Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's the Most Taboo Subject in Church?

Many people would say sex is the most taboo subject in church. It's rarely preached about, and most people blush or turn away at the thought of mentioning it in the house of God. But I think there's a subject even more taboo...gluttony.

Gluttony: Excessive eating or drinking; greedy or excessive indulgence (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Maybe I have never been to the right church at the right time, but I have never heard a pastor preach to a congregation about gluttony. Why not? Probably because we don't want to hear it. Maybe the pastor is afraid too many church members will get mad and not come back. Or maybe the pastor gives in to gluttony so much himself, that he doesn't feel right preaching about it. Or maybe we all have gotten so caught up in it, we no longer see it as wrong.

Wrong? Really? But I LOVE to eat! Really, I do...I'm not being sarcastic here. I grew up not realizing gluttony was wrong. A couple of years ago, I finally started reading the Bible on my own rather than waiting for it to be spoon-fed to me on Sundays. Here's what I found:

Romans 13:14 Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Phillipians 3:18-19 ...they are the enemies of the cross: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.

Provers 23:20-21 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty...

Proverbs 25:16 Have you found honey? Eat as much as is sufficient for you, lest you be filled with it, and vomit.

No, gluttony isn't exactly in the 10 commandments (unless you count having no other gods before Him), but the Bible does speak against it. Food is meant to nourish and sustain us, but overeating beyond what's needed is giving in to the flesh. Phillipians 3:18-19 (above) says it best. Also, drunkeness is often preached against, but we fail to see that gluttons are often lumped with drunkards in Scripture.

An interesting correlation between obesity and religion in the US was found by author Tim Covell. He looked at the CalorieLab2010 report and a 2008 Gallup poll of adult Americans on how important religion was to them. He noticed that 9 out of 10 of the most overweight states are also some of the most religious. Covell admits he reports this "tongue-in-cheek" because the studies don't show why there's a correlation, if there is one at all. Maybe people in poor health come to the church for support, or maybe the obesity can be blamed on poverty rather than religion. Who knows?

Before I offend too many people, I do want to express one of my beliefs: Gluttony does not always lead to obesity, and obesity is not always caused by gluttony. Now let's move on...

If people come to the church for support or obesity is blamed on poverty, the same question comes to my mind: Where is the church's help??? We're keeping our mouths shut and offering no support. Instead, we're happily getting together to feast on roast beef, chocolate cakes, macaroni pie, etc. during Homecomings, showers, birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, fundraisers, and any other excuse we can think of to eat. Please understand I am not saying it's wrong to get together to celebrate. We need fellowship, and around the dinner table is a great way to spend time together. I just don't believe we have to stuff ourselves each time. Too often I see people lean back after a meal, rub their stomachs, and say "wow I can't believe I ate so much" or "I can't move after all of that food." When I say I see people who do this too often, I really mean I see myself rubbing my stomach and saying those things. Guilty as charged.

I see 3 big problems with gluttony:
1) We indulge in greed and excessiveness, putting our physical desires first, which goes against Romans 13:14 and similar scriptures.
2) It's unhealthy to overeat because it puts a strain on our digestive system and adds excess fat for us to carry around.
3) We can't do all that God has planned for us when we're uncomfortably stuffed or unhealthy from too much food.

There are many more cartoons by Randy Glasbergen.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fundraiser Success

A couple of weeks ago, we had a yard sale/breakfast/car wash as a fundraiser for the youth group. We have plans to attend a conference in February and need at least $2000 for it. When DH told me this number, I said “Huh? How much?!” We’re a small church, and $2000 is certainly not pocket change. But I know this conference is a great opportunity for our youth, especially for them to grow spiritually. Because of that, I know God will provide, but we’ll have to put in some work as well.

Yard Sale: Tables were set up outdoors for church members who wanted to rent tables. We rented by donation and collected the money at the end of the sale. This way, people who didn’t sale much wouldn’t feel gyped with the table price, and people who sold lots felt like they could donate more. It was a win-win for all of us.

Tables were also set up indoors (in the social hall) for items that were donated to us. All of the proceeds went directly to the youth. Price tags were on everything so the youth could help sell items without constantly asking the adults “how much for this?” We kept prices low with the intention of selling plenty of it rather than carting so much off later. (Whatever was left after the sale was donated).

Breakfast: Bacon or sausage links, grits (with optional cheese), biscuits and jelly, and scrambled eggs. Drink options were coffee (regular or decaf), orange juice, or milk. We charged $5 per plate, making each item $1 a piece. The local Ryan’s donated creamer, jelly, and honey butter.

The bacon and biscuits took the longest, so we were cooking about an hour before breakfast was to be started. Thankfully, there’s a warmer in the church kitchen. Notes to self: Stir grits often and add water occasionally to prevent them from clumping or drying out. Next time, buy more bacon and less sausage. Very few people requested sausage. Overall, the food must have been great because we got lots of compliments on it and sold almost everything.

We also had a small Bake Sale table which was a huge success with the lunch-time crowd. Brownies, cupcakes, cookies...YUM.

Car Wash: This was a last-minute decision when DH and I were brainstorming ideas to keep the youth busy during the sale. There is only so much help that is needed in the kitchen or to sell items. We decided to turn it into a service project (and maybe bring in more customers) by advertising a free car wash. Surprisingly, lots of people came into the social hall to donate $5, $10, or even $20 for the car wash.

The event was scheduled for 8:00 am – 1:00 pm. I won’t give an exact amount that was made, but I will say it was successful. God went above and beyond what I was expecting from it, and we’re all incredibly thankful for the support and donations from the church members and community. Hopefully, the auction in December will raise the rest of the money for our trip.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Forgive Me God for My Selfishness & Doubts

My husband and I are looking into buying a new home so we've looked at our budget to see what we can afford. DH made some stupid crazy choices in his younger days by buying a brand new truck and motorcycle. Many months of living paycheck-to-paycheck made him vow never to spend so far above his means ever again. A loan seems unavoidable, but we will need rather small monthly payments. The conclusion: a small home is best.

We still have to cut some things out of our budget and save as much as we can. One area we spend A LOT on is gas. At over $3.30 a gallon, I imagine most of you can relate. When we first bought our vehicles, gas mileage was not top on the list of "reasons to buy this one." Top reasons were more like "I love the look of it" or "that'll be fun to drive." We both ended up with trucks. Nope, not the best choice for gas mileage. But in my defense, safety was on my list as well, and we bought them before we met each other.

To cut back on gas, we have 2 obvious options:
1) Trade-in for a vehicle with better gas mileage
2) Drive less

I get nauseous rather easily in cars ever since mold reared it's ugly fuzzy head around me. I've recovered quite a bit from the effects of it but am not completely back to "normal." I don't get sick with my truck. DH's truck is also rather messed up and would not get enough of a trade-in value. He'll just have to drive it until it it falls apart, has to duck tape it, and then the tape rots off.

We're down to 1 choice. DRIVE LESS. I've already tried cutting down on this by consolidating trips. There's no point driving 30 minutes into "town" unless I have multiple errands to complete. Some days I won't go anywhere at all. (ok...rarely. But I'm working on this!)

Quite a bit of our mileage and gas are used to pick teenagers up for church and take them home afterwards. DH drives the church bus when there are many people to pick up. If there's only 2 or 3 though, we do it ourselves. The reasoning is that the bus guzzles a whole lot more gas than our trucks do, and the bus may be on its last leg as well since it's quite a few years old. If DH takes the bus when taking kids home, that means he also has to come all the way back to the church to drop it off rather than head straight home.

But the numbers in our budget scared me. The amounts coming in and going out were too close together for us to spend much of anything on monthly home payments. I broached the driving subject to DH...what if he did use the church bus more often? Or what if the church helped pay for our gas since he is the youth pastor and is picking up the youth?

Immediately after asking, I felt guilty. Where was my faith? DH quoted back to me Matthew 6:20-21: Store your treasures in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy, and theives do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

For a little while before this conversation, I had a hard heart about driving the teens. I did it grudgingly to help my husband, but I resented it. It was not a task I WANTED to do, particularly because of the amount of gas.

That conversation made a world of difference for me. For every trip we make, we're storing up treasures in heaven. We're also helping these youth grow closer to God because they wouldn't be able to come to church if we depended on their parents to bring them. I prayed that night for God to forgive me for my selfishness. If we're doing His work, I know He'll continue to provide for it. The trips with the teens also give me a chance to talk to 1 or 2 at a time, to really talk about whatever they're going through. I've approached it differently lately...joyfully and willingly. We'll have to cut back on some of our spending for the sake of our budget, but the amount of gas spent will remain.

It's amazing what God does after we give something over to Him. The week after I was smacked over the head with the gas situation and willingly decided to spend the money for God, $100 was handed to DH with the instructions to "take your wife out to dinner." Aww, thanks!

That's my gas-loving truck 3.5 years ago when we got married.