Monday, April 30, 2012

Praying for your pastor and his family: Part 1

Did you know that one of the best things you can do for your pastor and his family is to pray for them?  I know that may sound obvious, but our actions will reveal how much importance we really place on this vital matter.  Do we set aside a specific time on a regular basis to pray for our pastor's family?  Do we even realize the necessity?

I know I  can attest, as a pastor's wife, how encouraging it is to receive a note from someone who is genuinely letting me know they are praying for us (not just glibly writing it to look spiritual). 

You may be thinking, well. . . this applies to everyone.  Don't we all need prayers brought before the throne on our behalf?  YES - absolutely!  But let me take some time to plead my case for how your pastor's family especially needs your prayers and then give some suggestions for doing it.

Let's take a look at Hebrews 13:7.

Remember your leaders, 
those who spoke to you the word of God.  
Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

First, we need to consider the incredible responsibility on your pastor's shoulders.  They preach the Word to us week after week, and they need to demonstrate a Christian walk worth emulating.  Whew!

Then look further down the chapter in Hebrews 13.  Verse 17 states:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, 
as those who will have to give an account.  
Let them do this with joy and not with groaning for that would be of no advantage to you.

Your pastor (AKA Shepherd) is responsible for the souls of the "sheep" in the flock (or congregation) God has given Him.  He will give an account!  Trust me, your pastor never forgets that fact.  He never leaves that burden of responsibility at the office - nor does he take a vacation from it. 

There is also another side to this that often forgotten. 
He is helping bear the burdens of many in the flock who are hurting, anxious, and weary.  Typically, you may have no idea of all the private burdens within the congregation at any given point.  That's OK, you don't need to know - but you can pray that God would strengthen the pastor's family as they minister to these more private needs.  Your prayers may be answered in ways only heaven may reveal.

Second, we need to pray for our pastor and his family because as one so aptly put it - "Pastors and their families walk around with targets on their backs."  Satan would love nothing more than to see a pastor fall or a pastor's family make a disgrace of the ministry.  I think we can all list off plenty of examples of this happening. Do you remember the armor of God passage in Ephesians?  Check out verses 11-13 in chapter 6.

Put on the whole armor of God, 
that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, 
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, 
that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

This is a spiritual warfare we are involved in and we need to be equipped daily with the right weapons. You and those in the ministry cannot just decide to put it in "spiritual cruise control" today.

Whether it is because of the high expectations placed on the family in ministry or the weariness that comes from being engaged in emotionally taxing spiritual warfare day after day, most will admit being a pastor's family can definitely have its pros and cons.  Pray that your pastor will lead his family through these challenges.

These have just been a couple reasons that pastors and their families specifically need your prayers.    I hope that this has been an encouragement to you.  If you have read this and thought - my prayer life in general is not what it should be.  Don't be discouraged (that is right where Satan would like you to be).  Pray and ask for God's forgiveness and you can start working on that prayer life today.  Start small and work from there.

Next time I will give some practical suggestions on how to pray for your pastor and his family.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: God Gave Us You

God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren (and beautifully illustrated by Laura J. Bryant) is the perfect book for us to share with our 2 year old as we anticipate the birth of our second child in the fall.  You can't help but immediately fall in love with this snuggly  polar bear family and the story will resonate with every mother's heart.  This sweet little board book puts words and pictures to concepts I have only wished I could explain to our son as his young age.

In answer to Little Cub's question, "where did I come from," Mama bear does not come up with a cute little fairy tale nor does she go into the nitty gritty details regarding childbirth.  Instead she tells a story that will have you reminiscing with your child about the anticipation and excitement you felt while patiently waiting for him or her to be born.  Most of all, they were a special gift from God.

Such a precious book.  I hope I get the chance to check out more of the books in this series.

5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book from the blogging for books program through Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, April 20, 2012

DVD Review: Paws and Tales

Chuck Swindoll's Paws and Tales (Volume 8): Being Kind and Caring is one DVD in a series based on the popular kids radio program Paws and Tales.  This club of furry pals have everyday adventures together where they learn valuable biblical principles.  Papa Chuck is there to offer guidance and advice along the way.  The DVD contains 2 episodes, upbeat music videos, and some extra material for parents to print.

The strength of these shows is in the emphasis on teaching kids to apply biblical principles to their everyday lives.  Chuck Swindoll even comes on to give a quick opening message at the beginning of each episode.  It was so refreshing to have our son watch something that was not only entertaining but also reinforcing what we are already teaching him.

My only reason for giving it anything less than 5 stars is that it is pretty tough to compare this with some other, bigger budget Christian kids DVDs that are out there.  I am willing to make the trade in quality for the solid biblical truth, but some kids may not be as forgiving.

4 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this DVD from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Want free books?

That had my immediate attention a little over 2 years ago when I first heard about book reviewing programs.  I love to read, but our local library doesn't have the greatest selection of new Christian fiction and nonfiction.  And who can afford to just go out and purchase a book every time they want to read something? 

I often get questions from people asking how they can get involved in one of these review programs, so I thought I would write a post to explain.

First, if you want to be involved - you need a blog.  Now, if you love reading books, enjoy writing short reviews, and you have the time to do both, then don't be intimidated by this.  Blogs are really easy to start if you don't already have one.  And with sites like Blogger and Wordpress, you can blog for free.  I mainly started out by doing book reviews and found that I really enjoyed blogging.

Second, you need to apply to one of the programs offered.  Now some require that you have a certain number of visitors to your blog before they will accept you, but that is not all of them.  You can find the buttons of a couple of the book review programs over in my sidebar.  Just click and you will find all of the info you need.  Typically you are required to write about a 150 word (or so) review on your blog (it must be fair and honest) and also put that same review on a site like Amazon or  You do not have to love the book, but I will say that if you are going to give anything less than 5 stars you better be ready to back that up.  Your readers will likely leave comments asking you to explain if you give a poor rating and no legitimate negatives in your review.

Having said that, here's a bunch of  the Christian book review programs that I love:

  • Booksneeze/ Thomas Nelson Publishers - pretty sure this is the biggest one
  • Tyndale Publishers
  • Bethany House Publishers
  • Blogging for Books Program / Multnomah/ Waterbrook
That should keep you busy for a looooong time.  A lot of these programs also offer all kinds of fun incentives for reviewers who are really into it and I even enjoy taking part in the occasional blog tour. So if you think you might be interested, check it out.  You can review as much or as little as you want.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Audio Book Review: The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine

Do you always seem to have more bills to pay at the end of the month even after your paycheck is already spent?  Do you wonder where all your money went?  Do you live without a budget thinking “we’ll just spend as little as possible”?

Having been an avid reader of Crystal Paine’s blog for about two years now, I was thrilled to get the chance to review the audio version of her new book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.  I have read quite a few books on personal finances (including Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover) and at one time almost daily listened to a personal finance radio program.  

Crystal Paine

We have been using a budget for a while, and have been following several frugal blogs for a while.  So my nagging question was probably similar to others.  Will I get anything more out of Crystal’s book than what I have gotten from her blog?  I would say if you are new to the idea of handling your finances frugally and simple living – then this book is perfect.  But even though I followed her blog for a while, I picked up a bunch of new thrifty tidbits to implement.

I particularly enjoyed listening to this audio book because I was able to listen to it while I was working out or doing housework.  Just a suggestion though – keep a pen and paper handy since you will want to take notes.  Her book is jam packed with great frugal ideas.

My husband and I are committed to managing our finances in a way that glorifies God.  And I won’t hide it, Crystal’s Christian perspective is one of the big reasons I would highly recommend this book.   She spends the last chapter discussing contentment, and uses her own story to show how you can find contentment in God no matter your circumstances.

5 out of 5 stars.

I received a free copy of this audio book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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