Monday, October 17, 2011

Show your Pastor Appreciation

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 1 Timothy 5: 17

Elders mean overseers or leaders. The term Double honor comes from the Greek word time’ or teemay. It means, the value of something. So the literal Greek says that leaders and ministers are worthy of double value. We should not only value them, but double that value. Think of them twice as much as you usually do. The question is “How do we do that?” Let’s talk about the man who wrote those words, Paul. Listen to these passages that he writes to two different churches:
“I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2 I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2: 1-3.
That word agonized really stands out doesn’t it? The word is the Greek word Agon, which signified the feelings of a marathon runner in a contest. That was the way Paul felt toward the churches. He was in an inner conflict, a real struggle, as if he was at mile 22 of a marathon.
Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 2 Cor. 11: 28-29

That word burden can also mean anxiety, uneasiness, constant care. Notice the emotions that it brought to Paul’s life. Weakness, anger, frustrations, or as the NET Bible puts it, 'the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches.'" Paul is saying that his physical hardships are no more difficult than his constant concern for the people in the churches he started.

80% of ministers believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
40% of pastors revealed that they have thought about getting out of the ministry.

What are some things that you can do to encourage your ministers?
1. Pray for them. It is the prayers of your people that get you through the week. We need more prayer on Monday mornings than any other time. Monday’s are the hardest day of the week for most ministers. We are mentally tired from Sunday and we feel the most drained. Tell them you are praying for them. Ask them how you can pray for them.
2. Love their family. Nothing is better to me than when a church member does something nice for Lorrie or the kids. Offer to babysit for a staff member so that they can take their spouse out for a date. 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse. The divorce rate for ministers is equal to the divorce rate of the average congregation. Take the minister’s wife on a shopping trip and buy her something nice. Give encouraging notes to their children or spouse. Celebrate family events with them by sending cards, letters or gifts. Don’t forget birthdays, anniversaries.
3. Take something off their agenda. Statistics tell us that churchgoers expect their pastor to juggle an average of 16 major tasks at a time. Our schedules are often filled with emergencies, life crises, and unrealistic time demands. Find something that you can do to “lighten the load.”
4. Be a friend. There are times when your ministers just would like to hang out with you. No string attached. Don’t discuss church, don’t talk to them about crises in your life, don’t ask them about the church budget. Just take them out to eat, to a ballgame, on a hunt, etc..
5. Have an appreciation for their time. I normally study for sermons on Tuesdays. So likely that is not the best time to come by and see me. You need to find out when your pastor does sermon prep and value that time. Don’t call after 9PM unless an emergency. Be sensitive to the fact that he is probably at home trying to do homework with kids, giving baths, helping with supper and trying to be a dad.
6. Just be an encourager. Over 50% of ministers say that they have experienced burn out or depression to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 70% say that they have a lower self esteem now than when they started out. Commit yourself to be a constant encourager to your ministers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Year later

July 20, 2010

July 14, 2011

It is hard for us to believe that it has been one year since we became parents of this amazing little boy. As I look back on our experience one year later I am amazed at the hand of God on the whole situation. Our Brodie now speaks fluent English, plays baseball, basketball and anything else he can get his hands on. This time last year he stood before us with fear and uncertainty as he faced a future in a whole new world. Now, he has flown through Kindergarden, passed every physical, mental and emotional test we can throw at him, and has finished his round of surgeries. He loves his new family, his new room, his church, his school, his cousins and sisters. He is learning more and more about Jesus every day. He says the prayers at night thanking God for his family and praying for those boys and girls in China who are still waiting for their forever family. He loves the Braves, the Crimson Tide, and loves watching basketball. One year later we want to, once again, thank all the people who made this possible. We could not have made it without our parents. They have accepted Brodie as their grandchild just as if he were born to us. Our girls have been amazing. They have taught him about life and loved him even though he is a typical little brother. Our Church family has embraced Brodie as their own. He is just one of the crowd around Valley Creek. Special people like Bob and Nancy Brooks have made this year so much easier with some much needed babysitting. Lifeline adoption agency is a wonderful place. Thank you for matching us with our son. You perform miracles everyday and are truly used by the hand's of God. He still has so much to learn. We have natural concerns about moving up another grade, but we have no doubt that our son will face every adversity with a strong determination. We are still praying for his salvation in Christ. We hope one day all the puzzle pieces will fit in his mind and Jesus will be more than just someone he learns about at church. We have officially moved his birthday to July 19th and will begin the readoption process next week. What a difference a year makes!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Christmas to Remember

Amazing to think that last year at this time Brodie was in a Chinese Orphanage without Christmas, family, and all the things that go with both. The greatest thing about Christmas this year was seeing him enjoying every minute of it. The joy of seeing a 6 year old celebrating Christmas for the first time was priceless. Every time Brodie would open a gift, no matter how big or small, he would throw his hands in the air and say, "Yes! Thank you Santa!" Every single present, same thing. It was awesome. He got a Buzz Lightyear, many Batman and Spiderman figures, along with other goodies. His grasp of the English language has been simply amazing. He now can carry on a conversation with you. He understands everything we say. He is a smart little fellow. We feel so blessed to have him in our family. He fusses with his sisters as though they have been together forever, it is both irritating and beautiful. We are so thankful for our extended family for all of the special holiday memories and are also thankful to our church family for the gifts. The church gave me 3 days off and I took those this week and just hung out at the house. It has been a great time of family bonding. We bought the Wii game "just dance" and it is hilarious to watch the kids dance. Life is beautiful and we have a front row seat.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Its Beginning to look like Christmas

It is amazing to think that this time last year Brodie was receiving a Operation Christmas Child Shoebox in his orphanage in China. He had no concept of Christmas and especially its meaning. He still doesn't totally grasp everything, but we are constantly finding teachable moments. He is beginning to understand that he will get presents pretty soon. His mind is going to be blown on Christmas morning. He has never evened opened a present much less had 5 or 6 waiting under a tree. His language is getting better and better. He is slowly losing his Mandarin and gaining his English. It is a little sad for us to see him losing his original language. We would love to see him remain bilingual. He is doing great in school as well. He has not been in trouble in a long time. As a matter of fact, the other day at school he was a hero. His principal met us in car pool and told us the story. A little boy in his class stuck a little bead up his nose and Brodie informed the teachers about the incident. He told them as best he could, "Chase, has something in his nose." That little fellow had to go to the hospital to have it removed. Brodie came to the van that day wearing a medal around his neck. We have never seen him so proud. We were pretty proud as well. We almost have his room ready, just need some furniture. We can't wait to move him in his room. This little fellow has shared a room his whole life. In the orphanage he most likely slept in a room with several kids, so the idea of a room by himself is an amazing thought. Tomorrow night he will also be in his first Christmas play. Our children's choir is singing, "Christmas in Joyland." Brodie loves the music and sings it to the top of his lungs. He doesn't know all the words, but he has the melody down. Every day is an adventure. We are learning more about him and he is learning more about us.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Day at Children's Hospital

Our day started at 4:30 this morning. We had to be at the hospital at 6AM. Children's Hospital in Birmingham is a wonderful place. The people there are among the most wonderful people in the world. I say that unbiased even though Lorrie works there. They got us back to a room quickly and he was in surgery before 7:30. Long story short, Brodie had seven teeth pulled and several cavities filled. Dr. Shannon pulled his two front teeth on top and the bottom front teeth as well. He now looks so different without his front teeth. His molers were so decayed, I know he has been in pain. He was also circumcised and had an MRI on top of that. He finally came back to the room at 12:30 and we got home around 3:00. He has had a great amount of discomfort, but his teeth hasn't bothered him very much so far. He was such a great patient and it went as well as we could have ever dreamed. We are so thankful for our friends and family who have prayed us through this event. Unfortunately, he is now showing everyone ALL of his booboos, which has been a little interesting with his three sisters. We fear that when he gets to church Sunday the same may happen, which would ruin a good Sunday school lesson for his class. He is so excited about putting his teeth under the pillow. The tooth fairy is in for a surprise tonight with 7 teeth waiting for financial gain. How much money is that equal to anyway? We will not be at school tomorrow, but he should be good to go on Monday. We are so thankful for Nancy Brooks. She was at our house this morning at 5:15 so we could leave and the girls could sleep in on their day off from school. She took them shopping, out to lunch and even made chicken soup for Brodie to enjoy when he got home, which he did. Thanks to our parents who were just great today. Sandra brought presents and my dad bought us breakfast. Nancy also gave Brodie some gifts when he got home. We are so blessed to have such great friends and family. It was such a strange place for Lorrie and I to be today. A pastor and a Nurse is rarely the one being visited and ministered to by others, but today we were just two parents needing support. We are thankful for all of our veterans today. My dad served in Vietnam and proudly wore his veterans hat today. I am so proud to have a dad like that. Well done veterans, thank you for your service.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Brodie's First Halloween

It didn't take long for Brodie to figure out that he likes Halloween and Fall Festivals. The sisters had to show him how to trick or treat, but after the first door, he was off to the races. He went to the next door, knocked and yelled "Trick or Treat, Thank You." He got his candy and we couldn't keep up with him as he went to the next door. He was Batman which is interesting considering last week, he didn't even know who Batman was. I watched some Batman cartoons with him and then bought an action figure at Target and before long, he was sold on the costume. We had a great time this year. With Halloween being on a Sunday, we were able to trick or treat in Hueytown Saturday night. We rarely get to do that, but with our church functions on Sunday night, we took advantage of a Saturday night candy spree. Tonight was simply amazing at Valley Creek. Our fall festival was a great success and the kids had a blast. Brodie's English continues to improve. Instead of saying "Thank You" he now says, "Thank you so much." He has begun calling me "Daddy" instead of "Baba." He has begun making sentences as well and he is reading words in school and doing great. We have set his surgery for November 11th at Children's. He will have a number of minor things done that day, but it will be a long recovery with some pains to overcome. We are also so proud of Andie. She was selected as one of the Superintendent's fifth grade scholars. We will attend a special ceremony this week in recognition for her achievement. It is hard to believe that November is already here. Brodie has been home with us for over 3 months now and he continues to make amazing progress. He has not had a bad report from school in several weeks. All greens on his daily report. Thank you for your prayers and support. Don't forget that this Sunday is Orphan Sunday. We will celebrate the day at Valley Creek in both of our morning services. Lorrie and I will share our testimonies and I will preach from James 1:27.