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Thursday, August 26, 2010

L is NOT for loser

Have you ever had one of those days where life is good! You are in go mode and the check off list is past done. Why is it then that even on my best days, one little set back can seem almost catastrophic and send me into a dark place where a list of past failures pop up on the memory screen in my brain? All of the sudden this confident woman of God is a puddle of goo asking, "Why do you even bother with me Lord?" That almost happened for a few minutes last week.

Did you know that when children start school parents have to sign 9,642 pieces of paper? There are medical forms and media forms. There are pledges to do well in school that we all must sign. You have to fill out current living information, and sign papers that you have read and understand each class requirements. Now, just times that by four and you can see why I might have a hand cramp.

I thought our first week was going swimmingly until my oldest got in the car and told me he needed a form signed that hadn't made it to his teacher yet and it was due! You know it is crazy, but for a moment I didn't focus on the 9,641 papers I had signed. For a brief moment it was all about that one paper. That one paper sent me to a dark place that said lies to me. Lies like, "You have just failed as a mom" or "Remember, it is just like that time you...." Do you ever feel that way? Like you are not good enough? Like your house really is made of cards and it feels like it is crumbling around you? Hey dear one,don't believe that.It is a lie from the author of lies. I reminded myself of that on the car ride home.

Someone very wise once said that Satan doesn't know your future, he only knows your past and he tries to use your past to effect and infect your future. That is so true. Let's stand boldly on the fact that if we take our sin to God, He throws it as far as the East is from the West. And if we cast our cares on Him, He will carry those burdens. I don't know why we hold onto past failures (even when we think they have been put away). I know this, we don't have to hold on. In fact, God in no way wants us to hold on. He has arms open wide just waiting for you to cast every care His way and be done with them. You see with God, L is NOT for loser, L is for Loved One.

In Luke 18 Christ told the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to remind us that no one should consider that they have arrived spiritually.That is a great reminder that will only make us better to serve Him. Sometimes we have the opposite problem of not feeling worthy enough. We wear a scarlet letter, whatever letter that may be.That letter may be from our past or a struggle in our present. Perhaps the letter is F for that fat girl, or it is C for that cussing guy. Whatever it is that has you feeling less than, God wants it, and He wants to rid us from the things that holds us back.

Many years and tears ago I had coffee with a very young girl. She was extremely beautiful. She was crying because she had just broken up with her fiance. He was a pastor and she said she didn't feel worthy enough to be a pastors wife (why are you laughing?). It was very serious. We talked about why she felt that way and it really came down to her past. I told her something that day that I not only believe but still helps me in my walk with Christ. I told her, in a loving way, about forgiveness. I told her that NONE of us will ever arrive spiritually. That is why we need Christ in our lives. I told her the day she could walk out her front door and boldly yell, "I am a big screw-up. But that's okay because GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY!" ... that would be the day she was free because she no longer had to carry what she was never meant to carry (her past and present pain).

Some folks don't even know they think they have arrived spiritually. They just know that they have "their group of friends" and would never miss the latest Beth Moore series. Both of these are not bad. In fact they're great unless an elitist attitude begins to emerge. You are growing in Christ... THAT IS AWESOME!!!!!! So what are you going to do about it? Who are you going to share Christ with today outside the context of your church friends?

Some folks never get out of the blocks of serving Christ with all their hearts. They know their life has sin in it so why share, or be more than they are now? Why? Because God saved a wretch like you and me! I certainly don't suffer from an attitude of arriving. I do sometimes suffer from an attitude of not feeling worthy. When I do, I remember that God is my heavenly Father. That is a very personal relatioship. Consider that just for a moment the fact that you are totally in God's loving care because He is your Dad. More Than "having your back", He has your life and wants us to run in full abandon to Him.

There are a couple of great books that might help you live a life that is growing in the Lord. If you are a woman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote an amazing book called "The Lies Women Believe." For men and women, Bil Cornelius' book called "I Dare You to Change" is coming out this week! It will be a great read that will be an encouraging challenge to be more for and through Christ in all areas of our lives. Being more isn't arriving. It is being able to go beyond our hurts and hang ups in order to follow Christ with full abandon. That is not feeling super righteous. It is about living righteously, and that is just where God wants us to be. Fully devoted to Him.

I usually ask a question here, but today I'm going to encourage you to spend some extra time praying and giving to the Lord what is holding you back. Give it to God and move forward BOLDLY through Christ! Stop believing the lies. Live righteously. Live in the knowledge of Christ. Seek His peace and the rest will come.

James 3:18 "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Beginnings

Some consider January 1st as the beginning of the new year. Frankly speaking, what are they thinking?!! Sure our calender points us in that direction, but I would have to give a motherly disagreement as to when the real year begins. Because, every circular filled with school supplies and last minute vacation get away packages would let anyone in on the real truth. In fact, I live in a college town, and just this week at least 30,000 returning and new students (and their families) have flooded our fair city just screaming that the real new year is about to begin. It is of course the start of school. Don't you just love the smell of new markers and erasers in August? Ah yes, the start of school is the mark of the new year around the Bryan home.

Just like any mother, I want my children to do well in school. That means we have to ready our home so their at home learning environment is at top notch capacity to supplement their education. So, in a calm and cool manner (much like at the airport) I pronounce three weeks before school starts that we have upgraded from a code orange to a code red. I repeat... CODE RED PEOPLE! We have strange new experiences headed our way, and forget about leaving your backpack unattended, just try to find it from three months ago and see if you left anything in it that makes it smell funny. Getting four children ready for their schools has been hard enough in the past, but this year has its own special challenge. This year all four children go to different schools. I have a High School student, a Jr. High student, an Elementary kiddo, and a Preschooler (hooray M.D.O.). Four kids at four different schools. What is past a code red?!! Yes! We must get organized. Where did I put my list of what to do?!!

Now, Professor Livingston had his jungle, and Amelia Earhart had her southern pacific ocean, but I have the largest challenge of all... my home! I am a saver. All the non-savers just moaned. They know. What do they know? They know that you might have spent 3.00 on that yarn, but if you haven't used it in three months it now sits by the extra box of paper clips you also haven't used that sits next to the coat that you are just sure will fit your third child this winter (that you held onto two winters ago). Please don't think my home is messy. It is usually clean (disclaimer: closets and half of the garage does not apply... saving may cause irritable belly aching from other family members). However, even the best clean savers must purge at some point. You simple run out of room to save the new stuff that you are just sure you will need. So, the real start of the new year, the beginning of school, always seems like the best time to me to purge and begin fresh.

Of course the sun shown through the windows and my teenagers hugged me and said, "Mother, we are ever so excited about helping you clean our rooms this year." Oh yes, then I woke up from my dream and into the nightmare that cleaning brings. How is it that teenagers can move three things around and look at you with a straight face and say they are finished cleaning? Finished? What about the stuff under the bed, the clothes that don't fit, and the stuff you don't use? Oh no! We aren't even close! Many time parents like to use the phrase, "it was like pulling teeth" to describe getting their children focused. This experience was more like pulling all the teeth while being tag teamed in a verbal wrestling match from the amazing Bryan Teenolas! On day three we finished both rooms just in time for school to begin. They will no doubt make straight A's... that is if they can find their stuff under the new piles they started today.

It was important for me to get their rooms ready. Maybe (when a mom says maybe that is code for IT IS the reason) it's because I just know in my heart that if they start strong they can end strong. I feel like if the outside is looking good it will give them an inner drive to be better inside.

You know that doesn't always work. There was a show a few years ago called The Swan. In this show they took mainly women who were not physically attractive by the world's standards, and did everything from weight loss to plastic surgery to teeth implants and turned them from "an ugly duckling" to "a swan." While most everyone loved their results, many of them still struggled with what they perceived themselves to be. Years of teasing and self loathing had made it hard to appreciate that God loved them as -is . I'm not here to really debate whether it was a good show or not. I do think it is interesting to note that without loving themselves, they still thought people saw "that ugly girl." More importantly, they still struggled with being "the ugly girl."

Sometimes we work hard at an outward appearance. We are productive on the outside so many perceive us to be together on the inside. At least we think that is what everyone else is thinking. Perhaps that is what the town thought of the Pharisees. All but Christ. Christ called them white washed tombs. They looked good on the outside but their inside was dead. Christ also told them that you must first wash the inside of the cup and not just the outside in order for it to be clean. Have you ever been there spiritually? You are on fumes still ministering, or should I say MINI- steering. The outside must go on, but you are in a low place just praying your long lost cousin has made a fortune and will share it with you... can I get an A-Men? You might be super busy for God. Others would say look how spiritual he/she is, but the truth is you are asking God if he would just stand over there. You are busy "serving" Him and simply don't have time for a quiet time with your Father.

While we, the teens and I, were cleaning their rooms, it became glaringly clear that the person who wanted their rooms clean did not even live in those rooms. Was I right to have them clean? Yes, because sometimes persevering makes way for easier cooperation next time as well as a hope and a sense of accomplishment. It's just that I can not fool myself into thinking that - that one act alone will bring straight A's and a new desire to be organized. That comes from the heart. I can pour into their hearts, but ultimately it is they, through Christ, that must make the heart choices. Which leads me to ask a question to you. What heart changes do you need to make to have a great life inside and outside?

We simply... I simply... you simply can't have a new beginning at anytime of the year if we are cluttered by our past. What does that look like for you? Do you have an old friend that did you wrong? Did you do them wrong? Did something happen to you? Did something not happen to you? You see, whatever it is or was, it is ourselves at this point holding up the new beginning. Until you let go of what is in your past it will forever shape your future. We, you and I have to clean out the inside of our hearts to make room for what God really wants us to hold dear. We can no longer save old habits and heartaches that bind us. New beginnings are not the end result. They are a cleansing of sort. A cleansing that starts by working through the filth in order to find the jewel that lies inside through Christ Jesus. I would like to urge you to take sometime today and do a little cleaning. Frankly, what have you been waiting for? Do you think it will get easier? Most likely it won't. Those three days with my teens were tough. Neither of them called their friends and said, "Oh goody! My mommy is helping me make my room super shiny!" But was it worth it? Well, what would happen if we did not? Stuff from my son's 6th grade would still be in his room as a freshman in high school.It would be an atmosphere of bondage of sort; bound by past clothes and clutter. You deserve so much more than past hurts and excuses. Start your new beginning today.

What is God showing you?

1 Corinthians 11:28 "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup."

Friday, August 13, 2010

How's it goin'?

I am sitting in Parker Colorado. I'm here leading a parenting seminar. I love what I do! It is great material written by great people. Here, I have exhaled and I am resting for tomorrow. However, in all truth this has been one of the worst weeks in a long time. I think it really hit as I boarded the plane today. The flight attendant took my pass, smiled and said, "How's it goin'?" I thought, How's it goin'? Then, in the sum of 3 seconds my mind flashed on the past 72 hours.

I was thinking, How's it goin'? Well, our one and only family vacation went from three measly days to one day as an entire family. We stayed at a State Park on the hottest week of the summer in a shelter (no really that's what they call it) with no air conditioning in what could only be described equivalent to Dante's 7th level of hell. That put us all in a "charming" mood especially the three year old who finally got to sleep at 1:30 am only to wake at 4:30 due to the heat.I cooled him off and Then I couldn't go back to sleep.(At least the next day the half that stayed moved to a cooler cabin.) I spent a long three hour drive back home with my oldest on a winding road only to clean the house for a weekend guest that was coming, packed for my flight and made sure my church ministries were covered. My husband called and we had a fight. My watch, which is never slow, was 30 minutes off! I then realized it was not an hour and ten minutes till my flight, but 40 minutes and I was not at the airport yet! I parked in long term parking and missed the shuttle. Afraid I would miss my flight, I chose to run, in heals, in the heat of the summer. I ran the equivalent of two and a half football fields to get to the airport. I then went upstairs to discover I was on the opposite side of where I needed to check-in. I ran some more. I got my ticket and went through boarding. Of course I ran to the terminal, which of course was the last one at the end, and had minutes to spare before they started boarding. How's it goin'?!!!

Then I thought again. It was really hot on our family trip and I am sure it will go down in the Bryan family history books as "that hot vacation." I'm sure we will laugh about it when it is not so fresh. I thought even though Jeremy (the three year old) was hot he loved it and I am sure he is going to be an outdoors man when he grows up (with plenty of liquids). We had so much fun swimming together in the river and having a picnic on the banks. I thought that I was glad we went to the dance that Garner State Park holds every night under the stars. It made us smile watching our nine year old dance with at least 9 girls; all who were a foot and a half taller than he was. We saw our daughter dance and I liked watching my husband as he stared down every young man that asked her to dance. I thought that while I didn't like the winding drive, I loved the small towns and found one for our next anniversary. I also loved the time with just my oldest son who is growing up way to fast.I thought, oh how I love cleaning the house... okay I didn't think that, but I do love our house guest. I am sad Randy and I had a fight, but I thank God we have God. We will work it out because I love him and he loves me, and we love God who loves us. I thank God because I got a call in the car on the way to the airport from a lady whom I haven't heard from in a long time. She called to thank me for the time I mentored her family. She thanked me for the parenting help, and said their marriage is better because of the time I spent mentoring them. I thanked God that I looked at my car clock and realized I had just enough time to book it to my plane. And I thank God for the blessing of doing this parenting seminar.

I then snapped back to reality to find the man smiling at me and waiting for my answer. I smiled and said, "Fine thank you." I said fine, but which one was it? Was it fine, or was it really cruddy? The truth? It was both.

Welcome to "This Ain't Heaven." Population you , me, and everybody else. Sometimes it is just tough and that goes for church families too! Say, do have directions to that place where there is no more gnashing of teeth, and no one cries, and all bills are paid? You do?!! Me too, we are just on a waiting list that will come both too soon and not soon enough. So what great wisdom can you gain today from a lady who is still obviously in a funk? Should we learn about what it says in Romans that all things work to the glory of God for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose? No, you know that. I bet you also know to consider this hard time joy because BOY HOWDY I am going to be one persevering woman when this is all not so fresh! Should we learn that all pastor families should take their vacation immediately after school lets out? Yep, that's a good one. We need time together. We need just us time and I am already starting to get really stingy about Spring Break!

Perhaps the best thought I can share as I sit huddled in my little corner of the hotel is this. Where does my help come from? Where do I go when I am running in the heat thinking why did I wear heals for strangers I will never see again in an airport? Where does my strength come from when my family has zero joy in the 100 degree plus shelter and togetherness is only making it hotter? Where is that joy when my husband and I are both angry and I have no answer that satisfies him, and he has no hope as I have no answer that will satisfy his question? Where?

My hope comes from the LORD. Because my daddy is bigger than you, you rotten week! I want God to hold me and make it better, and I know He will because He always does. God loves us. Pealing back the layers of the worst of this week, and the best of this week I find God with me in everything. Thank you God. Not because it is always perfect, but because you are always there. You are enough and I am climbing slowly out of the pit with your help. Thank you for giving me strength... I frankly don't have any today but yours.

How has God showed His strength to you this week?

Psalm 121:1-2 "I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Loving the pastor ... and I'm not talking about the sermon

Warning! This post is rated X. As in X-tra fun, X-tra exciting, and is considered a little X-tra grown up and an X-tra must do for all you who are married to a minister! This past Saturday I had some errands to run, and to my great joy, no children came and I went ALONE!Yes, it was then that I turned my radio up, put my air on full (which isn't hard to do being in south Texas), and drove with a fierce attitude that made me feel like I was in a sports car! I said 'like' a sports car.  I have a mini van. Yes, I work that mini van and I look good in it! (P.S. Soccer moms rule! :)) I was having a great time singing along with the radio. I started singing a love song, and it made me think of my husband.

Do you know this past June marked our 18th wedding anniversary? Marriage to any person can have its own set of challenges. Tommy Nelson in his book Song of Solomon talks about marriage and the joys and pit falls couples have. It is a great read. You can also check it out on the web. Pastor families are not immune to pitfalls. When we aren't busy being holy 24 -7 we may fight um-er discuss our finances, children, want for children, and a myriad of other regular folk issues that come knocking on our home life. However, I've heard it said that some pastor families even fight about church! But since that isn't you, thanks for reading the blog and I will see you later!

... Oh, are you still here? Well, since I am one of those families and you must be too, let's keep going.:) Hey, do you know that it is pretty normal to have church as a major part of your lives and conversations? You are the pastor family cheer squad yelling out to the community, "GIVE ME A C(c), GIVE ME AN H(h), GIVE ME A U(u), GIVE ME AN R(r), GIVE ME ANOTHER C (c), AND GIVE ME AN H(h)... WHAT'S THAT SPELL?" And the community yells back, "Something we like go to if we aren't at the lake this Sunday!" :) Just Kidding! Hey we all have amazing folks who serve. I am truly blessed in that area. We are still relating to people. People who just like us have real hurts and needs. We all have folks who come to church and are just hard to work with. If you have ever felt like you have wanted to hand your husband a hard hat to get through the post service hand shake or special meeting, then you know what I am talking about. At this point I think, "Why do I give him any trouble at all?" He is busy doing God's work and I need to support him anyway I can." Then I remember... "Mr. Holy" hasn't mowed the lawn in two weeks and the toilet still doesn't flush well! I tell him how important these things are and he has the nerve to reply that he has been really busy at the church! I then remind him of that great scripture found in 1st Debbie-Hesitations that states... "Our family needs you more! So what-cha gonna do for us Mr.? Huh?" Okay, that isn't a real scripture. I made it up, but when I quote it - it sounds very official. Actually, Randy and I don't really fight that much about church. He has a pretty healthy balance between family and work. There have been times, especially early in our marriage, where we had to work through some rough moments, but I think we have learned some valuable lessons. So, LET THE FUN BEGIN!!!

Rated X Couple Advice for Pastor Families:

1- Pray X-tra hard. Do you know what the number one best thing my husband has ever done hands down about his ministry? Not he, but WE PRAY for each calling God has led either of us to do. That is the singularly most powerful weapon in our ministry. When we have felt led to go, we pray. Do you know why that is so awesome? Because when I am overwhelmed, or hurt and I call it "his ministry", he reminds me that WE PRAYED and were in agreement to come. Do you know what that does for me? It makes me feel like he is right! His ministry wasn't forced on me. There was no announcement and like a dutiful wife I followed. WE PRAYED. WE felt God's call. WE came. So take that Satan! We a band of 3 (God and us) are in agreement. Prayer is powerful. Don't stop praying together. Maybe you're mad at your husband or you just don't pray together much. Pray anyway. Pray alone... together... just pray. Times may get hard. God is NOT saying, "Sorry bud you are on your own." Instead, God tells us to ask. And how does He give? He gives ABUNDANTLY. Start with prayer.

2- Take X-tra time just for you two. Set time for just you two. Now if you are going to complain about how you can not do that because you have preschoolers. Let me just say... you will get no sympathy here. I have had at least one preschooler in my home for the past 14 almost 15 years of my marriage. True, the clouds have parted and my teenagers help watch #4 so dad I can go out. Still, teens are busy and catching them to help can be tricky at times. So, put them all to bed early and go on a date in your room, or outside, or watch a movie! Some churches have what they call connection cards. The cards are meant to connect people to ministry. You signed a verbal connection card when you married. You promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. Let me just tell you, you will feel a lot less angry about him serving if you are cherishing each other. So make your time together a priority. Go to lunch, or wake up early on Mondays. Make the time.

3- Be X-tra brave, counseling isn't for sissies! Once, I was at a pastors forum led by Rick Warren. I could not tell you the 10 plans for starting strong, or what every church needs on Sunday morning. What I do remember is what he said about his relationship with his wife. He told those pastors to work hard on their marriage. He said that when they were first starting out, his wife and he were in a rough place relationship wise. He said that they maxed out their card getting counseling (or something to that effect). His point was do whatever it takes to be strong at home so you can be strong in your ministry. Go to a marriage retreat, talk to an older pastor couple, or get counseling! Getting healthy is brave and scriptural.
1 Timothy 3 talks about what a leader looks like.

4. Both should be X-tra supportive: I was at a church planter's wives retreat one time, and this wife was complaining about how much time the church plant took. All the young wives were thinking, "Preach it sister!" All, but the older wife who was years down the road. She said, don't hate this sowing time in your ministry. Support him. If you were starting a business, or doing anything from scratch or for the first time, you would need to invest to see a harvest later. She knew what she was talking about because she and her husband are really blessed by their early years of ministry. When I went to a conference last February, Ed Young Jr. held up a bottle of Gatorade. On it he replaced the label and it said "Hatorade". It was funny. He went on to talk about not listening to the three folks who are complaining when you have a congregation full of folks who are not drinking the Hatorade. :) Look, it can be hard, but don't drink the Hatorade to your husband about the church. If you have concerns remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Find a way to support each other. Speak your needs, meet each others needs, but respect what you have both been called to do. We no more want our spouse to criticize us for what we do or don't do than they do us.

You are NOT X-Tra. When the church hired your spouse you wore your nicest outfit and smiled for the cameras. I like to say that pastor spouses have a calling, but no job description. That may or may not be true, but one thing I do know is that being the pastor's spouse is most definitely not your only ministry. Guess who also is a child of God and has a ministry? It is you! You are important! Your ministry is not confined to jobs no one else wants to do. You have a calling, a ministry all your own!!!!!! Isn't that great? We have a place! Maybe we serve a lot or a little but we have a place. If you serve a little don't do that out of anger. Maybe you have a special need that keeps you from serving, and that really is understandable. My friend who is a pastor's wife has three children. One of them has an ongoing life challenge. She is busier than I am at times. That is saying a lot! And don't serve so much that you become an angry - servant. Truth is there is never a balance, but remember who you serve. Here is a hint it isn't your husband or the church. If you have no clue what to do than make horrible, sloppy, messy trials and mistakes till you do know where your fit is in church. We are meant to worship the Lord and one of those very important ways is to tell others. How do I know it is? It was the last thing Christ said as he went to heaven. Serving is both our worship and our declaration to others of our loving God.

Give that X-tra that only you can: Guess what? Black lace, candles, and alone time never make anyone want to talk about the church. :) Time together brings needed intimacy and makes your marriage strong. My web site is pretty G rated, but please let me say this to you. Sex is the one thing that only you two can share. No deacon or elder meeting can vote against it. No one, including you, should shy away from the power of being together. There are moments when we all do this poorly. "I have been working all day, and I had kids, and blah - blah -blah." You need to be sensitive to each others timing and needs. With that said, I discovered something powerful. Love making isn't a duty, it is something for both of us to enjoy. It is like staring at the same glass filled halfway and instead of seeing the problem with the half you can't drink you see glory of the half you can. That is what I was doing when I was listening to the song on the radio the other day. It was a love song, and I was thinking about my husband whom I love very much and the gift we have in our marriage. Husbands need sex. In fact, it is one of their top needs. Women need emotional love to show love. Why did God design us like this? Hey, it is on the top of my list to ask when I get in heaven. I would say this, I think that sex is the most emotional way a man can show himself. I think when a man makes love to his wife he is putting himself out there and asking you his wife to accept him at his most emotional and vulnerable level. And here is the kicker. When love is a part of love making, it is at its finest and the two of you are unstoppable in many ways.

I bet you have found great ways to celebrate your marriage. What do you do to keep your marriage strong? Maybe you are hurting right now. E-mail me. It is on my contact information. What have you done or are doing to make being married to your pastor husband the best it can be? What is he doing? Work at loving each other and you'll love the pastor you married.

"How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love with your delights!"
Song of Solomon 7:6

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Live Long and Prosper in Your Ministry!

All right! It is time to get your Sci-fi on! Pull up your polyester pants, and adjust your horned rimed glasses as I take you on a trip through time and space back to 1975! I was eight, and there were exactly four channels on our TV. Most had boring stuff on in the afternoon, but not NBC and ABC. That wonderful time between 3 pm and 5 pm held the jewels of reruns! There was Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, and of course the "piece de resistance", STAR TREK!!! If you were to check my profile perhaps you would note that I am a closet sci-fi nerd, and I credit Star Trek with the green lady, and the phasers set on stun for making me that way. Now don't get worried. I don't go to conventions, or have a poster of William Shatner. I just appreciate their creativity.

Like many of you, I have my favorite Star Trek characters. However, my most favorite of all was Scottie! I thought he was so cool with his accent and red shirt! He was always saving the ship from emanate peril! The Klingons might be attacking and he had to keep the shields going. The best was when they were trying to outrun another ship, and Kirk would say, "Scottie, I need more power!" Then Scottie would say those famous words... "I'm giving her all she's got Captain!" WOW! Weren't you just on the edge of your seat?!!! (You were if you were eight.) I mean, if Scottie blows it they are going to die!!!!! Somehow - someway it would all work out and then Scottie would give that dramatic look and big sigh that seemed to let us all know that he knew how close they had really come to destruction! Hey... are you allowing your "inner Treky" to feel the moment? :) An interesting note is that the TV series ended in 1969 before going into syndication. One year later when the real space mission, the Apollo 13, went into outer space they could barely get anyone to watch it, until something horrible happened.

Truth is, the most amazing space story is not science fiction, but it is the Apollo 13 Mission. A movie was made about these brave men, and their dutiful team on the ground. Apollo 13 was the fifth mission to the moon, and frankly most people weren't tuning into watch. That was until word came that there had been an explosion and their oxygen was now compromised! That is when Astronaut Jim Lovel said those famous words, "Houston, we have a problem." Suddenly, NASA and the men in space now had the attention of the entire world. The story is harrowing, and there were many moments filled with tension and concern if they would make it back home to earth at all.

Back on earth there was a man at the controls. His name wasn't Scottie; it was Jerry Woodfill. He wasn't a Christian at the time, but 18 months later he found himself asking Christ to be the Lord of his life. He accredits all he saw during those three scary days to turning his heart toward God. He said that he had data he shouldn't have had that helped the men stay safe. When the air quality was dire, they fixed the astronauts ability to breath by coming up with an ingenious creation made of suit hoses, cardboard, plastic stowaway bags and CSM canisters that were all held together by duct tape (duct tape that had been left on the ship by "mistake"). Jerry watched people pray, and was amazed how the the astronauts and the ground team seemed to make the right calls even when they were just guessing. The astronauts didn't know how to chart a coarse back to earth because the main navigation system was down, but hidden in the controls was an old program they had forgotten about until just when they needed it. Even the decision to use a smaller engine proved to be the right choice. If they would have used the large one, the men would have died on entry.

I was thinking about these two things the other day, and they inspired me with the thought that average isn't average. In ministry it can sometimes seem like we are on a treadmill. We are going and going and yet we are never quite getting there. That is why when we finally do reach a point where things are going well, we try to keep it just the way it is. The problem with that is that things never stay the same. So, someone moves away and you think, "Well, that was just one person helping." You might have to change worship times and you think what I did worked before so I'll just keep doing that, and yet you see a different set of results. Hopefully before, but defiantly when you reach the point where you can worry or pray you say, not Houston, but "God, we have a problem."

The pressure to produce results can seem overwhelming. You hear the church or your captain the pastor saying, "Scottie, I need more power!" And you desperately say back to the person or situation, "I'm giving her all she's got captain!" Perhaps it is best to to think about what Jim Woodfill discovered.

Average isn't average

Expect Change, and then change: Philippians 3:12 says, "Not that I have already obtained this, or been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Paul speaking about not any of us thinking we have arrived spiritually.) The astronauts had a mission to land on the moon. When their panel blew, their new mission was to make it back alive. In our ministry we can never assume we have arrived or that it is just perfect the way it is. Satan is prowling around looking for that one little chink in the armor. When I was a teenager, I went on a mission trip. We were helping at a Christian community center in another town. The center was an old church that had been donated to the Christian organization. The minister took us on a tour of the three story church building. When we got to the third floor, he showed us the bathroom and said that at one time there were so many people that attended,that the church members had to take out the toilets and turn it into a Sunday School room. He said when they finally gave the church to the ministry, they had seven members left! "What happened?", I asked. He said that slowly over time the dynamics of the community changed and the folks who went there did not embrace the people who moved into the neighborhood. Many moved away, and after time the congregation dwindled away. We have to change because people and circumstances are changing all the time. We should always be asking, "God, where are you leading?" You might be struggling right now, then change it. Not by what you have been doing. Set a new course.

If I Only doesn't get you far: Do you ever find yourself thinking, if I only had more workers, or a bigger budget, or ____________? If you have ever thought that, then move over... I am right there with you.:) We have real needs, and can't figure out how to make it work. Sometimes it can seem that everyone is on the wide road and you are over there all alone on the narrow road yelling, "Come over here!" But what if I told you, you have everything you need to make it work? The astronauts could not call the fix it shop. I'm sure they were thinking, "If we only had a new CO2 regulator, a new panel, and a myriad of other items" They did not and no one could bring it to them. What did they have? Just what was on the ship. More importantly they had the Lord, and a desire to succeed. Having a desire to reach people and make your ministry the best it can be is so important. Excitement is contagious, and it drives you to be the best you can. Your best may be a budget of thousands, or (more likely) you may be like the astronauts and have enough for duct tape and hoses. None of this has caught God by surprise. What does God own? Everything. What can He do? Anything! Maybe you need to work with what you have to get where you need to go. God has called you. He loves you and knows you are up to the task. Better yet, maybe you need to stop staring at what you do not have and ask God to allow you to see what you do have through 'new eyes'. Job 42: 1-2 says, "Then Job replied to the Lord, I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Philippians 4:13 says,"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." God is I AM.

God is enough: When I was a church planter's wife I saw churches start and grow to thousands. I also saw many church plants fold after a certain amount of time. What made the difference? Would it surprise you if I said that it could be based on choices and leadership, but maybe the difference was nothing at all. God has called us to do His work. He does not send an e-mail outlining a thirty year plan. We should ALWAYS give our best and work as if what God has called us to will always be. That said, when times are tough or not at all. God is there. No soul saved, or person mentored, or life touched is a waste. What we need to hold to in ministry is the knowledge that because of our faith in Christ because of what he did for us, our lives and our eternity is changed forever. For that, I have to give you a look just like Scottie would. A look that says we can now stand before the thrown of Grace. We have dodged an eternal bullet. That makes me want to "Give it all I'VE Got through Christ!"

What ways has God showed you that He is enough?

Philippians 4:19 " And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."