Raising The Bar

Raising the bar

Is my life pleasing to His sight? I sure want to be better than I was yesterday and when tomorrow rolls around, I’d like to be even better than the things I strive for today.  In Proverbs it reads, Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;   he’s the one who will keep you on track.

As a wife in ministry, a friend to others in ministry and a child to parents in ministry it’s easy to know these verses in your head. What I find difficult at times is connecting your head to the wires in your heart. So, reading over this verse again with fresh eyes and a refocused perspective,  I see the need for HIS help and not my own knowledge to accomplish great things!

Have you ever felt like you’ve allowed too much junk in your life and somehow things begin to seem cloudy? Not that we are bad people or just let anything go, but more that our guard has fallen. We still love Him and desire His will, but stress, confusion and the need to figure out life overtakes our focus. It becomes more about our hand than His at work. When I find myself in this place is when I begin to say, Lord, help me raise the bar once again so that my life brings glory to your name.

The amazingly wonderful thing about our God is that He delights in us surrendering our weakness to his strength. So, whether it’s choosing your words more wisely, cutting out or repairing a broken relationship, paying better attention to your kids, loving your spouse on a deeper level, impacting people’s lives in a positive instead of negative way, changing an attitude, controlling your anger or letting go of control,  just simply trust God from the bottom of your heart today. As you make appropriate changes to be a better you, remember that He’s spotting you as you raise the bar in your walk of life. He won’t let you down!

I’m raising my bar today with great hopes of my life impacting others.

What bar might you consider raising?

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A Must Read Link 7/25/2011

If you are in any type of church leadership role, you owe it to yourself to check out this post . http://t.co/G1SZCD3

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Thankful for the Fight

As a mother, I know I have moments of pure joy and excitement about my kiddos but I also know there are very real moments of frustration and a deep fight within to hold it all together! It’s a big job to teach children right from wrong, about attitudes, manners, discipline, responsibility and the list could go on and on. It’s not to be taken lightly the task set before us in parenting.

Look at Proverbs 22:6 (Message) Point your kids in the right direction, when they’re old they won’t be lost. Or how about Ephesians 6:4 (Message) Fathers , don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. It’s clear that children are to honor their father and mother in scripture, but it’s also clear that we are to lead them, and not just when we “feel” like it.

Even on the hardest of days, I can rub on my kids backs at bedtime, see their sweet sleeping faces full of peace and not help but be in awe of the overwhelming love and joy that fills my heart because they are my child. Not because they did anything or made a great accomplishment, but simply because they are. In that moment of holding their tiny hand as they drift to sleep, I can almost hear my words aloud saying, its ok we had a bad day, I’m here and we’ll try again tomorrow! We’ll learn again tomorrow and you’ll get better at all these things. We’ll grow together and I love you!

There is just something in a parent that pushes you to keep fighting and the more I seek His counsel, the deeper I find myself able to dig through the trenches of life. I may come out a dirty mess and barely breathing, but breath again I do and strength I gain through the fight.

Thinking of my own experiences as a mom, I get a deep sense of how great the Fathers love is for us as His children. I have no doubts that many nights as I fall asleep, some nights tears in my eyes, His hand is right there speaking the words I need to hear. It’s ok we had a bad day, I’m here and we’ll try again tomorrow! We’ll learn again tomorrow and you’ll get better at all these things. We’ll grow together and I love you!

So, as you fight to raise your kids the right way, to have a stronger marriage, to build something God has put on your heart and to become the best pastor’s wife you know how to be, remember that there’s someone fighting for you too. You will come out stronger!

What in your life is worth fighting for today?

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Introducing Angela Elsasser…Our Newest Member

I’m excited to bring a dear friend to the world of blogging. She has so much to offer and will be our newest member here at pwconnection. She is a church planter in Rockwall, TX and is also a member of Destiny.
Cassandra
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Are You In It To Win It?

This question can strike a chord with anyone involved in ministry. Are you– the one out there taking a leap off that cliff– are you really “in it to win it?” Planting a church, starting from scratch and holding on to faith like you’ve never held before, can make you wonder just exactly what did we sign up for? It’s a test of character, of sanity if you will and of just how much you deeply and truthfully rely on this big God whom we serve.

John Maxwell describes four groups of people in his writing on whatever it takes. They are cop-outs, holdouts, dropouts and all-outs. An eye opening revelation to me as a pastor’s wife just starting our journey was the realization that I had in the past been a part of the first three areas listed above and could see small glimpses of how I even brought that into the church planting journey. Sure, it’s easy to have dreams and talk about them with your spouse, but to let go of the insecurities and push through the tough spots to become an all-out is another story! Maxwell describes an all-out as a star wanting to shine as an inspiration to others. One who sets the goal and never quits. Those with a can do attitude that carry’s them to greatness even when the price gets high and the challenges mount, they are dedicated!

Wow, what a description huh?

I find myself lifting this wounded, life beaten up face to the sky saying Lord, let that definition describe me and my family as we embark on this journey to love people into your kingdom!

Our passion has been focused on un-churched and de-churched individuals in our city. Our mandate has been to extend hope and live out loud how deeply Christ loves them. Just because life is messy doesn’t mean that He gives up on us. Perfection isn’t needed, His love is sufficient and you’re accepted. I get excited just thinking about all the ones we are still going to come in contact with. It’s like a lighting a fire under my own butt and it keeps me moving to know that this message can encourage another family back into the arms of Christ.

In our excitement we have seen roadblocks, doors slammed and people walk away from our lives. It’s painful, it’s lonely and there’s a price for following this call. These tough times, the financial struggles, the what-if’s and the spiritual battles that come with the territory aren’t as often broadcast as the rewards. Through it all though, the good outweighs the bad and I can look back on even the hardest day and still see only one set of foot prints, cause I know He was carrying me to safety on the other side.

So my question is, what defines you today? Are you an all-out kind of partner to the ministry God has called you and your family to? Are you really in it to win it? Something to think about.
Angela

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Frustration is Unmet Expectation

Dealing with frustration I have always taught this is just unmet expectation.  It happens in marriages, it happens in friendships, on the job and yes, it happens to pastors.  Unmet expectation from the pastor and pastor to the congregation can go both ways.  People look at the pastor and expect him to fit in the mold in which they have created or want their pastor to be, do and look like. Everyone has a different mold so the pastor many times have to figure out which mold he should hop in today to please the sheep that is pulling on him at that moment.  They like it when they can call and say, “Go do this, go pray for this person, visit this person, have lunch with this person, call this one and the list goes on and on.  Many times it comes across as if God has told them what to tell the pastor instead of asking the pastor, it is more like a hireling.   “I pay my tithes, therefore I can tell you what you are supposed to do” type attitude, when the people who make such demands rarely pay their tithes or give in money or time to the vision of the pastor.   “I want this!” a child can throw a temper tantrum and so can a sheep with an inward focus with their own agenda and their own vision of what they think the church should look like.  With this being true they make statements such as ‘that is what pastors are supposed to do’.   The pastor when duty calls, cannot have family time or rest but wrestles with the fact of putting his sheep first instead of his family. When the pastor does have family time, he may feel guilty because he hears the sheep baas.  This is led to many pastors leaving the ministry because of the unhealthy demands that is placed upon him.  I have spoken to several ex pastors and the one thing they talk about is how they gave all they had to the people in time, preaching pouring their soul out to the congregation and all they got from it was stab wounds in the back and may deal with forgiveness or failure as they try to recover.

This culture has taught preachers to be strong in Word to kick people with it, visit people, live close to the poverty level to show your humbleness and that you should do what the people expects.  Notice I said ‘expects’.  When the pastor refuses or has excuses for the sheep demands,  it leads to frustration in the fold.  When God calls the one in the five fold ministry as of pastor it is he who leads not the people.  The over abuse of sheep whipping the pastor into their mold continues to happen today.  If the sheep would trust God to lead their pastor and grasp the vision of their pastor, work in unity then the vision to reach the lost would play out.  Human beings are funny though…we all have to work together with different personalities, upbringings and attitudes.

However, this same shoe can also fit on the pastor looking at his people and molding them the same way. The abuse of pastors demanding the sheep to shape up or ship out is also a culture.  There is only so much a sheep can do or handle.  Sheep have families too and a life with a family.   It is about control both ways.  It is focusing inward instead of outward. Jesus cries at this type of manipulation. When the focus has changed to inward people start pointing their fingers and starve for control.  Even the working leader sheep can be judgmental within the flock demanding more from the fellow sheep.  Focusing inward demands attention to getting needs met instead of having the vision of the Great Commandment or the Great Commission. A person can even use the Word getting the demands met from their perspective.

The bottom line is…. you can’t control people, you only can control yourself.  You can give out, give out, preach your heart out, give some more of your time, try to fit in the molds of all your sheep, give some more time and what do you get for it?  Heartache, people leave the church, sheep are frustrated and start biting other sheep.   At times a pastor feels frustrated too because now he feels responsible in some way.  It is a calling that many would never adhere to because of the mental stress it plays.  It makes a pastor just want to hop on the bus and look for another pasture of sheep, nice ones at that.  I have to remind my husband daily that we cannot control people’s mind, attitude or what they do and also it is not our fault if they play out immature reactions of trying to bite each other or us.

What is the solution to all this?  As a pastor we give because we are called.  We answer to God not man.  We keep a balance in the midst of the demands.  We keep our focus on what God wants from us and what is pleasing to God.  We constantly cast our vision to reach out to the lost and grow the sheep to maturity.  We may get hurt in the battle and we will have scars, however don’t focus on the pull but focus on Jesus and His ways. When we answered the call, we didn’t step into the demands of the sheep but we stepped into Jesus’ shoes.  When we answered the call of Pastor, we knew what we were facing and God always equips those who are called with endurance and with wisdom.  We are not called to judge, condemn or control but to love, live and lead.

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Putting Ministry In Order

I received a video tip from one of my favorite people and thought I would share!  http://youtu.be/vcCmVJf4EGg

http://www.womensministry.net/public/Video_Devotional_Put_the_Church_Third.cfm

I am always telling young mothers that their children is their ministry however I have left out the first important ministry and that is to your husband.  The church is always third and in that order.  We must learn balance and putting our family first and God will always be pleased.

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Woman Kissed in Pew

We did something fun on Valentines Sunday that really surprised our congregations!  Since it was Valentine’s weekend we wanted to do something special for our church.  During greeting and announcements we had a bag filled with Hershey Chocolate Kisses.  Since we wanted to “kiss” everyone in the congregation, the music started playing, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, and we started launching out small candy kisses.  At first I was underhand pitching.  Jeff and I would reach into the bag and sling them into the crowd as they lifted up their hands to catch the candy rain kisses.  The people cheered and you would be surprised on how they liked getting a treat during the service.  (However our cleaning lady was giving us a mean and stern look.)

Now here comes the not so funny, well funny part.  I was really having fun throwing things at our congregation as if something just overcame me.  Yes, I started sweating from the work out of the entire 3 minutes.  The people in the back started jumping up and waving their hands cause we couldn’t reach back there.  So, I did what any normal Pastor’s wife would do.  I started throwing overhanded, like a pitching machine.  Not so good.  At first, I hit the ceiling and they come tumbling down midway.  I then grabbed another handful to throw again overhanded but let go of them a little late.  BAMM!  The guest on the second pew got hit by these mini curve kisses just in a hard way.  “Ooops” I said!  But you know what?  She laughed too, (I just hope she comes back).  I guess she needed the Holy Helmet on!   She then hid behind the pew every time I launched overhanded.  I told the next church service to have their shield up cause I wasn’t the perfect pitcher when it came to throwing curve balls.

The realistic thing is it made me feel good.  For the first time, I really got to throw something at my congregation and it was fun for me and fun for them.  It wasn’t hurtful or at least not intentional and it was a win win treat.  I don’t think the Kidztown Pastor was too happy since the children ate the majority of the chocolate before going to their classroom, sorry teachers.

As I shared this with my close friends Pastor’s wives, we all giggled and they proposed that we throw out Easter Eggs next!  Of course we should use the little chocolate hollow eggs and not the hard-boiled colored ones, well of course unless you’re having a bad day….

Be creative, have fun and love your congregation even if they leave with tiny red marks on their face.

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Ladies Conference

I recently had a ladies conference entitled Esthers of Today.  I had two other speakers besides myself, one speaking on purpose and the other on fragrance.  We totally went out of the box for this conference and I did pick it apart afterwards but wanted to share some details just in case you might want to try some of these fun ideas.  I continue to hear great reports from ladies of how they loved the conference plus they are still posting pictures and commenting on how much they enjoyed it.  My vision was for every woman to walk away feeling empowered, knowing their purpose and their identity in Christ.

We started out during registration by showing you tube videos of the last 100 years of fashion, passing out little decorated mini cupcakes.  I could hear women as they watched and talked about the short clips.  It gave them something to do if they were early.  I greeted, and prayed and had a young lady to come and read the paraphrased story of Esther.  She had to be brave in the world she was living so I introduced Esthers of yesterday.  The first, Esther as herself dressed in Belly Dancing Costume, the second dressed in 1920 Flapper dress, the next was 1950, 1970 and 1980.  The song was by Beyonce’ Crazy in Love.  We had the audience to stand and dance with us.  This started out with a bang!  Not your normal serious religious conference!  It was fun and although we used a non christian song – I told that we have to be crazy in love with the king of kings!

Purpose was the first topic done by a good friend and pastor of mine who is full of energy and spirit.  She brought excitement and filled the women with hope of knowing their purpose is all about Him.  The second speaker, a massage therapist and teacher, plus our music of minister spoke on fragrance (our attitudes etc).  We had tables set up with Biblical essential oils (2 per table) and handed out little vials of virgin olive oil.  Each lady chose a table and dropped a scent into their vial to use it for their own Esther anointing oil.  The ladies loved this.  They now carry with them the oil to use to pray over people and the confidence they received from Scripture.

The men served us lunch and I kept it light with chicken salad mini sandwiches, fruit kabob, chips and mini brownie.  During lunch we had a display set up in which looked like the throne room of queen Esther, along with a crown, candles and grapes and such.  Each lady was encouraged to get their picture taken.

After lunch we set up a panel of Esthers as a talk show.  Displaying prompts on the screen for the audience to participate such as claps, yell, ahhhs and laugh.  I also had sound effects to go with it.  The panel consisted of Esther in her 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  I asked them questions pertaining to life, such as “Esther kept her head instead of panicking, has then happened to you”.  After a series of questions, I had audience ask an Esther questions,  one in particular, “In which season of life is it easier to learn how to balance work, babies, etc.?”  This session seemed very helpful to many of the audience and it kept them from falling asleep.  I spoke on Identity last and followed by having “I am” statements for everyone to stand and shout them. I called for a line of ten or so women, a prayer team to pray over every single lady and every lady pray for one another.  I had a CD playing so everyone could participate.  This was our impartation of courage.

We ended with a balloon drop.  In each balloon lies a gift but you have to be brave to get it.  We have gifts inside us however we need to be courageous to go out of our comfort zone in order to use them.  The balloons dropped which either had I AM notes or gifts to be redeemed at the gift table that had been donated by local business.

If you have a question about any of these things feel free to leave a comment!  Thanks… we no longer have our notes for this conference.

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To the Pastor’s Wife

I recently got an email from Heart to Heart Women’s devotional and thought it worth sharing to all our friends who are in the ministry and serve by the side of their husband as pastor.

Precious Woman of God,

With the start of a new year, remind yourself of all the blessings of last year and welcome this year knowing that the Lord will do even greater things.  You were created to bring the plans and purposes of God to your community. You have been called, and you have been placed. Your light shines into the darkness, and your choice to obey Christ brings others to your Heavenly Father. His name will be heard by others because of your decision to live for Him, and they will say as they did with Daniel-“that church serves the God who is a revealer of secrets.”

This year, I believe that you will see the Lord revealed in powerful ways, as He answers the cry of your faith-filled heart. You are a gift to your family, your church, the body of Christ and your community. Know your value and allow the gifts on the inside of you to be unwrapped and used to bring glory to the Lord. You are one of a kind-created by the Master of the Universe! He has entrusted you with the task of furthering His Kingdom because He believes in you!

Though this year may have its challenges, remember that all you need is on the inside of you. Wisdom from heaven will be revealed to you as you seek the Lord in prayer, and the fires of life will have no power over you. Even the flames of adversity will not leave you with the smell of smoke. Everything you put your hand to will be blessed because as you serve others-you serve the Lord.

Thank you for being the wonderful woman of God that you are. You were created to represent all that heaven is, and I believe that as you find your strength in God, you will see His dreams for you, your family, your church and your community become a reality. You were created for such a time as this!

Pam Hamilton

Faith Family Church
Gonzales,Texas
www.faithfamilygonzales.org

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Dress Up

There is nothing like as a child who loves to have fun in dressing up.  I see pictures of little girls trying walk in their mothers high heels or wear costume jewelry.  I remember the boys when they wanted a scarf tied around their head to be a ninja turtle or a towel on their back to be superman.  These days are a day of fun and are meant to last.

To create some excitement in our church several times a year we do things that promote the dress up.  On Superbowl Sunday, everyone will wear a jersey regardless if it is a football jersey or not.  Many of the children play soccer, baseball or basketball and just about everyone has a jersey.  We dress up the sanctuary with sports craze.  Some of the teens put black under their eyes.  It is a fun time of worship.

This past Sunday we had Camo Day.  Living in a small country town we have many people who love to hunt, so we asked one of our members to decorate with duck blinds, bows, deer heads, a bob cat and other hunting items.  I suppose you can center the theme around God’s army too.  We all wore camouflage.  You wouldn’t belive the unity and yes even the teens get involved too, however I think the adults have just as much fun.  We also give away to gift cards to the member who brings the most guest on dress up day.

In our other church, we had red carpet event of going Hollywood.  We had a photographer and red carpet (plastic) and stars hanging from the ceiling.  In march we plan to have a March madness and since we are from Kentucky we will dress in blue and white and give out a signed basketball from UK.

These are just a few ideas to spruce up your attendance and get the news out for a fun time to worship.  By the way, if you are wondering what your guest may think, they actually love it and usually come again the next Sunday.  It breaks tradition and it creates unity in the house of God.

So the next time your attendance may be down due to other pulls from the world, plan a day of dress up and watch what happens!  Be creative and pump it up and watch everyone turn out for the event!

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