Monday, September 24, 2018

Staying the Course

Dear Friends,

Thirty years ago, when I said “I do” at the altar, I knew that I was also committing myself to coming alongside my husband as a pastor’s wife. Sometime during our dating years, he felt a strong call from the Lord to pursue full-time vocational ministry. Though I wavered some in my faith during my college years, our engagement was a time for me to recommit and say “Yes” to the Lord, wherever He would lead me.  

Seminary did not fully prepare us for the emotional ups and downs of ministering to people at their best or worst times. Although we had many occasions to celebrate, we also experienced grief, sadness, and disappointment as we witnessed church members struggle in their lives and faith walks. 

Having served alongside my husband for 23 years of full time ministry, I can see how the Lord has protected us, strengthened us, equipped us, and even granted us supernatural joy and peace to sustain us through the ups and downs.  

Certain habits, spiritual disciplines, and thought patterns can make a difference in being able to stay the course. Here are some suggestions for young ministry wives as they prepare for the journey ahead:
Be a student of the Word and devoted to prayer. Fruitfulness and contentment in ministry come from time with the Lord. This is your deep well of life!

Focus on gratitude. Consider writing a list of what you are grateful for each day. You will be amazed to see how the circumstances you’ve been fretting about actually have some positives.

Praise God often for the privilege of serving alongside your husband in ministry. Seek out opportunities to disciple others and join in the building of God’s kingdom.

Seek out mentors and ministry friendships. Connect with women who have positive attitudes in their ministry roles. Read books by or spend time with those who have embraced their calling and learned to find joy in their circumstances.

Prepare for the inevitable pain you will feel when church members leave and join a different fellowship. Give your pain to the Lord as an act of worship and redirect your energies toward those He has entrusted you to shepherd.   

Be alert to different life stages and phases of ministry. Sometimes you will need to say no to outside commitments so you have time to disciple your children and manage your household. Other days your priority will be ministry focused. Ask the Lord to grant you wisdom to ‘order your days aright,’ as the psalmist prayed.  

Remember that ultimately you are seeking the Lord’s approval. You and your husband will not be able to please everyone, but through prayer and seeking counsel from godly mentors, you will be able to make wise decisions.

Find ways to involve your children in ministry. They will gain a sense of purpose and mission and will cultivate their gifts from an early age.

There is joy in the journey, especially when we set our sights on what is eternal. Thank the Lord daily that God has chosen you to carry out His purposes in this world.  

In Him,

Karen Mauer

Karen Mauer is a guest writer for Just Between Us.  

Monday, September 17, 2018

Seeking God

Dear Friends,

God captures our attention in various ways. He captured mine one day in a unique and awe inspiring way that reminded me to seek Him and make Him a priority in my life.  

One morning, while waiting my turn to be called at a place of business, I picked up a home-style magazine and started flipping through the pages. I made a mental note to ask if I could buy it, but forgot. I spent the next week searching without success for the magazine at several stores and the library. One afternoon, I was making a purchase and just happened to see the magazine I’d been looking for in a stack. 

I felt that God had ordered my steps to this very place. He must have wanted me to have this particular magazine so He could reveal something to me. I smiled. But as I held it in my hand, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “The way you looked for this magazine, Seek Me,” reminding me of Psalm 27:8. 

All I could say was “Yes Lord.” God used that magazine to remind me to make Him my priority by seeking and spending more time with Him. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds me that He loves me with an everlasting love and that He first drew me to Himself. God began a relationship with us through His Son, who sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins (Rom. 5:8).  

God desires a close relationship with us. In our fast-paced life, we get caught up with pursuing our own goals so often weakening our relationship with Him. That’s why it’s so important to prioritize setting time alone with Him. First Chronicles 22:19 encourages us to “…devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God.”

We seek God by consistently reading His Word—something we can trust and depend on. God’s Word offers instruction and encouragement. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4, NASB). 

When we seek God in prayer, the Holy Spirit ushers us into His presence and fills us with joy (Ps. 16:11). We are refreshed and receive all that we need to meet daily challenges (Jer. 31:25). Seeking God in prayer, being filled with His joy, and receiving His spiritual refreshment builds and deepens our bond with Him.

The Lord used an ordinary magazine that I passionately sought after to capture my attention. Let’s put God high on our agenda and purposely seek Him with our whole heart today so that we will constantly maintain a deep, flourishing, and personal relationship with Him.

Blessings,

Natalie Hall

Natalie Hall is a guest writer for Just Between Us.  


Monday, September 10, 2018

A Light in Your Stormy Sea

Dear Friends,

Lighthouses are special to our family. Our youngest son proposed to his wife at a lighthouse. We live aboard a boat, so lighthouses are a beacon of hope to us in fog or squalling sea. God’s Word is that same kind of lighthouse, a beacon of hope to guide us into safe harbor in the storms of life. 
One of our stormiest seasons began while my husband, Bill, and I were on a media tour. Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the ER where a doctor told him he had high blood pressure. That caught Bill’s attention. His dad had a stroke in his 40s that left him paralyzed, and Bill’s grandfather died of a stroke in his early 40s. Soon it became apparent that God was asking Bill to resign from the lead pastor role he had served in for 15 years—a difficult decision emotionally and financially. In this same season, our youngest son, Caleb, was rushed to the hospital with a football injury requiring a blood transfusion to save his life. 
Eight days after Caleb’s injury, I had to leave him at home because of a planned speaking engagement. During my time away, my other two sons also experienced athletic injuries, and my younger brother was hospitalized after a heart attack. My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.
When friends asked, “How are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. Then I read Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” JOY! That’s what I needed. I immediately went on a joy hunt. I read Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” and kept following the well-lit path of joy verses. I printed them, studied them, and hung them around my home. Joy became my lighthouse of hope, an anchor in a storm that lasted three years. 
Since the day I found hope in the Psalms, I answer “How are you?” with “Choosing joy!” I encourage you to do the same and see how God multiplies the light as you share your hope and praise Him.  
Blessings,
Pam Farrel
Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 45 books, including her newest Bible study co-authored with Jean E. Jones and Karla Dornacher: Discovering Hope in the PsalmsPam and her husband Bill direct Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate and encourage people’s most vital relationships.