Failure

I ran across this little paragraph in my files. I originally heard it on a John Maxwell Injoy life club lesson several years ago. I do not know the real source. He says in the audio file that is was originally in Christianity Today

My counselor has finally forced me to face the fact that I am a failure in my ministry. Permit me to list my evangelical demerits:
“I have never been to the Holy land, neither as a tour guide nor visitor. Every program I have ever started has failed. Our evangelism explosion didn’t explode. It gave an embarrassing pop, rolled over and died. I attended a Church growth seminar and while I was gone six families left the Church. A refugee family we tried to sponsor refused to come. The last I heard they were seeking asylum in a Chinese restaurant in St. Louis. Every time I try Dial-A-Prayer, I get the wrong number. It’s either a funeral home or a chicken carry out place. I tried calling Dial-A-Meditation the other day and the tape broke right after the first sentence which was, “So things aren’t going so well today?” Our Church teams never win any games; baseball, basketball, volleyball, shuffle board, you name it we’ve lost it. The town little league champs challenged us, and won. I am thinking of sharing all of this with our denominational leaders, but they’re never around when I phone. And all their letters addressed to me are addressed “occupants.” I have been told that failure could be the back door to success, but the door seems to be locked and I can’t find a key.”

I love this quote

“Paradoxically, what intrudes between God and human beings is our fastidious morality and pseudo piety. It is not the prostitutes and tax collectors who find it most difficult to repent.”

Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child (NavPres, 1994)

The Bible Mini Series

Okay, I know I am behind on this topic. My family has been either sick or very busy the last several weeks. As a result we DVR’d the mini series called The Bible. Finally this week we all had a chance to set down and watch it. We have only watched one episode but we have noticed several things.

1) They are trying to cover way too much material too quickly. The sad result of this truth is that the makers are skipping several very important Bible stories. How could they not say anything about Joseph who takes up 13 chapters in Genesis?

2) The makers are totally disregarding what the Bible actually says. For example, Abraham is going to sacrifice Isaac just a few minutes from his family when the Bible clearly says he traveled for 3 days with donkeys and 2 servants.

3) In an effort to make the Bible come to life, the makers actually made the Bible more unclear and unbelievable. I know this is completely subjective, but my family is still laughing about the Ninja angels in Sodom.

Those are just my initial thoughts about what I have seen. So what am I doing with this mini series? I have been watching it with my family and continually pausing it to ask questions. I am constantly asking “What is missing?” or “What is wrong with what they showed?” or “Why is this story so important to the future stories in the Bible?” The final result is that my family is still learning more of the Bible together although not in the way I thought we would learn.

More on Marriage

Maybe it is because I am always talking to couples about their marriages, but I am continually looking for good advice to give people. One the the “straightest shooters” that I have found is Dr. Laura. While I do not agree with several things she says, she often has good material to think through. Today she posted about 13 topics to discuss in your marriage. I thought it was very informative and direct. So here it is:

1. Money. How do we spend it? What about savings? What about budgets? Who takes care of the money? When it comes to money, there are two types of people to varying extremes: those who like to spend and those who like to save. It’s extremely important to discuss finances and prenups (which I think are absolutely necessary in second marriages involving children so that the kids are protected).

2. How alike are you? People say “opposites attract,” but that only works for magnets, not for people. The more you have in common with your partner, the better. You need to discuss your backgrounds, religious beliefs, values, and dreams for the future. What are your views on loyalty, honesty, and dealing with anger? What behaviors are off-limits? You should talk about all these things and never assume they will change after you are married. If you want something about them to change and it doesn’t, don’t get married!

3. Communication skills. Many people come from families where they really don’t communicate. They don’t sit down calmly and honestly speak the truth. You and your partner need to be able to say to each other, “These are my expectations, hopes, dreams, desires, etc.,” and then ask if they are reasonable. If your partner says, “I would like to have more freedom, come and go as I please, and not have to call when I’m going to be late for dinner,” then you know it’s a good idea to call it quits.
It’s vital to assess how someone communicates before you get married. Some people use communication as a destructive tool to get what they want, and others use it to hurt their partner or justify themselves when they’ve lied or misbehaved.

4. Life outside of marriage. Which hobbies and activities are you going to do together and which are you going to do separately with friends? Am I not going to be able to ride my motorcycle because you don’t ride? Some people are so insecure, possessive, or demanding that they won’t let the other person have a life. Many women, in particular, don’t want their men to have guy time (which can be very disastrous).

5. Do you want to have kids? How many? What does discipline look like? Who’s going to take care of them? What happens if one of you has fertility issues? Are you open to adoption? Having two people cooperate to raise a child is a huge deal. Compatibility issues in how you parent can lead to big problems down the road. This is why it’s important to look at each other’s family dynamics. People develop a lot of neurotic tendencies from their childhoods that may never change, such as how loving or attentive they are. Observe how your fiancé/fiancée is with other people’s kids.

6. Employment. Do you travel a lot for your job? Do you plan to relocate often? Do you stay at the office late? Do you have any time for family? Certain jobs (trucking, medicine, law, military, etc.) require a lot of commitment. You have to analyze yourself and ask, “Do I want to marry somebody who isn’t going to be home at seven every night? Do I want my spouse to be just visiting when he/she walks in to the house?”

7. Sex! Find out what each other’s fantasies are. If their fantasies include small farm animals, you know to hit the eject button.

8. Daily life: Who’s going to be responsible for which household chores and bills? Are you actually going to raise your kids, or are you going to farm them out (so that when you’re old and decrepit, they farm you out)?

9. How committed are you to the relationship? With looks, health, abilities, kids, finances, and family, there are many changes, phases, and challenges in life. Are you committed in the relationship, or are you just a fair weather spouse? I would say that about 70 percent of divorces result because people are not committed to a relationship – when it’s not going good, they find another place to go.

10. Personal space. Everybody needs time to be alone with their hobbies and thoughts. A lot of women have trouble giving their husbands personal space. Guys are generally relieved when their wives want to go spend the day with their girlfriends: “That’s wonderful honey, are you sure you don’t want to go for the weekend?” = “Yes! No nagging for six hours!”

11. How are you going to keep the marriage exciting? What’s your idea of a good time together? Is it hanging out with a lot of people? Watching sports? A candlelight dinner? A walk in the park? Soaking in the tub together? After they get married, many people say, “My husband/wife doesn’t do anything.” Well, perhaps that’s because you guys never talked about what would be fun.

12. Family. My advice: If you really, really, really can’t get along with his or her family, move 3,000 miles away.

13. Know your odds. Statistics show that couples who live together before they’re married are more likely to get divorced. Couples who have been previously married and divorced are also more likely to get divorced. Don’t learn the hard way by thinking “Well, we’re different.”

Grand Thoughts

My wife and I have Direct TV. This past weekend they were offering a “Free Starz Movie Pack” for the weekend. Michelle and I decided to DVR several movies for later viewing. One of the things that we recorded was the movie TROY. Finally, yesterday we started watching the movie and I was gripped by the opening narration. So here it is:

“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity and so we ask ourselves: Will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved.”

Great Post About Pastor’s Wives

As a pastor, I found this article helpful and true. Most pastors and wives are not equipped for the mind field of ministry!

By Thom S. Rainer

I am especially grateful to have the opportunity to hear from pastors’ wives since much of my focus is on pastors. Our recent, informal survey simply asked the open-ended question: “What do you wish you had been told before you became a minister’s wife?”
Thank you to the pastors’ wives who were willing to give us such great feedback. And thanks to Chris Adams for doing the survey and to Amy Jordan for assembling the data.
The responses are in order of frequency. A representative comment follows each response.

1. I wish someone had told me just to be myself. “I am a people-pleaser by nature, so for me, not being prepared to handle being a pastor’s wife with my personality was a heavy burden to carry early in our ministry.”

2. I wish someone had prepared me to deal with criticism of my husband and me. “It was hard to deal with negative experiences, conflicts, or criticisms, especially in relation to my husband and our area of ministry. So I would harbor feelings of resentment when it came to ministry and my man.”

3. I wish someone had reminded me that my husband is human. “I wish someone had told me that my husband could not be God for me. I was disillusioned at first to find out that he indeed is just a man.”

4. I wish someone had told me that others were watching us (the glass house syndrome). “Even though they are watching us, we don’t need to be controlled by what they expect of us.”

5. I wish someone had told me there are some really mean people in the church. “I was really surprised. I had to learn not to pay too much attention to them or they would get me down.”

6. I wish someone had told me how much my husband needs me to build him up. “I need to be his cheerleader. Dealing with critics in the church is difficult. He needs to hear that I respect him now more than ever.”

7. I wish someone had told me that my schedule will never be normal again. “Your husband will be very busy. Expect that. But come alongside him in the areas of time management and organization.”

One pastor’s wife told us that her role was like getting a job for which she never applied. She wrote this funny script in her response:
Husband: “Honey, I got you a job today.”
Wife: “Really? Okay, but I wasn’t looking for a job. I have plenty to do here running the household and raising the kids. That was our plan, right? Me stay home with the kids so you could fully dedicate yourself to the ministry.”
Husband: “Yeah, yeah. But I really need you take this job for me.”
Wife: “Well, okay, just tell me what to do and when it needs to be done by, and I will do everything I can to make it happen.”
Husband: “Well, right now there are no specific responsibilities. Basically, it’s just doing anything at church that no one else steps up to do or wants to do.”
Wife: “Oh my, that is a tall order. Okay, I’ll do it. I guess we could use the extra money anyway. Things are always tight around here on a pastor’s salary.
Husband: “Well, actually honey, there is no salary . . .”

Being a Pastor’s Wife is a tough job. I know, I’m married to one:-)

Marriage Question

Dr. Laura has a video blog that she posts each weeks. This week’s post was about marriage. She is asked the question, “Should I stay or should I go?” You can watch it HERE

If you do not want to watch it, that’s okay. I want to give you the key piece of what she says. She challenges every married person to ask this question everyday for the next month and see what happens to your marriage.

The question to ask myself is this: “What can I do to make my spouse happy to be alive and married to me.”