Pastors, Dogs & Motorcycles….

As a pastor’s wife, I see, hear and feel the stresses of my pastor husband.  Look on line, the internet highway is inundated with information about pastors and all the stress and pressure with which they have to deal.

Pastors tend to hold on to all the church burdens as if they were caretakers of the pain of their people.  They are concerned about every little nuance that is taking place within the church.  They just don’t seem to be able to let it go.  But I learned a long time ago, a pastor may have to deal with church issues, but he/she can certainly help to alleviate the build-up of stress.  

In Acts 20:28 Paul states “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

To “be on guard for yourselves” means also to take care of self.  So we not only guard the flock, but we also guard ourselves.  Jesus paid the price for His Church.  He has placed us here as stewards of His ministry. But if we don’t guard ourselves, how can we guard the flock? 

When I first met Earl, I quickly came to realize that he rarely if ever slowed down in his church work.  He even dragged his children to the hospital on visitations when he was a single dad.  Well, luckily I came along!  It was time for him to loosen up a little and relax a bit. 20 string trio feb 2012 family shelter

Earl is a man of so many interests that it is difficult to recall them all.  As time goes by, his interests just keep adding up.  Years ago, I knew of only one main interest he had – music.  Earl is a composer and a singer.  He actually has studio recorded CDs.  He has boxes and boxes of music that he has composed since his teenage years.  He has written serious classical music and Christian music, but he can also rock! He plays guitar with a group at the church called, “The 20 String Trio.”

He is an amateur astronomer, and an art collector.  He can repair some electronics and repair almost anything around the house.  He likes boating and airplanes, and he is even taking pilot lessons.  He used to run 5Ks regularly in Georgia.  He also water-skis and snow-skis.

   Earl Motorcycle Jan 2013 2Earl also took up motorcycling about 5 years ago.  From time to time, we take the bike out for rides and have even taken one out for a vacation – just driving through God’s country and enjoying the beauty all around us.  We spent New Year’s Day 2013 on our bike, island hoping.  Some of the prettiest roads we’ve ever been on are the oak-canopied roads right here on James Island and Johns Island.  Earl has compiled quite a bit of garage jewelry with his motorcycles and the old automobiles that he has acquired over the years of our marriage.    He does his own maintenance on his toys and his own repairs, which does save us quite a bit of money.    He is not afraid to get down and swim in the oil to fix his own cars or those of his children.  It’s a physical and mental exercise that when completed, grants him a sense of accomplishment.

When he isn’t riding bikes, Earl and Maggie, our dog, play chasing games.  Tug of war is also a favorite.  Earl laughs and laughs at Maggie’s antics.  What a simple way to reduce all the toxic anxieties of stress.  Like they say, “laughter is the best medicine.”

Maggie & Earl Folly Beach Jan 1 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But my favorite stress reliever is taking Earl away from his local ministry field.  I make sure that every year, we plan a two week vacation mid-year to take him completely away from his church work.  And we make sure that he takes a week off after Christmas. 

Earl - Israel ruins 2010

Earl – Israel ruins 2010

Without this time away, Satan can wear a pastor down so that he ends up being a useless servant to the Lord.  And that just is not what God expects of His shepherd whom the Holy Spirit has made an overseer of His church.

So what have you done lately to help your pastor be the best pastor he can be?  He may not be able to see that he needs a reprieve.  So I ask pastors’ wives and congregations to make sure your pastor is in the best shape physically, mentally and emotionally.  We all want God to continue to use him/her to help us see Christ and to grow as His disciples.

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Be the One in Ten Christians that have…

The rest of the sentence is, read the Bible!  The Church as a whole, is biblically illiterate.  Ouch, that hurts!

Different research shows slightly different results to the question, “What percent of Christians have read the whole Bible?”  But nevertheless the Spiritual blood of Christians in America is anemic.  Only 1-3 in 10 professed Christians, have ever read the Bible in its entirety.  That means that although every person’s opinion is valid and important, not every Christian’s opinion is informed by the word of God.  Only about 10%-30% even know what God says. 

God expects more of us.  Paul told the young Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hasn’t God given us His word that we might understand Him a little better than we would otherwise?  Every other year, I read the Bible in full.  I can honestly say there are a couple books – Numbers being one- that are very dry and extremely difficult to get through.  But this should not discourage us from reading this wonderful set of love letters that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.  I have read the Bible in a number of different ways: cover to cover, New Testament then Old Testament, and the use of Robert Roberts one year study, which offers a reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in a year.  This year I have chosen The One Year Bible for Women using the New Living Translation.  It breaks the Bible up so you are reading Old and New Testaments along with Psalms and Proverbs each day.  I haven’t quite figured out the “for women” part of the title yet, perhaps it’s the pink accents.

God has a voice; He has chosen to speak to us in a most personal way.  He has given us a book full of wisdom and love along with guides for the ways we should live our lives.  If we don’t dive in and seek His truths, we will never know.  We will never be able to discuss Christ and His fullness to others that may be seeking Him.

As a pastor’s wife that has read her Bible numerous times, I still have difficulty understanding some of its messages.  But each time I read it, God enlightens me to new insights that He has for me to learn.  He has also given me a great source for learning – my pastor.  Christians are blessed to be offered free counseling by their pastors.  Our pastors are there to help spiritually guide us and to preach and teach those parts that may be difficult to understand.  God has put our pastors in place for this purpose among others.  So don’t be afraid to seek out your pastor to help you.

This year, why not make a New Years’ resolution to read your Bible in full?  Let’s get the percentage of Bible readers up and be able to live as per 2 Timothy 2:15.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth.”

 

Friends, To Have and to Hold…..!

I recently read the book, Desperate Pastors’ Wives by Ginger Kolbaba & Christy Scannell.  I found out about the book while browsing a website I joined specifically for pastors’ wives.  It had some very positive reviews by women who are in the ministry, and I felt that perhaps I might glean some insight into whether my experiences were the same as my comrades.

The book begins by enlightening the reader that pastors’ wives (a.k.a. PWs) are many times without real friends.  Then we meet four PWs who put their trust in one another over a long period of time and eventually there is created a deep and wonderfully honest friendship. PWs can relate to each other.  PWs know and understand the difficulties of the ministry.

The focus of this book has described my life for the past thirteen years.  I have struggled with befriending anyone since becoming a PW.  I have begged God to bless me with a true Christian friend for all of these years. 

Prior to becoming a pastor’s wife, I had close friends.  I still have my oldest friend Valerie (we’ve known each other for 44 years) and my friend Beverly (we’ve known each other for 22 years).  But these friends are not near in proximity nor do we share our everyday lives any longer.  We talk or email every few months, catching up, but none of the depth of our lives is expressed in such short periods of time.  And now, as the wife of a pastor, with my own ministry, I tend not to think that they want to hear about everything that is going on in my life because of the uniqueness of being a PW.

I reconciled myself to the fact that Earl was just going to have to do as my best friend.  And actually, for all intents and purposes, Earl really is my best friend.  He knows all about me and certainly listens and shares with me on an everyday basis and deals with all my annoying habits and many faults.  But right now, I’m talking GIRLFRIEND! 

Once I became a PW, I noticed people to be more reserved about themselves around me.  Everybody is truly pleasant and certainly may be inquiring about me, but very few bring you into their lives and share who they are in such a way as to develop a close relationship.  However more recently, I have met a couple of women who seem to want to maintain a closer relationship with an alien PW like me.

Carol is a friend from our Morrow Church pastorate. It took six years at that ministry before we actually met.  Although I don’t get to see Carol but a couple times a year, we do have dinner and try to catch up.  We laugh and we usually cry in just a mere 2 hour time frame, but we are uplifted by each other’s company and God’s Holy Spirit.  God is the One Who has brought us together – not the call of being a PW.  We met when our kids started dating and our daughter invited Carol & her husband to church.  God answered that prayer for me.  Within six months of meeting Carol, Earl and I were called to our next ministry.  Since Carol, we’ve had two more pastorates. 

It wasn’t until we came to James Island Presbyterian, that I met a wonderful woman named Kristi.  Kristi is real.  Kristi is true and honest. Kristi speaks her mind!  The first time we met, she and her husband took Earl and me out for dinner and the first thing she said to me was “It’s been a heck of a day; I’m having a glass of wine, how about you?”….We hit it off immediately.  Kristi is in the ministry too.  Her husband is the Associate in Ministry at our church.  Kristi knows….and understands!  Kristi is yet again, a God answered prayer. 

If we have patience and trust in God, I believe that He will bring into our lives the people who will help us traverse through God’s difficult ministry trails.  I give God my thanks for giving me the patience to wait on Him and for giving me the friends that He has chosen for me…. in His perfect time.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I Need My Pastor….

“Earl, I need to talk to my pastor.”

Whereas my husband is a counselor to many when it comes to spiritual, life and relational issues, does anyone wonder who the pastor’s wife goes to for such help?  Most people would probably recommend some independent, Christian counselor.  Is it possible for a spouse to be your pastor and counselor?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a.k.a Clergy Appreciation Month.  With a few clicks of the mouse and very little research, I found that Pastors have been unofficially” recognized the second Sunday each October since around 1992.  Funny thing, we have been officially celebrating Groundhog Day since February 2, 1887!   Is it possible that we are more apt to put our focus upon a rodent who supposedly predicts the future over our Pastors who help us to find a personal relationship with our Creator and encourage us and help us to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ?  I’m just saying…

I see very few churches that even recognize the month let alone a day for Pastor appreciation.  Ever since I have known Earl, whenever someone mentions Pastor Appreciation Month, he quickly tries to refocus it into an employee appreciation month.  But my husband, without fail, will be there for everyone else with just the ring of the phone or a knock on the door.  His ministry is to preach the Word of Christ to all who will listen and to witness to those who cross his path.  He will hear your joy; celebrating with you, and he will comfort you in pain; crying with you in grief.  He will preach the Bible to the very foundation of what it stands for, and he will not be ashamed of it.

There are many times I have looked at my pastor husband and said “I need my pastor”.  It is astounding how quickly, as I watch his face, he transforms into my pastor.  That’s right!  As a member of the congregation for which he serves, I too claim Earl as my pastor and sometimes, even my counselor.  And Earl knows enough to understand that his wife needs a pastor too.  Not many people think about that fact.  But I do.

I love Earl – My husband.  I appreciate and respect Earl – My pastor.

I want to reach out and let my pastor know how much I appreciate him.  He has counseled me, he has strengthened me in my spiritual journey, and he has educated me in spiritual discernment and theology.  He has pointed out to me God’s Holy Word during times of trials, and he has prayed for me and prayed for me and prayed for me.

Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

What has your pastor done for you?  More than a groundhog, I feel sure.  I’m just saying…

Blessings and peace…..Laura

Come, Have Dinner with Me!

Deutsch: Gastronomie om Schlosshotel

        It was Friday night and as many know, Friday is date night for Earl and me each week.  But last week it was a little different.

     Earl began CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) classes at the end of August, and they last until December 18th.   This past weekend was his first of eight, overnight, on-call volunteer times.

     So we decided that we would have a date night on Thursday night.  We tried a restaurant in downtown, Charleston.  We love sampling the food at different restaurants, and I almost always prefer Italian.  Unfortunately, we left the restaurant $60 poorer and still hungry.     Whoever heard of leaving an Italian restaurant hungry?         

                                                                           

Friday is also Earl’s day off (on call 24/7 always, but we say it’s his day off), so he got up early, worked on his computer, went into the office (he feels guilty now that he takes a day or two for the chaplaincy program, so he goes in on Friday)….then he came home and worked on one of his many auto projects before dressing to the nine’s and heading to the hospital. 

Before leaving he asked me, “Would you come to the hospital and have dinner with me?”  OK, I’ll be honest here, as the pastor’s wife, my first thought was not positive.  It was more like “What?  You’ve got to be kidding!”  But even as he was asking, and I was rejecting, I knew without a doubt, I would be going with him.

It’s not often that I deny Earl his heartfelt requests, and anybody who knows me, knows this is true.  But why would I deny myself an opportunity to spend a little time with Earl, even if it is in a hospital cafeteria?  As many people know, a pastor’s family life is very difficult.  Check out the blog-post here that I wrote concerning statistics on a pastor’s life and family.  So with this knowledge, I know not to make our life any more difficult than it already is.  If I’m given an opportunity to be with him, and I can do it, I’m there! 

When I met him at the St. Francis Hospital cafeteria, I must say that we enjoyed a fabulous fish dinner with rice and greens along with drinks and bread – all for less than $10.  The meal was fabulous!  My date continued on with a tour of the chapel, the CPE offices, and then I was brought upstairs to see where he would be spending the night.  It was in a small room on a tiny little single bed.  Earl is 6’2”, and this was not going to be comfortable for him to say the least.  Not only that, but the bed wasn’t even made up.  Ghee-gads!  Earl and I spent a few minutes locating the linens and then without a second thought, I was making up his bed for him. 

I figure it this way, I feel so blessed that God has given me a few things in this life to oversee, whereas Earl has been given much to oversee.  I certainly want to make sure that I do all I can for such a caring, compassionate and humble pastor, so that he can touch the souls of those in distress and those that are depressed and dispirited, by the Spirit of God that works through him.

Matthew 9:36 NASB

36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Do You Have a Bag of Regrets?

How many of us can look back on our lives and say that we don’t have any regrets?  I most certainly cannot.

I had a friend that wrote a letter to me about 10-12 years ago, and one of the statements that she made was, “I have no regrets in my life.”  Wow.  This is a woman that I went all the way through school with.  She married, had children, owned a business, and was an elder of her church.  How can someone go through life and look back and say that all the choices he or she made were the correct ones – no regrets? 

I regret things all the time.  I seem to have a whole bag of them.

1)      the tone of my voice when I’m irritated and take it out on someone else;

2)      not making more friends;

3)      having too much pride – causing me to hold back an apology that is due someone;

4)      not giving enough of myself to the needy;

5)      denying God when He’s asked me to do something that was out of my comfort zone;

6)      not getting involved in a particular mission that God has laid on my heart for 13 plus years. 

I believe there are different kinds of regret.  Some are regrets concerning decisions we’ve made in our lives that didn’t help us out personally.  Other regrets concern decisions we’ve made that didn’t better someone else.

My regrets revolve around the decisions I’ve made that didn’t make someone else’s life a little better or a little easier.  I’ve been somewhat selfish in that regard, and I’ve regretted that tremendously.  But that is a regret that can be eased from the burden that I drag around with me.  It doesn’t need to be over my shoulder, weighing me down.  I can move forward in life and work on helping the next person that comes along that is in need of Christian grace and love.  I have His love because God has blessed me with it abundantly.  So why not share it with those who need it most?

I have no regrets for me personally.  I don’t regret poor decisions that I made that hurt or hindered me.  I don’t regret decisions that I made that didn’t prosper me.  I give thanks to God that He used my decisions to grant me experiences in order that I can help someone else who needs the same grace that I received from God.

I can move forward, making my future decisions better, based on the experience from my past.  God doesn’t want us to have regrets after we have been forgiven.  He wants us to live from this day onward for the better – looking forward to the goal – of being like Jesus Christ and looking forward to the prize– of being with Jesus Christ, not looking back and holding onto regrets. I’ve dropped my bag of regrets……with no regret!

13… But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13

A LIFE of AUDITS

As the Financial Controller for a small security business in Atlanta for the past 13 years, I have endured multiple audits annually.  An audit is an extensive and methodical examination of all of the books, records and accounts that support the financial statements.   In most circumstances, they are costly and time consuming.  Audits I’ve dealt with have been done by outside accountants with insurance companies, Department of Labor, commercial finance and our own accountant.  All these audits are done in order to determine basically whether I am doing my job correctly and that there is no cooking of the books.

Two months ago, two days prior to leaving on a two week vacation, I received a call from the State of Georgia – Department of Revenue – Sales Tax Division.  They would be coming  August 13 for two days to two weeks to audit every aspect of our company books, to determine that as an agent for the State of Georgia that we were paying the state all that was due to them.  The audit was for a three year period, May 2009 – July 2012.  Let the panic set it!!

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  This verse has played a very important part of my life for decades.  I believe God Himself provided me with this wonderful opportunity of work and because He wanted me here, doing this work, I would commit the work that He gave me, to His service.  All that I do, I mentally determine that it is for God.  Just as pastors, elders, church leaders take the position that God gave them, knowing that the work is in His name and for His service.  We should  understand that the work God has given us is actually for Him!

Therefore I went into this audit for the state with prayer and I asked fellow Christians for their prayers also.  Though I was told it could take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, I anticipated 2 weeks and I PRAYED for 2 days.  I spent the last two months preparing for this audit.  It disrupted my normal routine of working remotely from Charleston, and I had to travel to Atlanta more often and stay longer.  I was commuting to Atlanta on Sundays after the worship service and returning on Friday or Saturday in order to be home for next Sunday’s services.  And I was still trying to minister to Earl and to God’s people as He also directed me.  And through it all, God kept me safe in my additional travels.

On Monday, August 13, my auditor appeared at 9 AM, but by Wednesday, August 15, my auditor was finished with the on-site field audit!  Do I hear an Amen?   My prayer was definitely answered that in two days the on-site audit was completed.  After all was said and done, I had done my job to the best of my abilities and with careful preparation and the help of my staff; we were able to provide all the information in an organized and detailed presentation. 

After prayer and praise to God, He gave me a thought to ponder.  Shouldn’t each of His children review the life they are living and after careful consideration, preparation and detailed determination be able to present themselves to God for audit?  God is the only judge Who can determine whether they are doing the job He gave them to do, and whether they do their job to the best of their abilities.  Aren’t we all really living a life that is to be fully audited by God?   Thank the Lord, our books will be found clean through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Message of the Beatitudes – Eight – Persecuted

 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.”  Matthew 5:10-11. 

When I met Earl, he had already been in the ministry 12 years, he had 3 children (10, 12 & 14 years old), and was pastoring as an abandoned single parent in a church that had about 10% of the city residents, (600 of 6,000).  I was in my mid 30’s he was in his early 40’s.  I had 2 children of my own (10 & 16 years old).  But I didn’t think twice about dating and eventually marrying a pastor.  I had been a Roman Catholic growing up, became a Baptist at 28 and didn’t see any issues with becoming a Presbyterian when I married Earl at the age of 36.

After 13 years of marriage bliss – 🙂 – I have since discovered how life in the ministry can be.  My husband has had all of the 8th beatitude negatives hurled at him at one time or another in his ministries, from insults to persecution to loss of larger church calls because he wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, and to having all kinds of evil said against him falsely on account of his belief in the Jesus as presented in the Bible.

I remember a church that would have called him, but told him that he would have to leave all his controversial sermons in his filing cabinet.  Needless to say, he didn’t take the call.  Over the years, I too, have had derogatory and untrue comments said about me.  Those have really hurt especially since I have been very actively involved at many levels in every church that we have served. 

     I would highly recommend to all church sessions, leaders, staff and church members, the book, “What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew” by Denise George.  This book says it all and then some. 

     If you take the time to read the book mentioned above, you will actually see the real world of a pastor’s life and the far-reaching effects upon his family.  Jesus warned that all those who made the decision to follow Him would be persecuted, they would be afflicted, and they would be oppressed.  In  1 Thessalonians 3:4-7, Paul writes that he advised the church that he was going to suffer affliction and then by verse 7 he states, “In all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith.”

     A pastor and his family know that according to the Scriptures, ministry is going to be difficult.  Jesus promised that it would be.  That is part of God’s call, and I am not really complaining.  But Christians need to recognize that sometimes they can be used, usually without their awareness of it, to damage a good ministry and to discourage someone who has been graced by God to shepherd and benefit the church.  With this knowledge and with a lot of prayer, forgiveness, and the strength of God, a church family and a pastor’s family can be victorious through all kinds of trials.  We can all bear much more fruit for Jesus Christ when we stop insulting and discouraging pastors and start praying for them and supporting them and respect the fact that God may be working through them.

When I read God’s Word, I am in awe of the prophets who have stood in time past and had been persecuted.  I never compare my life with theirs, but I can understand just a little better some of the dynamics and trials of their lives.  To be persecuted because of your belief in Jesus Christ is like a badge of honor because when this happens to us, Jesus reminds us of His promise, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”   (Matthew 5:12)   At least when we are persecuted on account of Jesus, we know that we are on the right side!

One of the most important and holy acts of kindness a church family and shepherds can do is to be in continuous prayer about their shared ministry together.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Churches that have done exactly that have seen the positive results of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who have had a God-change of heart.  Blessings abound for all involved when we do as Jesus directs rather than taking matters into our own hands and reacting cruelly, hurtfully or in an un-Christ like manner.

Unlike many minister families who may be experiencing more severe issues, Earl and I are doing relatively well.  I did not write this blog to imply that we are always experiencing persecution.  But some pastors and churches are going through such trials that we should not only be praying for them, but also teach and proclaim that it shouldn’t be the church that persecutes its own – even if the world does.  Many times churches and shepherds can experience great love, prayers and support for each other.  And this is how our witness should be to our culture.  But in this ministry as a pastor’s wife, I have learned what God’s call upon my life is.  As Earl ministers to our church family, I am to minister to him.  For his days are long and hard out in the ministry field.  The very least that I can do is to minister to him and attempt to make his divine call as easy to bear as possible.  We are in this ministry of Jesus Christ together – for better or for worse.

Message of the Beatitudes – Seven- Peacemaker

     “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.”  Matthew 5:9

     So here I am, wondering, do I have what it takes to be a “PEACEMAKER”?

     There could be a difference between a peacemaker and a peacekeeper.  It might be helpful to distinguish between them.  Personally, I believe a peacekeeper is one who tries to a great extent to avoid conflict. This is someone who will not cause waves in a situation.  They just want to keep the peace.  I believe that I might be basically just a peacekeeper. 

     On the contrary, I believe a peacemaker may even have to bring conflict to the surface between individuals to help reconcile any differences.  These are people who are not afraid to iron things out.

The key difference is; a peacekeeper knows that conflict exists but tries to avoid any flare-ups between parties.  A peacemaker takes the potentially hazardous conflict and attempts to reconcile the parties by putting an end to the controversy.

I believe peacemaking requires more Christian attributes and gifts than does peacekeeping.  Peacemaking requires forgiveness whereas peacekeeping may avoid the discussion of forgiveness altogether.  Does someone have to ask for forgiveness before reconciliation takes place?  I believe so.  I have discussed this with Earl.  I have determined that he is correct when he says forgiveness has to be asked for before one can forgive or be truly reconciled.   Doesn’t God call people to repent and ask forgiveness from Him?   I’ve argued that I can forgive people regardless of whether they’ve asked for it or not.  This really is wrong.  What I’ve actually done is made peace within myself in order to avoid conflict from without.  This is a peacekeeper’s way of dealing with situations.  It may even be an insult to tell an individual, “I’ve forgiven you,” when he or she may actually believe that I need to ask for forgiveness from them!  People are not truly reconciled by just making peace within ourselves.

This is where a peacemaker makes all the difference.  Instead of burying my head in the sand and pretending discord doesn’t exist, I need to vocalize how I’m feeling and get the feelings of the other person involved.  Then, with a Christ-like attitude, begin to understand and work on improving the situation that has caused such a struggle in the relationship.

Jesus was very clear about this during the Sermon on the Mount verses, again Matthew 5.  Look at verses 23-24 “If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”    

This is a very serious directive that Jesus has given us.  It could quite possibly be put like this way.  If you are in church and The Spirit reminds you that you and your brother or sister are at odds, leave church before offering yourself to God and be reconciled with your sister or brother and then come back and be reconciled with God.    Our relationship with our fellow brothers and sisters is so important to God that He doesn’t accept our worship until we have truly reconciled with our sisters and brothers – provided, of course that it is possible to reconcile with them!  Paul said it this way, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”  God’s ministry and goal for all individuals is reconciliation.  That is not just reconciliation with Him, but between all of us.  How do we expect God to reconcile with us in our sins, when we can’t even reconcile with each other for wrong doings?

Peacemaking is a never ending requirement during this lifetime in order to be like sons of God.  This is the ministry of Christ that He has given to us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Let us look to His ministry of reconciliation whenever and wherever it is possible – as far as it depends on us – through Christ our Lord.

Message of the Beatitudes – Six – Pure in Heart

Jesus said the pure in heart are blessed because they will see God.  Matthew 5:8

Our fellowship with God and knowledge of His ways depends on our purity of heart.  Jesus is saying that to receive the blessing of seeing God, we must become like God.  But how does that happen?

It’s possible to be passionate about God, spend time with Him regularly and still sin.  To become more pure in heart requires a thorough inspection of all of our faults and sinful ways and then asking God to do what is necessary in our lives to cleanse our souls.  No, we cannot cleanse ourselves of our sinful nature, but we can take steps by identifying the problem(s) by His Holy Spirit and then asking God to remove them.

This may be a stretch as an analogy, but when I think about cleansing my soul in order to see God, I keep thinking of what it takes in order to prepare for and endure a colonoscopy.  YUCK!!  Ok, let me tell you how my mind works!  We first acknowledge that we may have a sin problem, we seek the advice of a Doctor (The Great Physician, God), Who then recommends that we go through a procedure of cleansing by His Holy Spirit.  It involves filling us up with His Spiritual presence and allowing Him to purge us.

1)      Sometimes we have trouble acknowledging that we have any problem at all and we continue to feel the results of the imperfections of sins that are affecting our life – not seeking any advice from the Great Physician at all.

2)      Other times we acknowledge that there may be a problem, we seek advice but we don’t like what we hear has to happen in order to cleanse the imperfections from our life, so we leave the doctor’s office and don’t do anything with the advice because it may cause some discomfort in our comfortable lives.

3)      Then there are those that acknowledge the problem, seek advice and regardless of the disruption it causes to cleanse the imperfections out of our lives, we prepare ourselves and do all we can possibly do to remove all the bad behavior from our life.  And when we are finished, we ask the Doctor to do His part to look and see if there is anything left that needs to be removed in order for us to go forward and live a life full of His presence.

So how do we become pure in heart?  Psalm 139:23-24 states: “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”.  Because “…the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

You must do some serious soul searching and ask God to help you discern what it is in your life that is literally offensive to God.  He knows and understands your motives.  If your motives are not God centered, you are offending Him and hence, unclean – impure!

Once you’ve reflected and identified the offense(s), you need to repent (confess to God and turn away or repent from the sin in your life with His strength).  When you are tempted by Satan, do what Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan, reflect on God’s Word.  Filling your mind with the Scriptures helps ensure that you stay strong.  Knowing Scripture, makes you know God and knowing God, makes you become more like Him.

Seeing God –  Be Blessed.

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