Who Says Movies Are Mindless Entertainment?

I love a good, action-packed super-hero movie. A few weeks ago, our family saw the new Batman vs Superman movie, and even though I had critiques on a few fighting scenes that were less than believable, I liked the movie. And the popcorn. With the butter (put your wagging finger back in your pocket; I ate a salad for dinner to make up for it).

Remember the famous line from another super-hero movie, “With great power comes great responsibility”? The Spiderman series of movies is another family favorite for us, and I couldn’t help thinking of that quote when I read Romans chapter 8 recently:

“And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.” Romans 8:17 NLT (emphasis mine)

I think Peter Parker’s uncle must have read Romans. Turns out Christians must walk the line between great power and great responsibility, too. Catch this:

Following Jesus has many rewards: salvation, peace, purpose, protection, eternal life with God, provision, blessings, love, acceptance….the list goes on and on. That’s powerful. 

But following God comes with a price, as well: sacrifice and suffering. All over the world, Christians are still suffering with persecution and death much like the Christians of the bible did. You and I might never face such suffering, but our followship still requires sacrifice: serving others, giving up our rights, resisting temptation, resisting the pressure to become like the world around us….the list goes on and on. Christians must accept the responsibility of submitting our lives to God’s Lordship. 

Yet, scripture is clear time and again that no matter what our circumstance is, we can be assured that:

  • God is our friend
  • The Holy Spirit fights for us
  • God works all situations for the good of those who love Him and are about His business
  • Nothing we can do can take God’s love away
  • We have overwhelming spiritual victory because we identify with Jesus

Friends, our lifetime is simply an opportunity to get to know God before our eternity with Him begins. He has made a way for us to share in all of His treasures – on earth AND in Heaven. But He also expects us to follow Him no matter what it costs us. I heard a great pastor once say that if we weren’t suffering for Christ in some way, we might not be following Him as we should. That’s good food for thought today.

With great power comes great responsibility. With great rewards come great sacrifice. Maybe you needed that reminder. I’m praying that you live and lead well today. 

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I’m Going To Miss That

By now, I hope you’ve gotten up to speed on all that is happening in the Lovejoy family.  While it was quite a news flash for most people, it certainly wasn’t for us. As a matter of fact, our decision to launch Courage To Lead has been brewing for a long time. We are anxious to dive headlong into a new ministry venture, to make a new house our home, and to meet new friends. HOWEVER…. We have also been grieving. Closing this chapter of our lives doesn’t happen easily or without heartache. We have planted a church, raised 3 children, baptized over 2000 people, made lifelong friends, and lived incredible lives in Cumming, Georgia. I feel like I’ve planted trees and watched them grow over the last 16 years, and now I will miss seeing their leaves change each season.

As my family prepares to adjust to a new life, I can’t help but celebrate what God has done during our time here….and to reflect on all I will miss. Being a church planter and pastor’s wife has been a privilege, an honor, and a superb adventure. I’m going to miss:
  • People stopping us in restaurants and stores because they recognize us. If they didn’t like us, they would avoid us. Taking time to say hello is a validation of their warm feelings toward our family. Our family has felt incredibly loved and valued.
  • Strangers telling us about the personal spiritual decisions they are making. They tell us in the church lobby. In emails. In Target. At the park. In our neighborhood. When they see us, they excitedly share of an upcoming baptism or an answer to prayer or about a friend they’ve invited to church. Celebrating what God is doing in the lives of people spurs us on
  • The privilege of influence that comes with our title. Being the pastor’s wife means people often seek me out for wisdom and guidance simply because they assume I have more spiritual knowledge than they do. I’ve taken that trust extremely seriously. I’ll miss planting myself in one spot in the church lobby and talking with people as long as they need me. I’ll miss leading the other women on our ministry team. I’ll miss teaching at Girlfriends. My title gave me a specific platform. What an honor to be chosen by God to lead in that way!
  • The way our security team cares for our family. It sounds ludicrous that we would need security, but then again we live in a world where messed up people do messed up things. Our security team has our back. Over the years, we’ve had a few questionable characters who needed a little attention, and our team acted with confidence and grace. When I leave the church lobby after each worship service I always chuckle when I hear one of our security crew say into a headset, “WOODSTOCK IS IN FLIGHT” or “SNOOPY IS HEADED TO THE HOUSE.”
  • The Saturday night debrief. I enjoy seeing our ministry team in action. In these meetings they critique and challenge every aspect of a weekend service. Their goal is to provide ministry in the most excellent way possible. We have always strived for conservative theology and progressive methodology. I feel a kinship with our pastors as we plot and plan together. I love being part of that fraternity
  • Messing with the parking team. I enter through the exit, park improperly, and have weekly battles with orange cones. When the team directs me to drive a specific direction, I roll down my window and tell them I have different plans. I recently discovered that one of our pastors gave the team a photo of my car with instructions to let me do whatever I want. It’s not nearly as fun messing with them if they aren’t going to play along, though. I’ll miss seeing them throw their hands in the air in defeat when they see my grocery-getter zipping down the drive.
  • Sitting on the front row. I have a front row seat for everything that happens at MLC. Baptisms, salvations, rescued marriages, salvaged relationships, healed addictions, new hires, leadership lessons, conferences, building projects, special events…I have a front row seat for all of it. I’ll miss that blue chair and the great view it offered
  • My Life Group(s). Participating in our small group ministry has afforded me not only spiritual growth but my closest friends. God uses those friendships to sustain and entertain me. I will miss eating, laughing, praying, and growing with my brothers and sisters.
Do you know what I’ve realized? Most of the things that I will miss most are the very things that some people complain about: lack of privacy, meetings, and responsibility. Yet, looking back I can tell you that those things haven’t drained me; they’ve energized me.
I’m going to miss so much about my life here in Georgia. So until my new life begins, I’m spending time celebrating all the things I love about my life now.
What about you? Don’t wait until it’s gone to appreciate the good things in your life! CELEBRATE THEM!
If your life changed tomorrow, what would YOU miss?
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Feeling the love

I often say my hubby and I have the best jobs in the world.  God appointed us to serve Him, and we lead the greatest body of believers.  We get a front row seat for all the things that God is doing around here, and we get to hear all the behind-the-scenes stories of life change.  We receive emails and letters from people sharing how God has healed or rescued them.  Amazing stuff, I’m telling you.  We also get to link arms with a Ministry Team and volunteers who are just as passionate about reaching our community with the message of Christ.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t share with you that life in ministry isn’t all goosebumps and happiness.  Bearing the burdens of our people often wears on our emotions.  Dealing with conflict isn’t something we wake up in the morning looking forward to.  Being peace-makers is rarely easy.  Watching people turn away from God feels like a personal rejection.  Leading a church – with all of its financial and managerial demands – can sometimes leave us feeling completely inadequate for the task.  “Preaching to a parade” of people who come and go quickly through our lives and our church can sometimes make us feel lonely.  (Thanks, Rick Warren, for coining that very insightful phrase to describe what many in ministry experience.)  And, if I’m being really honest, friendships don’t come easy in this position.  Sometimes I have friends because I’m the pastor’s wife; other times I lose friends because I’m the pastor’s wife.  (Hey, we can’t please everyone all the time…..that’s not our goal.)

That’s why the month of October was so special to my hubby and me. It was Pastor Appreciation Month, and while we certainly didn’t advertise that info, many of our sweet church members went out of their way to lavish us with words of encouragement and gifts. Our Ministry Team surprised us with an ah-mazing gift and treats for our whole family…..because ALL of the Lovejoy’s serve here, not just my husband and me. We felt so loved and honored and yes, appreciated!

Now, as I gaze at flowers in my home or at the cards on my table, I’m reminded that people care.  That what I do matters to others.  That others are appreciative of the work that my family does. Feels good.  And, it motivates me to keep fighting the good fight.

We all need that kind of motivation, don’t we?  Who among us doesn’t crave love and appreciation?  Who could you say thank you to today?  Go ahead…..help them feel the love.