Well, the big day is here! I will be ordained in about 5 hours! Yay! I can’t wait! District Council has gone pretty well. Right now I’m sitting in a seminar with Ed Stetzer talking about being a missional church. Good stuff! In an hour and a half, we will get pictures taken with our kids, go to dinner with the in-laws and then come back for practice and more pictures.

It has been confirmed that we are the first couple to get ordained at the same time in Michigan, at least for the past 20 years that our district superintendent, Bro. William Leach, has been in office. We succeeded in confusing the ceremony. But, having practiced, all should go well. I must be honest that it was rather fun confusing things. 🙂

Ed Stetzer is a great speaker. He talks realy fast, but what he has good church planting stuff to say. He is saying that just like missionaries who go to other countries, we need to prepare for our “mission field” where we are pastors. We need to be intentional about reaching people. Just like missionaries learn a new language and culture, we need to continually relearn the culture of those we are trying to reach. That might mean having church in a coffee shop or bar. It might mean going out to help a farmer plant his crop. Whatever the situation of the people, we need to associate ourselves with them in an obvious way. We have “engage the culture where they are.” He listed three things that we need to be do in conjunction with each other.

“Our churches need to be biblically faithful, culturally relevant and counter-culture community for the gospel and the kingdom.”

Good stuff!!! Well, I’m signing off for now!

If there are typos in this post, my apologies! I’m using Hubby’s laptop. Did I tell you that a 7-foot shelf with 20-30 vases fell on him and his laptop? I don’t think I did. I blogged about it on my minister’s network on ning.com, but never copied it over. I will have to do that.

I’m sorry I’ve been so silent the last week or so. I’ve been obsessed with a new project. My section, in the Assemblies of God, Michigan District, wanted a place online where we can keep in touch and my wonderful hubby volunteered me to create a social network on ning.com. I was embarrassed he just volunteered me while I was sitting there, but in the end I’m glad he did. Sometimes, he is like God in that he sees my potential better than I ever can.

I ended up creating the network for the entire Michigan district. For all the ministers and wives and lay who minister. It’s like Facebook, but it’s private. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. I wish you all were in Michigan. I invited everyone I had e-mail addresses for in Michigan. If you who are reading this, are in the leadership in an Assembly of God church in the Michigan district and you want an invite, let me know in the comments. If you fill out the e-mail address spot in the form, then you don’t need to leave it in your comment. Here is a link if you just want to request a invite through michiganag.ning.com.

We now have 66 members with 156 invites out! I’m so excited. I advertised it at the Women in Ministry Breakaway I went to this past weekend. Even the assistant superintendent and the director or camp ministries and district supervised churches have joined. It’s so exciting to see something I created be so successful. It was all Chris’ idea, but I did the work. We make a great team. I’m terrible with ideas for some reason.

This weekend was the best breakaway ever for me because through the internet (Facebook and MySpace) I’ve kept up with other women and I knew so many this year. I’m really starting to feel at home in our district and I love it. This should help even more. I’m terrible with names, but with the people’s face in front of me every day, I will remember them next time I see them.

Our speaker was Kristi Hollis from The Power Place. She is a very colorful person. She admits that herself. She has 25 differnt paint colors in her house. Is that even possible??? Anyway, I didn’t know what to expect at first, but she really had a lot of good stuff to say about living in the fishbowl as one in ministry. She talked about realizing that there is a purpose for every moment in our lives and we need to be okay with the moment if we want to succeed at our call. The most important part of our call is love; loving our husband, then our children and then those God has given us in our ministry. She challenged us to come up with a plan to make the changes necessary to fulfill our call.

I have many things I need to change about myself. The ones I thought of were my selfishness, poor housekeeping, lack of quality time with my husband and lack of time spent with God each day. I don’t give God enough of my time.

In response to my last post, I had a friend ask me some questions about where I am and want to be. She asked some great questions and some of the last ones, I can’t answer yet. I really appreciated her thought-provoking question and the time she spent in typing them all out. Here is the e-mail conversation that we had:

(Friend’s questions in dark orange): I read your blog and also your sermon from Jan. 4th. It was good….a lot of good points and thoughts! I enjoyed reading it. (My answers in green) Thank you!

I read your blog from yesterday….you raised several questions for me. You said you and Chris are very competitive …So, I have several questions for you. Why did you get your ministerial license?I did it because while I didn’t plan to, I felt God leading me that way at the time. I guess I always felt called to be a pastor’s wife, but it seems that God is transforming me slowly into more than that. I could never have done it if I didn’t feel it was right. I am too lazy to go to all that work if I’m not sure I have to. I really don’t enjoy preaching at ALL! But, I know that is where I ‘m supposed to be right now. I hope I will grow to love it. I do love being in ministry and doing more than the average wife. I enjoy voting and having a say in what happens in the AG, too. Also, I have filled in for my mom’s church which is something that I consider my own ministry. I mean I wouldn’t have done it if I was riding on the heels of my husband.

Do you have your own call from God to preach or did you do it because Chris did?I guess I skipped ahead and answered that already, huh? :)Would you be in ministry even if you weren’t married to a preacher? 3 years ago, I would have said… “I don’t know”. Now, if Chris died, I would continue at this church as their pastor if they let me (and I believe they would). So, yes, I would. Absolutely.

How would going back to school effect your ministry and those who you are currently serving? Good question, I guess I think the biggest help would be long term in that even though it’s a small church, we would have a better chance of staying here if I had alternative income as well as what we both make preaching. As far as the effect of the extra time, I am truly unsure. But, if it’s what God wants, that will work out.

As far as a greater Theological Degree, do you really need that for God to use you in the capacity that he has chosen to use you in? You can always read and study yourself to improve in your Theological studies. Now if you felt lead to teach in a college setting etc., then yes you would need the further studies and degrees. Very true, I am just trying to reconcile my two halves I guess.

Other questions to ask yourself as far as returning to school for your Graphics Degree are…How would you use your degree and what jobs are available in your area to use your degree? I believe that I would be able to find something. When I first moved here was when I applied for the job that I wrote about. I could always work at a paper and they are everywhere. I would use my degree to pay off our huge loans that we already have from Bible college that we haven’t been able to even touch with our current salary. But I really feel called to do graphic design for church plants or other small churches that can’t afford to pay a graphic designer. Churches that could greatly benefit from a face-lift to the community so to speak. I want to be able to this for them at cost or on a sliding scale fee system. Very cheaply at least.

If your interests are really in photography, why waste money on a design graphics degree. Wouldn’t it be better to put that money towards something you really love, photography classes and equipment? That is what I am considering at the moment, but I think your questions have made me realize the answer. The photography would be loads of fun, but it wouldn’t get me the rest of the training I need in order to do what I really want – cheap design for small churches.

Can you afford to return to school without it putting to much financial strain on your marriage? Um…I can’t afford it without more loans, but we have so many already that getting the training to actually get a real job would actually be putting us ahead. If I start in the fall, it would defer my undergrad loans till I’m done and could get a job and hopefully finally make some progress on all our loans. I know it’s not the best plan, but I don’t see any other way of getting out of where we are. We just don’t get paid enough. I pray our church will grow, but I must be patient. All things in God’s time. Maybe this waiting time is the right time to take the action needed for me to be comfortable and confident with my skills.

Also write out the pros and cons of how going back to school would effect your family time and time spent with your children, church time, personal time. When would you do your classes, projects and work outside the home? Would the greater stress be more harmful to you emotionally right now with the depression? or would it be your escape? Yes, very good things to do. I think that it would be helpful to be going somewhere. It would be added stress as well, though. I have to figure out which would be better. These last questions are great ones to pray over.

Just some things to really think about and talk out with your hubby. I know I have raised more questions than I have given any answers for, but they are things that you need to figure out before you make any decisions that effect your whole family.

I appreciate your thoughtful and thorough response more than you can know. Thank you.

It was so funny to read your post today as I just finished praying for you gals struggling with depression and low self esteem. Praying that God would make Himself very real to you, that you can see yourself as Christ sees you and that you would be encouraged in some way today by Him. My heart feels for you all as you struggle with these issues on a daily basis. You all have giftings and callings that God has placed within each of you and I know Satan is out to destroy what God has placed within you. Don’t let him! If you have never taken a Spiritual Inventory Test I encourage you to take one. If you don’t know where to go email me and I can point you to a good one. It is a place to start to see where your strengths are at and also what areas you can work on strengthening. If you are doing things outside of your giftings it will be a constant struggle for you. If you have the gift of helps but find you are constantly stuck in a teaching position within the church body it will be a struggle for you or visa-versa. Find your niche, where your strengths are and let God use you there first. Then let him help you grow in these other areas. Great advice! I have taken several of those tests, but I bet now would be a great time to retake one and go over the results again.

I pray that some how this posting encourages you. God does want you to walk in victory….that doesn’t mean you won’t have days that you struggle, but He will help you overcome!

Thanks again to my friend and her encouraging and thoughtful words, challenging questions and above all the prayers!

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has had as wonderful a holiday as I have. I went to my mom’s house for the traditional turkey and had a very good dinner. I even came back with leftovers. Cold turkey sandwiches tomorrow!

Today, I would like to tell you all what I am thankful for.

    1. My loving God – He’s so wonderful. He loves me more than anyone else and I know that I can never deserve His love, yet He loves me.
    2. My hubby – He loves me and does things for me even when I don’t really deserve for him to be so nice to me. Thank you, honey, and I love you!
    3. My kids (Princess and Little Man) – They daily show me new things and daily give me their unconditional love. Sometimes I don’t deserve that either.
    4. The rest of my family (moms, dads and brothers and sisters) – Thanks for being such great family!
    5. My church family – Our congregation loves us so much and I am thankful for that. I love them, too. I am so glad we fit together so well and I look forward to continuing to effect change in our community.
    6. My many, many friends (both in life and in the online realm) – I’m so glad I friends that I can go to when I need to talk. I am also so glad for all the friends that I have made through blogging. Blogging has opened up a whole new world of giving and receiving blessings. I am also thankful for all the readers of my blog. Don’t be afraid to de-lurk. I’d love to be your friend, too.
    7. My fellow ministers – All of you readers that are fellow pastors and all the fellow pastors in my community and in the Assemblies of God that I have become close to, I appreciate what you have taught me. I look forward to continually growing at the prodding of others.

      I’m sure that there are many more things I am thankful for that I have left out. These are the ones with the biggest impact on my life. Thank you all for all you do for me! Happy Thanksgiving!

      A great quote found here in one of the comments…Between Noon and Three

      “If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. She has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that she has made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch…she made us care more about how we look than about who we are; made us act more like the subjects of a police state than fellow citizens of the saints.”

      The quote goes on, and you can find the original in Capon’s Between Noon and Three.

      I commented on the comment by saying… Don’t stop now! There’s more!

      I am so tired! This past week has been crazy! (Which is why I haven’t been posting anything.) I was cleaning my house like crazy because my in-laws came on Thursday. I had to preach this Sunday and we had Little Man’s 3rd birthday party today after church. My hubby is napping right now, but I decided not to because when I took a nap on Thursday, I slept for 5 hours! I would like to sleep tonight. But I am exhausted. I will be glad when everything settles into the normal fall routine. Well, it won’t actually be normal. Little Man starts Head Start this year. He and Princess will be in the same class. Princess is 16 days too young to go to Kindergarten this year. It will be good for Little Man to have his sister the first year. They will have 4 half days of school per week.

      I’ll miss them both, but I plan on making good use of that time! I plan on dropping them off at the bus and then doing devotions. I’ve been doing them at night, but I think the morning would be better. Usually, I would get on the computer, but Chris has started his Masters and he’ll be up and doing that online in the mornings. Which will be good because it will make me do other, more productive things with my free time.

      Oh! In other news, both Chris and I passed our ordination exams. In November, we will have interviews. That is the last step. Hopefully, all will go well. I look forward to that being over, too. The test was probably the worst part, so it was a great relief to find out last week that we passed.

      So, all in all, I’m glad the summer is over. It’s been so hectic!

      EDIT: (11/1/07) These were my initial thoughts on the subject of tithing in the New Testament and I have written a new post clarifying these thoughts. Please read it as well. It really does clarify my jumbled thoughts!

      Last night, I had quite an interesting conversation with my mom about tithes and how much our district officials get paid. Then I read this post by Travis Seitler. He has done research on tithing. His post shook me. I’ve grown up with the focus always being, “give your ten percent.” I knew, of course, that more is better, but still the focus is on that tithe. In his post, Travis tells that what he has found is that the tithe was Old Testament law and therefore not applicable to us today. Now before anyone cries, “heresy,” he is NOT saying that you should not give. He says we should give more and sometimes less than 10%. His post is very well thought out and backed by scripture. I tend to believe that he is correct. He also wrote that the tithe was in food, not money. Therefore, we should be giving food if we are going to follow the Old Testament law; we should be creating food banks to help feed the poor.

      The last important point I found that he made, was that tithe, since it was always given as food, was not created to support the priests’ pockets (ministers in our day) or church buildings and bills. If this is so, I wondered how would these be supported? Well, basically he believes that we should cut down on these expenses and focus on the poor. The remaining should be paid for by offerings. That makes some sense to me. That post has shaken me in changing the beliefs that I have held for so long, but after talking it out with my hubby, it makes sense to me never to preach on tithing the same again. It makes sense to me to never use that word again. The New Testament requires much more of us than the Old Testament. Jesus tells the rich man to sell everything and follow me.

      When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Luke 18:22 NIV (more…)