Hi and Bye Hiatus

It’s been 3 months since I’ve posted, and that may be my longest unannounced hiatus. I haven’t abandoned writing, but I don’t like feeling forced to say something just to be making noise.  So here’s some substance for ya:

  • Churchless but not Godless: I was shocked to come home from my BGR Race trip that I documented in my last post to learn that my pastor was no longer with my church. A few months and many meetings later, he has announced the launch of his own church, which will start with at least 2,000 people. It’s kind of mind-blowing. Being without a church home has been hard, but I benefited from going to a women’s bible study at another local church. It made me look at my life differently and feel less negative about certain circumstances. Others have noticed too: when I visited my family for Thanksgiving, my mother and my best friend (in separate, private conversations) told me that I had a new light about me, that something was different and I seemed happier. Despite me temporarily being without a church home, I can say is having regular quiet time with God makes the difference.

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  • Proof is approved: My forthcoming relationship book Ending the Blame Game is official! I will announce the launch by Spring 2014. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to all the work with marketing it, but it must be done. I need to take a break from writing books for a little bit.
  • Who would hack me? My professional website was down for a few days due to hacking, but thankfully my partner was able to correct the issues. GoDaddy gave little information and I thought about switching to another host, but I still have 6 years I’ve paid for left with them. 😦

    Highlights from my birthday weekend
    Highlights from my birthday weekend
  • 20131103_132052eBest. birthday. ever. in November: I invited friends to do activities with me that I already wanted to do: movies, hitting the shooting range, and of course eating. A bunch of folks joined me, including a few from out of town to show me love.
  • Keeping it under wraps: You may notice above I have a couple of “new dos”. I’m growing my hair out, and although I still accept my natural hair, it’s not pretty right now because it’s grown out of its style and a perm isn’t the answer. I’ll probably go back to braids this winter.

Check me out tomorrow: I visited the family in November also, and they are coming to my place for Christmas. I also have some running stuff to recap since my last post, including my fear of dogs and racing sign-up frenzy. 🙂

 

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First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Conclusion)

Lost? This post is part 4 of a series. (Start here to catch up.)
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Women Are Called to Ministry, Too

The controversy about women in the pulpit continues to pervade Christian society in America. The September 2008 issue of the Fayetteville, GA-based Gospel Today magazine featured five female pastors for its cover story, but Lifeway, a Christian bookstore affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled this issue from their magazine displays. Their decision to do so is based on the scripture passage 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Conclusion)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 3)

Lost? This post is part 3 of a series. It will all make more sense to you if you read the previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2) before proceeding.

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Balancing Family Time

“Family and devotional time is on the top of my list—it is what keeps everything else moving forward,” Sharon affirms.  When either of them are ignored or lowered on my priority list, I am less productive and totally not fulfilled.”

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Adequate family time is a priority in the Hurst home. “Being a responsible mom is a major thing for me,” Denise says, whose three children are sons Jeremiah, 9, Dynnell, 6, and Sean, 2, with another son due this month. “I’m raising African-American men in today’s society. I want them to be well-rounded and secure in themselves.”

The Hursts are also cautious about the “PK” (preacher’s kid) syndrome. “Germaine and I do not want our kids to grow up and resent the church. I don’t want them to think, ‘The church took my mom and dad from me.’ So to avoid that attitude later, we make sure we do things together—just us.”

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 3)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 2)

(For the backstory, check out Part 1 first.)

Transition to the Pulpit

Since Denise was already a member of the church where she became first lady, there was quite an adjustment from being a college girl to becoming the first lady. “I made a lot of friends at Emmanuel from my years at Buff State, so my friends had to learn how to respect me in a different light,” she says.

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I’ve been told I don’t act like a pastor’s wife,” Sharon says, “but I take it as a complement to say that I’m down to earth.  I’ve been told by people that they are waiting to see what I have on in the pulpit and I just take it that I’m a role model which can be a positive tool to use to minister to young ladies.  I have never heard any negative things about me directly, but I learned to evaluate what is being said. If it’s true, I try to be mindful of it and grow and develop in the area, but if it is not true, I pray that the individual who said it would grow and mature in that area.”

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“Being a pastor’s wife is rewarding, but you can also feel isolated,” Denise admits. Another first lady advised Denise to be mindful of how she behaves—to never let people see her cry or get upset. Denise said she felt like she had to be perfect.  She also had to deal with people’s expectations of how she should act and dress. “Some people wanted me to wear hats like their previous first lady.”

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Iris says she wasn’t a kind of first lady who could sit around and look cute wearing a big hat. “Ladies have to see that you’re a person,” she says. “Sometimes you like to have fun, but sometimes you cry and you go through things.”  Similar to Denise, when Iris became the first lady, well-meaning, mature people in ministry advised her not to be friends with the other women in the church, but to just be friends with other ministers and keep to herself otherwise. But Iris rejected that notion. “I like to hang out with the other ladies, I invite them to my house, and I teach them. I tell people that we do things not because the pastor says so, but because the Bible says so.”

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 2)”

First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 1)

The following four-part series of posts is from a previously unpublished article, originally titled “Ladies Keeping God First,” that I developed because of the general mystery I perceived around pastors’ wives. One of my best friends from high school has been a pastor’s wife for several years, but to me, that’s different because we grew up together (her story is included here). However, I was recently a member of a church with a single pastor who married during my time there, and for whatever reason, a few years went by without me really getting to know her or hear from her regularly. Thus the “mystery” ensued, and so did my curiosity.

The recent and currently unresolved scandal with Bishop Eddie Long and his alleged indiscretions again raised issues about the loyalty of a pastor’s wife.  (She has been no more vocal than her husband, but I won’t get into that here.)

I currently worship at a nondenominational church in Georgia, but I was raised as a Baptist in New York. Once I moved south, I noticed that many denominations, including Southern Baptists, did not condone or allow women in the pulpit, nor women to speak to or teach men. This practice disturbed me, and the ladies I interviewed for this story touch on this and other issues.

I’ll post Parts 1 and 2 this week, with Parts 3 and 4 to follow next week. If you haven’t already, I invite you to subscribe to my feed right now, so you won’t miss a thing!

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Ladies Keeping God First

What does it take to manage a household as a wife and mother, take care of the kids, a husband, work full-time, all while working in full-time ministry side-by-side with your husband, who pastors a church?

The life of a first lady is anything but ordinary. She—like her husband—has a divine assignment that is not to be taken lightly.

Continue reading “First Ladies: The Unsung Pulpit Partners (Part 1)”

Not All Popular Preachers Are Pimpin’

Are you so jaded to think that every preacher on TV is tryin’ to pimp you out of your money or your clothes? [In my Bill Cosby voice] C’mon people!

It annoys me when I read or hear comments about credible people who I have learned from, saying that they are ‘nothing but false preachers.’

Nothing but?!

Is that simple? Can you really discount everything about the person’s message (that’s what nothing but does)? Do you have inside ties or information about this person to back up what you’re saying? Even if you do, one person doesn’t qualify to give the rest–or Christianity–a bad name.

And are tithers really stupid to give their hard-earned money to a preacher? Well I don’t look at like that at all. Do you know the average pastor’s salary? I choose to tithe out of obedience to and faith in God, because I have to answer to Him–not anyone down here.

Now I can agree that there ARE false preachers out there (Matthew 7:15, 1 Timothy 1:3, 4 and chapter 4). But not every preacher on TV is necessarily a ‘prosperity preacher’. There is a balance between teaching people how to live the life Christ died to give them–a more abundant life (John 10:10; 3 John 1:2)–and being meek, humble and holy. Everyone perceives humility and holiness differently, but I don’t think you should totally discredit a preacher because s/he likes nice things. Whose to say those funds came from the church?

I worship in my local community and occasionally watch preachers on TV and read their books. Because I have read the Bible for myself, and continue to study it, I know if someone’s message is coming from God’s heart or from their own personal gospel and opinions. You have to know the Word for yourself before you can discern others’ motives. Please believe it.

What kind of fruit does this person’s ministry (and their life) produce (Luke 6:44; Matthew 21:18-19)? Is the person’s own immediate family on the up and up? Are lives being changed for the better as a result of their efforts? Are people coming to Christ and learning how to live their lives to be more like Him (their character, attitude, and integrity)?

I agree that people in positions of leadership are called to a higher standard (1 Timothy 3), but I say don’t let someone’s bankroll, clothing, or vehicle of choice dissuade you from ministers who are popular. They’re not perfect, and as humans they may stumble, but they’re not necessarily crooks trying to prey on those who are already down. Infighting only weakens our cause.

There are thousands, millions, zillions of preachers and teachers of God’s Word that are not out to get you. They really love the Lord and have committed their lives to doing His work, spreading the gospel (that is, the Good News of Jesus Christ– Matthew 28:16-20), and are active servant leaders helping their communities. Please back up off of these, my sisters and brothers in Christ who are trying to do the right thing and making a great impact.

 

“Touch not my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”– 1 Chronicles 16:22 and Psalm 105:15

P.S.- If you want to quickly look up the above-mentioned scriptures or any others in your favorite Bible version, go to http://www.biblegateway.com/ or your favorite online Bible resource. And if I’ve missed the mark, give me some food for thought–I don’t have all the answers.

Mary Mary: Be U

Tina and Erica Campbell (Mary Mary)

I am a fan of Mary Mary (Erica and Tina Campbell). I saw them perform in Washington D.C. upon the release of their first album, and have always admired their fearless, classy portrayal of the God in them. I knew this book was geared for young people, but I am writing a book for teen girls so I decided to check out Be U to see if there was anything that prompted me to write on another subject, or see if there was anything I left out of my work. Although I enjoyed the book overall, as it contained a lot of spiritual reminders, unfortunately, I also discovered some things that I thought the Campbell sisters left out.

First, let me say that this book is very easy to read for all ages.  It has the format of a devotional, with a page of scripture, a page and half that is a message from one of the sisters, and then 3-4 pages of questions and space for answers (like a journal). The sisters cleverly use their song titles for their chapter themes. The messages don’t go into a lot of depth—they are brief enough to read quickly, but get the point across.

The most touching and powerful anecdotes were those of Erica’s husband overcoming cancer, and Tina dealing with having to leave her preemie daughter in the hospital for almost a month until she could come home (that had to seem like forever!). However, I don’t know if young people can really relate to such stories. I thought some “youth-friendly” stories were missing, and I’m sure Erica & Tina had some, as they come from a big family.

I saw Tina on The Mo’Nique Show to promote this book, and have heard both sisters on radio interviews too—they are always on point. But I wish the Q&A chapter had more questions about practical, youth-friendly issues.  From an editorial standpoint, I noticed a few typos in this chapter as well (not to be picky, but I’m a technical writer–I can’t help but notice these things).

Something else that is very important is missing from this book—how to invite Jesus to become your personal Lord and Savior. I think this book assumes that every young person who picks it up is “churched” and understands terms like “grace” and so on. Be U is a nice overview for youth who want to or need to begin developing a personal quiet time of devotion with God. I hope this book plants a seed that will make them want to stay connected to God and commit to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.