Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One Way to Stay Blessable


It's leap day! What does this have to do with living a blessed life? I'm about to tell you.

My husband has been sending facebook messages all throughout the day to different people, thanking them for who they are in his life and what they have done to influence or bless him.  He says that with the extra day we have been given this year, he wants to spend it with an attitude of thanks. What a great idea!  I can't think of a better thing to do.

I'm a little behind on the gratitude curve today. The first time I gave thanks was when I woke up this morning and went bike riding. As I was breezing along I thanked God for the moments we shared. I chose to go without music this morning and just let it be him and I in the silence while I rode.

The second time was a quick prayer over lunch with my husband as we thanked God for our meal.

Aside from that I haven't given a lot of thanks today for anything specific because I have been overwhelmed getting ready to leave on a trip tomorrow and feeling under pressure like I always do before I travel. (Once I get on the plane I always breathe a sigh of relief that I got everything done and made it on board, and thoroughly enjoy myself thereafter!)

Larry's posts have been a reminder to me that I need some time to breathe and just stop and give praise. Thankfully I have a set time before church tonight for prayer and I can't wait to do just that!

A friend recently said something on Twitter that rocked my world. They said, "When we take things for granted, what is granted gets taken."  I don't want that to happen to me. I want to stay blessable. To live a blessed life we can't be like the lepers who were cleansed but went on their merry way so excited they failed to give thanks to the One who blessed them.

I am grateful, so thankful for everything in my life. For my amazing family, my loyal friends, for a church family that is incomparable, for a home and provision, for the two best dogs in the world. Most of all for a Savior who redeemed me and continues to lead me on a journey that has exceeded my dreams.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

3 Questions To Ask If You Want to Work at Home

Are you a good candidate for teleworking? Would you thrive in your own business, working from home? There are a lot of things to consider, but here are three I believe are most important.


1) Are you a self starter? 

I have an office at the church, however I work from home for about 50% of my work week. This actually enables me to get a lot more done than I would otherwise, being that I am extremely self motivated.

Nobody is home with me most of the time, except for my dogs. They don't give me instruction to do all the computer or paperwork associated with my job seekers,  to finish the five projects on my plate for church that day, or to prepare a message to preach when I travel this weekend. I am responsible to start those projects, and finish them.

If you can't start projects on your own and follow them through without someone prodding you on, working from home is not for you. If you need constant encouragement or feedback from others to keep you motivated, you might want to reconsider.

2) Are you focused?

When I'm working from home there are a ton of things around me at the house that need to be done. Unfinished chores at home depress me.  I like to have absolutely everything in order at all times. However if a church project is due that morning or a job seeker's file needs attending to, or I have three church calls to return, the other things have to wait until I am finished with work.


Let me explain the practicality of this to you as well when it comes to family matters and working from home. Your family has to understand the focus your job demands. This requires their understanding that you are there at times but not really there, because you are technically still at work. At times I will be on the phone with a client, put the headset on mute and get up from the computer to go get a cup of coffee while I'm still listening attentively. One of the kids may walk out into the kitchen and see me from behind and not know I'm actually still at work.  When they say, "hey Mom..." I turn around and when they see the headset they know I'm still at work. Unless it's an emergency, their question waits.

The point is - despite the distractions around you including dirty laundry and kids who want to know why they can't find the Easy Mac that was supposed to be in the pantry, you must stay laser focused and get your work done. The good news for me is that when I work from home I get things done much quicker and can attend to home things sooner rather than later most times.  

3)  Do you have the discipline to stop?

For the person who remains focused, you can become so engrossed in your work that you find it hard to rest. Working from home is the perfect environment for boundary blurring. It can completely take over your life.


Even if you don't work from home as a general rule but simply make yourself available from home to your co-workers or clients, it can be all consuming. My husband makes himself available from whenever he works (church, home or otherwise)  for six days a week, yet everyone knows Friday is his day off. This past Friday, his phone rang three times all before 10:30 AM from church people wanting things from him. He just pleasantly and quickly gave them what they asked for when they called but after the third call I said, "how many more of those are you going to answer today?" gently (okay, not-so-gently) reminding him that he needed to get some rest.

Just as you set a boundary to make sure you get the work done you also have to be wise enough to set one so you can rest when the day is done, and on your day off each week.

If I set no boundaries I would easily work 16 hours a day.  And sadly, sometimes I have. This isn't good for my family, or for me personally. I don't have to keep strict track of the hours to know my boundaries are lacking. Everything is off spiritually, emotionally and physically.  For me, setting the boundary means stopping at a certain point each night, and refusing to answer correspondence or phone calls on my day off unless it's a life/death emergency. A healthy me and a healthy family demands it!

There are many things to consider, but these are just a few starting points if you are thinking about taking a job working from home, or starting a business.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A half hour lunch would be nice!
Guest Post: Lisa Alexander

Today's post is a guest post by my good friend, Lisa Alexander. One of the reasons I am such a kindred spirit with Lisa is that like me she wears a lot of hats. We understand each other's worlds very well. Lisa is a wife, mom, minister, student, business owner, marketing guru (she wouldn't call herself that, but I'm just speaking truth) and lots more. She creates the WOW factor for her clients and does it like no other. If you need help with web launches, advertising campaigns, social media marketing, book launches and the like, she's your gal! We first met many years ago online but our relationship has transcended to an in person one as well. I've had the privilege of being in her home and meeting her family. She's the real deal, ya'll! Here's what's on her heart to share with us today about half hour lunches and so much more...

I am a wife.

I am a mom.

I am a minister.

I am a student.

I am a business owner.

I am also a few me’s short to get done everything I need and want to get done.

I remember when I worked a 9-to-5 I would scoff at a half-hour lunch break. I lamented, what in the world can you get done in a half hour? Then I changed jobs and got an hour lunch break and you better believe I thoroughly enjoyed this luxury. Now as a business owner who works out of her upstairs loft, I think a half-hour lunch break is the epitome of luxurious living. 

I know how I would operate my business if I were a single woman but that’s not my reality. The wife, the mom, the minister, and the student must all be gently juggled with the business owner who needs to earn a living. 

There ain’t no way

When I was younger, I would read the story of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31…yea, you know her…and wonder how she got it all done. I felt less than adequate as a woman and a wife. But on further inspection of the scripture, the virtuous woman was smart enough to solicit help! There is no way she could care for her house and run a successful business by herself. There’s just no way. 

I’ll do it myself
But trusting other people to help me has been a learning process. Let’s be very honest and very real, the reason some us do many of the things we do is because extra funds simply do not exist to pay someone to help you. 

Then we believe the lie that no one will care for or perform a task as you would. And your kids reinforce this belief when called upon to ask with the household chores. We tell ourselves it’s better to do it ourselves than waste time redoing work that was haphazardly done. And your kids know this. Do a crappy job and mom will release me from the chore altogether. Ideally, you instruct your children, set the standard and reinforce the standard when they miss the mark. But honestly, who has time for that most days! There’s a client project to work on, an eight-page marketing paper due, a bible study lesson to prep for and a husband who needs your attention.

Let somebody help you

I recently blogged about a photo shoot and how I was prepared to style my own hair and apply my own makeup. A few things I’ve learned to do well over the years. So when my stylist asked if she could do it for me, my knee-jerk reaction was to say no. But her fee was reasonable and it would save me time and stress so I let her do it. Needless to say the shoot was amazing and her work was incredible! 

There are skilled, affordable and qualified people who can help you get everything you need to get done. God told Moses, look, you have the overall blue prints for the Tent of Meeting but I’ve got some folk who I’ve given the details too and they are skilled and qualified to do what I’ve shown you.
Pray God connect you with these people and then don’t tell them no when they ask to help.
Dear one be encouraged.

You’re not alone in your struggle to accomplish many tasks with limited resources.
Some things may have to wait…I didn’t try and go back to school until both my children were old enough to fend for themselves in the kitchen. I’ll graduate this year so that’s one less thing I have to do. 

And it’s ok if laundry doesn’t always get put up right away. If your kids and hubby have to pull clean underwear out the dryer at least it’s clean right?

Don’t believe the lie that no one can do it as good as you. Train, allow for mistakes and don’t allow yourself to dismiss people from their responsibilities. They have to learn just like you did.
Finally, know when to release your inner do-it-yourselfer. There comes a time when skilled and qualified, God-sent help arrives because it’s time to move full steam ahead with what God has assigned to your hands. 

Be blessed everyone.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Why it took me 56 days to do one household chore

I cleaned up our patio yesterday from the New Year's Eve party we had 56 days ago. True story. The chairs were still in the same little circle around the fire pit and the blankets right where everyone left them. The wood next to the fire pit needed to be reorganized and the blankets washed. I even found a stray napkin and cup in the yard.  They had migrated all the way over to the tangerine tree.  While I was at it, I finally took the Christmas lights off of the bushes in the backyard. This was in between the normal household chores yesterday and doing some cooking in advance for our leadership meeting tonight at CC.

I didn't get a moment to take care of the patio til' yesterday. It's been on my "to do" list that long. I say this for the benefit of everyone who says to me, "how do you do it all, Deanna?" Well, there's just one practical example for all of you who wonder, of one thing on the list that never got done until later.  I'm fixin' to make a point here, so hold on...

I'm on the road this morning by myself headed to the Orlando area to preach at New Destiny Assembly of God, pastored by some amazing friends, Pastors Victor & Keila Vega.  I know God is going to show up at New Destiny and he's also going to do a great work at Celebration Church Tampa where the rest of my family will be this morning with our church family.  On Monday through Wednesday it'll be crunch time to cover my responsibilities with church and with NextJob.  I'll speak at Fusion service at Celebration on Wednesday night and then leave Thursday morning for Oklahoma, where I'll speak for another friend and get back late Saturday night in time to be with my church family again Sunday morning.

Life is busy. This is why it sometimes takes me 56 days to do one household chore. 

I was at a seminar a few years ago where the speaker (a woman) mentioned that she was coming back into a speaking ministry after taking time off. The reason was that in the past she was sitting at her dining room table preparing a message to preach at a church and as she did so, looked up to see that her ceiling fan was dirty. Upon seeing the dirty ceiling fan she had the thought that she shouldn't be going anywhere to teach God's Word if her ceiling fan at home wasn't clean.  Her thought was, "what kind of woman am I if I am not keeping my ceiling fans clean at home yet I go out to preach the gospel?

My thought was that my husband preached for a few years straight and some of our sprinkler heads in the yard weren't working. He didn't stop preaching until they were fixed.

I give him a list of "honey do" chores and sometimes he doesn't get to them for a while.  Sometimes he gets to them in days, other times weeks or months depending on his schedule. Even so he doesn't stop bringing God's Word. He's not a bad man, an unfit husband, father or preacher. I assure you he hasn't lost sleep for even a night over sprinkler heads or thought he was unfit for ministry because of it. 

Sometimes women can really get a case of the guilts over the fact that our homes aren't absolutely perfect. Make no mistake, I do believe keeping the home fires burning. We have to keep our marriage strong and spend time with and care for our children. We also must cover the basic necessities of life - meals cooked, clothes washed, etc. Those things are critical, but the truth is that some other things can keep for a while, especially if it's for the sake of the gospel. A lost soul is worth some dirt on a ceiling fan or some patio chairs that need to be reorganized.

Yes, it took me 56 days to do one thing. All things considered, it's worth it. God is going to do a great work this morning at New Destiny and it will be worth my linen closet that needs to be reorganized. Give me another 56 days...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to avoid a bad day

Nobody's life is perfect. I know you probably have a few people that you think have near perfect lives, but really, they don't.  There are those who have fulfilling lives, who are happy. But nobody escapes challenges in life. Not the rich, not the well-connected nor the educated. Nobody!

We look at people who are granted great responsibilities in life and we think, "Wow. What a privilege it must be to lead this or that." Yes, it's a privilege, and it also comes with a price.  I've learned the more people and things I'm responsible for, the greater my challenges.

So what's the key to waking up and having a good day in spite of all that's pressing on you?

I can only tell you what I personally do, and that is determine my contribution to the day. Aside from the skills and talents I will use to get various things done it starts with my decision of what the other ingredients I'm going to include. For me, gratitude is the biggest ingredient that must go in to a good day. There isn't a good day that doesn't include it!

Whatever I'm facing, there's a temptation to look at all that I don't have rather than what I do have. I start by thanking God for all that He is, and all He's provided.  I follow through on my decision to include it by thanking Him throughout the day, and cultivating an even more grateful heart. Developing more gratitude in  your life starts with thanking God for everything.  Recognize God's love for you in everything around you.


Yesterday I thanked him for the blooming azaleas that were on either side of me as I rode my bike down the trail I always ride. He put them there just for me. They were a gorgeous fuschia and white. Glorious eye candy!  I thank Him for a simple cup of coffee.  I thank him for the friend who had it in mind to call me and say, "You're on my heart...how are you?"

I've noticed that people having bad days that only seem to get worse and develop into weeks or months of bad with no improvement or breakthrough often keep rehearsing everything that's wrong around them. 


When obstacles surround me, I remind myself - without God and His love and care they would be so much harder!

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to identify and respond to verbal abuse in marriage

As a pastor I am often asked about verbal abuse. Many are confused on the issue and this is understandable. To be quite honest, I've dealt with countless people who are actually living with abuse and don't realize it or are in denial, while others claim to be verbally abused, and really aren't.

Obviously, physical abuse is much more identifiable. In a situation where a person is being physically abused, any leader with their head on straight will advise them to get to safety as soon as possible.

Verbal abuse presents a lot of questions. For starters, at what point does something become verbal abuse? How should one respond?

When questioned, I have always answered by telling people that this is very case-by-case specific and requires a lot of discernment. I still believe that, and would also like to thank my friend, certified life coach Terri Yarbrough von Wood, for sharing this article.  It's really helpful and provides a lot of insight not only to those who may be struggling in troubled abusive marriages, but pastors and counselors who advise them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What success looks like

People have weird ideas about success. 

Most people who have achieved anything worthwhile pretty much have to go through hell and back to get there.  

And, ever notice that some people think they should be able to achieve in two weeks or even a few years what it took those who have gone before them a reaaaaaaallly long time to accomplish?

Crazy. 


As the famous opera singer Beverly Sills once said, "There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can you imagine a PASTOR doing THIS?!

The following is a guest post from a great man who walks with God. I'm honored to have my husband, Pastor Larry Shrodes, share with my readers today. He wrote about this topic in his weekly ezine to the men of our church recently and I thought it was a great word. I invited him to share on my blog today about what he believes is one of the greatest inconsistencies in the church at large, today. I hope it is enlightening for you.






The lead pastor of Northeast Assembly of God followed Carl Dallas and his family out the church doors following the service this past Sunday.  Stopping Carl in the parking lot he said, "Carl, I need a minute of your time to talk to you about something.  You've been coming to our church for the past year and and a half and I want you to know that I love you.  You have a great family and I really enjoy you.  We've had some great times of fellowship, however I want you to know that today is your last Sunday here at Northeast.  We feed you way too much with little to nothing in return from you or your family.  I feel called to try some other people out.  If they don't work out, we may invite you back.  I hope this doesn't hurt your feelings Carl, because we love you.  We really do. I really wanted you guys to stay, but I have prayed about it and I have to obey God. I really feel this is what is best for my family.  I am sure we will probably see you around when people in the church have birthdays and picnics and I hope you don't feel awkward or anything, but like I said this is your last Sunday.  Here is the next month's supply of Pentecostal Evangels.  This should help you and encourage you in your transition."


Maybe you think a pastor would be crazy to do this.  How cruel to say something like this to someone!  I agree with you, however know that this conversation happens every week in America.  The only difference is that instead of the pastor saying this to people, it's people who say this to the pastor.  This is the reality that pastors across our nation face all the time.



Honestly, you can't imagine how this stings.  It is one of the greatest frustrations for pastors. They are just expected to take this behavior in stride and not only refuse to get bitter, or angry or frustrated, but they are expected to actually bless these people! This is a topic that few people even open up and talk about because when they do they are labeled as insecure or even worse like some kind of control freak.

I'm in a good season to talk about this.  Just when I would want to write about it before, it seemed we were dealing with someone leaving and it would have looked pointed. I don't desire to single anyone out or cause hurt. Fortunately, this isn't a factor right now. We are in a good growth season at Celebration and we aren't experiencing an exodus.  I don't have an over inflated view of myself, however I know that I have great love and support from our congregation. I am blessed to be a part of what the Lord is doing.  While things are going well, let me say though that when people do leave, the pain of rejection hurts so much, no matter how good things are going at the church.


Pastors are expected to demonstrate total love and loyalty for their church and city.  Often when pastors transition they are chastised for leaving.  They get accused of only caring about the money or chasing a bigger opportunity. If they even spoke of leaving the church for another, they would be characterized as uncaring. On the other hand, when someone in the church moves to a new city because of a promotion they are patted on the back and everyone applauds the new blessing and season in their life.  What an interesting double standard.

On a related note, I have also been at church events sharing around tables with others and heard people bash the city or town that they are living in.  They say, "I can't wait to get out of this town and move east, west, north or south." People complain about the snow, the sunshine, the heat, the rain.  They hate the traffic, the solitude, the smog or the humidity.  If a pastor would say they were moving because they hate the city or the weather, people would be in an uproar and call them unspiritual.  These inconsistencies in the church world are just interesting.

I pour my life into the church I pastor.  I love where God has placed me.  I give my all to the church and the city.  When someone leaves the church or bashes our city, or says they can't wait to get out one day, I can't help but take it personal.  I have learned over the years how to let things roll off my chest better.  That doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, I have just learned to trust that God still is God even when things happen that I don't think please the Lord. 

It is my prayer that we create a culture at Celebration Church that is different from inconsistency that seems to exist in so many churches and instead have a culture that reflects Jesus and makes an impact for the kingdom! Let's be different.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One really bad habit that will stunt your growth!

Let me ask you a question...what's your sore spot?

Whatever it is, potential exists for it to completely halt your growth and make the next level impossible. 

For the sake of illustration let's say we're talking about a guy named Clarence.

Clarence had a terrible father growing up, a deadbeat dad. He has tried his best to move beyond it, but it's been a real challenge. As a result he's sensitive to anything concerning fatherhood. He doesn't like hearing about dads, fatherhood, or even references to "God the Father."

Clarence is a business man who is sent to many conferences on behalf of his company. Sometimes in seminars and workshops those presenting will give an illustration about being a father. Or maybe a woman will  reference something about her father and experiences she had growing up.  Clarence bristles right away, shifting in his seat and hears little that is said after that. He just wonders why in the world they had to use that illustration when there are plenty of other things to talk about. He's so upset about the fact that they talked about fatherhood, he doesn't hear another word they say. He might have stopped taking notes or even walked out to get a cup of coffee and skipped the rest of the session.

Clarence also goes to church. He loves his church except when the pastor or anyone else brings up anything about being a Father, or God the Father. The pastor might be preaching about peace or forgiveness or even on the book of Revelation but if they say anything about being a Dad, or give a word to fathers, Clarence promptly tunes out. He rarely hears another word the pastor says the rest of the service because he's so agitated by something he or she previously said.

Before we judge Clarence too harshly, we need to all ask what our sore spot is. We all have one. Some people have more than one! That sore spot is whatever people say that after saying it you hear nothing else because you're too busy ruminating over whatever it was they said fifteen minutes ago.

Here's the problem. If we allow our sore spots to run our thought life, we will never grow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

One HUGE way to reach your goals

I'm not going to keep you in suspense. I'm going to tell you right off the bat in this post exactly how to do as the title suggests. You need to sleep.


After watching this TED talk by Arianna Huffington right before the new year started, I determined to do three new things in 2012 to reach my goals. I'm getting  adequate sleep, I'm taking my weekly sacred day off no matter what and I'm planning vacations well in advance. It's another blog for another day but by "vacation" I mean true vacations. This doesn't include times of handling business, visiting people, covering bases, but a true getaway where I have no expectations or responsibilities whatsoever.

A lot of people ask me how I do all that I do, handling multiple jobs and roles. I've been thinking about more intentional answers to this question instead of just saying, "a lot of prayer," or "God's grace." Yes of course I do it with a lot of prayer and without grace I'd be lost. But there are other practical factors that are involved too in working multiple jobs and not only surviving but thriving. I want to be able to help people with the other ingredients that contribute to success.

Sometimes getting one of my jobs done requires me to work until 1 AM. In that case, I might go to sleep at 1:15 AM and then set my alarm to wake me up at 9:15 AM.  (It helps that I do have this flexibility.) Working multiple jobs doesn't mean you never sleep it just means hours of sleep may not be conventional.

If you're going to wear multiple hats, especially big ones, conventionality went out the window a long time ago anyway. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

They're coming



“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.”
  ~ Steve Maraboli, Life, The Truth & Being Free
 
Let go of what's driving you crazy.

Let go of what's driving your blood pressure up, that you can't change.

Loose it and LET. IT. GO.

Then look at what's left and decide what to change.

Follow through and do it. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Are you a bandwagon Whitney Houston fan?

I'm not.

I've been a true fan for a long time, and more than that, an intercessor. I'm just one of many people, probably thousands who have seriously prayed for her for many years. We saw the hand of God upon her life -- an amazing gift, and we also saw the intense struggle she faced. She was more than an icon - she was a real person standing in need of prayer.

I do understand the bandwagon thing. It happens after any tragic death. Whitney Houston posts are at an all time high as well as downloads of her music. 

There are bandwagon fans and then there are those like me who have every project she's ever recorded, every movie she's ever made, and prayed for a long time although they've never met her and knew they probably never would.  I've blogged about Whitney many times before, and spoken about her in messages. To read some of my previous writings about her or even a small reference I've made about her in my writing you might want to go here, and here and here.

A lot of people are posting things on the web right now about the ridiculousness of remembering Whitney Houston instead of members of the military who are killed, or other individuals. Here's what I believe...

Everybody should be remembered.

Everybody.

To honor one person doesn't mean to dishonor another.

Let Whitney and her family have their time.

I'll be watching the "home going service" as her family is calling it, when it is streamed live tomorrow, and assume all other true fans and prayer warriors probably will too.

I will really miss hearing her live again. I grieve that there will be nothing new. 


She had an incomparable gift. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Before you have a moral failure...

Lately it seems not a week goes by that I don't hear about a friend in vocational ministry experiencing a moral failure. Yesterday was again one such day and again I found myself angry and bewildered asking, why. 

I ask why even though I already know it's a question without an answer. I guess it's just natural instinct  to ask this. The Lord spoke to me years ago that the question why would never be answered. The reason for this is that sin doesn't make sense. Satan is the author of confusion and therefore things he orchestrates never have a comprehensible reason. We'll never be able to wrap our brains around the sinful decisions that people make.

I do not want to come across as arrogant or above a failure. Pride goes before a fall. It's so important for all of us to stay humble and teachable and realize that none of us are above falling. One friend of mine was close to a famous minister who fell. If I said the name of this person, all of you reading this would recognize it. It was puzzling to them that this person fell because they knew what a strong prayer life they had. In fact, working in ministry together they were often placed in adjacent rooms  and he could hear this minister interceding for hours. They were under the impression that somebody with a strong prayer life would never be in danger of a fall.  Some time after the prominent minister's failure it suddenly dawned on my friend that in all the many hours they had heard this person praying, they never once heard them pray for a prayer for themselves! While ministering to others and asking God for an anointing upon their upcoming services, they forgot that they needed to pray for their own personal issues. Being reminded of this, in my prayer time this morning in the sanctuary I cried out for me, and for Larry.  I asked God to please, please help us!! For we need His divine help to stay true.  

I don't share this in a spirit of being better, nor of knowing it all -- for I am not, and I don't.  I share this as a plea, to all of my friends to think about. It really seems like nobody thinks or talks about all of the ramifications that come with a fall. We hear of people falling but seldom do we hear all the terrible things they go through after they do!

Why don't we talk more about the horrible aftermath to warn others? I believe one of the most powerful things we could do in ministry is put a panel of several ministry couples who have experienced moral failures on a platform and let them explain in detail to others who haven't fallen exactly what to expect if they do!  I seriously think this is needed. If people knew more of the consequences, maybe it would make a difference. That's the purpose of this post today. If sharing this gives one person pause for thought, it's worth it.

Here are some things I've heard from friends who have morally failed, or things I've observed in those who have. Let them be a warning to you. Can you and will you be forgiven by God? Absolutely. And, consequences are a whole different issue.

Here's what you can expect:

Every sphere of your life is touched by a moral failure - there is no stone unturned it seems. "It affects everything..." is something friends often say.

You probably won't have opportunity to publicly explain yourself or to apologize. Somebody else will do it for you through a letter, or a service conducted by an official.

You will not get to say goodbye to all of the people you have loved and served. That privilege is taken away from you, your spouse and your family.  There is no goodbye party. There is no appreciation, no thanks. Even if you have served a church for twenty or thirty years, it's all down the drain over your one mistake!

You will be abruptly terminated and your office cleaned out privately during a time when no one is there. 

The leadership will communicate what they want to say about you or the situation and the control will be entirely out of your hands. You will feel helpless and simply await people's reaction to the news.

You will wonder what people are saying about you and the wondering will practically drive you crazy. You have all the time on your hands imaginable to worry, because you don't have a job or anywhere to go. For once in your life you have nothing to do.

You have all the time in the world now to take all the time off that you never took while you were a pastor. But now you have no money to do anything or go anywhere.

You regret all the time you never took off. You bemoan the days you never spent in self-care in order to avoid your meltdown.

Although you've been terminated and are no longer on a platform, it is still hard to hide. Social media makes moral failure a killer. You imagine that your failure quickly leaked out... and you're right. People all the way across the country and around the world heard about it almost immediately. Missionary friends in Beijing already know.

If your spouse has enough grace and mercy to stay, you will live a new normal.

Restored is a relative word.

Every day life and little things have huge significance now. You will always have to take time to explain in detail to your spouse why it took so long for you to come back back from the grocery store. They will always second guess.

You will be balancing trying to find a new job with trying to save your marriage and keep your kids speaking to you. Every day will be a struggle to keep your head above water emotionally.

God does heal, and even with that your children will bear the scars of your decision.

You have a degree in theology or pastoral ministry. You wonder what in the world you're going to do with it now. 

If you live in a parsonage, you will probably immediately lose your home.

Your ability to pay bills is immediately affected.

Things like having a home, a car, and basic necessities of life may be in question.

You have no health insurance. Cobra is too expensive. You have no idea what you're going to do as your family has to have insurance with some medical problems that exist currently.  

It's very probable that your kids will have to change homes, schools and friends, all because of you. You will be left to explain this to them. 

Your best friends and even your own kids will wonder if they really know you.

Many of your ministry friends won't come around anymore. You'll question whether they were really friends in the first place. You'll go back and forth in your heart, blaming them for not coming around, then blaming yourself that they don't. Is it your fault or theirs? What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Yes, people are talking. It's not your imagination.

Your spouse is in pain beyond what you could ever imagine. They are hurting and embarrassed and have no idea when or if things will feel better. They have cried until they can't cry any more and you know it's all your fault. 

You will be watched closer and suspected more. Others have issues too. But they've never confessed or  been caught. And least yet. This bothers you but you are powerless to do anything about it.

You have learned that when you fuss about your circumstances or what you perceive as unfair, it just makes it seem like you are not repentant for what you did. This leads people to distrust you even more. Unfortunately you are not in a respected position to speak to issues of injustice or much anything else any more.

You want so badly for people to trust you again, to know you by your heart and not just by the last mistake you made.

You wonder if people still remember the good times, or any positive difference you made in their life.

There will be countless casualties with people who looked to you as their leader. Some will be disillusioned and fall away. You will bear responsibility for them, as an overseer is held to greater account. You bear responsibility, even if you make a comeback.

Speaking of comebacks, there are always exceptions but rare is the comeback that's equal to or greater than the level from which a person came. We all cite the example of King David in the bible. David-style comebacks do happen but unfortunately we rarely see this. Most are a shadow of what they were before the fall.


You look at all the messed up, fallen people in the bible who were subsequently greatly used and you  wonder why it doesn't seem to translate to the church and ministry world.  You have a burden to speak to this, but now lack a platform to do so.

Frustration is your  middle name since the fall.

You are thinking about going back to school to be trained to do something else with your life. But you are facing the issue of where to work in the meantime and how to pay the bills.

When you talk to people you meet for the first time and introduce yourself, you wonder if they know, or if they heard. Are they meeting you with any preconceived ideas, or is this a fresh start? You wonder if there is such a thing as a fresh start.

You need deliverance from your own weaknesses but now have to add forgiveness to your list of things to work through, for all those who have hurt you through what is the most painful transition of your life.

You wish somebody, anybody, would have told  you that it was going to be this hard.

You grieve the loss of your former life as you knew it.

You wish you could go back in time but you can't.

You feel so far away from God -- but He hasn't moved. 

There are the "superstars" of ministry, the mavericks and independents that stay in position and in the limelight after failures, at least for a season. But most ministers aren't superstars and if they are connected to any type of accountability structure, all of the above and more typically takes place.

Some mistakes are more costly than others.


Is what you're thinking about doing worth it?
 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do you feel respected?
Part 2

Do you secretly believe that you are better than, or superior to your partner in some way?  

Many people believe that if their husband or wife was just more like them or would just do things their way, their relationship issues would be fixed.

WRONG. 

This is a lie of the enemy.  It's also why in many marriages one person refuses to go to counseling. (They don't think they have any problems -- they think everything is the other person's fault.)

Mutual respect starts with coming to terms with the fact that your spouse is a capable person worthy of respect. You have different gifts, but you are both just as valuable. 

Competition is a marriage killer. Your spouse may not be as good as you are at organization, or baseball, or cooking, or gardening or whatever. But, guess what? You aren't as good as they are at many things. Which of you is better? The only answer in a successful partnership is neither! 

Partnership can never be about whom is better. Partnership is about recognizing each person's strengths and our own weaknesses. Yes, you read that right! In your weak areas, your role is to recognize your own weaknesses and do something about them without focusing on your partner's. That is their job.  You haven't been called to be their Holy Ghost.

By the way, these are all hard things Larry and I have had to learn over the past 25 years and we are still learning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Do you feel respected?

Many times when people bring up respect in marriage, it's not in a mutual context, and Larry and I have come to believe that it's one of the main reasons many marriages don't last.

Strong marriages have a high degree of mutual respect. Not one sided respect. God never intended respect to be one sided. That just makes for a lopsided, out of balance relationship and it's no wonder why many marriages don't last. Even in lasting marriages, many are not truly happy because God never intended for us to disrespect anybody, man or woman.

Larry and I shared openly with the couples in New Smyrna Beach on Sunday that there hasn't always been mutual respect in our relationship. That was the reason for some seasons of unhappiness. Since we have fixed this problem, things have gone a lot better.

One way to find out if there is a good deal of respect in your marriage is simply ask your partner: "Do you feel respected in our relationship?"  Resist the urge to defend yourself, attack or answer back when they share their feelings. Ask and just listen. Then, switch places and ask the same question. 

I'm going to share more about this tomorrow, so come back for part two.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who's number one in your life?

The answer to that question determines a lot.

A man or woman can never be truly fulfilled unless God is in the number one spot. If we don’t have things in the proper order, we will be miserable.

Last night Larry shared with the couples at the event in New Smyrna Beach that we're not number one in each other's lives -- Jesus is. When we got married we wrote our own vows and Larry's vows to me began with this phrase:  "Deanna, I promise to fulfill my role as your second love…” He understood from the beginning that he would never be the number one man in my life. 

Deuteronomy 5:7 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

No one before him. No idols.

Many have made an idol of their marriage partner. Is there any wonder why many have problems in their marriage when they have placed the expectations upon their partner that only God can fulfill? 

By the way, I'm still in New Smyrna Beach with my #2 man today. :)  

Last week a lot of things got in the way of a true day off.  (Our day off is Friday.) Early that morning we were in bed trying enjoy our day off together and the text messages and phone calls started coming and never stopped all day long. That's when I decided something right then and there. We were taking two days off this week no matter what. 

The church in New Smyrna Beach offered to have us stay over on Monday and ordinarily I would have scheduled us to come back Sunday night afterwards to get back to work Monday.  Not this time. I called the pastor and said that were delighted to accept their invitation to stay over. Getting away is always helpful because even if people are calling, if you are a few hours away there's nothing you can do about it so you might as well shut the phone off and enjoy the day. :)

We'll take Friday off this week too, to make up for the day missed last week. That's something I'm doing in this new year. I committed to myself that if for some reason our day off was affected, I would schedule even more time off the next week to make up for it. I encourage all of you reading especially pastors -- do whatever it takes to have that sacred time each week with your #2 love. It's important, for only in taking the time that we  need to replenish can we finish strong.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are you married to your opposite?

Sometimes the perfect combination is the complete opposite.

Larry and I are tag team preaching tonight for The Well, a church in New Smyrna Beach, FL, at a couples event they are hosting. There isn't enough room for all of the couples who will be attending so they have had to make arrangements to hold the event at the First Presbyterian church. That's a great problem to have!

We're going to talk about many of our favorite subjects regarding marriage, one of them being the fact that opposites can not only survive but thrive in marriage.


For those of us who are married, here's an important truth...if both of you were the same, one of you would be unnecessary! God has given us a partner to enrich our life, not reflect it. Larry and I used to mistakenly believe that everything one of us did was a reflection on the other. Not true. Things got a lot better once we released each other from this false expectation.


Think about it -- we're made in God's image. Whose reflection are we?  We're His reflection.



Big problems come when we think or say, "I wish my spouse was more like me..." or "I wish I could change my husband/wife." (So they could become like me.)


They aren't designed to be a reflection of you, but of the One who created them.


Once this gets straightened out in a relationship every goes much smoother.


Pray for us as we minister to couples tonight in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. May God do a tremendous work in hearts and lives for His glory!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

THIS is what fasting and prayer will do!

I can't wait to write about yesterday's miracle!!!  Hold on to your seat...

Our church has been in 40 days of fasting and increased prayer. The fast ended last night after our 11 PM - 1 AM prayer meeting - we all went to IHOP to break the fast together. (I couldn't wait to have a chocolate chocolate chip pancake and my husband had ice cream.)

 So here's just one miracle testimony from this fast.  Yesterday morning a young boy in our church went into the hospital to have a large cyst  removed. Before operating the doctor checked him one more time. After examining him the doctor said, "THERE WILL BE NO OPERATION TODAY! THE CYST IS COMPLETELY GONE!!!" They sent him right back home!  This was his mother's facebook status yesterday:
 "Thank you, thank you, Jesus!!! He is always coming through for me and you! Right before my son was going to be operated on, the doctor came in to check him and told us he doesn't need surgery because what they had found on him was completely gone there was not even a sign of where the cyst had been! The ladies at the front desk were shouting with me, 'praise God!'"
 I can't wait to see what God is going to do next. We had more people than ever last night at prayer. We filled up the IHOP afterwards with the amount of people that were there. This is a brand new IHOP right around the corner from our church. My husband and I have been going there quite a bit and reaching out to the staff members. Last night they remarked about how great our church people are to serve. (So polite and loving, not to mention they tip well.) Before we left the restaurant one of the servers had already asked for our service times and said he wants to bring his girlfriend and start coming to Celebration.


I feel like it's the night before Christmas. Evangelist Martha Tennison is with us tomorrow morning. If you have never heard her preaching, you're missing out. Here are two messages you can check out.


This is just the beginning of our new season and what God will do. 


We pray for people all over the world every week. People can always count on our church to press in for their needs. If you ever want to be added to the prayer list just comment on my blog, or on facebook or you can e-mail prayer@celebrationchurchtampa.com