MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – THE FIRST PARSONAGE

gl076Well, it’s been an a fun, eventful weekend at our house. I’ll tell you more about it in future posts.

Saturday was our annual ladies-of -the-family Purim celebration. I’ll explain that more, too.

But my choice of  bold, beautiful, brave woman this year (again, more in future posts) is a pastor’s wife, Katharina Luther.

Here’s her story.

 

I’m not sure how romantic the circumstances were the first time you met your husband, but I’m sure whatever they were, they were more romantic that Katie’s.

Katie grew up in a convent. Her mother died when Katie was only three, so her father, not knowing what else to do with her, put her in care of the nuns.

Naturally, she also became a nun, but as she studied the tenants of the Catholic faith, she realized that she didn’t agree with all of them. She heard about a man, Martin Luther, who was teaching salvation by grace and she was interested – as were some other nuns. But to follow Luther, they would have to leave the convent.

When Luther heard of the restless nuns, he devised a plan. He convinced the merchant who delivered herring to the convent, to hide the 12 nuns in empty fish barrels and help them escape. The merchant agreed and the nuns were freed. But there was a problem.  Eleven of the nuns went back to their families or were married or found positions – but not Katie.

Finally, Luther’s friends convinced him to marry Katie himself. He was given the old Augustinian monastery at Wittenburg, so he and Katie moved in.  Love? Probably not at first.

Luther wrote: “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.”  But it wasn’t long after that he wrote to another friend, “My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus.”

Luther, the monk, became a big champion of marriage.

Katie did a lot for Luther. She got up at 4:00 a.m. each morning to care for the vegetable garden, orchard, fishpond and barnyard animals. Yes, she even butchered the animals herself. Often she cared for more than 30 students at the monastery – and her husband, who was often sick. 

But it wasn’t all work for Katie. At the encouragement of Luther, Katie also studied and memorized the Bible.

The Luthers had six children of their own and raised four orphans. One of their children died young, but the other five all grew and gained prominent positions in life.

The Luther parsonage was “filled with children, students and relatives. It was a place of culture and music and of joy and happiness.”

Luther summed up their marriage like this: I would not exchange Katie for France or Venice, because God has given her to me, and other women have worse faults.”

Married life might have begun for as a fugitive in a herring barrel, but Katie built a home that was held in high esteem as a model for other German families.

Katie is also considered to be the first ministry wife who 100 percent supported and encouraged her husband, working by his side and truly being a helpmeet.  Their home is memorialized as the very first parsonage.

 

So, the next time you think you’ve got it bad – think about Katie. Think about getting up at 4:30 each morning to butcher the animals for your ten children and the 30 students over in the monastery. Think about marrying someone who chose you ONLY because he didn’t know what else to do with you.  Yet, turning that pastor’s home into one of culture, music, joy and happiness.

I say, “Good for you, Katie.”

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – CRASH COURSE

dsc_1000 So, I’m heading to church this morning. The snow is snowing. The traffic is slow. The streets are slushy.

Cars rush by me and cars rush toward me and I’m totally focusing on driving safely.

I come to an intersection and I want to turn left. I’ve been to this intersection hundreds of times before and know I must wait for the arrow.

The cross street light turns yellow – then red – and the green arrow flashes in front of me. I pull into the intersection, but then notice that the oncoming car isn’t stopping.

“Stupid,” I mumble (which is a nice thing to mumble on the way to church), “you just went through a red light.”

But then I notice that the next car and the next car aren’t stopping either and I realize that the oncoming traffic doesn’t have a red light. I look again at my arrow – yep! It says green and is telling me to go, but something has messed up the light mechanism. In fact, the lights on my side aren’t turning green either. In other words, the ONLY light that’s working correctly is the arrow. Both sides of the straight-ahead lights are malfunctioning. I ease to the right and move ahead back into the center lane and proceed to the next left turn.

As I realized how close I came to getting side-swiped (and most definitely would’ve been side-swiped if I had simply assumed the oncoming traffic would stop), I thought about life in ministry.

Sometimes we do everything right. (I DID have the green arrow.) We know what we’re doing follows God’s guidelines. (I DID have the law on my side.) Yet, the only thing we can do is hold back for a season and be patient … and maybe that means calmly stopping whatever it is all together for awhile – or maybe it means moving ahead, but going down a different road to get to our destination.

Ministry is not easy. Ministry is dealing with people who have different opinions. Ministry is working with people who sometimes put a stop to things that shouldn’t be stopped.

The Lord says (and yes, I’ve used this verse before) :Galatians 6:9 – Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Ministry is knowing that you have the green arrow, but patiently waiting until the road is clear or move to Plan B to get to reach your goal.

 

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – PHILIPPIANIZING MY LIFE AND STANDING FAST

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! (Philippians 4:1)dsc_0319

At work, we often talk about verbing words. That is, to take a noun and verb it (as I’m doing with the word verb in this sentence).

Two examples are journal (We often hear people make statements like, “I journal every day.”) Another word that can be used as a verb but is much disliked as a verb (seriously – even my dictionary says people detest it) is “impact.” “The chart impacted the results.”

Last week when I taught the Bible study, I verbed Philippians 4.  Not that any of the words I talked about weren’t verbs in the first place, but I emphasized how many great verbs there are in that chapter that should be part of our everyday lives.

When I talked, I was talking to myself as much as everyone else in the room because I needed the reminder as much as anyone. (Because, to be completely honest here, after I had finished writing down my notes for my lesson, I had a complete meltdown, forgetting everything I had just studied. Fortunately, I was by myself and only the Lord was aware of  my feelings and fortunately, He’s into extreme patience – but it’s interesting how quickly we can forget what we should do.)

I thought I’d go over the verbs in my MONDAY MORNING posts.

#1 STAND FIRM. We often talk about standing firm as in sticking up for what we believe in and know is correct, and that IS a vital aspect of standing firm.

But I think it can also mean staying on track with all the other verbs in the chapter (like rejoicing, guarding our minds, being content), etc. Paul began his instructions with the admonition to stand firm and then he continues by telling us all the ways we need to do so.

Ok, I wasn’t standing this week, I was driving, but I went through an experience where I certainly needed to stay on track.

On one of my myriad routes home from work, I go through a tiny town that is an interesting combination of old houses built in the 1800s and new million dollar horse farms. The town is quaint and the people living in the town are proud of their quaintness in the midst of the Home Depot-and-Wal-Mart bordered towns around them. To help you appreciate the quaintness, they have a 25 mile an hour speed limit on all their roads and that includes the main highway that goes through the middle  of their town.  Because not much crime happens in their quaintness, their policeman (or maybe they have two or three) don’t really have much to do but catch people who ignore the 25 mph. I have driven through there every day during a week and have seen a police with a speeding car each one of the days.

The thing is most drivers don’t mind when you slow down because anyone who drives through the town regularly knows the importance of following the speed limit.

But this week, the driver of the red sports car that zoomed up behind me obviously hadn’t gotten the message. He did not like my speed. He decided to lean on his horn and get so close that I’m sure he bumped my fender once. (Where are those ever-watching police when you need them?) I looked ahead and kept going at the same speed.

Oh, he was angry. Again he came alarmingly close and then decided to pull up next to me and see what he could do about running me off the road.

I simply kept driving, slow, steady and straight. I didn’t even look at him (which I’m sure angered him even more because I’m guessing he had some gestures he wanted to show me).

He then pulled in front of me with about an inch to spare and took off down the road. Amazingly he didn’t get caught and other than being a little shaken, I was ok.  (By the way, this experience had nothing to do with my car being scratched as I mentioned in my last post – it wasn’t a great week for my car.)

But the guy in the sports car reminded me of “standing firm.”  He wanted me to go over the speed limit and when I wouldn’t do that, he wanted me off the road altogether. I simply kept saying to myself: Slow and steady, straight ahead.

And sometimes in life we need to remember that,too.  When discouragement, discontent or some other nagging problem is in danger of pushing us off  the path, we need to remember to stand firm, stay on track and slowly, steadily move straight ahead within the boundaries God has set for us.  

(Oh, wait a minute, I’ve heard someone else say “Stay straight with the Lord.) 

I need to Philippianize my life and STAND FIRM.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – SOME MORE OXEN THOUGHTS

dsc_0052So, I’ve been thinking about the no oxen, clean crib thought this week.

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. (Proverbs 14:4)  

A couple of you had good comments last week, so I decided to dig into it further.

One commentary said the verse means that sometimes in order to have growth, you need to have mess. That made me think of a church auditorium all spotlessly clean the people file in on Sunday morning.  But then after church, there are leftover remains of bulletins/worship programs, candy wrappers, wadded-up tissue.  Bibles and visitor cards are askew in the hymnal racks. Sure, someone has to clean it up and cleaning isn’t that much fun – especially the wadded-up tissue part. (Though reading the notes people – especially teenager-type people –  wrote and left behind can be fun. Did I ever tell you about the time I collected a bunch of them and printed them in the church news letter? Now THAT was REALLY fun.)

Another commentary talked in detail about the verse and said that the proverb is about corn. If you don’t plow, plant, cultivate and harvest, you won’t have results.
A third commentary said the verse is talking about investing in the right tools for the job. You can farm without the oxen, but can do it so much better with the oxen.
Three different takes on the same verse, but at the same time – the same take. Willingness to put effort into something, even if that something is incredibly difficult and messy (and sometimes takes money), is what produces results.
Whenever I think of this verse, I think of a mother-daughter banquet where I was invited to be the speaker.
Speaking at churches where you don’t know anyone is an unknown factor. Sometimes people do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and welcomed, but other times they treat you like you’re part of the furniture. Literally.  As in we have our food, the podium, the decorations and the speaker and our work is done.

I knew little about this church. I drove down to it by myself. I let myself in, walked by several women who were engaged in conversation and finally found a room with several tables set up for dinner. Everything was perfectly spotless. I picked out someone who looked like she was in charge and told her who I was.
“Oh,” she led me to a seat. “You sit right here.”
I sat. The lady walked away. I sat by myself for several minutes watching other ladies wander in and sit down, busily chatting with each other. Since I was at the speaker’s table, I was in front of everyone and it was all rather awkward, sitting there by myself staring at the ladies facing me.  I did notice as more and more seats were taken that most of these banquet guests seemed more of the mother variety, than the daughter variety. (Although I realize every mother is a daughter.)  But there were NO young girls. I mean younger than 25.
I took the time to study my surroundings. Pink table clothes, pink plates, pink flowers and two very obviously-placed posters on the wall – that I could tell were permanent fixtures.
The posters were identical to each other. They said:
RULES FOR CHILDREN
1. NO RUNNING
2. NO LOUD TALKING
3. NO LOUD LAUGHING
4. NO PUSHING
5. NO HITTING
That was just the first of 10 rules, the last five I can’t remember but they seemed like reiterations of the first 5.
The in-charge lady came back and sat down next to me and started going through her official-looking mother/daughter banquet notes.
I decided to play a mental game. If someone told me to list those rules for the kids, how would I change them around so they could be positive?
1. WE’RE THANKFUL WE HAVE AN AWANA CIRCLE TO RUN ON …
Wait a minute!  They DID have an Awana Circle. I was literally sitting on it. A conversation starter!  “Oh,” I said to in-charge lady, “you have Awana?”  (I didn’t work at Awana at that point and had no personal investment, but knew enough …)
“No,” she said. “We used to, but not anymore. For some reason we can’t get any kids to come.”
Duh! (They also didn’t have any daughters under the age of 25.)
And that church is what I think of when I think of this verse.  “Children, we have programs for you at our church, BUT IF YOU HAPPEN TO SHOW UP, we don’t want you ACTUALLY behaving like a kid. We don’t want to put forth the effort to prepare for you or clean up after you. But if you come and sit perfectly still in our perfectly-clean chairs, you can come.”
I’m sure there were good people in that church. The banquet went fine. They had great food and entertainment.
But it all made me sad. 
What are our priorities?  
Do we care about the scuff marks from someone’s shoes or the condition of  someone’s heart?

 

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – INSTANT RESULTS

dsc_0207I’m writing this on Saturday, a snowy, cold Saturday Most people are holed up in their houses – I know this for a fact, because I just ventured out to return an overdue book and passed a total of about 20 cars.

But I’ve been thinking about two things today…

1. Kindness

2. The get-it-in-an-instant mindset of our society.

Yes, there is a correlation between the two – at least in My mind, at least Today.

I think most (not all, but most) Christians want to help others. After all, that’s  command that God gives us over and over again — and then He says it a few more times, just in case we didn’t get the point.

Helping other people helps us. We feel good, knowing we’ve done good. Not only have we obeyed God’s command, but we’ve done something that makes someone else feel good. (Like I felt when first my one neighbor and than another neighbor snowblowed my driveway today.)

The problem comes because we live in an “instant” society where our food, our phone calls, our tv reruns and anything else we could want are all right there when we want them. We get so used to having things instantly, that we get frustrated when we have to wait for the results of our “kindness.”

Often when Christ or the disciples were helping others, the results were instantaneous. (Luke 8:47; Acts 3:7) But sometimes the results we wish for, take time (in fact, we might not EVER see the results).

I gave instant thank yous to the snowblowers today. (That is – the guys doing the snowblowing, not the machines.) But sometimes we never hear that thank you.

*We might dedicate countless hours to helping someone get over a drug addiction.

*We might dedicate countless hours to encouraging a teen to stop hanging around with friends who are influencing her to make wrong choices.

*We might show kindness toward an unsaved relative  literally for years without seeing him respond to the gospel.

Yet, God tells us to show kindness. He doesn’t say we’ll see instant results, or even any results at all.

But that’s ok. Not everything happens in an instant.

The results are not the point.

The kindness is.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – IF GOD BE FOR US

Happy Monday Morning to you.

Or is it not so happy?

Did you have a good Thanksgiving or have the problems of church sort of overshadowed all the good parts all the thankfulness?

I heard a good message this morning and one of minor points was from Romans 8:31: What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 

The major point is that God is provident (He knows exactly when and where everything will happen). The pastor pointed out that people used to thank God for His providence (back in PIlgrim times – we even havedsc_07281 towns called Providence – such as Providence, Rhode Island). But somewhere along the years of time, providence has turned into coincidence.

And now kids say, “That’s so random.”

But in God’s sight, life is not at all random.

If we are believers in Christ as Savior and we are truly walking in His will, we can trust that all things WILL work together for good. (Some of this is my take – some of it is the pastor’s take – but one of the points he emphasized is the last part of Romans 8:21 – things work together for good to those who love God. If someone isn’t a believer, it’s false encouragement to say, “oh, everything will work out.)

Do you know Christ as Savior? Are you walking in His will? Then God is provident and not surprised about anything that’s going on in your life whether it’s all-around exhaustion about the upcoming Christmas programs, a project that didn’t work out or having someone seriously ill in your church family.

What amazing comfort we can find in that. 

Because after all, if God is for us, just who CAN be against us?


MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – GOD’S LAWS

dsc_0028

We know God has laws – we can repeat many of them, but I’m not talking about laws like “Thou shalt now steal.”  I’m talking about laws like the pastor’s laws I was talking about last week and will be talking about this week, too.  Those thing you just know are gonna happen.

I think some of God’s “laws” probably go like this:

*People will always test the limits of how far they can go.

*People will make bad choices and then wonder why God allowed the bad results to happen.

*People will say they desire to share Christ with others, but then they spend their time being upset at fellow Christians because of music, what food to serve at the banquet or how hot the church auditorium was last Sunday.

That’s the bad news.

But there is good news, too.  In Psalm 33:13 we read From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind.  He knows us. He knows our faults. He died for our faults.

And He loves us anyway.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – INNER BEAUTY

Did you know there are only four places in the Bible where a lady is described as beautiful?

1. Rachel (Genesis 29:19)

2. Abigail (1 Samuel 25:3)

3. Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:2-3)

4. Esther (Esther 2:7)

Unfortunately, we see outward beauty, but not inward beauty in the lives of at least two of these ladies. Abigail made some wise decisions – and of course, we know that God used Esther’s beauty to influence the king. God had her where He wanted her “for such a time as this.”

Most of us women desire to look good on the outside (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with looking our best), but how often do we think about how we look on the inside? Do we have inner beauty, the beauty that reflects a life renewed in Christ each day? Do we reflect inner beauty when dealing with the difficult people in our lives?

Unfortunately, our culture places value on outward beauty and  on a lack of inner beauty. (Have you ever read how an outwardly beautiful actress has a “mouth on her” as if spewing inappropriate words somehow makes her more desirable?  Have you ever heard an outwardly, put-together mom scream insults at her child? Have you ever heard a cute, twenty-something brag about a immoral lifestyle?)

Back to us.

Whether or not we like it, others are watching what we do and how we live and what we say.

We need to spend as much time working on our inward beauty as we do looking nice on the outside.

(I just thought of something – think of all the things women do to get beautiful: hair appointments, manicures, spa treatments, etc. Think if we spent an equal amount of time on inward beauty – a two-hour hair appointment equals two hours of putting good stuff in our brain. An hour manicure = an hour doing sacrificial service for someone else. A day spa treatment = a seminar on kindness. Anyhow, just something fun to think about.)

Let’s work together on being inwardly, beautiful women.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – MAKE IT COUNT

I don’t know where you are in your church situation, but sometimes as pastors and pastor’s wives, we have a tendency to think that things will be better at some future date …

… when we move to our new church

… when the educational wing gets done

… when so and so finally quits and leaves to annoy another church

… when we get all the holiday stuff out of the way 

 

The truth is – we need to enjoy and take advantage of the now. Time speeds by and soon all those “in the future” dreams are no longer possible.

The Psalmist wrote: As for man, his days are like grass, 

       he flourishes like a flower of the field.

Recently I heard someone say that the best advice he had ever been given was, “This ain’t gonna last forever, how can you make it count NOW.” OK, so he had a grammar problem – but the point is valuable.

Look around at the ministry situation you’re in RIGHT NOW.  Ask the Lord to give you the wisdom to use every opportunity that comes your way.

MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR – LOOKING UP

Colossians 3:1 – Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

The thing about being a pastor’s wife is you’re always busy – and sometimes you’re busiest when everyone else is relaxing – like holidays or weekends.  

Four-thirty on a December Sunday afternoon in Racine, we were sitting around the kitchen table at church – Ken, me, our kids and some friends/church people – eating sandwiches and leftover cookies from the afternoon preschool Christmas program. All the three and four-year olds had looked appropriately cute and sang their songs in adorable voices.  Now, after stuffing themselves with cookies and punch the children were on their way home with their camera-toting parents.

But we still had work to do. We had one and a half hours to rearrange the platform and get ready for the regular Sunday School Christmas program.

As we were eating, a couple of the men went to get the bags of treats which we planned to give to the kids AFTER the program. The youth group had packed the bags a couple weeks before and we were relieved that at least THAT job was done. 

Well, actually – not so much done.

Someone had made the mistake of putting the smaller packed bags in large garbage bags and tightly tying them shut. Did I say that they put an orange in each child’s bag? Did I remind you that fruit wrapped in a plastic bag and put in an airless closet rots? Did I tell you that rotten fruit leaks all over everything else in the bag?  

The ladies dumped all the bags out on the table – rescuing every last piece of candy we could possibly rescue. The men went to “borrow” every last edible item from the Awana share store.  Someone found some bags in a cupboard and quickly we repacked as best we could.

Our own two teens were to be Joseph and Mary in the program that night. (OK, here’s a Christmas program hint – have siblings or cousins be Joseph and Mary to eliminate any teasing – just works out better.)  A mom had volunteered her baby.

Halfway through the program, they were to go up front, but said baby decided he did NOT want to participate. He screamed and kicked and would have nothing to do with our daughter. So, I did the next best thing, I grabbed a baby from a visiting couple, put him in my daughter’s arms and sent her down the asile.   (Well, they WERE visiting, but we did KNOW them – it’s not like we grabbed a STRANGER’S baby. They were fine with us taking their child.)  Talk about collapsing when we got home.

I know you all have had similar experiences. 

Unfortunately, sometimes days like that get to us, don’t they?

That’s why Paul reminds us to look up and not focus on earthly things. Sure we’re in the middle of all the annoying, time-taking life things and we need to deal with them – but in the process, we can’t forget why we’re in the ministry in the first place. The point is not that the bags were packed in perfect order, but that we were able to share the gospel message with our visitors.

Keeping our eyes on the Lord is a continual challenge, but keeping our eyes on the Lord is the wise thing to do.

_______

And this week – When your husband is criticized …

Debi, thanks for the recipe. I plan to use it on a Fun Friday.