Message of the Beatitudes – Two – Mourn

Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted

     What comes to your mind when you think of mourning?  To mourn or lament is to express passionate grief from the soul.  How many of us have ever grieved so hard that we couldn’t speak, we couldn’t function, we couldn’t think straight?  Our tears were like rivers overflowing, and we were inconsolable.  Think of this as your soul mourning.  But is there anything that we should mourn? 

  • We should mourn our sins because they have hurt others and grieved God
  • We should mourn those who are out of relationship with God
  • We should mourn the unrepentant
  • We should mourn our poor spiritual condition

After our first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit” where we admitted our need for God and denied self, we must now ask God to cleanse our souls of all unrighteousness.   In Romans 8:26-27 “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning’s to deep for words; and He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

In mourning, we allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us.  It is in this grief process, that we allow God to take the hurt, sin and renew our poor spiritual condition, forgive us, and allow us to forgive others and at the same time, to restore our souls to what God intended us to be. 

As we age, we naturally tend to become more jaded, hard-hearted, and less compassionate.  We tend to have a “what-ever” attitude.  It takes a lot for us to grieve others’ misfortunes.  We tend to think; if only they made better choices, pulled up their bootstraps, worked a little harder…etc.  We lose sight of the most telling attributes of Christ: His love and His compassion. 

So this means mourning all those who may not be in the right spirit with God.  So as not to sound judgmental, let me tell you about my grandfather.  Many years ago, in my Baptist life, I must have brought the subject of Jesus up with my grandfather one too many times.  Finally, he had had enough of the debates, and he informed me that he was an atheist and if he came from dust, then to the dust he’d go back.  He had no desire to determine if there was a God or even if there was an afterlife.  And then he told me that if I brought the subject up again, he would have nothing more to do with me.  I was stunned.  I was hurt.  I was so very sad.  My soul grieved for my grandfather’s soul, and I prayed for years that he would have a change of heart. 

When we don’t truly grieve our poor souls and the poor souls of others, we are not emulating Christ.  Jesus gave voice to the anguish in His soul.  He grieved over Jerusalem, He grieved somewhat His imminent death, He grieved abandonment, and He grieved those who persecuted Him.  He was in prayer with the Father always for Himself and for others.  Receive the blessing of being comforted by having God who cleanses our souls of all unrighteousness and who grieves the souls of others.

One of the most comforting verses I know comes from Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken”.

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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

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