God Breathed….LIFE

Recently I was studying a Sunday school lesson, and I was in the book of Luke Chapter 24. At the same time I was working on another study for my women’s circle that concerned the soul.  I was researching the 7th Beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers…”  As I was surfing the internet, I came upon a site that suggested that the body was the soul of human beings.  This was the first time I had ever heard of such an idea, and it apparently is something many people are considering.

Each morning I listen to the music on my alarm clock and the station programmed is that of the local Christian radio station.  A song was playing, and God spoke to me when the lyrics said “God Breathed”.  Between the research and the song, I wanted to enjoy a moment reflecting on the essence of life and share it with you.

Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

It seems to me that our bodies were created separately from our souls. It wasn’t until God breathed into man’s flesh that we became a living being.  Our bodies couldn’t function without God’s breath.  Our souls are the very living breath of God.

Then I looked at Psalm 39:11 “….Surely every man is a mere breath.”  Man is nothing without the breath of God.  How awesome is that, that our souls came alive by the mere breath of God.

Look at Ezekiel 37:9, “thus says the Lord GOD, “come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” Ezekiel 37:10 “…and the breath came into them, and they came to life.”  Ezekiel 37:14 “And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life…declares the Lord.”  Our souls are a reflection of God’s eternal existence.

Without the breath of God, we cannot exist.  But God did not breathe life into us for the purpose of giving ourselves pleasure.  He breathed us into life to give Him pleasure and to serve Him.  For He commanded man to fill the earth, and to rule over all the living things on the earth. It is only our selfish attitudes that keep us from aspiring to the good that God has seen in us from the beginning.  It is only our selfish attitudes that keep us from serving God with the gifts that He has given us to use for His Kingdom’s sake, and we selfishly serve ourselves instead.

So what are we doing that brings God joy and pleasure?  What service are we performing for His glory?  As a Christian leader, it should be our pleasure to be in His service and to help bring our Christian brothers and sisters into service as well.  For what did Jesus speak to the disciples upon His resurrection when He showed Himself to them in the locked upper room?  John 20:21 “Jesus therefore said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’  And when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  Our spirits are made in the image of the Spirit of God.  For He said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;” Genesis 1:26 

 Jesus came to breathe the Holy Spirit into His disciples so that they could go out – be sent – in service to Him.  And by believing in Him you may have true LIFE in His name everlasting.

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Pick Up the Cross He Gave You!

Self-examination is always a good thing. Perhaps if we did it a little more often, we would find that the ministry God has called us to do and the cross that He has asked us to take up, aren’t as burdensome upon us as we sometimes feel.

            I was teaching a Sunday school class years ago, when I came across an analogy that helped me see the gifts that God has blessed me with and how to reflect on those gifts and use them for His Kingdom.

             When you were a child or teenager, what attracted your eye and put a smile on your face? Imagine you are walking down a sidewalk (in my case it was more like a cow path) and something off the beaten path catches your eye – a baby in a stroller, ducks on a pond, colored balloons rising into the sky, a dog and a Frisbee, or perhaps an elderly person sitting on a park bench.  What caught my eyes as a child were things like a cotton candy machine at a fair with all that pink fluff whooshing in the hot air bowl.  The bright colors drew me away from the gray cow paths on the farm in which I spent so much time.  I still love cotton candy and bright candies in all the colors of the rainbow.   So what is it that draws you away from the gray sidewalk and causes you to see bright, vibrant color? 

 

As we walk down the path of life, and all the wonderful things we are drawn to and enjoy get stashed away in our memories, do we tend to forget about all the wonderful color that still surrounds us or do we only remember it only in fond childhood visions of the past?  Perhaps we’ve had to make many dull choices along our path in order to make it in this life.  And we realize our lives just aren’t very colorful.  Are we now doing things that just don’t put a spark or twinkle in our eye?

            When Earl and I first were married, we took a call within 2 months of getting married and moved from Virginia to Georgia.  I was unclear in what was expected of the pastor’s wife.  And one day, a few months into the ministry, I looked at Earl and said, “I’m not doing anything; what am I supposed to do?”  In his usual kind way, he looked gently down at me and said, “Honey don’t worry about it, the women will start asking you to do things soon and then you’ll have plenty to do.”  I harrumphed to him.  But marking his words, that is exactly what happened.  Yet over the course of time, I would end up doing things that I genuinely didn’t like doing.  Eventually I found that the thing I truly liked doing was to invite over and feed the people of our church.  But I only discovered this because I started doing just about everything they expected me to do.

            For many years, I invited our entire congregation for an annual Christmas lunch after the choir cantata on a Sunday in December.  I would fix all the food the day before and Earl would set up the tables and chairs and help, and we would warmly welcome those 250+ friends in line as they came through our house.  It was so much fun.  We would invite Earl’s staff and their spouses every year at Christmas time so that we could show our gratitude for the service that they done throughout the year.  We would clear out the living room, set up tables in front of the fireplace, adorned with decorations, and serve them 5-course meals.  And we would enjoy each other’s company and get to know one another a little better.

            The ministry that God has asked me to do is with the flock that my husband has been given the privilege of serving. God uses the gifts that He has given me to give me joy and to bring color into the path of my life.

1 Corinthians 12:1, 4 &11 “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.” – “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” – “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

Message of the Beatitudes – One – Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

     How desperate for God are we? 

     Most of us believe that we do alright on our own and will bring God into our lives if we run into trouble.  When we feel like we have our little plans moving along and it appears on the surface that we have control over our lives, why bother God?  As I’ve heard said, He must have bigger problems elsewhere.

    Recently I was traveling from Atlanta to Charleston and driving at about 70 mph and suddenly I felt that I was about to faint.  I have these every 3-4 years, and I know when they are coming.  I get the metal taste in my mouth, my head gets woozy, I get extremely hot and start sweating, and I see speckled lights in my vision that steadily come together leading to a blinding light, and then I go out.  So as I was experiencing the symptoms coming over me, I barely saw a sign that said rest area ahead 1-1/4 miles.  I flipped on the air conditioner, reclined my seat enough that I could still see over the steering wheel and got the blood flowing to my head and at the same time called out, “Mom”!  My next thought was, well she can’t do anything for me right now, so I yelled out “GOD!” a number of times.  Miraculously, I made it to the rest area, and unable to see much of anything, I was not capable of parking properly between the lines, so I parked parallel to the sidewalk and went unconscious.  This was a desperate situation, and I relied on God to see me through it.  Desperation about our physical needs is one thing, but have we ever felt the same desperation about our spiritual lives? 

     I believe that to be “poor in spirit” is to let go of our pride and humble ourselves before God.  It is to recognize our great needs spiritually.  We are desperate and cry out to Him that we cannot live this life on our own.  It’s when we say “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24.  It’s when we acknowledge that without God, we are nothing.

god lives in yu - treo_062809_002_web

god lives in yu - treo_062809_002_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

     Psalm 140:5 says “The proud have hidden a trap for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set snares for me.”  It is the proud that have not emptied their souls to self and begged God to enter. To be “poor in spirit” means to open to the Word of God and truly empty our souls of self.  We must give Him access in order to truly fill us with His Holy Spirit. Those who seek His presence, know their desperate needs and confess their sins, their selfish thoughts and agendas and ask God to take control of their lives. 

     Once we acknowledge our desperate need for Him and give Him access to control our lives, our thoughts and our actions, then we can begin our transformation and wake up from a state of unconsciousness to the truth!

An Introduction to – Message of The Beatitudes – Matthew 5: 1-12

Psalm 119:129-130 “Thy testimonies are wonderful; Therefore my soul observes them. The unfolding of Thy words give light; It gives understanding to the simple.”

Over the course of the past 7 months, I have had the distinct pleasure of leading a group of women in the erudition of how to use the Beatitudes as a guide to change our personal characters.

                Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount to teach how to be closer to God, be more like God, and to live a Christ-like life.  When Jesus presented the Beatitudes, we know that He did not just create a list of positive characteristics that we should emulate.  The attributes contained in The Sermon on the Mount are what people who follow Jesus are.  

They are divine attributes that when examined, we discover that perhaps we must reflect the first before we can attempt the second attribute, and so on. We continuously build upon the previous attributes to acquire the next and with God’s help,create a soul that is as close to God as we can possibly become.  

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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                Though The Beatitudes are designed for every Christian to strive for, I thought it might bear fruit for pastors’ wives to take the time to reflect on these qualities.  We can attempt to not only develop our closer relationship to God, but help those in our congregations to do the same through aquiring the Beatitudes.   

                 Please help me in the coming weeks, as I begin this series of messages, to soul search and identify who we are and to strive together as we attempt to become whom Christ identified as blessed.

“Blessed are:……

  • The poor in spirit
  • Those who mourn
  • The gentle
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • The merciful
  • The pure in heart
  • The peacemakers and
  • Those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness

For in the end, you shall “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great……..”,

Walking Down the Aisle to Serve…

Galatians 5:13
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

When Earl and I got married, I did very little of the planning. Truth be told, I did NONE of the planning. I did manage a week before our wedding, to take my good friend Bev and go look for a dress for my big day! Now, I am a very organized and detail oriented person. So looking back, it’s very hard for me to understand how I could have let this big day just happen.

Earl planned everything from the flowers to the music, the cake, and also the car that whisked us away after the ceremony. I got myself into my dress and waited for my queue to walk down the aisle with this handsome man on my arm. Our wedding was a full worship service with hymns, liturgies and a sermon. We spent the sermon portion of the service looking down from the church choir balcony listening to every word and in total awe of the over 300 guests present. We then took our moment to walk down the aisle together to say our vows. After saying “I do” and being presented as man and wife, we came back down the aisle to an instrumental piece that Earl had written, played on the organ…..it was magical! I still to this day, wake up to that beautiful piece of music entitled, “The Proclaimed Word” as it plays as our alarm each morning.

Why am I reminiscing about my wedding day so long ago when I’m talking to my fellow pastor wives? Well, let me just say that, every Sunday morning, I relive that beautiful day of saying “I do”.

Years ago, when I realized that God’s appointed ministry in my life was to minister to my pastor husband, I understood that Earl needed assistance after a worship service concluded. I let you know in my blog entitled, “A Rare Sunday in the Pew…”, that I walk around pre-service to meet and greet congregants and visitors. Well, an extension of that ministry evolved when I understood that Earl was being given numerous prayer requests and concerns as people left the church after a service. In the receiving line, Earl couldn’t greet everyone and at the same time write down prayer concerns I found that by sitting in the front of the church, usually 3rd or 4th pew, I could actually see the service better, but I could also take the opportunity to walk back down the aisle with Earl as he went to the doors to greet attendee’s. Each Sunday, I walk down that aisle with Earl and feel a renewal of our vows, to have and to hold, in good times and in bad, for better or worse.

I stand at the doors with him, hand him gum or a mint in order to relieve him of any dryness of mouth from speaking, and I offer him another ear. Some congregants hesitate to burden their pastor with their request feeling that the pastor has too much to do already. I am someone they feel they can inform and they know I will get it to Earl. I write down the requests, and he is free to continue to greet everyone.

I am right here beside him, being his helpmate and right here for HIM, in HIS service..to this day I say, “I do”…….

God, Family, Church?

If you are a pastor, your job is to serve Christ first and foremost.  Great, I understand that.  That would be under the God heading within a Christian’s priorities.  But within a pastor’s priorities, what happens to his/her family being second, or more specifically, the wife of a pastor being second?

I know that there must be a lot of pastors’ wives that ultimately feel that they don’t even come in a close second.  They feel that they are ranked way down on a list of priorities by their minister spouse.  Maybe they are 200th in a 200 member church.  Whatever the church roll is, add 1 and that’s where she is. It is hard to be dead last even if, at times, it is out of necessity. The reality is, the real priorities of being a pastor must at least feel different to the family.

God, Church, Family (spouse)………..and they don’t like it.

What we, as pastors wives, have to ultimately open our eyes to is what it means to serve Christ first.

It took me a little while to understand that when God united Earl and me, “for this cause a man …..shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5) and “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6), I too was called into the ministry.  Yes friends, we were called into the ministry along with our husbands if we are truly one flesh. 

Therefore it really doesn’t matter if he was called into the ministry before you met, while you dated or even years after you were married.  If the two were joined in marriage, they are both called, because in marriage, God does not call one without calling the other.

And since every Christian is to serve Christ first and foremost, we may not have been called to preach, but we, as a ministers wife, have been called to do one of the greatest ministries ever mandated by God.  What is that?

We were called to serve Christ alongside our husbands as a helpmate to him.  A pastor’s life is not glamorous.  The statistics on a pastor’s life are horrendous.  Take a look at these I found under the Schaeffer Institute:  Statistics on Pastors, By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir.  Here’s the link if you want to know more:

http://www.intothyword.org/articles_view.asp?articleid=36562&columnid=

  • 100% pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure. 
  • 90% of pastors stated they are frequently fatigued and worn out on a weekly and even daily basis (did not say burned out). 
  • 89% of the pastors we surveyed also considered leaving the ministry at one time. 57% said they would leave if they had a better place to go—including secular work. 
  • 77% of the pastors we surveyed felt they did not have a good marriage. 
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis. 
  • 38% of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process. 
  • 30% said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner. 
  • 23% of the pastors we surveyed said they felt happy and content on a regular basis with who they are in Christ, in their church, and in their home! 

I only took those statistics that directly related to family and marriage.  These numbers should prompt every good pastor’s wife to ACT. 

But what can we do when we hardly ever see this dear sweet, (well, not always) man of ours?

Serve him as He serves Christ!  Oh that is so politically incorrect!   But when you serve your husband the way he serves Christ’s people, you are doing a great service for God.  Who better to serve “God’s Man” than “God’s Woman”?  We need to focus on how to serve our husbands better in order that their lives in the ministry will be a little easier on them, and possibly, some of the above statistics aren’t fulfilled in your marriage.

One of the small things that I have chosen to do is to be up at 5 AM on Sundays, while he is preparing and dressing for a full day of service and meetings, and cook him a good breakfast.  Of course once he is out the door, I promptly take myself back to bed!. But this one little act (among others), has made a big impact on our marriage.  He goes out fully nourished to battle the day, and he really appreciates it.  I believe he even preaches a little better after a good early morning breakfast.  And it also puts me in a very good light in his eyes – and I believe in God’s eyes too.

A Rare Sunday in the Pew…..

As ALL pastors’ wives know, we are almost always lone pew sitters.  While other couples snuggle up, get comfortable, whisper their thoughts together during a worship service, we pastor wives’ sit alone.

Today was one of those rare Sundays where my husband Earl was not behind the pulpit, but right next to me on the pew.  Not our James Island Presbyterian pew, but it happened to be a Baptist pew…  We had a Sunday off and went to worship together.

But upon entering the sanctuary, we were not greeted by any greeter or ushered to a seat by a church usher.  We found our own bulletin, located the restrooms prior to service and then seated ourselves.  There were people in the sanctuary talking amongst themselves, couples and groups, and though we were noticed as visitors, we only had one person introduce himself to us.

One gentleman strolled up from the front of the church to shake hands and say welcome and then off he went to chat with someone that he knew.  Next, Earl got up to ask someone who was preaching (it was not listed in the bulletin), and while he was gone, a woman walked past me, I caught her eye, and she was compelled to do one of those little waves and “Hi, how are you doing?” I am not sure she heard my answer because she walked away and wasn’t close enough to have heard my response.

Once Earl and I were back together, not one other person approached us for the next 15 minutes while we waited for the service to begin.  We both felt a bit unwelcomed.

Upon reflection, I of course, had to think about our church.  Is this the way our guests feel at times?  Earl and I both try to take time before both services to welcome and to greet not only our longtime congregants, but also all those visitors who walk through our doors.  Pastors do not normally have a lot of time before a service to walk out and talk to the parishioners, they are mentally preparing and praying to hear and deliver God’s Holy Word. But they and their people all need to take the time.  I see our members walking around and talking to others every Sunday.  And I am glad.

But how does that happen?  

First, I believe that the pastor’s wife needs to take the lead and get out in the congregation and talk to people.  Not only should she welcome them, but be sure to ask about their lives.  If you know something about the person, ask about something in particular.  If not, ask what they did that week.  This gives the pastor’s wife the ability to find things out that perhaps her husband/pastor is not yet aware of.  She can fill him in and he can then be sure to contact with that individual later on that day or week.

This is also the perfect time to approach someone who is visiting for the very first time and offering him or her a name and contact person (yourself) if she/he has any questions or need to talk.  It would also help to even invite a lone person to sit with you, so he or she doesn’t feel alone in a new church environment.

But this is just me.  I am but one person.  Yet as the pastor’s wife maybe taking the lead in this, it might encourage other members to be a little more hospitable, warm, and welcoming.  Not only may there be more greeting members, but by your actions, you will be reflecting Christ to those around you and they WILL begin to follow your lead.

Hebrews 13:1-2: “Let love of the brethren continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

God’s peace and understanding,

Laura

God’s Blessings to Pastors’ Wives and to Faith-filled Friends!

I have been blessed by God – truly and magnificently.  My name is Laura Bland, and I am a pastor’s wife….

I would like to share some of my experiences as a pastor’s wife with you and perhaps, just maybe, help you to find your place as a pastor’s wife, a friend, a congregational member, and Christ’s follower.

I am going to share my experiences, whether glorious or difficult, in hopes that you will be able to share more openly about your experiences as a pastor’s wife.  I believe that God especially surrounds pastors’ wives with His grace, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Let’s learn together through the Scriptures, incorporating our daily walk in our discussions and see how God might speak to us today and help us to find our calling as wives of pastors.

 

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, you have blessed me! Please feel free to leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or share this post with a friend. Be blessed my friend!
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