That’s One Small Step in Faith, One Giant Leap in Belief – (Part 1 of 3)

Indiana Jones Stepping Out in FaithBack in June, 2014 Earl and I went to the Presbyterian (PCUSA) General Assembly in Detroit, MI.  We left there completely distraught.

Earl has been an ordained minister in the PCUSA for almost 30 years.  And what once felt like home to him has culminated into another world over the past decade with numerous subtle and not so subtle changes in beliefs.  The PCUSA has gradually morphed into what I would personally consider a quasi-religious Unitarian social club that somehow is still attempting to advocate and promote “unity”.  But only Christ unifies a church or a denomination or Christians all over the world.  Outside of Christ, there is no lasting unity.

Back in 2010, I would have gladly walked away from the PCUSA, but because my husband was still a Minister of the Word and Sacrament with them, I felt compelled to worship and teach right alongside him – bringing the truth to those who really wanted to hear it.  In essence, I was one of many remnant people and groups within the church to God’s faithful followers. (Romans 11:5) “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.”

But within the denomination there is now a collapse of Christian beliefs in everything from marriage to the Lordship of Christ, and it has created a political and secular body that has stepped outside the bounds of Christianity.  The Church is to be set in the world, but not of the world; a place for people to be discipled in God’s Word and to practice that belief in the world.  Now the world is being preached in the church and people are being discipled as believers in current cultural norms.

Earl and I read the Bible completely each year, we study different books of the Bible in detail and we each have our own personal devotions daily.  We attempt to pray not according to our wills, but according to God’s.  This practice of submitting to God’s will in prayer must be totally alien in a church that demands that God bends the knee to current cultural norms.  God keeps leading us to passages such as Luke 9:5, “And as for those who do not receive you, as you go out from that city, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”  2 Corinthians 11:3, Acts 20:27-30, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.  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.  I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.”  There are many more verses from the Old Testament that proclaim a different message than the PCUSA, including Ezekiel, Chapter 3.

In the midst of all that was taking place within the walls of our own church and within the denomination, many believers individually and corporately were leaving the PCUSA.  When we left Detroit in June, we knew that the decisions we had heard and the direction of the denomination were no longer in line with what Christ’s apostles taught and a vast majority of Christian disciples believe.  It was time to retire from the PCUSA, yet not from ministry.

CPC Cross

Maybe this sounds a little contrived, but during that time of discernment the Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was forever playing in the back of my mind.  One particular scene got stuck in my mind that you will find here.  It is when Indie crosses over the chasm solely through faith and belief in the word.  The elder Dr. Jones is seen telling Indie from behind, while suffering, that he has to believe.  Every time I think of this, I see Earl as Indie and Jesus Christ as the Senior Dr. Jones.  Jesus, in His suffering, encourages His true believers.  Seek your faith in God and believe that He will lead you to take that one, small step that is also a big leap of faith – sight unseen.

We took that one small step of faith – sight unseen – and oh how God has blessed us.

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Come, Entertain Me

 

CPC Flower ArrangementThe word come, when read in the Bible about Christ’s enjoining His disciples to follow Him, became their first step in living the Christian life. It is a disciple of Jesus’ first step. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” In Mark 1:17-18 “And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men. And they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” We do not walk with Christ without following His teachings and direction.
I anticipate worship in a Christian church to be of my Lord Jesus Christ, to ask for forgiveness of my sins, and to take in the whole Word of God. And as I leave the church doors, I fully expect the Holy Spirit to go with me and keep me strong in the faith and use what I heard and learned to navigate through the channels in life. I expect that when I am in fellowship with other believers, I will be comforted, heard, even advised and disciplined by those who know and live the Word of God. I expect that other Christians will use their experiences based upon God’s Word to uplift me and help to direct my life. I pray that I will do the same for them. I pray that I will always comfort others, listen to others, advise and help direct others based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
In a conversation with an individual a year or so ago, after a Sunday service, a comment was made to me that went something like this:
- I know I am a very quiet and non-social person, and I have been coming here for years, but I look around and always feel there are clicks/groups and there is no sense of desire by those clicks/groups to be changed by adding another person to them.-
I wonder how church can sometimes feel like another social gathering or social club. Can we come to be entertained rather than to be taught? Do we turn away from following Christ when we don’t like something we hear from the Scriptures because it is contrary to what our culture teaches us? Doesn’t everyone ask, “Is God trying to speak to me here?” “Don’t I have something to learn if I am following Jesus?” “Could I be mistaken in my beliefs?”
When we are following Christ in church we should react like those who first heard Jesus, “And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” We should come to church to obey Jesus Christ, learn His truths, His ways and how to live His life. To follow Jesus is to get closer to Him, advance towards His will, and to draw near to His holiness and goodness. In doing so, we are changed and Christ changes the world through us. We come to church to worship God and to follow Him, not to be entertained or just because we have friends or family there.
I was reading an article (Entertained to Death? Is seeker-driven entertainment a viable option for Growing your Church? By Eric Barger) about how many;
“compromising leaders help propagate lukewarm “religious” followers with no sense of Godly Biblical standards who miss the awe, reverence and supernatural power of God”. “Perhaps due to shrinking attendance and growing expenses, some evangelicals have slowly adopted the notion of “giving the people what they want” as their church plan. Now seen as “old fashioned”, “outdated” and “negative” are the Biblical ideals of discipleship, doctrine, righteousness, victory over evil and the conquering of sin. At any rate, this is the underlying rational being forwarded by a number of today’s popular growth gurus. Those whose books and teaching have lead the Church away from Biblical thinking have probably done so without overtly malicious intent. Nevertheless, the popularizations of the so-called “positive gospels” have come from a non-historical basis, a mix of bad theology and a “change or die” church growth mentality.”
I have been listening and learning from my husband Earl, a God-fearing man for over 16 years. Earl & Bob BeanHe has been preaching for 29 years. Every time he steps behind the pulpit I expect to hear God speaking to me. And every time for 16 years, I hear this man being used as a vessel by God to bring His Word to me. When I come to church, I expect the music, Bible verses, confessions and offerings all to be about worshiping God, not entertaining me. I’ve delved into the Bible for years. I read it annually and continue to study it in depth. I am given great insight by God in those Words and revelations as He determines. I would be aghast if Earl were to ever “compromise” Scriptures just to satisfy some political base in the pews.
If we watch the clock or are like those participants that “didn’t get anything out of that one, preacher,” perhaps we need to seek God more than we do our lunch. Perhaps that twelve noon kickoff tailgate party with friends was going through our minds, and we missed what was meant for us. Perhaps what was preached was from God to us, but we just didn’t agree with it or like the way it was presented. Jesus never said, “Come and be entertained.” He didn’t say, “If you agree with Me, then you might want to try it.”  Psalm 95 is powerful, and I commend it for reading and devotional study – but in particular verses 6-8; “come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God. And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah.”
Come to the house of The Lord. Come and hear His voice. Come and hear the uncompromised Word of God. Come and bow down to Jesus. Come to Him and expect no entertainment in return. But do expect forgiveness, eternal life, and a new and abundant life in Christ.

The Prayer Journal

Replica of the prayer journal

1 Timothy 2:1&3 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men….This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour…”

Fifteen years ago upon becoming a pastor’s wife, I determined that the prayer requests coming in from our parishioners were far more numerous than my mind could possibly keep in order and maintain.

An avid reader, I was shopping in a book store, and I found an entire section of journals.  Some of those blank page journals were very attractive to me.  One of my favorites was a red leather journal with the antiqued paper that had the burned look to the edges.  Oh so lovely.  I determined that I had to have one, but was unsure of exactly how I would use it.  It stayed in my nightstand for quite some time.

One evening, when a prayer request came to my attention, I was trying to find something on which to write.  I pulled open that drawer and saw the journal.  Inspired, I knew that my journal should be used for the prayers of God’s beautiful people.  Where I could hold them in my hands, lift them up to God and pray vigilantly for the good, the bad, and the hurt – to ask for God’s answers.

A couple years ago, a wonderful seminary student came through the Sunday receiving line after church services.  He was hurting; he had received a blow in his personal life and reached out, asking for prayer.  I told him I would immediately begin praying for him and would add him to my personal prayer journal.  He asked about it, and I explained to him what I did.  He was extremely grateful to know that I was sincere when I said that I would pray for him.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

How often do we tell someone that we will pray for them and promptly forget to do so?  It can become routine to tell someone “I’ll pray for you.”  It’s almost an off-the-cuff response by Christians because, well let’s face it, it’s easy and who’s going to know if you actually prayed?  But let me tell you, people know a sincere heart and attitude, and they also know those that are just giving lip-service.

This past Sunday, another parishioner came through our receiving line after services.  Sarah gave me the biggest hug.  She proceeded to tell me that when she heard that I had been experiencing severe back trouble the week before and was incapacitated, she said: “I prayed for you, I prayed hard for you”.  Her sincerity was so apparent, I knew without a doubt that she indeed did pray hard for me.

Several prayer journals later, I have a new favorite journal.  In December 2012, one of my favorite friends gave me a LIFE journal that she had made especially for each member of our women’s Bible study group.  Our circle is named LIFE (Living in Faith Everyday).  Since December 2012, I have been using this journal for prayer offerings to the Lord.

Prayer Journal 2014

Last night a dear friend asked me to pray for her and her family due to some employment issues that have been brewing.  They are being affected emotionally and spiritually, and they want God’s intervention.  I was more than happy to add them to my prayer journal.  I thank God that He has given me the will and the desire to go to Him in prayer for the people in my life that ask me.  I pray also that they will know for certain that I will lift them up to our awesome God.  For we can rest in the promise that God grants us about our prayers –

1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Don’t Look Back !

Earl - Sea of Galilee

Earl – Sea of Galilee

Lately I have had a preoccupation with Lot’s wife.  The Bible doesn’t mention her name, though some Jewish traditions indicate that her name was Edith (Adith or Ado).  But I can’t help but wonder, why after being told by the messengers of God, “Escape for your life!  Do not look behind you, ………” (Genesis 19:17), did she still look back?

Reading in Genesis before this event, you get the basic idea of why God was angry with Sodom and Gomorrah.  The cities as God states in Genesis 18:20 states, “And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.”  Due to their unrepentant sins, God’s patience was tested to the point where He could not look upon the evil – thus He determined to end the evil by destroying it.

Lot lived there along with his wife and two daughters.  The messengers of God came to Lot’s house and spent the night, but not without the sins of the city affecting Lot’s family and his guests.  Lot pleaded with the men of the city to not act wickedly.  They had demanded to have sexual relations with his guests.  As Lot contended with the men at his door, the men of God reached out to bring Lot back into the house, and they struck the men of the city with blindness.

So Lot, his wife, and two daughters were escorted out of the city and were headed for Zoar.  Once there, God rained down brimstone and fire from heaven and in verse 26 “But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.”  The more I thought about this story, the more I realized that the same directive from God is given to every Christian.  Don’t look back. 

There have been times in my life where I have looked back on the decisions that I had made, and I’ve cried out to God, repeatedly.  I’ve sat crying, beating myself up for years over the decisions that not only affected me, but others around me – others that I love and adore.  One such time was the decision to divorce my first husband.  Though it wasn’t working for us as husband and wife, my children were put in a horrible position.  My one time decision has affected the decisions that they have been making for 17 years.  I see it, I sense it, and I’ve been told by them that it has.  That hurts!   It’s raw!  It’s life.  We ALL make decisions, but once made, we have to reconcile ourselves with God and ask Him and Him alone, where do I go from here?

My son - Craig

My son – Craig

Throughout the New Testament, we are told not to look back.  Luke 9:62 Jesus states “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  In Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”  And look at Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” And finally,  Peter 2:21-22 “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.  It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire,’”

God pulls us out of our old lifestyle and forgives us and offers us a new life.  He pulls us out of a life that perhaps was controlled by other things that we were sucked into – not knowing how to get out.  The amazing thing is, God has a plan for us.  What He asks is simple.  Don’t look back.

Don’t look back on that sinful past, that sinful lifestyle, those sinful friends, and those bad decisions.  Don’t look back on mistakes made, decisions that affected not only you, but others.   Don’t look back on the pleasures of sin, but rather look forward to the promises of a new future with God.  You can’t be useful to the Lord today if you’re still feeling guilty about the past.  God uses those past hurts, failures, and mistakes to strengthen us to become the people He wants us to be today.

My Daughter - Maddie

My Daughter – Maddie

My decision and my cry to God eventually brought a new life to me.  I have not looked back since.  God gave me the great gift of forgiveness, which not only was granted from Him, but also from my children.  He gave me one of the greatest of gifts – Earl.  He is my spiritual leader even as my husband.  I will follow him anywhere because I believe God directs Earl, and Earl always responds with trust in Him.   I have to believe that perhaps Lot’s wife was looking back with regret, for having to lose a lifestyle that she enjoyed.  Why else would God turn her to a pillar of salt?  Perhaps she had no remorse.  Perhaps she had not asked for forgiveness.  Perhaps she had turned away from God’s call in her life.  God told Abraham that He would save anyone found righteous in the two cities.  I believe that out of all those people, only three were righteous in God’s eyes.

The Rain Came Down, Did His People Persevere?

It is 5 AM, and it is Palm Sunday.  The only thing I hear is rain – a torrential downpour.  This is the beginning of Holy Week.  Earl is already in the shower, and I have to swing my feet off the bed and get down to the kitchen to get his breakfast cooking.  It’s part of my ministry, and I’m happy to do it.  I persevere to make sure that the work that the Lord has given me gets done.  But it’s raining, and it feels like sleeping weather.  My feet still hit the floor, and I get started.

I have to study a little more.  I’m teaching the Sunday school lesson.  I worked on it yesterday, but I’m not feeling confident with what I’ve got.  Yet I must persevere, I can’t present what God does not intend.  Clean up the kitchen, sit down and study.  I look out my window to see lightning, and I hear the resulting thunder.

Shower, dress, but no, the dog will not go out in this rain.  Can she cross her paws for the next 5 hours?  I open the door, it’s raining so hard that there is a fog-like consistency in the air.  The dog backs away.  A thought  runs through my head, will God’s people persevere and come to chuch today?  It’s raining so hard.

I realize that I can’t go through the newly created pond at the bottom of my entry stairs in my shoes.  I quickly change into my Duck shoes, throw the high heels in a bag and grab the umbrella.  Will the umbrella actually open?  Oh please Lord, let the umbrella open.  It does.  Thank you Lord!

As I drive through the streets, the meer couple of miles to the church, God begins to speak to me in my mind.  I’ve learned to listen.  Today it is not His quiet voice, but a strong voice that tells me to tell His people to persevere.  Dear Lord, will your people come to hear?  So here is what He told me in my thoughts.

Spring Blooms

Spring Blooms

I give you the rain.  You receive the fresh aroma of Spring.  I nourish the ground for all My nature to grow.  My gifts to you include the beautiful gardens, flowers and trees – lawns so lush – vegetation so green.  My water helps to provide all that for you.  You have water to drink and shower and clean.  My gifts to you.  I give you My Word so the pastor can speak.  He’s been provided with a sermon to nourish My people – to offer their worship – lift up their voices.

God is good.  He gives many good gifts.  Let us not use those gifts as excuses not to come and worship.  I was pleased to see all those whose worship of God meant more to them than the possibility of enduring the rain and getting a little wet. His people do persevere.

Our pastor, our music department, our staff, our ushers, Sunday School teachers – as well as all those who prepare the coffee and refreshments – all worked really hard to be sure that the ministries that God entrusted to them were carried out.  They persevered through the rain.  And we were all blessed this rainy, stormy, Palm Sunday, 2013.

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” 1 Thessalonisan 1:4

Dying Is Not Just an Ending But a Beginning

Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris, RN.  I have just finished reading this amazing journal of the experiences of a faith-filled Christian who has served in Hospice care.  Trudy Harris heard her call from God and took the gifts He offered her and went to work as His servant.

The final paragraph of the book reads, “Dying is a very natural part of living.  It is not an ending, but a beginning.”  She shows death to be a transition into the life God has promised to all of His children.  He wants us to eventually come home to be with Him after we finish the work that He has created us to do.  “He loves us-believe it.” 

Dying can be very scary, especially for those who do not know God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Director.  But Trudy Harris witnessed of God to all those with whom she came in contact.  Many came to faith in God through her conversation, care and prayers.  Trudy Harris reflects Christ.  You can feel it in the stories.  You are in awe of her and pray to God to be more like her.

My mother Diana, is also an RN.  Long retired, but she still renews her license.  My mother worked in emergency rooms, operating rooms and on the floors of  hospitals and private doctors’ offices.  My mother is the first person that I call when I am given a diagnosis by my doctor.  She researches, questions and gets answers.  She comforts and loves those that come to her.  Every family member counts on her medical knowledge and insight.  I see Christ reflected in her.  I also hear hope.

My husband Earl, Senior Pastor at James Island Presbyterian Church, recently gave a sermon entitled, “The Roman Road.”  One section of the sermon hit me at the time that he stated it, and I was reminded of it again as I read this book.  He said, speaking of the church, “We are a hospital for sinners – not a Hospice for sinners.  As much as Hospice did for my personal family – and I love the work of Hospice – and not everyone who enters Hospice also dies in Hospice… But by simple analogy, a church is not a place for sinners who have no cure and are made to feel comfortable until they die.  The church is a hospital where patients are made better by the Great Physician and live eternally.”

The church is for healing and recovery.  A place where all sinners go to be made well.  We come to be cleansed by the Spirit of God through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In the church, I also see hope.

Trudy’s book offers the reader a glimpse into the final days, hours and moments of those who are ready to leave this earth and transition into life eternal.  To read about those visions comforts the reader and gives knowledge to the believer that when God calls us home, He blesses us by His Holy presence.  When God calls us home to begin a new life with Him, it is not frightening.  It is more than we can possibly imagine.  And that is why I believe in God’s living hope.

“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”  Romans 10:15

Competing with Your Spouse – The Chili Cook-off

Earl and I rarely, if ever, compete against each other. 

Our church had a Renewal Weekend, and part of the program was a Chili Cook-Off.  Earl and I entered the competition.  It took Earl about two weeks to realize that he would be competing with me, I, on the other hand was aware of it the moment I entered our names.

I planned, made lists, bought my ingredients.  Earl ordered his secret ingredient from Kansas City, MO.  We then realized that Earl might have to go out of town the day before the competition and try to get back in time for the renewal services.  I got a devil-may-care attitude going.  “Honey, what to do?  You’ve got to enter your chili because you’ve signed up.”   “Oh, and don’t forget they made announcements on Sunday that you and I would be entering.”  “Did I mention that they brought it to everyone’s attention again during Wednesday Night Live dinner?”

Competition is not necessarily a bad thing.  According to the Bible, competition is a vital component of success.  However, left unchecked, competition can also lead to cheating and failure.  According to 2 Timothy 2:5 “And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”

Did I mention that I was beginning to feel guilty as I saw him get closer to failure?  On the Thursday prior to the cook-off, I called Earl knowing he was under a lot of heavy stress, meetings and pressures, and so I asked him if he wanted me to get his ingredients.  I even offered to make it for him if he would tell me how he made his chili.  I would be happy to follow his instructions to the letter and make sure his chili got to the cook-off for him.

Jesus Christ’s message to his followers was that they should attempt to help others whom they disagree with rather than to make them even more helpless (Luke 9:51-56). Thus, by focusing on caring for others rather than on competing with them, believers can maintain their own integrity while being of service to those in need.

I care for Earl, and I wanted him to enter his chili.  What harm does it do for me to help him out?  It’s still a competition, played by the rules.  Funny thing was, he then told me that he did not need to go out of town and that he would have time to do his own work on his chili.  So let the games begin!

By the way neither one of us won the contest, and I chose the double crock pot before he could do so.  His chili turned out a little dry because he didn’t have enough room for the liquid in his single crock pot.  Was that cheating or just competing?

Serving Outside the Church Walls

When first entering the ministry as a pastor’s wife, I was clueless as to what was expected of me.  I had been in church all my life. I was raised Catholic, converted to a Baptist at the age of 28 and then upon marrying Earl at the age of 36, I became a Presbyterian.

Though as a Baptist I had served in numerous roles from being the church sexton to the treasurer, as a pastor’s wife, I was puzzled by my role and what might be unspoken assumptions by the congregation as to my responsibilities.

As time went by, I began teaching VBS, teaching Sunday school classes from middle school through high school, women’s bible classes and adult Sunday school.  I’ve been moderator of women’s groups, bible moderator and also the coordinator of women’s gatherings.  I’ve opened my house to the entire church family for Christmas lunch, sang in church choirs and even catered the women’s annual Valentine Banquet.

But one of the most fulfilling aspects for me of being a pastor’s wife has been in finding service projects for the women to do for others outside our church family and in our local community.

There are ministries within the church of which I am very involved.  I love women’s groups, and I make sure that I am a part of at least one woman’s circle.  I always participate in a Sunday school class; I never cease to learn something as we delve into Scripture, no matter how many times I’ve read through the Bible.  And I consider part of my church ministry to host members by inviting them to our home so that Earl and I can get to know our church family a little more personally.

But  I am also involved in more outreach in the community.  I feel that it is of the utmost importance for a pastor’s wife to also make sure she understands and gets to know her community.  The people within the proximity of the church are part of our local outreach.

James Island is right over the Charleston Harbor connector.  There is an organization that started in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo hit the island, called the James Island Outreach.   I was introduced to this little non-profit by our churches volunteer team-leader to the Outreach.  Our church is known as the pasta church.  We provide mainly canned or dried pasta to the Outreach.  We are one of 15 churches on the island that supports the Outreach.  The Outreach is basically a food pantry and provides some assistance in other areas as well.

An opportunity was announced at our church that the Outreach was looking for Saturday volunteers on the first and fourth Saturdays of each month.  I volunteered for the fourth Saturday.  In so doing, I found that our little island had a lot of hungry folks who desperately needed to experience the compassionate sharing hand of God from their fellow islanders.  I eventually went from being a volunteer to also being a member of the Board of Directors and was asked to fill the Treasurer’s seat.

I took an in house class to learn how to in-take clients so I could work the office when needed on those Saturdays that I volunteered.  This has now become a very large part of my ministry here on James Island.  I have never had a client turn me down when asked if I could pray for them during our time together.  Our director, Reverend Joseph Barbour, opens each day with prayer with our volunteers.  God is here, working through our churches, to help all those in need.  And personally, I believe all believers need to find that community outreach that calls them to volunteer their time and to help their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and those who do not know Christ through their trials.  All people are God’s created children.

Get to know your community, its needs and its people.  It’s important to all Christians, but most importantly to the pastor’s wife, in order to better serve her community, her church, her husband, and most importantly, God.

Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

If you feel so led, please volunteer your time or donate food or funds to:  

The James Island Outreach

1853 Maybank Highway

Charleston, SC 29412

Thanksgiving Day Blessings…

When I was growing up, I looked so forward each year to Thanksgiving.  My mom and dad were really good about making it special.   

Growing up on a dairy farm, I had chores to do every day with milking taking place early in the morning before school and late in the afternoon after getting off the bus.  There was no relief on the holidays.  At 4:00 p.m. my brother and sisters and I were off to the barn to spend the next 2 to 3 hours taking care of the animals and milking the cows.  Then cleaning up, we would go into the house to celebrate.  Of course mom was also usually down there in the morning and dad was down there in the evening.

On Thanksgiving Day, the cars were lined up in the driveway and starting at around 4:00 p.m., the festivities with grandparents, aunts and uncles and loads of cousins, began.  By the time we finished chores, it was 6:00-7:00 at night.  We would then come into the house through the basement and try to sneak through the maze of people to get to our rooms to change out of some extremely smelly clothes and race to the bathroom to wash up before dinner.

The aromas coming from my Mother’s kitchen were heavenly.  My mother would cook the biggest turkey she could find 25 – 30lbs, crammed with homemade stuffing.  Earlier in the day, my sisters and I would have already pealed a minimum of 10lbs of potatoes, and along with all that, there was no less than 12 other vegetables and side items spread out on the table for all to be enticed.

For the past 13 years, I have missed out on my family’s Thanksgiving Day dinners and gatherings.  For years, Earl led Thanksgiving Day services in churches.  We’ve also lived so far from either of our families that even when he didn’t have services, just trying to get to them has proved difficult.  In the early years with the kids, we couldn’t afford to fly with three children, so the attempts to get to St. Louis would be delayed by Atlanta traffic.  I remember one year trying to leave Atlanta on the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and 4 or 5 hours into the trip we had traveled only as far as the Tennessee border.  The red lights ahead of us were like a never ending river.  We realized that we had to turn around and go back or drive all night.

So now we have made our own traditions for Thanksgiving.  When the kids were home, I made sure I cooked everything my mom always had.  The first year, Earl and the kids were amazed as they counted 16 different items of food on the table.  I enjoy cooking, so Thanksgiving at our house has always been special, and it’s truly a day that Earl and I can give God thanks and also rest.  We’ve learned that Thanksgiving Day is a restful day – a gift from God for the service we do in His name.  And it gives Earl a couple days to energize before the Advent season begins.

Last year we started what I am going to consider a new tradition in this empty nest season of our lives.  With no kids at home and living far away from family, we found some of our friends who weren’t traveling either, and we decided to celebrate with them.  We split the cooking, and we all gather around a feast of food at one of our homes.  This year, we decided to eat over at our house.  We will enjoy the fellowship of one of our church families – but representative of our thanksgiving for all the saints.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” (I Thess. 1:2-3)

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

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