How Hannah Prayed

Two Lessons from Hannah’s Prayer

10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.

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Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 1:10-11, 18 (NLT)

When I read about the anguish in Hannah’s heart, my own heart is pricked.

Do I Pray with Deep Anguish?

First, while I had a great desire to have children, I don’t know this kind of pain of waiting years to be blessed and seeing others around me having children when I did not, however, I do know about pain of a different kinds=. I have actual pain from my chronic illness, I have aching pain for family members that are far from God, I know the pain of rejection.

But I wonder at times if my pain has been deep enough for me to cry out to God in “deep anguish”. I wonder if I have ever fallen before God begging him to work in my life or in the lives of others. Do I fall prostrate before God, asking and fasting while I pray for Him to intervene?

When we say that we are praying for someone, do we really pray for them or do we just hope that things will get better for them? Do we actually take the time to stop and focus on God and ask Him to intervene?  I have recently made an effort to always place the person’s name in my prayer journal app. (See Prayer Popper) I don’t say I will pray unless I place them in this journal. This brings them to my mind occasionally and I do lift them up in prayer for a moment. But I still wonder if I am praying or just wishing and wanting. Do I get serious about intercession?

Secondly, Do I Believe God will Answer?

After Eli blessed her and asked God to grant her request she “went and ate with her family and was no longer sad.” She accepted with confidence that God would now answer her prayers. She was no longer distraught over her situation. She left it in God’s hands.

When we are distraught over our situation, do we take it and lay our concern on the altar and then go away “no longer sad”? Or do we pick up our concerns and take them with us?

Are we content to trust Him no matter what His answer may be?

Hannah was able to leave her request at the altar. She went home and was happy. She had not received her heart’s desire yet but she now found joy in her God. Her faith held her up.

Our hope should be in God not in our desires.

Are we devoted to God regardless of whether God has met those desires? Are we willing to give back to God the very things for which we are praying?

I challenge you to lay your burdens on the altar of God and leave them there. Remember, he promises to give rest to our souls if we bring them to Him and let Him do the work.

 

 

Fully Alive Book Review

Book Review: Fully Alive

NOTE: I received this book at no charge in exchange for writing this review. These words are my own opinion and I have not been compensated to say them. 

Dare to Hope again

Have you been losing your hope lately? What is it that is pulling you down into

despondency?

Dare to Hope Fully Alive

Susie’s Larson’s new book

Sickness?

Fear?

Guilt?

Worry?

Grief?

Discouragement?

Insecurity?

Selfishness?

Look up because there is AlWAYS Hope in Jesus.

Continue reading

Why Still Sick

If God is my Healer, Why Am I Still Sick?

“For I am the Lord who heals you.” – Exodus 15:26 NLT

Why Am I Still Sick

Have you ever wondered why so many people struggle with illness and weakness? You would think that since God is a healer that He would reach down and heal his people, especially those that are believers.

It’s a question that has been asked down through the ages, I would guess.  And many have searched to find the answer. I have learned there are many reasons why God may leave us in our sickness, disability, or weakness. Continue reading

Pastor appreciation

October is Pastor Appreciation Month

Having been in the ministry, I have conflicting feelings about Pastor Appreciation month. On the one hand,  it is a very good reminder to the people to take a moment and let their pastor know how much you love them. On the other hand, it can be a very depressing time when a pastor hears about all the things other churches did for their pastor and your church did nothing at all to show that they love & appreciate you!

Now that my husband has retired from full-time ministry, I’ve decided that it wouldn’t be self-serving to remind everyone to take some time and really show your pastor that you appreciate him. Church members, you don’t have to wait to be prompted by your board to do something, do it on your own or at least remind the board members so they don’t forget. Get some personal ideas here.

Maybe you don’t realize the sacrifices made by pastors AND their families.

There are many.

  1. Pastoral families have left home and family to come and serve your church. They may be 100s or even 1000s of miles away from home. On top of that, they are seldom able to go home to see their families. They may even miss important events, like reunions and funerals, due to their service to you.
  2. In many cases, pastors are paid a minimal salary which barely meets their living expenses, even when a parsonage is provided.
  3. In order to get a degree and ordination in ministry, a minimum of 4-6 years is required at a private Christian College. Many times pastors are in serious debt before they even get started. They probably met their spouse at college, so they both have a lot of debt to pay on that minimal salary.
  4. Many pastors have a compassionate heart and they give much to the church financially and time-wise.
  5. Pastors are on call 24/7. They have missed many a family meal and their kid’s ballgames due to a need within the church. I have known many, ourselves included, who have canceled vacations, even after they left home, due to a need in the church.

These are just a few of the sacrifices made by your pastor and why you should show a little appreciation, personally and corporately, once in a while.

So …. maybe you are wondering,

pastor appreciation

photo credit: Canva modified by Mandy

I’m glad you asked!

I did a little survey of all my ministry friends. I asked them, “What is the best thing a church has ever done for you?” and here are their replies…

Top Ideas

  1. Cash is always good.  Cash helps pay a few bills that they might be coming short on. Also, since Christmas is just around the corner, it may help them provide a nice Christmas for their children.

Cash can be given in the form of a bonus check (one week’s pay?) from the church board, or a love offering from the members. Give it in a nice card or something creative, like a money tree. You could tell your church in advance so they can all participate and bring their own handwritten notes with cash in them.

Cash offerings for special needs is great too. Our church raised over $1,000 when they heard I would be going to Mayo Clinic.

This is a good time to consider a salary raise. In our denomination, the suggestion is every time giving is increased by $1000 a month, you should consider a raise or  bonus for your pastor. Board members, how about bringing the issue up every time you get a raise yourself? At least consider a cost of living increase every year.

2.  Laymen Sunday.  Surprise him by taking over the service and have a special service all about him. Have members read poems, do skits, give/write words of encouragement, give awards or certificates, sing songs. Follow this up with a nice lunch in his honor. Don’t forget the spouse and children. They have sacrificed much as well. At least give the spouse some flowers.

Simple but Helpful

3. A Month of Meals. Have the parishioners sign up for a day in October. Each one can do whatever they like: a) invite the pastoral family to their home for dinner b) gift cards to restaurants  c) bring in a hot meal d) take him/he & his wife/the family out for lunch.  This is an excellent way for the pastor and his family to get to know all the people.

4. Food Pounding.  Now I’m not talking about the “clean out your pantry” type food pounding. One of our churches came to me and had me make a list of grocery items. The  board had me write down all the normal food items that most of us probably purchase every week. They didn’t stop there; but, instructed me to write down those food items that we liked and would buy, “if money were no object.” You know, those things that we like to treat ourselves and our children to occasionally.  They told us to make a nice long list. Then the church members selected items and purchased them for us. It was an amazing food pounding. We had a freezer and a pantry full of food. My grocery bill dropped significantly for several months. Now that was a blessing!

Don’t Foget Childcare

5. Dinner for Two and Childcare Provided. What couple wouldn’t love a romantic date night with no cost to them? Find a 5 star restaurant and get a gift certificate. Then arrange for someone to take care of the children. (And take away his cell phone. Let the board members take care of any issue that arise during that time.)

Ways to Promote Getting to Know Pastor

6. Photo Album with pictures and handwritten notes from everyone. This sounds like a wonderful thing to do at the beginning of a pastorate. What an awesome way to start making face connections with the people.

Something Extra Special

7.  All Expense Paid Getaway. Every pastor and wife can use a break now and again. They often don’t take the vacation time they are allocated. This could be a weekend getaway or a week or two long trip. Your pastor will return refreshed and ready to serve the church even better than before. There are many choices here … a) retreat centers for pastors. Many places give discounts for pastors.  b) a Bed & Breakfast c) a mountain cabin d) a beach/lake house e) cruise f) trip to Hawaii or Israel g) It could be that someone in your church has a vacation home somewhere they would share or offer at a discount.

Fringe Benefits

8. Pay Student Loans.  One couple reported that their church made their student loan payments for over 12 years while they served there. What a huge blessing.

9.  A Car. You might have to have some connections with a local car dealer. We knew a pastor who received a new car every year. Think about it … no church wants their pastor to break down in an old clunker trying to get to the hospital to be with a church member. This would be a way to keep that from happening.  [Just as a benefit, even allowing him/her to drive the church van would be awesome. It keeps the van in good driving order. And it’s advertisement for the church while he drives it around town.]

Remember Special Occasions

10. His and Her Watches. I hadn’t heard this one before but this is a very nice thoughtful gift, especially for a special year such as 25 years in ministry or serving your church.

11. Special Gift Items. Listen closely and learn the interests of your pastor and wife. If you listen, you will get some great gift ideas. Items that they are really wanting but cannot afford. What are their hobbies? Even if you can’t provide the item, you may be able to give a gift certificate towards it. Do they like to golf? Give a membership to a country club. You get the idea. Giving them what they need to take breaks is a benefit that reaps rewards.

PASTORS ARE PEOPLE, Too!

Remember that just because you are giving a gift to a minister doesn’t mean it has to be religious in nature. He probably has all the Bibles he needs. A nice picture for the living room is nice, but it doesn’t have to be a picture of Jesus or a church. Pastors are regular people too! Of course, that doesn’t mean he might not enjoy a new notepad computer to preach from either. 

12. Please don’t ignore the pastor’s wife and his children. They are part of the ministry whether she is working elsewhere or not. She has given many sacrifices and she has done more than you know for the church. Something small goes a  long way…. maybe flowers or something for her hobby. A toy or game for the children or maybe a few dollars depending on the age. If you love the spouse and children, your pastor will be more than thrilled and the church will reap the benefits.

download-706861_640

click above to print the list.

 

2 Things to remember:

  1.  If at all possible, don’t wait until the last Sunday in October to plan your special day. Do it early and he will be more surprised. When you wait until the last week, it kinda feels like your forgot and pulled something together at the last moment.
  2. Remember your associate pastors too. They may be bi-vocational or not, but they put in a lot of unknown hours to work with your teens, create awesome worship, or whatever ministry they do.
  3.  Don’t forget any retired pastors or widows of pastors. A small token gift will go a long way for those no longer in ministry. Sometimes, they feel completely forgotten even though they have served for many years.

Have fun with this. Remember that a little appreciation and encouragement goes a long way. Click here for another post on “Ways to Love Your Pastor all Year Long!

 

Mandy Farmer

Suggested reading, especially for church board members.

This is an affiliate link. IF you click thorugh and purchase this book, we willl receive a small portion of the sale price which helps us keeps this website running. Thanks.

 

 

Lies I Believed About Buttering Up God

 I believed several lies about prayer and buttering up God.

Over the course of the last three years, we have experienced some hard “stuff” both professionally and personally. We would unanimously use the word “robbed”.  Robbed of co-workers through their untimely deaths.  Robbed of time with our daughter.  Through those experiences, I believed the lie that I wasn’t praying “good enough”. From that standpoint, I began “buttering up God” by using more flowery words, going on about His greatness, increasing the time spent in prayer.  However, the more things spiraled downward the less I felt heard, the more I felt the need to “butter up”.   Finally, in frustration with seeing very little change, I decided to give up on prayer.  Prayer was obviously not working the way I was praying.

I would ask myself questions like…

Continue reading

Discover the Meaning in Life

What Have You Discovered?

It’s Five Minute Friday! I’m joining the gang to write on a specific prompt. Today’s Prompt: Discover!

Discover With the Wisest Man on Earth

Even though he was the wisest man of all time, King Solomon discovered much in his life. It’s kind of comforting to know that the wisest man of all time discovered that life is pretty much meaningless. If it was meaningless for him, no wonder we feel that way!

I’ve been studying along on the FIRST5 app from Proverbs 31 Ministries. We just finished studying the book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon. Solomon searched for meaning and documented his findings in this book of the Bible. He realized a lot of things about life. Continue reading

Dropping By For A Visit

Don’t you miss the days when people would visit and sit for a spell?

visiting on the porch

2014 Dawson family reunion

I do. I think that is why I want a front porch so badly. I miss the days of sitting on the porch with friends and family just resting and sharing time together.

These days we never drop in on people and thus our lives remain lonely and we never learn from one another. No one is a close friend anymore. We are all just acquaintances.

Remember When?

Even our families no longer stop by for a visit. I remember going for a drive and stopping in on my mom’s aunt and uncle. I don’t know how she did it but Aunt Mary must have had a 6th sense that someone was coming by because it seemed about 5-10 minutes after we arrived, she presented a delicious cake. Besides for the delicious cake and good conversation, we gained the chance to actually know our cousins. If we had not stopped in occasionally, I would never have known my mother’s cousins, nor my second cousins.

I remember that our family friends would take turns having everyone over after the football games. These were all high school friends of my parents. Of course, they all had kids the same age as my siblings and me. Boy, did we have a grand time together?

As an adult, many of us would head out to a restaurant after Sunday Evening Worship. We seldom to that either.

We Are Too Busy

The truth is, we have become so busy that we never slow down long enough to just visit with anyone. The Bible instructs us to practice hospitality. The Book of Hebrews suggests that we should not forsake meeting together.  This scripture is usually used to encourage church attendance, but the early church met together in homes also sharing meals and encouraging one another. This is where we really get to know one another and share in each other’s lives. We can attend church, come in and go out, without truly interacting with people. But meeting in our homes and eating together, that is when we become more than acquaintances.

Here’s the Challenge

So, when was the last time you had a visitor or dropped by on someone unexpectantly? When is the last time you invited someone into your home? We may need to make a concerted effort to fellowship together.

Meeting Around the Table

A few years ago, a new Women’s conference erupted into the scene called IF Gathering. They have developed the idea that encouragement comes from around the table. They encourage us to have a once a month meeting around the table. Invite 5 or 6 people to share a simple meal and have a real conversation.

They feel that this is so important that they provide menu ideas and questions to ask each other. It’s called IF: Table. You can Check it out here.

Table games are an excellent way to increase comradery. Try this awesome game with some friends called Life Stories. You will have a great time learning new things about one another.

You can learn more about mentoring around the table with this book written by a friend. Coming Alongside: Blessed to be a Blessing

I’m ready for a visit. Come on by! I’ll make a pound cake.

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I participating in Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Fridays where we take a prompt and write for five minutes.

I Boast In My Weakness ~ In Christ I Am Strong

FMF Weak


 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

 

I can relate to the Apostle Paul here. He had some type of ailment or thorn in the flesh as he called it. He asked God to remove it several times, but God said, “My grace is sufficient ..” 

Yes. It is true. His grace is sufficient.

I just reached the 7-year mile marker of a journey with chronic pain. And I have learned that this pain causes me to rest on Him. In the past, I trusted in my own strength, but now His grace is sufficient for me.

Even in ministry, I found myself doing everything from my own wisdom and my own strength. So God had to take me down a few notches. He needed me to look to Him for wisdom and strength. Oh, how it is so much better to lean on Him. So much more can be accomplished through Him when I allow Him to do the work. And it is so much more exciting to see Him do it!

I have been there with Paul asking, 

“Can you take the pain away now? I have learned my lesson.”

And God responds,

“Really? Do you really think that you would continue to lean on Me or would you fall back into your old ways and begin again to trust your own strength.?”

Sadly, I think I know the answer.

I believe that no matter my good intentions, I would fall back on my own power.

So I accept this weakness, this “Thorn in the Flesh”.

For me, it is very literal. But I accept this pain and I lean on Him. Because His grace is sufficient. And His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a favorite old hymn by Mosie Lister

 

 

 

How to Disciple the Nations

Disciple the nations … just how do we do this?

Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Besides for being part of the Great Commission, this is also part of our church mission statement. Disciple the nations. How do we do this? Barbara Hughes, in her book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, has a very good place to start in her description of the disciple Andrew. Andrew was an ordinary man, {just like us} with an extraordinary heart {just like we can have}. Let me share my thoughts on what Barbara says.

 HAVE A HEART

1) Have a knowledgeable heart.

John 1:35-51

New Living Translation (NLT)

The First Disciples

35 The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. 36 As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” 37 When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

38 Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.

They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus.

Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist; however, as soon as he learned that Jesus was the Messiah, he began following Jesus. He left immediately and stayed with Jesus all day. We must follow Jesus also. It’s the FIRST thing we must do. We cannot introduce him to others unless we know Him first. Not just as an acquaintance, but become a true disciple.

This means we must spend time with Him .. daily. REALLY get to know Him and His heart. Reading the scriptures and spending time in prayer is the only way to know the heart of Christ. I don’t think a quick devotional reading each day is enough for this. To me, this would be like waving hello to someone on the street as you walk by each day on the way to the office. You know who they are, but you don’t really know them.

 

2) Have a Selfless Heart

41 Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

42 Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus.

Secondly, Andrew did go get his brother. Once, he got to know Christ, he went and told his brother, Simon, that he had found the Christ and then brought him to Christ as well. Note that he didn’t just keep Christ to himself. One might be tempted to not want to share company with anyone else. You might be tempted to think, if I bring others to him then I will have to share conversations with them and time alone with them; especially someone like his outgoing, boisterous brother who is always in the limelight. One might be tempted to say this is my chance to have something all to myself.

Note that he took the time to be away from Christ to go get others and bring them to Him. We sit in our padded pews and pray that God will bring others in, but we are commanded to GO GET THEM and bring them in ourselves. {ouch!}

3) Have an Optimistic Heart

John 6:5-9  (NLT)

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

Andrew always looked for the good. We see here at the Feeding of the Five Thousand that Phillip’s response was “we can’t do it”, but Andrew saw that they did have something. He brought up that they did have some food. We need to be looking for the positive in our life. There is enough negative in the world and a little positive can go a long way. We need to give the Lord what we have even if it seems like so little. I’m reminded of the lyrics to a song. “Little is Much, When God is in it”. If we give our “meager” talent or time or whatever it is you have to God, Wow! the possibilities are amazing!”

This is how God is glorified and others are attracted to Him because of what God does and not what we do!

Finally,

4) Have a Big Heart

John 12:20-22 (NLT)

20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.

Andrew had a big heart. In this case, we have non-Jews coming and asking to see Jesus. They could have sent them away because they weren’t Jews, but Andrew’s heart was big enough to welcome them and take them to Jesus.

We, too, need to have a big heart. See that Jesus loves everyone, in spite of who they are or where they have been. Look past the tattoos, the scars of sin, the ragged clothes, the smelly or diseased bodies, and the list goes on.

  • Are we willing to reach out and touch the untouchable as Christ did?
  • Are we willing to bring people into our church and homes?

God would have everyone to be saved. We need to have big hearts and reach out to these. This is how we make disciples of all nations right in our own corner of the world!

Loving You as Christ Loved you!

 

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

___________________

1) Disciplines of a Godly Woman

Pastor appreciation

UNAPPRECIATED ~ Three Actions to Change Your Own Heart

A Bottle of Bath Wash.

Who doesn’t enjoy the wonderful smell and the softness obtained from using it?

But it seemed precious little payment for the hours on end that I spent learning and perfecting the wedding music chosen for this wedding and the entire weekend my husband and I gave for rehearsal, decorating, flower deliveries and, of course, the wedding itself.

Have you ever felt unappreciated?

It’s easy to fall into the trap. We work hard to do our best and no one notices, maybe they even criticize our hard work. I’ve experienced that before!

But, remember my pastor’s wife, Charlotte, who taught my so much in the beginning? She brought home the truth one day while we were talking. She did it gently by suggesting that I make the time and hard work my gift to the bride and groom.

The truth of the matter is that it was my attitude that needed adjusting.

The big question is, “Who am I serving?”

God’s Word says,

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

You see, I had my priorities upside down.

I wasn’t doing all that preparation out of love for the couple (or God). I was doing it for my glory. To receive praise or a few dollars. And when it didn’t pay off, I was upset. No wonder I felt unappreciated.

It was time for an attitude adjustment. I needed a heart transplant. My heart of self-service needed changing out for a heart of service.

As we come to the end of October (Pastor’s Appreciation Month), perhaps some of us are needing a heart transplant. Maybe we feel unappreciated this year. It is possible we feel what was given was too little and too late causing us to wonder if it was all quickly put together at the last minute.

pastor appreciation

photo credit: Canva modified by Mandy

Here are a few ways that I have found to make an attitude adjustment.

Look Up

Look up to God Realize how much He loves me and does for me. Thank Him for all the blessings He has given me even when I don’t deserve it.

Look Around

Look around at all those who are serving with me. This would include associates, widowed pastors/spouses, retired ministers, and their spouse. Send a handwritten card or note expressing your appreciation for them and what they do. Remember that joy comes in giving more than in receiving.

Look Back

Remember those who have paved the way for me. Write a note to the pastors and wives in my life that have encouraged me along the way.

Also, don’t forget the leaders above me. In our church, there is a District Superintendent that guides all the churches in our state. I’m sure he would accept a little appreciation, as well.

 

Next year, try entering the month of appreciation doing these things. I think you will find a greater feeling of joy over your situation.

 

Feeling Grateful!

Mandy Farmer