One Year Later

It has been a year since the Stay at Home Order in Alabama. We were told that we should only go out of our homes to get the essentials (i.e. groceries, toiletries, home repair, etc.). Masks were not mandated yet, but you saw people wearing them in public, as well as, gloves of all sorts. There was toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and spray shortages.

Our kids were on spring break at the time. Since my kids are athletes, and how else are we suppose to get teenagers away from electronics these days, I made them run every morning. We lifted weights together, at the house, every day. I tried to keep them as active as possible. It brought me back to the days when I was growing up and my grandmother would keep us outside during the summer so we would not just watch television all day. We would ride our bikes to a friends house or they would all come over to my grandmother’s and swim. It was too cool for the pool to be open, so one rode his bike all over the neighborhood and the other learned to climb ladders and hang out on the roof.

What made me want to write about this was because as pastors my husband and I had to adjust, but we did not want this to change the core of what we believed the church should be. There was a quote being posted around Facebook, it said, “Your Pastor has never pastored a church through a Pandemic before. When he opens people are going to say he should have closed. When he closes people are going to say he should have opened. When he shakes hands people are going to say he has faith. When he shakes hands people are going to say he’s foolish. He’s going to make some difficult decisions to protect the flock considering everything from your spiritual growth to legal liabilities that you aren’t even thinking about. He has the incredible responsibility of looking over the well being of his flock. Remember this:No one wants things to go well at church as much as your pastor. Your pastor needs your prayers and support right now. And although you can’t touch him, give him an air high 5. 😄 support your pastor in prayer.”

Ephesians 4:11-13 (AMP) And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct], [and He did this] to fully equip and perfect the saints (God’s people) for works of service, to build up the body of Christ [the church]; until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ [manifesting His spiritual completeness and exercising our spiritual gifts in unity].

This is our calling and our role. It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually. There have been many things that have happened in the past year. A real shaking occurred. The shaking could have gone two ways: 1) it could have shaken us awake and brought us closer together to unify, or 2) it could have shaken us to divide us. Whatever you are going through in your life right now, I pray that things were shaken to draw you closer to Him. That is what I chose to do this past year.

It breaks my heart that the body was separated during that time physically, but we should not have been separated spiritually.

Yes, my family did get hit with COVID-19. It effected me different than everyone else in my home. Both of my grandparents passed away this past year. Both of my husband’s and my parents have had long term effects of the virus. They are coming out of it, it has taken a few months. We know of those that have been put on a respirator and recovered. It has been a year that changed our world. So please continue to pray for us (your pastors and leaders) as it has been a year of not knowing what to do and still doing it. We did not give up on you. We are here wanting to see you grow in His spiritual completeness and exercise your gifts in unity.

Changing Our Mindset

Philippians 4:6-8 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

One of the joys I have in ministry life is leading youth. I have been doing it for a few years now. My favorite part is see that spark ignite, that “AHA” moment that this Jesus stuff is so real no body can take it away from them. For the past few years we ask our youth to write down topics that they would like for us to discuss. One such topic was about negative thoughts.

Years before leading youth I ran a child development center, also known as a day care. Parents would come to me frustrated at their child’s behavior. I had to encourage them to praise the behavior they liked, not just react to the behavior they did not like. We all crave attention. Unfortunately, as a world, the negative gets our most attention.

We all crave attention. Unfortunately, as a world, the negative gets our most attention.

So here I am researching the view point of negative thinking from a teenager. The way they have grown up is vastly different from how I did. When I was growing up, the internet did not become accessible to our homes until I was out of high school. Game systems did not, well mine did not, save your progress. If your mom turned it off you had to start from the beginning. I am raising two teenage boys. I am still very strict about them having social media, but it is really hard to control what videos pop up on their screens…and they have a lot of them!

I typed in “Where do automatic negative thoughts come from,” in my google search, and I came across an article from M.Farouk RadwanMSc. Did you notice I used the word “automatic?” Why would I choose that word?

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Part of putting on the armor of God includes: Ephesians 6:17 (NKJV) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God

He writes:” In order to help you answer these questions I have to first ask you another one. Do you know why some people can’t live without their phones? Because their minds are already full of negative thoughts and they always need some kind of distraction to push the negative thoughts away.”

“Do you know why some people feel really bad when they are alone? It’s because they fall prey to their own negative thoughts and that’s why they always seek distraction in order to escape from these thoughts.”

“Where do negative thoughts come from? Let us suppose that a plate which had rotten food was spoiling the smell of your room, what would be the best way to get rid of the smell? Should you buy a Fan or get rid of the plate? While the second choice is obviously the one that will be chosen by most rational people still most people do the opposite when dealing with negative thoughts.”

“When trying to deal with negative thoughts most people will do their best to get rid of the smell instead of the food. Most people try to get rid of the negative thoughts directly using the different distracting methods without realizing that the only way to end negative thoughts is to change the beliefs that caused them in the first place.”

“‘I am sure they didn’t like me'” That’s a popular negative thought but did you ever try to find out what caused it? Most probably this thought is a symptom of a limiting belief such as ‘I am not an interesting person.’Now what do you think would happen if the person who got that negative thought distracted himself using their phone to watch youtube videos? The negative thought will always remain there and this person will get it again as soon as the distraction ends.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NKJV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,  that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 

Reconciled- to restore the relationship that mankind had in the garden.

Once we accept Christ we have been reconciled.  Which means we have the same relationship with God as Adam did in the garden.  So when those thoughts enter our head then we have the tools necessary to change them.

How do we go in with the right mindset?  M.Farouk Radwan, MSc and his theory in psychology had a lot of insight but it was the core beliefs part he did not give a lot of insight in.  You know where I found it?  It is found in the Word of God and my relationship with Him.

How do you know when I have the right mindset?  It is because I am no longer concerned about being alone, my own success, but in wanting to see others succeed in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us that we will be ambassadors (a representative) of the one who reconciled us. I recently watched “Soul” with my son on Disney Plus. In the movie the souls were thought to being sent to earth when they had discovered their purpose. Spoiler alert: It was when they had a desire to live. My desire to live is linked to my desire to know Him more. There are things that are going to distract me, that are going to make me want to live in the negative.

Please let me know how I can be praying for you. Email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Patience is a muscle

James 1:2-7 (NKJV) My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.

Patience is one of the fruits or attributes of the love walk. We find it mentioned in Galatians 5 and in 1 Corinthians 13. Why does it say we should rejoice with trials to get more of it?

I have the privilege of mentoring many young ladies in the church. When they are going through various trials it may be easier to allow the grumbling and the harsh self talk. We are to be empathetic right? It does take courage, and is sometimes rejection at first, but the perspective of “this is a growth opportunity!” always shows to be true.

Romans 12:12 (AMP) Constantly rejoicing in hope (because of our confidence in Christ), steadfast and patient in distress, devoted in prayer (continually seeking wisdom, guidance, and strength).

Did you know that you can limit the work that God can do in your life by your perspective? James 1:13 (NKJV) says, ‘Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.‘ Trials are not brought on by God. If we do not have trials how could “free will” be established. How as believers are we to be examples of the love of God on earth if we are always complaining of what we are going through?

One of my least favorite verses to hear people quote is Job 1:21 “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” This is a verse that I hear when people give up hope. That nothing is going right for them because that is God’s will. That is so very untrue. God removes things out of our lives to make room for better things. It is all about perspective.

There are times that I have to correct my children. In doing so I want to get to the root of the reason they made the decision in the first place. Why is it when we are corrected the first reaction is “I can’t do anything right?” It takes a patient parent to not get frustrated. It takes a parent that cares to make them stay in the room until the conversation is resolved. It takes a loving parent to admit their own mistakes and not be on the defensive as well. Without wisdom, His wisdom, I cannot get things right. This is one of the trials that helps me grow in patience. It is all about perspective.

Our perspective and the words that come out of our mouth as result are so very important to the growth that can happen in our lives. Yes, you make be going through a hard season. It may look like your world is crashing down all around you.

Philippians 1:6 (AMP) I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will (continue to) perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (the time of His return).

James 1:12 (AMP) Blessed (happy, spiritually prosperous, favored by God) is the man who is steadfast under trial and perseveres when tempted; for when he has passed the test and been approved, he will receive the (victor’s) crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Like our physical stature, our spirit man has muscles that need to be worked as well. My spirit muscles will not grow stronger without resistance. Like I have said before, I want all that God has for me. I want as many crowns and rewards as I can get when I get to heaven. It will take me persevering. I will not lose hope. I will rejoice and choose to grow in trials. I will continue to praise His name and not complain. I will be led by the Holy Spirit, and step out of what is comfortable, so that I can fulfill the Great Commission that He has commanded that I do.

The enemy wants us to hide away when we are facing trials. Why? He wants to put you on pause as long as he can so that you stop running. Just like our physical muscles, when we stop moving, our muscles start to shrink. Your endurance lessens. You get comfortable in the sedentary lifestyle. Now your health is at risk. It is all about perspective. When my body hurts, I want to give it rest. If I let it rest too long, then when I try to get up to move my body will scream at me to stop and sit back down. Muscles need to be worked.

The enemy wants us to hide away when we are facing trials.

Hebrews 12:1-13 (TPT) As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. The we will be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and not sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls, so that you won’t become worn down and cave under life’s pressures. After all, you have not yet reached the point of sweating blood in your opposition to sin. And you have forgotten the encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t underestimate the value of the discipline and training of the Lord God, or get depressed when he has to correct you. For the Lord’s training of your life is the evidence of his faithful love. And when he draws himself, it proves you are his delightful child.” Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons. And isn’t it true that we respect our earthly fathers even though they corrected and disciplined us? Then we should demonstrate an even greater respect for God, our spiritual Father, as we submit to his life-giving discipline. Our parents corrected us for the short time of childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness. Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bring a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield it. So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s path all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!

This is one of my go to passages when we are tempted to give up. When I get disappointed with people and want to hide. When I so much see others potential and get frustrated when they refuse to move. I have to remember, that I am running a race myself and cannot get distracted. I have to work that patience muscle and not allow disappointments to become wounds. God will work things out in them and it is their choice to stop running, but that does not mean I need to stop.

You see I am talking out of the heart of a pastor. Patience is one of the faith muscles that we constantly have to grow in. There are those who are stubborn and will never get out of the mindset of a God that gives and takes away. We love them anyways. I have to rejoice and celebrate in the ones who take a hold of the Word of God and let it work in their life. When I see Hebrews 12 come alive to them. As a pastor our trials are not often lusts, to some they are. To me one of my trials is people. I see so much potential in the people that God has put in my life. I have to remind myself that God is their parent, Amanda. Just like I had to remind myself of the teens and some of the stuff they are allowed to do. I am not their parent. Pray and allow God to do the work in them. It is their choice. I have to run my race. Those that allow me to mentor, I mentor. Those that do not, pray that the door will open so that they can receive from someone who will point them to God. It is all about perspective!