Tuesday, December 27, 2011

McAllister's Deli and the gospel tract....

OK, without going into a lot of detail, I will tell you the story of how I became the recipient of a Roman Road to Salvation tract....
Last weekend, the recovering pastor and I were invited to a social gathering at a restaurant.  I was iffy on going, but ultimately, we decided to go.  All was well until we got to the restaurant and went back into the smallish room with the party of 14 (of which we were a part of) and another party of 14ish.  Seated at our table were 2 couples that we knew and 4 we did not.  I don't know what triggered it, but massive anxiety attack ensued after sitting down.  Chest hurting, couldn't breath, felt very conspicuous, thought I was going to burst into tears at any minute.  Being the fantastic man that he is, my husband decided we should leave.  Yep, we had been there maybe 8 minutes.  So, he made our sorry's to the hosts, and we took off.  Immediately upon leaving the restaurant, I began to feel better.  So we sat in the car for a bit, then decided that we had driven all the way to Champaign, let's try to make the best of it.  So we wound up at McAllister's Deli - home of some of the best house wine of the south (sweet tea) there is.  It was relatively quiet there, and we chose a table away from everybody.  We began talking about what had happened, trying to process  my feelings, and it all came out, the ugly cry.  You know the one, where you really want to just wail, but you can't because of where you are, so you try to hold it in and just let it out little bits at a time.  Then it happened.  A young lady, perhaps in her early 20's, walked up to me, leaned over to me and said, "I couldn't help but notice that you are crying, and I just want you to know.....Jesus can help" and slipped a Roman Road to Salvation tract over to me, looked at me we these sorrowful eyes.

I just looked at her, unable at that moment to figure out what to say.  Finally I muttered a 'thank you' as she walked off.  My husband asked what she had given me.  It was then that I looked at him and said  "You have married the freak that has a breakdown in the middle of McAllister's Deli, and gets a gospel tract given to her.  That is who you are married to!!"  And then we both dissolved in laughter.  And I don't think I will be going to McAllister's Deli any time soon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

In all circumstances.....

...Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus..1Thess. 5:16  In the Message it reads...Thank God no matter what happens, this is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

I read this verse the other day and thought, UGH.  Seriously?  Give thanks no matter what happens?  In all circumstances?  Obviously He does not know what I am dealing with today.  Then I notice that it doesn't say 'Give thanks FOR all circumstances,' or 'Thank God FOR what happens,' but IN all circumstances and NO MATTER WHAT happens. 

See, we don't have to like what happens, and we certainly aren't going to like every circumstance that comes our way.  I think sometimes as Christians we think that life is going to be all rainbows and cupcakes.  That if God loves us, then why in the world did ____________ (insert issue) happen?  Life is life.  It is going to be great, and then just a quickly it can be bad.  Sometimes our own choices bring things upon ourselves that wouldn't have happened if we had just trusted or sought the Lord.  But life is life.  It is all in how you respond to the stuff that matters.

And this is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.  It is His will that we be thankful in all circumstances, no matter what happens.  We don't have to like it, but we do need to choose to be thankful in it.  It really is not an option.  This is the way we are to live if we are choosing to be His children.  Be thankful that we have a personal Savior who is more than willing to walk every step of the way with us.  Be thankful that no matter what has happened, it is not a surprise to the Lord, and He already knows the steps we are to take, He already knows the way out.  It may  not be in the time frame that we want, or the exact way that we would choose, but He knows.  All we need to do is trust Him and be thankful that we can. 

I have a friend who walks closer to the Lord than anyone I know.  He was recently diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.  He embodies this verse.  His facebook post after diagnosis was this:
Hey, if I could choose what stage cancer God was going to cure me from it would be the most vile, hopeless, impossible cancer to hope for a cure, because He can do much much more than our limited thinking is even set to understand. I don't want to limit His potential In my thinking. I wait on His Mighty Hand to do His Will as He sees fit. Come Lord Jesus and reveal your will and your way. Be Glorified in me!
He is fighting the cancer,  yet incredibly thankful for his position in life.  If he lives, he lives longer with his wife, his kids and his grandchildren.  He gets to share Christ with teenagers in the Myrtle Beach area, seeing them come to that point in their life where they trust Jesus like John trusts Jesus.  If he dies, He gets to live with Jesus.

In all circumstances, give thanks.

Monday, December 12, 2011


The Grinch.  That is who I usually identify with at this time of year.  I usually feel rushed, busy, overwhelmed.  However, this year it is the opposite.  I am feeling very festive, fully experiencing every part of this season.  I am enjoying the Christmas songs, I am loving the lights, our tree was up a week before Christmas., celebrating the Advent with my family this year has been new and fresh.  I am still overwhelmed, but a completely different kind of overwhelmed.   I am overwhelmed at the fact that Jesus came to this earth as a baby.  I am overwhelmed that He lived on this earth, and faced highs and lows just like me.  I am overwhelmed that He chose to give Himself up on the cross to redeem me - the one who fails Him often.  I am overwhelmed that I can talk with Him whenever I want to, and that He listens and cares.  I am overwhelmed that He did all of this, just for me.  Just to walk this season of life with me.  Just to make Himself known to me in such a special way.  Just to overwhelm me with who He is. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I read some statistics the other day, and the sad thing is I totally understood and related to them.  I'll share some of them here:

80% of pastors feel that the ministry has negatively affected their families.  Many pastor's children do not attend church as an adult because of what the church has done to their parents.

70% of pastors say they have a lower self image now than they did when they entered ministry.

85% of pastors say that their greatest struggle is dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled members, elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members and associate pastors.

50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

80% of the ministers starting out will not stay in more than 5 years.

66% of church members expect the pastor and his family to live at a higher moral standard than they do.

80% of pastors wives wish their husband would choose a different profession.

Over 4000 churches closed their doors last year.  That's more than 10 a day.

(Compiled from Barna and Focus on the Family research)
The one statement that keeps replaying in my mind is my sweet friend, whom I called when we made the decision to resign, who said:  Alyson, you need to know that this is not the church.  You need to know that this is not what Jesus has in mind when he established the church.  And while I know that in my heart, my head sees and hears differently.  This, apparently, is what the church has become.  I can name many of our peers from college who were ministry majors, followed the Lord into pastoral roles, only to be chewed up and spit out by the very people we were prepared and called to serve.  What is up with that?  Where in the Bible does it ever say that it is ok to treat people badly, judge them, talk about them, and decide whether or not they are good enough? 

I have to think that Christ is in heaven shedding tears over how his bride is behaving.