out of your mouth on a regular basis, maybe it’s time to just focus on what he has called us to do so that He can give us the strength to complete whatever the task may be. When God gives you strength you don’t have to push yourself to the limit because He will give you what you need to get it done. I still don’t know to this day how I was able to write two books even while raising children, working a full time job, participating in several ministries at church and being a wife and First Lady. People ask me all the time, how do I find time to write with everything else I have to do? To tell you the truth, I don’t know myself, but now I have a clue.
Now, I am also beginning to understand the gift of rest. Somehow I always forget about the scriptures in the Bible where Jesus rested. Being in a human body He understood the toll that ministry can have on the body and he took time to rest. He even took a nap during a critical time in the life of the disciples when they were caught in a storm. I’m sure they were upset with Him for sleeping when they thought their lives were in danger, but remember Jesus had been teaching in parables all day doing what He was sent to do so He could finally rest on the boat ride to the other side. I’m sure He knew they were going to get caught in a storm but also knew all He had to say was “peace be still” to put an end to the angry sea.
As I close, this is probably one of the shortest blogs I have ever written, but I finally get it. God doesn’t expect us to work ourselves into a frenzy and then ask Him for the strength to get it all done. From now on remember, “I can do all things God tells me to do through Christ who give me strength.” Goodnight.
My big sister has taken on the task of taking care of our parents. We are so thankful she stepped up to the plate when Mom was living and even now she is the primary caretaker of our Dad. She put her own life on hold so that she could give them the love and support they needed. However, a little over three weeks ago her own health suffered and she ended up not only in the hospital but eventually in the critical care unit.
When she first went in the hospital, I rearranged my schedule and made plans to go to Oklahoma for the weekend to check on her. As I was driving down the highway her situation worsened based on the calls and texts coming in from my other sister. I was on pins and needles trying to get down there without put myself and others in harm’s way. I just couldn’t get there fast enough. When I finally arrived and saw her I realized that we were going to have a long uphill battle that was going to require much more of my time and effort.
My sisters and I began to make plans about how to take care of Daddy while we gave her some time to heal. We would require help for her as well as help for Daddy. Who was going to take care of the caretaker who could not take care of herself?
Being a caregiver is no easy task. Often time the patient gets all of the attention and the caregiver can easily go unnoticed. The caretaker is at risk for an extreme amount of stress. Usually, the caretaker just keeps on going and often feels guilty if they complain or ask for help.
In our case, because my sister has no children of her own but helped to raise all of ours, God dispatched angels from all over the place to step in and not only pray for her but also to step in and help where needed. We received calls from her classmates and coworkers armed and ready to cook and deliver meals not only to the hospital, but to our father at home. We coordinated our efforts between us as sisters to make sure we covered all the bases. Her co-workers went as far as to take up a collection amongst themselves to be able to provide lunch and dinner meals for us at the hospital. This assisted with our basic needs as we sat at her bedside from morning until night.
As I sat at my sister’s bedside, none of the things I typically do to take care of myself really mattered. My routine of getting up in the morning and doing my daily devotion, writing, and exercise wasn’t so important. Missing my hair appointment, unpolished nails, and having to wear the same three outfits for two weeks just didn’t matter. All I could do was pray and sit and do everything I could to let her know I was there for her.
As I sat, my emotions were all over the place. I was in constant fear of what was happening to her as the doctors and nurses came in and out. There were times I was afraid to leave the room to go to the bathroom or to water fountain because I didn’t want her to wake up and I wasn’t there. I was afraid that I would miss one of the many doctors who had important lab results for us. I usually arrived early to see how her night went and to meet her nurses for the day and stayed late until the shift change to make sure the night staff knew she had family that cared about her. I even found myself giving instructions on how to care for her. My baby sister and I knew the educational history and career history and some type of personal information of every nurse that came in the room.
When we finally had to do split shifts and no one else was in the room but me, I felt alone. I felt guilty if I missed my husband and children, or missed my bed, or if I worried about my own responsibilities. I began to neglect my own needs because I felt her situation was 1000 times worse than mine.
One morning after getting only four hours of good sleep, I looked in the mirror and saw the dark circles under my eyes and the face crinkles across my face from fighting with my pillow. My hair had not been washed for three weeks, and my feet were hurt and cramping from wearing the same shoes every day. Having missed four chiropractor appointments, moving my neck and shoulders were painful. I almost missed my son’s birthday and felt like I had not been there for my daughter making her transition from college to adulthood. All of my prayers were focused on my sister and I did not make requests for my own strength or for others who needed prayer. Standing there looking at myself in the mirror made me realize that I had become the caretaker who was neglecting my own emotional, spiritual and physical needs.
My husband was worried about me as well as my prayer partners and friends. They kept encouraging me to take care of myself. When they asked how I was doing, I continued to shake my head and say I was fine even though one bad report could have brought me to tears and an emotional breakdown. For my own sanity, I continued to remind myself that the Lord would not put on me more than I could bear. Then I realized that in order for me to make it to be able to help her, I was going to have to ask for help. I not only had to pray for myself, but I needed others to pray with me and for me. I needed to take others up on their offer to sit with sister while I took a walk or went to the cafeteria for lunch. I stopped thinking that I had to do everything myself and was going to have to trust God and others to help me.
Based on my experiences, here are my five suggestions for those caretakers who often neglect themselves in order to take care of someone else.
If you are a caretaker I hope you have been encouraged through my experiences. If you know someone who is a caretaker, why not be a blessing by doing something thoughtful and tangible that will help to ease their burdens. God will bless you for it.
Being a pastor’s wife, there are two questions I get asked on a regular basis. The first is: How do you like being a preacher/pastor’s wife? I still don’t know how to answer that question. The other question is: Do you play the piano? My typical response is…“No I don’t”, followed by “God has given me other gifts to help my husband.” On occasion, the individual may go ahead and ask… Well do you sing? I kindly answer, “I sing all the time, just not solo.” So where did people get the idea that pastor’s wives are supposed to play the piano and or sing?
The Pastor’s wife is one of the few roles defined by the profession of her husband. The only role that gets more preconceived notions of who she should be is the First Lady of the Unites States. When Michelle Obama became the First Lady, many in their own minds had decided how they wanted her to say, do and wear. I remember her being scrutinized for her choice of clothing. I have seen the same scrutiny of pastor’s wives.
For some reason, we have within our minds what the pastor’s wife should be and what her gifts should be. When I think of other professions, there are no preconceived thoughts of what their wives should be or do. For instance, what comes to your mind when you think of a lawyer’s wife, a school principal’s wife, or a physician’s wife? Nothing comes to mind for me. How about you? We don’t automatically assume that the wife comes packaged with a special look or talent.
What makes it tough for some pastor’s wives is when they come behind a wife that was much different. Maybe the previous pastor’s wife served as the co-pastor and worked alongside her husband a leadership capacity. Maybe the former pastor’s wife was very subdued and quiet. Maybe the pastor’s wives you have known do play the piano and sing. It is never fair to compare one first lady to another because everyone is a unique individual with different gifts and talents. The bible instructs us that we all have different gifts and we are to use them accordingly. (Romans 12:6) “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith.
I have heard people say, “She is the perfect minister’s wife.” What exactly does perfect mean? Based on my experience, there is no such thing as a perfect minister’s or pastor’s wife, however I do believe that pastor’s wives are called to the ministry of being a pastor’s wife. Called means the wife was given certain abilities to bless her husband and to serve others. “Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10 NIV).
My husband and I are a team, but he is the one on payroll and I am to support him by using the gifts God gave me to bless him and our church. At times I have been complimented for being a working pastor’s wife. I guess because I am involved in several ministries or I get in the kitchen from time to time and help serve or wash up some dishes, I am appreciated for what I do. Then there are times when I am ran out of the kitchen and told to sit down so that others could serve me. I am also complimented for my choice of clothing, but if I show up in my workout clothes and a hat to help out for the garage sale, some don’t even recognize me. In their mind, I am supposed to look the part all of the time. Regardless of what I say, wear or do, I am thankful that my husband encourages me to be me. By him supporting me, others are not allowed to define who I am.
Unfortunately, the bible does not have a job description for the Pastor’s wife. If there was a job description, here are ten qualifications I think one must have.
The bible in Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV) says: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” I am thankful that God, in His infinite wisdom created each of us with unique gifts and talents for his purpose. Support your church and your pastor by appreciating the woman who stands by his side. Don’t label her, but appreciate her for who she is, even if she doesn’t play the piano… or sing.
I picked up a book a few years ago entitled: Snickers from the Front Pew: Confessions from two preacher’s kids. It was a great little book by Todd and Jedd Hafer. They managed to find humor in the many things they went through as children growing up in the pastor’s household and having to sit on the front pew of many churches. As I read the book, I had to think of what our own children have experienced being the pastor’s children.
From the outside looking in it may appear as though pastor’s children have it made. Everybody knows and loves them, people pray for them, people are always cooking for them and buying them things. On the other hand, the Pastor’s children are the ones who have to show up when other kids get to stay home and watch television. They are the ones who can’t stay out all Saturday or can’t sleep in on Sunday mornings. They are the ones who are being watched by adults and children alike. They are the ones who overhear members complain when their dad preaches too long.
Having grown up around pastor’s children and being a pastor’s wife for most of my adult life, here are my five suggestions on what church members can do to help love and support the pastor’s children.
Pastor’s kids also known as PK’s, are a blessing to the pastor and wife and most often to the congregation. The first family appreciates all you do to help us to raise our children. Continue to love and support our children by encouraging them in any way you can. Allow them the time and space to who God called them to be. Lastly, pray that they will grow in the admonition of Christ and that God will command his angels to protect them wherever they go.
Every year for Mother’s Day the ladies of our church wear our finest church hats. It is always a wonderful occasion, as the women of our church wear beautiful hats of all sizes, colors and styles. We get the chance to march around the church and then we take a wonderful group shot. As the First Lady, I am the ring leader of the pack and get excited about seeing all of the women in their hats. If ladies in our church don’t have a hat, myself and another hat collector will bring along extra, so that anyone who wants to wear a hat will have one to wear.
This year I was out of town on Mother’s Day, and didn’t get an opportunity to participate in our annual hat day. Instead I got to wear my Mom and my Stepmom hat. We were in North Carolina for my youngest daughter’s graduation from college. For the first time in several years I had the opportunity to spend Mother’s Day with both of my biological children and one of my stepsons. Getting an opportunity to spend the day will all three of them was a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.
As a First Lady I have to wear many hats inside and outside the church. Sometimes it is difficult for new pastor’s wives to know what their role is or what hat they should where. I have a plaque that was given to me that attempts to define the Pastor’s wife: The woman who serves the congregation alongside her husband, the pastor, and helps him shepherd the church. Hmmm. The more I thought about that definition, it still didn’t make it quite clear what my role should be. Here are my suggestions for the most important roles for minister’s wives and First Ladies.
1) Use your gifts and talents.
One of the most important hats I wear in the church is to use the gifts and talents that God has given me to bless our congregation. Whether I am teaching Sunday school or leading a women’s bible study group, working with the youth, counseling a new member or leading the cancer care ministry, I am doing so because I have been called to do so. Don’t neglect continuing to serve God by using the gifts and talents you were given. Sometimes these have nothing to do with being the pastor’s wife; you were doing them before as a devoted Christian.
Regarding gifts and talent, I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked if I sing. My answer is consistent, “Yes, I sing along.” I do know many pastor’s wives who have beautiful solo voices, I am just not one of them. It used to bother me when I would go on outings with my husband, but I am confident in my gifts and am not trying to steal anyone else’s gift. The Bible says in 1Peter 4:10 (NIV) “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
2) Support your husband
Despite what I am called to do, as the pastor’s wife, my other most important role is to be a strong supporter and encourager of my husband as pastor. My goal is to provide him with a safe and loving place to come home to after dealing with the cares of this world. I know it is duty to support him to be able to do the job that he does and not to interfere with what he needs to do to serve the members of our church.
In supporting him, I must love him unconditionally and pray for him daily. I must also assist him when needed. There are times he needs you to go on visits with him or help him to counsel a young family or bereaving family. Your husband will always need your support emotionally and spiritually. In some cases he really needs your support financially to help carry the load. I have always had a full time job so that our family could make ends meet. For some pastors who are bi-vocational he may need your support to hold down the home front while he works. Always remember, whatever you do, your faithful service is an offering to God (Philippians 2:17).
Most importantly as a minister's or pastor's wife, don’t let anyone but God define your role for you. Be the woman and wife God has created you to be. Remember, “Your gift, it looks good on you and you wear it well!
I stumbled across an article written by Thom S. Rainer which indicated that many minister's and pastor's wives suffer from loneliness. When I saw the article, I saw it as a call to action that those of us who are surviving and thriving as Pastor's wives must minister to those are struggling.
While visiting the site of the author of the article, I was even more saddened to find that there are very few resources for pastor's and their wives when they feel like they have no one else to talk to.
Here is a copy of my letter to the editor:
Dear Mr. Rainer,
A day after I saw your article, I just happened to be in the library and stumbled upon your newest book, "I am a Church Member." I was touched by your encouragement for church members to pray for their pastors that they and their families be protected from the many attacks satan uses in attempts to destroy the church. If satan can destroy the man of God and his family in the long run he can destroy the very family unit and ultimately the church.
We must not only pray for our pastor's and their wives we must develop avenues where they can find grace and comfort when they need it most. I applaud couples like David and Louis Decker of Deer Ridge Ministries who offer free retreats for Pastor's and Wives. We attended one of their retreats early in our marriage and it made a big difference for us. I even attended one of their Pastor's Wives Retreats which they host annually.
We found our calling ministering to blended families in the church, but more and more we find ourselves working with ministry couples who are not blended families, but who just need someone to talk to about the struggles of ministry and the effects on their marriage and family. Our ministry is evolving to specifically be a resource for pastor's and wives to coach and counsel them on navigating through the many demands placed on them.
Reading your article was a "Popeye" moment for me. A "Popeye Moment" is a term coined by Bill Hybels in his book "Holy Discontent." It's the point where we watch pain and suffering until we come to a point and say, "That's all I can stands and I can't stands no more." Hearing that so many pastors and wives are struggling confirms and clarifies a calling God has placed on us to do something to help church leadership couples.
As I write this I am praying that God will reveal to us how He will make this happen. You will hear from me again.
Janice R. Love
Janice R. Love
First Lady just wanting to be a blessing to pastor's and minister's wives.