Monday, October 29, 2012

Holding on to the God of the Storm


By Carla Adair Hendricks

As I type these words, much of the East Coast is bracing itself for the worst of Hurricane Sandy's fury. With most of my family in Maryland and Washington D.C. I'm bracing myself as well.

As I watch the Weather Channel and other news outlets, several emotions flood my spirit -- fear, anxiety, worry.

Have the storms of life acquainted you with any of these feelings?

This morning, I studied one of the most quoted scriptures, found in Mark Chapter 5. The words "Peace! Be still!" have inhabited many a sermon, bible study and gospel song.

Those words were spoken during a terrible storm. Jesus and His disciples were enjoying a ride across the waters in a boat, when...
"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." Matt 8:24-26
I saw a few things when I read through this familiar story. I'd love to share them here...

Jesus rides with us through the storm

He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what. He is always there. We can always call out to Him. Even when we feel like He's left us or not listening anymore -- and believe me, I've been there -- we can have faith that He is ever present with us. Even in the storm.

Our storms don't rock Him

I've been rocked by a few storms in my life. Every relocation has rocked me. Sickness and death of loved ones has rocked me. And back in 2001 when I miscarried twice in one year, I was rocked to the core. But not my Lord. He knew the storms I would endure. He knows the storms that still loom ahead of me. And yet, even when I fall apart, He stands strong, faithful and true through every last one of them.

 In love, He allows our storms

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? It's an age-old question. One that I won't take the hours it would take to answer. One that I couldn't completely answer with my limited human understanding anyway. But this one thing I know: God has the power to prevent storms in our lives, but for some reason He doesn't.

I think God allows storms to build us up. To make us stronger. To make us more like Him.

As we endure the fierce winds, rocky boats and rising waves that threaten to destroy us, He's teaching us faith. Faith that we will survive the storm. Faith that we're stronger than we feel. Faith that He's right there with us -- guiding us, navigating us. Faith that He's building the strength in us to wait for those powerful words that He'll eventually speak to our storms...

"Peace! Be still!"




Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter @carlaahendricks and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving from Satis-fiction to Joy

by Shannon Milholland

Also, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali 
came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. 
There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, 
wine, oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.
1 Chronicles 12:40

Banished. 

David was anointed God's servant but that anointing didn't come without cost. He was banished from the presence of the king. Sometimes in ministry what we long for most is elusive.

Intimate friendships.
Financial freedom.
Opportunities for our children.

The call is certain. The anointing is definite. But sometimes walking it out feels more banishment than banquet.

In 1 Chronicles 12, David is hiding from Saul. He is waiting for outward evidence of an inward call. Over the course of this chapter resources trickle in. What starts with seven men (verse 20) ends with a vast army of loyal followers of over 340,000 (verses 24-37), abundant food and resources.

But what we can't miss is the basis for abundance - joy in Israel. No person in scripture was more transparent and honest with God than David. Yet no matter how overwhelming his circumstances or insurmountable his emotions, he sought God's presence. In God's presence there is joy. God's presence brings abundance.

Do you long for intimate friendships? Do you dream of financial freedom? Do you envision better opportunities for your children? First find joy and satisfaction in God. Everything else we chase is nothing but satis-fiction. 
_____________________________________



Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

When she’s not speaking and writing, she enjoys her favorite job of wife to Scott, COO of their church and mom to four daughters from kindergarten to high school.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Joy Fits All

I was sweating by the time I sat down from singing at church last night, because I was so filled with joy that I could hardly keep from moving this body in praise –arms lifted high.  Good things happened in my life this week, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to get enough energy into my singing to match how I was feeling inside.

   

But as I was singing I realized I had felt this joy before.   

Felt it when my husband was sick after his trip to Africa –when God showed Himself present in my deepest pain.  Felt it when I got laid off from my job a few weeks ago –because I knew, I just knew God was going to take care of me.  Felt it when my sweet grandmas passed away –because I had hope they were with Jesus. 

One joy for all situations. 

Somehow I feel my joy in this good week is intensified because it isn’t just a shallow reaction to pleasant events.  It’s a long-term, disciplined obedience that sweetens my relationship with God. 

I know this coming week will have trials.  Nothing stays hunky dory forever on this earth.  And I’m planning on rejoicing in the Lord.
 
Christy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana.  To get to know her more visit christyfitzwater.com.
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Joy in His Presence


“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”
1 Chronicles 16:27
 I was so excited to hear that joy is the topic of conversation this month. This seems like a perfect transition in light of what I shared last month. After a season of limping to seek God in my brokenness, I finally had a joyous breakthrough (even though my circumstances haven’t changed), and I’m ready to share the praise report because I whole-heartedly believe that God desires joyous breakthroughs for all of us!

The other day I was spending some worship time alone, which is kind of the norm for me. I’m a sing in the shower type of gal, and a belt-it-out-when-stopped-at-a-red-light sort of driver. But I’ll tell you what was different about this particular time of worship; I consciously, whole-heartedly submitted myself to the Spirit, in a dying to the flesh and relinquishing control kind of way. […Not easy to do, especially when you’re still recovering from an offended heart.]

All of a sudden I felt the Spirit surround me like a thick blanket. Peace that passes understanding filled my heart and mind. Then, joy overwhelmed my heart in the sweetest way.  All of my brokenness—all of my wanderings—felt so dim in light of His presence.  I don’t know how else to describe it. The ache of my earthly afflictions literally felt far away in the distance. It reminded me of the Lyrics to “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band:

Then all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by gloryAnd I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. 
Y’all, I have never, in all of life’s most precious moments, felt the kind of joy I have felt in God's presence [I pray you can truly relate]. It's a joy filled with hope that surpasses any earthly trouble weighing heavy on my heart.  It's a joy that spills over into the next day and the next and makes me we want to go back to His presence for more! This particular time, the Spirit reminded me of a verse:

“In your presence, there is complete joy” – (Acts 2:28; Psalm 16:11)

Wow. That God even makes His presence available to us is pretty incredible. Some might say this type of experience is few and far between, or one that is not meant for everyone to experience. But here’s where I get excited about God’s joy for you too!

Jesus Has Prayed for Your Joy.
It has always seemed amazing to me that Jesus intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). There is a beautiful passage of John 17, in which we get a glimpse of how Jesus prays for the children of God. In his prayer he asks God that we might have His full measure of joy within us. (John 17:9-13)  Elsewhere in John 15, Jesus teaches about remaining in Him, The Vine, and remaining in His love, "so that your joy may be complete".

You see it is the Lord’s will that our joy be complete. Therefore, it is His pleasure to grow the fruit of joy in our lives. 

So How Do I get This Joy?
I believe it starts by submitting to God fully, and remaining in Him. Isn't it so easy to slowly drift into relying on our own  strength, even in good things like ministry? Let's reassess our hearts and let His joy be our strength. Operating out of His source of joy as our strength will make the load so much lighter.

Next, pray in agreement with Jesus. In His powerful name, "ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24). Then practice His presence through regular worship and thanksgiving [not just corporately, individually]. Your joyous breakthrough may not come immediately, but do not give up. He does inhabit [dwell in] the praises of his people and “…strength and joy are in his dwelling place” (1 Chron. 16:27). Joy is available for all of us! 

Dare I ask? What if He’s just been waiting for you to enter in?  :) 

“Holy Spirit, since joy is one of the fruit you grow in the lives of the children of God, please weed, prune, and fertilize my heart for a fresh crop.” – Pastor Scotty Smith**

May His joy abound in you,

Monique Zackery

________________________________


Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com


Monday, October 1, 2012

Finding J.O.Y.

By Carla Adair Hendricks



Okay so, no one would want to admit this, but...

I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of girl.

Yes, you read that right.

Most people want to be known as cheerful, fun-loving and optimistic. When life is pretty much status quo I can usually be found in these preferable states. Yet when life falls apart around me, my natural modus operandi is melancholy, withdrawn and pessimistic.

Joy for me is often defined as:

J  - Just
O - Over
Y - Yonder

See oftentimes I think of the reasons joy eludes me, and the list usual consists of statements like this:

"If my life were easier, I could be joyful."

"If we were just a little more financially secure, I could be totally joyful."

"If my life was as easy as hers, I'd be joyful."

Or, check this one out:

"If my husband had a regular job and didn't have the demanding life of a pastor, I'd be joyful."

Depending on the day, I just fill in the blank. "If __________ weren't an issue in my life, I'd be joyful."

The tricky thing about joy, though, is there's always something in my life that I can identify as an obstacle to it. As soon as I overcome one obstacle to joy, something else creeps up out of nowhere to impede my journey to joy.

The end result: Joy is always, always "just over yonder". Always elusive. Never within my grasp.

The Word of God does a lot of talking about joy. Philippians 4:4 is one such verse:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

This verse encourages me to be joyful, even when my life circumstances tempt me with fear and discouragement. Even when I find happiness impossible -- like a week ago when my precious mother's congestive heart failure landed her in the hospital -- I can still experience joy.

This sounds great. But where can we find this joy?

The Message Bible's translation of this same passage gives a great clue:

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!"

This translation reminds me where I can find joy, no matter what joy-obstacles I face in life. I can be joyful about God! I can celebrate God, even when I'm too blind to celebrate anything else. After all, He's a perfect, amazing, all-powerful, loving, gracious, merciful God who never, ever changes.

All day, every day, I can celebrate God. All day, every day, I can be thankful for God. All day, every day I can find joy in God.

Joy doesn't have to be just over yonder. Because God is always here, always desiring relationship with me and you, joy can be always here.

All day, every day.



Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter (@carlaahendricks) and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.









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