Chasing the Bus

We are now back to the time of year when our kids, grandkids, or friends kids go back to school. For me, when this time of year rolls around is when I get asked about a particular story that happened to me three years ago. Sometimes we need a good a laugh and we need to remember to not take ourselves too seriously and with that let me remind so and tell others for the first time – the story of the Pastor who chased the bus.

It was the first day of school and out third month here in Sedley. In the past I have worked at the church where our kids went to school and so that rode with me each day but now they were going to be riding the school bus. Mckayla was older so she walked over by the church and caught the bus without any problems and she would be getting off there. Wendy and I took Luke over there and he caught the bus and the drive said she would drop him off closer to our house – at the corner of Magnolia and First Street. I liked that idea – we did not have to walk as far.

The end of the day came and it was soon time for the bus to drop off Luke. Mckayla had already been dropped off and had gone in the house. Wendy and I standing where the bus driver told us to when we see a bus go flying past the church toward the Sedley Store. I thought it might have been Luke’s bus but was unsure. Wendy and I talked about it for a quick second and I said, “you stay here I will see if that was his bus ”. I began to briskly walk down First Street which turned into a light jog and by Dee and Dave’s Mushroom house I was in a full run. I get to the Sedley Store and as usual there were a group of men there. I asked them about the bus and I did it trying to not seem worried that Luke was on it and I believed did not know where to get off.

As I am talking to the men at the store another school bus comes from toward the Firehouse. It gets to us and Luke is sitting in one of the windows. He smiles at me and waves and I feel a sense of relief until the bus turns down Peachtree! I began to literally run after the bus. The bus stops and the Felt boys get off at their house. I had almost caught up to the bus at this point but then it takes off again. I kept running after the bus but was I was not in very good shape and slowing way down and the bus was way ahead.

At this point a church member pulls up in his truck. He was sitting with the group of men at the Sedley Store watching me run like a crazy man all over Sedley. He says to me “Preacher, can I give you a ride somewhere?” We talked for a second and decided that the bus most likely would circle around and end up at the church and so he brought me to the church. I get out and tell him thank you for the ride at which point the bus goes past me and stops right in front of Wendy. Luke gets off the bus like nothing ever happened. Me on the other hand was sweating profusely and was seriously winded from literally running all over town.

The moral of this story is – this preacher sometimes looks a bit crazy. Also though, if I would have just listened to the bus driver and trusted what she said, it would have saved me a whole lot of embarrassment and a whole lot of literally running around. The same is true for each of us and the Bible, if we would just listen to what the Bible tells us and trust what it is tell us; it will save us a whole lot of embarrassment and running around in life that we could avoid.

Have you ever chased a bus?

From the Heart of a Pastor’s Wife

I do not do guest posts very often at all but today I am doing one.  Funny thing is the person who is guest posting does not know they are guest posting.  My guest post is my wife Wendy.  Wendy just read me her devotional for her ministry site www.afterthemiracle.com and I thought it was awesome.  (By the way –  her and her ministry partner put up new devotionals each day so please check them out.)  Once Wendy read it she asked me to make coffee for the morning as she went off to bed.  As I was getting the coffee ready, I thought about what she wrote and thought it needed to be posted on here today.  So, she was in bed and I decided I wanted to honor my wonderful wife by posting her great thoughts.  So I got on her computer and sent the devotional to myself so that I could post it here.

So here is the post by my wonderful wife Wendy:

I titled this devotional today from the heart of a Pastor’s wife because I feel like over the 2 ½ years that we have done devotionals I have never really shared my Pastor’s wife heart with you. I oftentimes think that there are things that you need to keep to yourself when you are in the ministry. There is some truth to that statement but today I guess I want to share a few things because just maybe it will help you, our readers, to better understand how to pray for your Pastor’s wife and perhaps give you a glimpse into her life.

Your life is not your own when you are in ministry. See when you are serving in a church you are taking care of the needs of people. Those needs definitely involve their spiritual needs but also at times it is their emotional needs and their physical needs. It is counseling, being called out in the middle of the night because a loved one has passed away; it is marriage counseling, counseling parents in how to handle their teenager who has just been caught with marijuana. It is being so aware of how many people are hurting in your congregation and feeling their hurts too. As a Pastor’s wife I am not always involved in all of these things but guess who has to be there to take of the man who is? The Pastor’s wife! We have to take care of the kids and the house so that he can minister to the congregation in the way that God has called him to.

We so many times get the opinions of others where our husbands are concerned and yes we get the could you please tell your husband that he needs to………….you fill in the blank. We hear all the criticism and the ways that he could do better but we also hear his praises and that makes our hearts smile because that is when people see what we have known all along.

We don’t really have many people we can call friends or connect to because we can’t open up and share all the things that we experience like most people can.We are expected to be more spiritual, have the most well behaved children. Never have any problems in our life and we are so lucky to be married to the pastor, he must be the perfect man (not). We live in a fishbowl. People oftentimes want to be our friends because we are the Pastor’s wife and many times there are motives behind it.

We share our husband. Now I know that is quite a statement but let me explain. First, this is something that I struggle with and I dare say many Pastors’ wives do. We can have a wonderful day planned with our husband and perhaps even our children and a call comes in and it changes everything. My husband has to leave to go to a church member’s home. A meeting was called that we weren’t aware of until the last minute so we change our plans. I’ve spent many many nights home alone with the kids waiting for my husband to come home. I’ve had date nights interrupted and family gatherings interrupted.

For many of you reading this you go to church once a week and go home. You go to work, be with your family and you don’t think about church again. Guess what? It is our life. We pray for the congregation, we weep for them. My husband stays up late at night preparing for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. He spends his days preparing as well and goes and visits and finds ways to connect to those in the community too. A lot of the visiting I do with him when I can and I find ways to connect to the women in the church and do that through bible studies and other events. Church is our life and we have been called to that I know.

I know that it sounds like I am complaining and believe me that is NOT my intention I desire for you to see what a typical day may look like in a Pastor’s wife’s home. We live a lonely life at times and other times we are surrounded with people who express their love for us. I read an article recently that said 80% of Pastor’s wives suffer from depression. We are unique. In no other job in America is a wife defined by her husband’s job other than the Presidency. We are always known as the Pastor’s wife, we are introduced as such. If your husband is an accountant you are not introduced as this is the accountant’s wife. You are introduced by your name.

I certainly don’t want to leave out all the wonderful parts of ministry. The most precious thing for me is to see the look on someone’s face when they come to salvation in Jesus Christ. There is great joy in watching others grow in their faith and being able to walk alongside them through it all. It is those times when commitments are made, when those in our congregation are baptized. It’s the weddings, the dedications of babies and being able to be a part of a going home celebration of a dear brother or sister in Christ. You see friends there is nothing else we would rather do in this life. My husband once had someone in ministry very dear to him say, “You will never be able to do anything else but ministry and be truly happy.” As weary as the days may be there is nothing we would rather do.

Pray for your Pastor’s wife today. Pray that God surrounds her with his love and strength. That she would be encouraged through His word and find His peace. Pray that she would be led by Him daily and that He would be her strong tower and refuge. Pray for your Pastor as well. The Lord has placed on both of their lives an incredible call and they need you prayers.

I appreciate my wife who stands with me to minister and she is awesome.  I am truly a blessed man.  Make sure you are praying for your Pastor’s wife and your Pastor.

Do you have any thoughts on what Wendy has to say?

Passion and Bibles!

The first time I met Chris was somewhere around mid-June of this year.  Chris is probably in his early thirties, had long hair pulled back in a ponytail, and he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt tucked in to some brown jeans which was his doing his best to look good .  He was really nervous that first time we talked and the next several times we talked seemed really nervous too.   This first time I was introduced to Chris was when he came into the fellowship hall as he was heading to a Sunday School class our church.  A lady in the church introduced us and she knows him through her son who does not go to church anywhere.

One day Chris was been around her house helping her son do something’s when looked at her and asked her about church.  She answered what she asked but sensed she really should not do more than just answer his questions.  A couple of days later was when I met him in the fellowship hall.  What is interesting is that Chris came to church not because anyone invited him but because he said “God impressed on me that I needed to come hereto church”.  He went to the Sunday School class that his friend’s mom teaches that day first day and has continued going to it.

A few weeks after I met him I ask him if I would see him in the worship service and he said “no, I do not think so”.  I asked him why and he told me that he just was not comfortable going in there.  We have an overflow right in the fellowship hall where we were talking and so I told him that he could stay there one day and see what the service was like without coming up to were he as uncomfortable.

The people in the Sunday School class he attends would talk with him and share with him week after week.  Some weeks I would see him as he was headed to his car and just thank him for coming to Sunday School.  One Sunday a little more than a month or so ago I heard that he had sat back in the overflow that day.  The next week he asked if he could sit with one of the people in his class in the service and of course they said yes and he sat in the worship service.  He has been now been there since.

This past Wednesday Night at our prayer service the lady who introduced us said I have a praise and prayer request.  Here is what she said, “Chris told me he did not have a Bible last Sunday and so I was out the other day and bought him a copy of the Message because he told me he did not read well as at.  When I gave it too him he thanked me and he asked what Bible you used so that he could follow along with the preaching.   He also told me how much he loved reading the Bible.  Then yesterday my son asked me to guess what he did all day and I said I do not know.  He told me that he was pulling copper out of wire so that Chris could get money so that he could by his wife and children all  Bibles.  He is strapped for money and wants it to surprise them with the Bibles. His wife and kids do not go to church and their seems to be some real struggles there but Chris has had such a difference made in his life by reading his Bible he wants it for his family to experience this change as well.” 

Now you need to know that several have now given Bibles to him and God is using Chris and his story in our church in a powerful way.  Now here is what I want to say:  I love this!  God is doing His powerful thing all through Chris’s life and the lives of many in our church.  Chris has a passion for the Word of God.  Chris wants to share that passion with his family.  He willing to spend the day pulling copper wire so that he could buy Bibles for his family.    I love that people are stepping up and getting Bible in his hands.  I pray more people in our church get this kind of passion for God, their family, and the Word of God.

Where would you rate your passion for the Word of God right now between 1 and 10 (1 low and 10 high) and why?

Dealing with Stressful Situations in the Church

How do you deal with a stressful situations between members in the church when you are the Pastor (or deacon or leader in the church)?

When I typed this question, I just sat and stared at the screen.  Why you may ask?  Well it really is because in thinking about it I found that  I have no great answers to this question.  So here is what I am going to do:  I will share the three steps that I see and then I would like you to then help me fill tin the gaps by getting you to share your thoughts.

Here are my three things:

First thing is prayer.  I know many think this answer to be very simple but it is truly the starting point.  What you pray for is of utmost importance.  You need to pray for wisdom in the situation and for discernment for you and for those involved.  You need to pray for all people who are involved in the issue that God would be able to grip their hearts.  Prayer is key.

Second thing is talking to the people.  This is where you have to make the decision if you talk with them individually or together.  Some of this decision will be made when looking at the specific problem between the members.  Another thing that will help make this decision is knowing how volatile the situation is.  What I have in the past at times  is  met with people in their homes and that was to get what was happening from their view.  Other times I have had the parties involved come to my office where we all sat down and I mediated them talking the problem out. This is again where prayer is such a big deal and you will really need the wisdom and discernment you are praying for and knowing on what exactly needs to be done. It is also important that the people involved have tender hearts toward God and each other.

As some point though, all parties need to be brought together to talk.  That meeting needs to start with prayer and Scripture being read that is talking about unity in the church.  You as the Pastor (or leader) need to lead this meeting and not let one side or the other hijack, sidetrack, or overtake the meeting.  You need to lead toward reconciliation and that is the aim although it might take more than one meeting to get it.  You might need to get together two or three times but leave each time with hope and direction for the next meeting.

Third thing is finding resolution to the issue.  When it comes to this you need to remember that in  finding resolution will take wisdom and discernment on your part.  It will also take great skill in getting people to see the issue from a heavenly perspective.  That is the goal and that is get people looking at the issue not from their selfish (most of the time) point of view but from a heavenly point of view.  The goal in this heavenly perspective is to have people find common ground but that might not always be the case.

Know for sure that resolution is going come but it might need to be an agree to disagree solution.  The agree to disagree to me is not optimal but sometimes is the best you will be able to get from people.  Know that there will be times when you will get to see the blessing of  reconciliation and resolution to an issue and people come together and it is a powerful thing.

This is how I deal with these issues written in a simple way – know that is not as simple and easy as it seems when written down.  There are bumps and so forth that will bring great stress but know that Prayer is the most important ingredient here.

Now it is time for you to fill in my gaps and share your thoughts.

So tell me – How do you deal with a stressful situations between members in the church when you are the Pastor (or a deacon or leader in the church)?

Just A Little Rural Church

On March 11th, 2011, as we all know there was an earthquake which cause a massive tsunami in Japan.  For those of the church I pastor, Sedley Baptist Church, this caused everyone to be immediately concerned for the pastor whose place I took.  He and his wife left here to go and serve in a church in Japan.   Everyone was relived to find out that they were fine but our hearts were broken for the country of Japan when we saw the devastation like the rest of the world.

That Sunday we  prayed for the people of Japan and we prayed that we would have some way as a church body to respond.  We have a committee that gives financially to hurting people in our community but also gives to others around the world.  At that point we made plans to get together before the Wednesday evening service so we could figure out a plan and way to respond.

We got together and discussed a bunch of different ways we as a church body could respond.  We dreamed big and decided that we wanted to do a Yard Sale, Bake Sale, and a Fish Fry all on one day to raise funds to give to the church in Japan.  There was a deacon meeting the following Sunday so we wanted to make sure we had full support so it was brought before that group of men who were enthusiastic about it.  That Sunday morning, which was March 20th, I announced during the Worship Service how the church would response.  We would do a Yard Sale, Bake Sale, and Fish Fry and all proceeds would go directly to the church in Japan to use for relief efforts that they were doing and supporting.  The thing is that it would all take place on April 16th and we would meet on the 27th of March to begin to put it all together.  We had 24 days to put it together which was a huge undertaking but we knew from the beginning that God was in it.

The church came together in a mighty way.  We had the committee getting people lined up to work for the fish fry and figuring out how to handle the crowd of people that we thought would come.  We had people selling tickets everywhere.  We had people contacting friends and family in other churches to get support from those places and people.  We had people having donations given to them.  One small example of this was a mother and daughter in a doctors office who asked the secretary if she wanted to buy a ticket.  She told them no she would not be able to come but then said that she would like to donate toward the cause.  The lady came back with a personal check and had gone to the doctor to let them know and the doctor gave a check with a  substantial amount on it.  As we heard these types of stories we knew that God was blessing!

We had initially planned on selling 400 tickets to the Fish Fry and then it grew to 500 with the potential for more.  We had a massive amount of items given for the Yard Sale.  I mean it was an overwhelming amount and not junk.  There was a ton of good stuff donated to be sold.  We had all kinds of great Baked good donated.  We could  see God moving in all these different areas.

Yesterday all the planning came together.  We had the Yard Sale early in the morning in the fellowship hall and not outside because of two reasons – one the weather was questionable and it was very windy.  The other reason was we had so much stuff donated we would have never been able to get it all outside.  It took a lot of people several hours on Friday night to get it all organized but they did.  They got to the church at 6:30AM on Saturday morning and were ready to roll with the Yard Sale and it was a huge success!

We ran the Bake Sale all day.  We had people buying whole pies and cakes for 10 and 12 dollars a piece during the Yard Sale.  The meal time for the Fish Fry was 4pm – 7pm which was made by a caterer but put in the plates by church members.  We sold slices of pies and cake for one dollar to those who wanted it as a dessert with their meal.  We had a drive through pick up set up outside for people to get their meals to take them home.  Our fellowship hall was set up for people who wanted to eat their meal at the church.  Well over half those who bought tickets picked their food up by coming through the drive through we had set up.  It all flowed very smoothly.

The weather was questionable all day with high winds and small showers but late in the day is when the terrible thunderstorms came through and some of those spawned tornados.  We got rain and high winds but no damage and it happened just as we finished up the events of the day.

This was an amazing day of the church working together and God blessing.  God blessed all day with people coming and buying good from the Yard Sale.  We sold out of Baked Sale items.  We sold more plates of fish than we could have ever imagined – over 600!  This is not too bad for a church that has about 100 people every Sunday.  By the way – God blessed financially too – between the donations, Yard Sale, Bake Sale, and Fish Fry – we cleared somewhere in the area of $5,800 and money is still coming in!  It is overwhelming!

  We are in awe of how God pulled all this together in 24 days through us.  We are in awe of how God blessed in such a variety of ways.  We are awe of how God brought a sense of unity to our church as young and old worked arm in arm.  We are in awe that God will prayerfully make a difference in the lives of the people of Japan because of our little event here in rural Virginia.  I feel the sense of momentum building in the church and I am so excited as to where God will take us and what he will do from this point forward.  I am humbled and proud to be the Pastor of such an awesome church – it is a little rural church that God is doing great things in and through.

(Added the picture we took after the service yesterday morning – the weather was too bad to take it Sat. Night.)

Disturbed by Revival

Revival services were not something that happened in most of the churches that I have attended through the years at least on a regular basis although one of the greatest gifts God has given me came at a Revival services.  I meet my wife at Revival Services that the churches we were attending were doing together.   That really is the first Revival Services I remember the church I grew up in having.  When I later became a Youth Pastor I remember that church doing one week of  revival service – which I really enjoyed and saw God do some fresh things in people’s lives.  Another church that I served in did not do them and to go with that  I have had it said to me by somene about Revival Service, “I do not ever do them because are we going to schedule God to come and work.  We need to make each Sunday a Revival Service.”

The church I am blessed to serve in now does Revival Services and does them yearly and we have Revival starting this Sunday and running through Thursday Night.  When I look at Revival Service I am not looking at the way the person in my past had look at – scheduling God – I look at it as people preparing and allowing God to work and do something different and out of the routine.  I see it as immersing ourselves for a week in God and allowing Him to do something fresh and for us to have an intense time of focus on God and off of self.  It is a time for God to impress upon his people the need for renewed obedience in the things He calls us too.

What is the definition of Revival?  1. a. The act or an instance of reviving. b. The condition of being revived. I think of it this way – sometimes because of the way life is it beats us down we need to be revived or have new life blown back in.  I see it like a web page that has not fully loaded – what do we do when we have this happen – we hit F5 which refreshes the page.  I see Revival Services as a chance to be refreshed in our relationship with Christ, it is a spiritual F5.

Yes this is something that can happen everyday without having special services but I think the break in routine that comes, the intense prayers and fasting, and the extra focus on God and not on us is what makes these service something different and special.    The services are designed to allow someone to have an fresh encounter with the Living God. Revival is about people being restored, renewed, and getting right.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”
(2 Chronicles 7:14 )

I see revival as  God disturbing our routine, so with that let me end with a prayer by Sir Francis Drake:

Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

What are your thoughts on Revival?

I pray God uses Revival this week at the church I serve to Disturb us!