July 30, 2013

Yelling the Name of Jesus

I love my Sunday School class and if there is any wisdom in this, you can give them the credit.

In the midst of the hurry and worry of daily living, sometimes we falter and turn away from God. There may be lots of reasons and dozens of good intentions, but the bottom line is that we get off track and wander away from God's path for us. So what can we do? One easy but wise way is simply to call upon the name of Jesus.

So when that person cuts you off in traffic, your child gets on your last nerve, or even when the church's demands won't stop, just speak the name of Jesus. Jesus' name is not some kind of magical formula, but saying his name can remind us that we are straying and that we need to set our sights back on God.

One of the guys in my Sunday School class was kidding another class member, saying that during our recent Youth Week, he heard his friend not just saying the name of Jesus but yelling it loudly. We all laughed. But sometimes we have to yell just to make sure we hear it ourselves.

I'm not a particularly spiritual  person, but I can do this--saying the name of Jesus when things are going badly. And I've tried it. It really does help me and perhaps it can help you too.

So whether we whisper or yell the name of Jesus, God will honor our prayer and help guide us back in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Grace and Peace,

July 26, 2013

Other Duties as Assigned

This had never happened to me before. A church member died and the family began the funeral preparations, but the funeral was scheduled for a time when my husband--the pastor--was going to be out of town with the youth. While the church does have retired pastors that the family could have called on, the family wanted someone to officiate who actually knew their beloved mother. And needless to say, none of the retired pastors did. So the family asked if I could do the funeral. As it is, I am ordained as a deacon and am officially eligible and credentialed by the church to perform funerals. However, I think they would have asked me even without all that. When the family did ask me, I felt I had to say "yes." Because I did know the deceased and thought it was an honor to be asked.

When I arrived where the funeral was held, the family introduced me around to the rest of the family. But I could tell that they really didn't really know what to call me. The first time, they said I was the pastor's wife and I added that I was an ordained deacon standing in for my husband. The next time they introduced me again as the pastor's wife. This time I just said that I was the officiant. Then the next time they introduced me as the pastor's wife, I just went with it. And for the rest of the morning as well.

What they didn't know (and probably didn't need to know) was that this was my first funeral. And I would not be sad if it were my last. Still the service went well and the family was appreciative. All-in-all, we buried their mother with grace and dignity. Several people spoke and I really didn't need to do much. Surprisingly however, my nerves held and I was also to sustain that non-anxious presence. But who would have ever thought that holding a funeral service was part of my "job" as the pastor's spouse?

What opportunities have you had because of your position as the pastor's spouse?

Grace, Kathy

July 22, 2013

Just for Laughs

Here's a good way to begin the week.

1 Accept  the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the  statue!

2 Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you  have to eat them.

3 Always read stuff that will make you look  good if you die in the middle of it.

4 Drive carefully... It's  not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

5 If you can't  be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

6 If you lend  someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth  it.

7 It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve  as a warning to others.

8 Never buy a car you can't  push.

9 Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time,  because then you won't have a leg to stand on.

10 Nobody cares if  you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

11 Since it's the  early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.

12 The second  mouse gets the cheese.

13 When everything's coming your way,  you're in the wrong lane.

14 Birthdays are good for you. The more  you have, the longer you live.

16 Some mistakes are too much fun  to make only once.

17 We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are  sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names and all  are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

18  A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a  detour.

19 Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought  about you today.

20 Save the  earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate!*

Be the kind of person  that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says~~ "Oh darn, she's up!"

July 11, 2013

Love the Church but Need a Break?

Once upon a time a pastor's family decided that they would stay at home for vacation. As it happened, this was the same time as the church was having Vacation Bible School. Lots of church members saw their pastor on the street and they exchanged cheery hellos. But to their surprise, the pastor didn't ask even one time about VBS. Likewise the pastor's spouse was seen at the pool and out shopping. And like the pastor, the spouse was always friendly. But she didn't ask about VBS either and she clearly was not helping. Even the pastor's kids weren't at VBS. After all, they were on vacation, which for the kids also meant that they didn't have to go to church. And of course, you will not be surprised to learn that when appointment time rolled around the next year, the church requested another pastor.

It's hard for pastors' families to stay in town for vacation time. Most pastors need quality time away from being on-call 24/7. They may love their jobs, but who doesn't need a break? Sadly, many church people don't understand. Although I'm sure they jealously guard their vacation time.

Sometimes, I'd really like to just stay at home and get some things done around the house. But I also know that my pastor-husband needs time away. It's hard enough as it is for pastors to take vacations, because often worship attendance and giving take a hit when the pastor isn't there preaching. Somehow congregations think that if the pastor isn't there, they have permission to skip. Because of this pattern, we typically don't advertise the fact they we are leaving town ahead of time. And while our kids were at home, vacation time was the only time when they could count on having quality, uninterrupted time with dad.

What about you? Do you find that you have to leave town when your family needs vacation time?

Grace, Kathy

July 9, 2013

New Church Helps

As many now have their first Sunday at their new church, it is good to reflect on your first impressions of the congregation.

When my husband and I first started out, we served a four-point charge. At that time it was the largest multi-point charge with over 650 members. Of the four churches, three could have stood alone; and one finally did become a station church. But at the time there was a complicated worship schedule and each church had Sunday School every week. Each church was unique and had a different feel when you walked in. Not surprisingly, the church with the warm, homely, welcoming atmosphere was the one that eventually grew to became a station church. One of the other churches was satisfied being a "family chapel," and the other was divided from years of toxicity. To me, that church just felt cold. At the time, I didn't know why that church felt so unwelcoming. It was only later that I learned about their strife.

Despite the differences, however, we were called to serve each church and help them grow to more faithfully reflect the Kingdom of God. By and large, all the church folk were good to my husband and our young family. Although there was one woman who "stopped by" to check out how clean I kept the parsonage. She didn't exactly wear her white gloves, but she did remark that she was surprised how good things looked!? I guess she did this to all the parsonage families before us. Needless to say, some of the church people were easier to love than others.

But we also made some of our very best friends at that charge, and I was sorry to leave when we moved.

Over the years, I've found that my gut feelings about our churches have been on target. But despite how I feel or how they feel about me, we are all part of God's body and we have a duty to work together for the benefit of others.

I hope your first Sunday went well, whether you are new or are returning to your congregation.

Grace, Kathy

July 3, 2013

Separation of Church and State

Dear God, As we approach the celebration of July 4th, we remember the men and women who serve our country, particularly in the armed forces. We pray blessings on them and their families. We pray for their safety and courage. But we also pray for our enemies. We pray that they will also seek peace and understanding. God, we know that honorable peace is possible only with you in our midst. So we pray that you guide us all in paths that will lead to truth and justice, where all persons are respected and have opportunities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In Jesus' name, amen.

As we think about the place that God holds in our county, we automatically recall that famous phrase,
"wall of separation between church and state." This phrase first appears in a letter written by founding father, Thomas Jefferson, to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802. While there are different interpretations about Jefferson's exact meaning, the letter indicates that he meant that government should not interfere with religion, that is, that legislatures should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Because, for Jefferson, belief and worship are matters between humanity and God and not humanity and government.

Here is the actual text of Jefferson's letter: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."

As we celebrate our day of independence, let's remember that our God is a God of peace; a God who defends the rights of the least, the last, and the lost; a God who graciously demands and protects the freedom of God's people. Let us not ask if God is on our side, but if we are on God's side and how we can serve with dignity and honor. Let us move forward as a nation acting more like the God's people as demonstrated by the life of Christ.

Grace, Kathy