What’s age got to do with it?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about age and how many people like to categorize others according to the age demographic that they are in. Many like to limit what they feel they can do both in the secular and spiritual worlds because of a number. In a youth obsessed culture, John McCain has faced much criticism about running for president in his 70’s. Why is it that in church culture we don’t respect ministers until they reach their mid-fifties and beyond? The church fights enough as it is to stay mainstream and connect to culture yet when we downplay people’s roles and ministries because we don’t feel they are old enough, we are further ostracizing our self from society. Recently, Luke Ravenstahl became the youngest mayor in US history. He is 26 years old and yet he leads, guides, directs, and casts vision for one of the largest cities in North America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. If this same young man were to try to pastor even some of the smallest of churches we would say that we don’t want a kid in charge. How bizarre is it that we are still holding onto antiquated ideas when even the word of God says not to despise youth and to remember the creator in the days of your youth. There are numerous Biblical examples of men as young as 8 years old fulfilling the calling of God and leading armies to great victories.

This topic has a particular importance for me because my husband and I became pastors at the young age of 21. We are currently missionaries beginning a church plant in Cleveland, Ohio that will have a global impact. God is no respecter of persons. If he has called and commissioned you, you can do it regardless of your age. Age is only an obstacle to those that are disrespectful and unwilling to participate in God’s plan. Many CEO’s, managers, governors, and top ranking officials all fall in the age category of 20’s and 30’s. Why in a world with anti-wrinkle cream, liposuction, and botox is the church still fighting to keep only the oldest members in top ranking positions? This seems out of touch with not only the word of God but with the swing of our culture. Our elders have a lot to provide and give and this is not to be derogatory towards those that are older, however, we must get out of the mindset that you must be a father figure to effectively pastor a church.

I am excited at the trend I see of couples in their 20’s starting churches, pastoring churches, and changing cities for God. Why let the secular world have a one up on us? If a 26 year old can be a mayor to millions of people, why are we worried about a 20 something pastor? Get jealousy and pride out of your heart and be sensitive to what the spirit is saying. Youth are to be the example and the leaders!

1 Tim 4:12-16
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.KJV

Just a little one

Whenever my 3 year old Reese gets in trouble he says, “But mommy it was just a little one”. He tries to categorize his offenses from great to small because he feels that if it was just a small offense than the punishment will be “just a little one.” Adults really aren’t too much more mature in life when it comes to getting caught with “our hand in the candy jar.” We too like to justify our inadequacies and failures into categories in order to make ourselves feel better or to look better to others. The sad thing that I have observed and noticed about human nature is that we try much harder to win over the graces and positive opinions of people in our social circles than we try to make God pleased with us. This can manifest itself in many forms. Oftentimes we will follow rules and traditions that we don’t agree with just so that others in our church will think we are on the right path. We will do this with a negative and bitter spirit without ever questioning how this affects our walk with God and our example to non-believers. On the other side of the coin, instead of trying to impress our fellow church goers, we will try to be something that we are not at work so that people there will accept us and think we are “one of them”.

The Bible says in James 4:17 ” Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”(KJV) This scripture really puts the pressure on us to do what is right regardless of what our church family or secular contacts think about us. If I feel that something in my life is a weight or a sin, it is my responsibility to deal with it. Forget about the opinion of others. If you know it is right or wrong, follow your moral conscience because only you will be judged for the actions that you take. Just like Reese likes to minimize his shortcomings, we oftentimes try to hide things in our lives from ourselves and from others. There are no little sins and big sins in the kingdom of God. You are either doing what you know is good and right, or you’re not.

All it takes is one little crack in a bowl for all of it’s positive contents to leak out. Plug the hole in your life and begin living by the code of conduct that you know to be right and true. Don’t worry about the judgements and criticisms of others. Life is summarized by the content of your choices and actions, not by a journalist giving you two thumbs up or down. Stop worrying so much about what people think of you and concentrate on what God thinks of you.

How to Grow

Last night as I was finishing up Gentry’s nightly snuggling/nursing session, I began to think of several passages of scripture in the Bible. The beautiful thing about the word of God is that it speaks in symbolism that we can all understand whether or not you are well versed in the original KJV English or not. I really feel like since becoming a parent that the word of God has come alive to me in a way that it wasn’t before. We can all understand the symbolism of God our Father, although many people who have had abusive and absent fathers can’t wrap their minds around God the loving Father, having never experienced what it means to have a father. We can relate to stories of Jesus the son because he was tempted in all ways like as we are. We can identify with God the Holy Spirit if we have ever attended a spirit filled church simply by the waves of the presence of God that being in that atmosphere makes us feel. However, being a parent puts you on the other side of the coin. While I have experienced God the Father in my life and identified with that, experienced the presence and power of God through the Holy Ghost, and resonated with God the son Jesus in my own personal life, I feel like I can look at the Christian life through the eyes of God now. God desires a deeply personal relationship with us, much like we desire for our own children to look at us as friend, mentor, and guide. There are many references in the Bible to God being a parent.

Mat 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

I see parents everywhere continually overindulging their children with gifts. Everything that the child wants, the parent buys for them. We took Reese to Hershey, Pennsylvania yesterday as we are here on deputation now. The ride at Chocolate World is free and then there are mounds of Hershey merchandise everywhere. Parents all around us were buying their kids hundreds of dollars of candy for the novelty. Of course since Reese is 3, we were able to satisfy him with one Reeese’s chocolate candy and Gentry needed nothing. This is a great stage in life! (Of course all the diapers is where our money goes instead of to toys) The point of this is to say that if all of these parents want their kids to be happy and have a good time, how much more is God in heaven desiring to take us on a “family vacation” and buy us what our hearts desire. God desires us to go through vacation seasons in life and abound in blessing just like earthly parents desire that for their children. We can understand better how God thinks when we have our own children. I’m not going to wax eloquent on the pros and cons of indulging your children with material things, the point of this article is just to get us all thinking about how God truly desires us to have what we want. He wants to deflect our tantrums, give us good memories, and allow us to acquire positive souvenirs in this journey of life.
Just like Gentry desires to nurse and cuddle with me, we should desire that intimate relationship with God, our parent. John was referred to as the disciple that Jesus loved.

John 13:23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Do we take the time to nurse our spirit and be close to the heartbeat of God. The beautiful thing about a mother nursing her children is that not only do the children derive sustenance, the mom is also filled with her need of snuggling. Sometimes we just need to bless God with our worship. Oftentimes we are guilty of wanting a powerful worship service so that we can feel good. We can leave church feeling like we just really had a good service because people were worked into a pentecostal frenzy. This is not the true mark of a good worship service. Was God blessed by our worship? Did he “receive our praise”? Was he truly invited and able to “inhabit the praises of his people”?

1Pe 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1Pe 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

One thing we notice as parents is that babies are frantic for milk. Since Gentry is getting so big, nursing no longer provides all the nutrients that he needs. If we want to get any sleep at night, I give him a bottle with formula and cereal in it. When he is done with his nursing at night, he looks up and sees his bottle and gets absolutely frantic. He cannot be appeased until he is finally holding the bottle, eating, and tasting it. This reminds me of our Christian walk. When we first come to God just experiencing church and the worship services seems to satisfy our longing. Unfortunately, many Christians never grow beyond this. They can be in church for 20 years and all they want are the goosebumps and chills that you can get from feeling the holy ghost and presence of God in our worship services. They are satisfied to be at the bosom of God for the 2 hour Sunday service, jump, run around, and pat each other on the back. If you are ever to grow as a Christian, just like if babies are ever to grow, you have to move to more than just snuggling. At some point you need to get into the milk of the word. The Bible says that as babies desire milk, we should desire the word of God. At some point milk isn’t enough either and we need meat to sustain us. At this point as Christians we should be fulfilling the great commission “to seek and to save that which is lost”.
The point of this blog is to inspire you to move beyond infancy in God. Don’t be satisfied to just taste of God and think that a good service is when you run around the church. Dive into the word of God, get the mind of God, and finally, reach those that are lost with the message of God.

3 Ladies, 7 Kids, and a Dodge Durango

      What do 3 ladies, 7 kids, and a Dodge Durango have in common? The answer is a long, unforgettable day in Boston, Massachusetts. Jonathan, my husband, is currently at a meeting in Missouri for the Jonathan Project. Not necessarily wanting to stay alone in the 5th wheel and haggle with sewer dumps and grey water drainage, I worked out a situation to where me and the boys would stay with another Jonathan project wife and her 2 kids. The plan was wonderful. The kids would play together and we wouldn’t be as stressed in our homes alone with our kids. When we woke up yesterday we decided that a trip to Boston, Massachusetts would be a lot of fun. I’ve never been to Boston and it would be a great time to see the Freedom Trail and celebrate our nations heritage. Being a little leery of going to Boston alone with 2 women and 5 kids, we invited along another friend that has 2 kids of her own. We decided that since parking is so expensive and difficult in Boston we would all ride in one friends Dodge Durango. We squeezed 10 people into the Durango and set off on a 2 and 1/2 hour drive to Boston. Our husbands didn’t feel comfortable with this idea, but they were glad we had something to do. Lesson learned, listen to your husband.

    When we arrived in Boston, my friends Transmission Temperature light came on and the car began to overheat. We went ahead and pulled into a parking garage and decided that we weren’t going to let that bother our day. It would cool off while we were touring. We were freaking out to some degree though because none of us have a clue about cars. This was just a very small glimpse into the chaos that was about to become our day. We set off amidst the cries and tantrums of two 3 year olds, one 7 month old, one 4 year old, one 5 year old, one 6 year old, and one 10 year old. While continually getting turned around and lost, Reese was having horrendous behavior and kept wanting to run away from me. The kids kept picking at each other, tattling on each other, and taking turns crying. If only this trip involved normal parenting stresses?
     After walking around some we decided that it was time to eat. We went to the famed Quincy Market and ordered food at the hall of food there. All of the ladies, the kids, and the food piled around a park bench to eat. While we were eating, the kids were being relatively quiet. Even though this involved the two 3 year old boys jumping of a low ledge, we were basking in the dinner time in the city glow. That is when disaster struck. Payton, my friends 3 year old son fell off the ledge face first onto the cobblestone and busted his head wide open. Blood was squirting everywhere. My friend, in a white shirt, grabbed her son and someone called 911. We were applying pressure to the wound and trying to comfort all the kids who starting wailing thinking that Payton was going to die. The EMT’s came and said he needed to go to the ER and get stitches. Diana rode in the ambulance in the ER and Sonia and I took all the rest of the kids to walk the 10 blocks to the hospital to meet her. First we stopped at Borders to try to entertain them with story hour so they wouldn’t be panicked in the hospital and then we bought them some candy. Diana got to the hospital at 7 PM and basically between the car problems and the medical disaster, our day was shot. 
   Little did we know that our night was just about to begin. Sonia and I literally walked miles pushing the heavy stroller and taking turns holding all the younger children that needed comforted. We had to walk to the ER to get the car keys, walk all the way back to the parking garage another 10 blocks away, and then walk all over looking for the car. No sooner had we gotten in the car at 10 PM, Reese threw up all over everything. It was all over the car, his clothes, his car seat, and my diaper bag. We had to get him out of the car, strip him, take apart his car seat, and clean all off him and the car with almost no napkins and wipes. Reese had to go naked, except for a pull up, and sit on the hard plastic part of the car seat because the other part was disgusting. We drove to the hospital and had to wait till 2 AM for them to be done with Payton.
  To make a long story short, it was 5:30 AM before we got home. No hotels in walking distance of the hospital had availability and so we had to entertain all the kids and walk them around in the middle of the night in Boston. I got Reese hospital scrubs to wear so he wouldn’t be naked and I got many glances from employees that thought I was kidnapping a patient from the pediatric wing.
   When we arrived back home Reese threw up again all over Diana’s couch, carpet, and himself. He was in the bath and we were cleaning couches and carpet at 6 am, before we had even gone to bed for the night. Needless to say, the day was memorable. I’m reminded of the following scripture. It reminds me that when I author my own life, things are chaotic.
I Corinthians 14:33 (KJV)  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…….

My husband wants to be a church planter….what does that make me?

My husband wants to be a church planter, what does that make me? Many women are faced with dilemma’s in life where God has a calling on their husband and by proxy, they are forced to go too. I was asked by numerous people how I felt about leaving the church of my youth, the church of my first pastorate, and the city where we owned our beautiful home to live in a 5th wheel, travel for 18 months, and ultimately move into a strange area where there is nothing and carve out a work. My answer to that was, I feel great! Not that this situation doesn’t present an almost daily struggle of time management, money management, family organization, and endless questioning, but I know that God would never call a man to such a drastic change without calling the whole family. Many people believe that it is the wife’s roll to submit to all choices that her husband makes, and while that does have a Biblical precedent, a loving God would never require a woman to sell all, take up her cross and family and move into the unknown as an act of submission. How detrimental to your family and marriage would it be to have to “submit” to such a large act? I believe that God calls every member of a family when he has such a high calling. Many times the wives and the children are not questioning their husbands decisions and rebelling against his choice, they are rebelling against the call of God on their lives.
God has given me a very clear and great vision for what he wants to do in the Cleveland Metropolitan area. This involves me being the leader of home groups, leading prayer groups, leading musical groups, and ministering. Many times this will also involve me doing nothing more that being willing to go along with my husbands ideas and schemes. Preparing a diaper bag, ironing clothes, and comforting the children is oftentimes the most spiritual thing that a young mother and wife can do. However, ladies, don’t sell yourselves short. God desires great things from you that go beyond cleaning spit up. While making your families beds can be spiritual, don’t let your role as CEO of a family overtake your role as a child of God. Be sensitive to the calling on your life. Don’t let your husbands be the ear of God for your families all the time while you sit content to just “submit”. Ephesians says that we have a boldness through Christ Jesus our Lord and a confident access to him through faith. If you allow your husband to always be the ear of God to your family it will be a question of “Marriage or Mayhem”.
Although submission is a volatile word for some marriages and families, it doesn’t have to be. It can be a very easy and beautiful thing. When a husband and wife love each other, communicate with each other, and communicate with God, submission is never a question. Don’t criticize each other about a calling that one or both of you feel. This will send you running back to your comfort zone, a place that God doesn’t want us to be in.

Prov 15:1A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger KJV

New England Rain

Today ended several days of hard, uninterrupted rain in Connecticut. The sun is shining and there is little to no humidty in the air. This is a great victory. Sleeping in a 5th wheel with rain gushing down is difficult because it feels and sounds as if you have a tin roof. The family is doing well, and hopefully Gentry is through with his bought of intestinal illness. Who needs a pet when you have a 7 month old doing their duty on your carpet?

Yesterday we went to the Buckland mall. There is a section of Manchester Connecticut called the Buckland Hills. It intersects Buckland street. Unfortunantly, no stores would give us free goodies because of our last name.

I want to leave you with a thought today of encouragement. The Bible says In their affliction they will seek Me early.”— Hosea 5:15 Another passage of the Bible says to seek the Lord early. Oftentimes we have been led to believe that god wants us to wake up at the crack of dawn and have a prayer session. While this may be true in some cases, mothers of small children understand that the mornings are filled with hectic times of feeding, dressing, wiping up milk, and referring scuffles. All God desires of us is to seek him early in our times of trouble and early in every situation. Call on the Lord while he may be found. Ask God to provide your every need, even before you have it.

Traveling Sewer or 5th wheel carrying minister?

I was inspired today not only by spiritual things, but also by the hilarity of 5th wheel living with 2 grown adults and 2 small children, both of whom are still in diapers to some degree. Of course the aspect of potty training that my 3 year old has grasped involves pee and not the more smelly thing that our bodies produce. Between the black water build up (for those non campers that is the nice way of putting smelly sewage) and the diapers piled in the small trash can, our 5th wheel takes on quite a flavorful atmosphere. I know that most missionary and evangelist wives are way more “couth” than I am. I figured that one of my duties on the road is to expose the truth behind being a nomadic mother, dirt, silliness and all. Since we moved into our 5th wheel, the boys share the bunk room. Gentry is on the bottom bunk and Reese is on the top. At any given moment in the middle of the night we can hear the shrieks of terror coming from Gentry and run into the room to find that reese has crawled into bed with him and thinks it is funny to lay on him. Reese will then look at us with his innocent big blue eyes and say “Mommy he needs you, he’s crying”. All of these moments will bring me many years of laughter and great stories, but are definitely teaching me patience at this point in life.

As a self declared obsessive compulsive, 5th wheel living has definitely taught me that clutter and crumbs are not the end of the world, Smelling raw sewage while laying in bed on a clear summers night doesn’t have to hinder romance, and spending hundreds of dollars in disel fuel doesn’t have to kill faith.

Excellence for God

Today I have been sitting here thinking how incredible that it is that God has chosen my family and me for such a great calling and purpose. I have a wonderful husband and two fabulous sons, all given to me by God. We all have choices to make in life, and while there are several choices that seem inconsequential, each choice builds on another to make a lasting impact on your life. If I choose to eat Chinese food today instead of Mexican food, it may not make a huge impact on my spiritual status, but then again it could. God spends time communicating to each of us about our daily decisions, whether they be small or great and we need to be willing to listen. The latte that you are craving from Starbucks could be of spiritual consequence if God is in it. If you are using your daily routine and activies to minister to those in your local community, you could be purchasing your latte on the very day that the barista is looking for an answer from God. What if we prayed for every choice that we made in life even if it seemed insane?

I have a friend who plants and grows a garden. I asked her how she got such fresh vegetables when her planting grounds are not that great. She said that she prays and God leads her on how to water those vegetables and how to grow them. I begin to think about this and how it sounds so crazy in todays day and age. If God walked in the Garden of Eden and spoke to Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, how much more can we as spirit filled Christians benefit from the guiding hand of God?

Today, make a choice for excellence. Refuse to settle for the status quo and reach forward into realms that you have never been in. If you play an instrument, don’t settle on “making a joyful noise for the Lord” and think that it doesn’t matter how you sound on your instrument. That scripture is referring to giving the Lord a shout of triumph in your life and serving the Lord with gladness. When it comes to playing and singing for the Lord, follow Psalm 33:3 (NKJV) “Sing to Him a new song;Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” It is amazing to me how many churches that I have visited in my life that lack joy, skill, and a new song. This is scriptural proof that we need to be relevant to our culture. While there is great blessing in the hymns of old, God desires a new song and a fresh anointing to inspire his people. Practice your instrument if you play one, hone your ministerial skills (whatever they may be), and most of all, put a smile on your face.

While I am living on the road I refuse to become stagnant, but have decided to take my calling and burden for Cleveland across the USA to every church and town we visit. If God desires to build a 21st century revival church in Cleveland through us, he can certainly use us at other churches to bring that spirit as well.

Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The Calm After the Storm

This is a quick blog to just check in. We are in New Hampshire now having officially started and finished one state of our deputation. Maine was a gorgeous state. God performed many miracles for us and I think that my initial distaste of camping has finally calmed down to some degree. It seems that our truck and our 5th wheel are finally in working order. Nobody told us that RV’s were so fickle. Everyone we talk to now that we have one is telling us about all the maintenance that they require. I guess this is like our spiritual lives. We come to God excited about what he is doing and eager to jump in and be involved but over time,we lose our first love. Everything becomes an obligation. Be sure to do your routine maintenance checks. You definitely don’t want to feel about God the way I feel about travel trailers =) I am enjoying my time in the North East, but I am definitely a mid-west girl. Everything seems much more expensive here. I just wanted to drop a line in case anyone is actually reading this blog. At some point when I’m not sleep deprived and in a rush to get on the road I’ll write something good and relevant. For now, you get my random flows of thought.
Love ya!

Musings about mind, body, and spirit

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