I cried when my friend Cherrilynn asked me to go to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. There was no way I could go! I had wanted to for three years, but the timing was wrong, the money wasn’t there, and how could I leave my husband and two teen boys, one of whom just became our foster son, to fend for themselves? Besides, I was sure my husband would never say yes. So I didn’t ask.
Shouldn’t I have a several thousand page book written first to justify the expense and inconvenience to others? I have a couple children’s picture book manuscripts but… Am I worth it? Am I worth investing in? What if I fail?
Our worth is not defined by ourselves, others, or by our performance, but by Christ’s investment in us, His precious blood spent and His love for us. That makes us priceless. And it is He who bestows gifts on each of us for His glory and to help others.
I don’t doubt God’s calling on my life to write, but sometimes I doubt myself. I fear quitting. Remember in the Grinch when the townspeople are all shouting at him? “You don’t belong there!” echoed in my mind.
“Hi Pastor Obermeyer. Would you like to unwrap these statements of yours a bit, which you gave in answer to my questions? Here, Preacher; the floor, or rather, the pulpit is yours! If you wish to take it—go!”
“Okay, rolling up my sleeves, lol.”
Rachael: What most breaks your heart? What do you see as the biggest threat to the church today?
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: The condition of the church these days, which gets so caught up with the world and then wonders why it isn’t being effective. Secular worldviews, worldly attitudes, Biblical illiteracy, and ignorance.
What I mean is that I see many worldly philosophies and practices actively being taught in the church by ignorant and immature Christians. Spiritual immaturity is rampant, as is Biblical illiteracy. I hear more people offering their logic and opinions than actual Scripture verses. I hear Christians talk about “centering,” themselves, not realizing they are really talking about centering their “chi,” or life energy, which is a complete Eastern thought about how our life energy vibrates out of balance and needs to be re-centered.
Even yoga is designed for this, each position centering and balancing a different part of the chi; and yet we find “Christian yoga,” which is kind of a contradiction in terms, being led in some churches. I hear Christians talk about karma—good and bad karma and how karma is going to, “get that person.” This is horrible. Karma is not the same thing as the Biblical teaching of reaping what you sow despite its popular use even among Christians. Karma is a cosmic force, energy, or presence generated by the sum of a person’s actions, good and bad, which affects the nature of a person’s existence and determines their destiny or fate through transmigration into their next incarnation. That’s a mouthful, but it’s even more than that. It’s also one of the three margas, or paths to Brahman or salvation taught in Hinduism, being the path through works.
All of this comes from paganism and mythology and is completely contrary to Scripture, which teaches against reincarnation and salvation by works. It also puts our trust for justice and vengeance in something besides a merciful God and bypasses mercy altogether. Sadly, so many people today think they get into Heaven by doing enough good things to outweigh the bad, which is why many people struggle with the security of their own salvation in Christ.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that notof yourselves; it is the giftofGod, not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
Karma completely undermines the finished work of Christ on the cross and the hope we have in Him. It puts all the responsibility on us and our own abilities to save ourselves, which is an impossible task. And it isn’t enough just to say you don’t use the word, karma, that way but mean something else, like good or bad luck, (also pagan). The Bible is clear that it is what it is regardless of how you use it (c.f 1 Corinthians 10:19-21). And if that isn’t clear enough, Paul specifically writes that we are to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). The Bible is replete with passages, (Old and New Testament), telling God’s people not to be like the pagans and not to do what they do, especially in dance, worship, and lifestyle. We are to be different, set apart, holy. That’s something I think a lot of Christians overlook but really should investigate. Both Paul and Christ warn even further against causing others to stumble in their faith by one’s own misleading actions.
People offer their thoughts and positive energy along with their prayers; again Eastern thought. And they confuse Eastern and New Age meditation, (emptying your mind and thoughts), with Biblical meditation, (filling your mind and thoughts with Scripture and Godly reflection). Christ warns that an empty “house” is vulnerable to being filled with demons, (Matthew 12:44-45). We think if we call it, “mindfulness,” then it’s not the same thing as Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age thought; whatever you want to call it, it isn’t Biblical.
I see churches and pastors getting distracted and becoming more concerned about looks and feels and making sure people are entertained rather than about teaching solid truth and deep faith. We sure get fired up about political and social issues, and we’ve got to look fly in front of people to keep up with the world, while the meat of God’s Word for daily living, spiritual growth, furthering of God’s Kingdom, and changing that world can just take a backseat—as if we don’t truly believe in it’s Power. I hear more motivational speaking than preaching, and those are not the same thing. Sadly, the church is sick and is presenting a shallow Gospel, and then we wonder why so many people, especially young people, question and abandon their faith. They’ve been given a different Gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-4; Galatians 1:6-9) with no saving power. Their need isn’t satisfied. Their faith doesn’t take root because their faith hasn’t been placed in the true Solid Rock of Christ, but sinking sand.
Rachael: If you could tell the Church anything, what would it be? What’s on your heart?
This comes at the expense of a broken heart. —Pastor Pablo Catala
Physical and emotional stress; personal time and freedom; often any sense of security because things change so much in your life; and struggles with self-worth as you are constantly being evaluated, of which you mostly only hear about your shortcomings. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
As a missionary it has cost convenience, comfort, seeing family… but the promised reward of souls far outweigh the costs. —Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal
What is the hardest part of pastoring?
Seeing what people need to do and watching them not do it, no matter how I present it or how I word it, no matter how much time I spent with them and then having to hear the lament of,“Pastor, you were right,” which does not comfort me as I’m seeing the carnage of their bad decisions. —Anonymous Pastor Expecting to be loved, understood, maybe even appreciated? They have no idea how needy we are. —Anonymous Pastor’s Wife
Sometimes your own children reject everything you’ve lived for and still you must keep going. —Anonymous
Realizing how much you don’t know, and feeling like you never do enough, aren’t good enough, or that you might misspeak something heretical. —Pastor Kevin Obermeyer
What is your biggest challenge and most unexpected hardship in pastoring?
I guess my passion for the church gets me in trouble. —Janet Foley
It’s loud out there. Much of the voices are of those in error, who sow division, stir up strife, and spew hate, and doctrines of loose living. They seek to cast off the restraints and Biblical principles our Nation was founded on which secured our freedom and bound us to the blessings of the Almighty, our Creator.
Too often those who believe in righteousness choose to remain silent or are not given the platform to stand and speak. Or sometimes when they do, others do not support them. There is no neutral ground. If we say nothing and do nothing when we are called to stand and speak we become part of the problem. Speak the truth in love, because that’s what love does.
I write to make Truth Himself, Jesus Christ known, so lost ones can find Home. I write to shed light and hope and truth abroad, through His Word, the words He gives me, and sometimes through the words of others. I write to encourage and inspire the well doing and weary ones to hold on and carry on.
So, what are you doing? What has God called you to do? Better find out if you don’t know. Tick-tock-tick-tock—
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
Truth must speak more loudly than lies. Those who walk with wisdom must lead so others can follow and be saved from stumbling, foolishness and folly. Hope is not meant to be hidden in our hands but offered to the needy, the thirsty.
Yes, light casts out darkness, but only if we hold our candles high. Encourage. Educate. Empower, inspire, motivate. See. Stand. Speak Truth. Speak life.
Despite the passage of civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, change was slow. James Meredith, the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi, set out to draw attention to the continuing racial oppression in the Mississippi Delta and to encourage voter registration by African Americans, in the face of great opposition and despite the fear it produced. He embarked on his solo mission, The March Against Fear, in June 1966, starting in Memphis, Tennessee with the intent of ending at the State house in Jackson Mississippi, the state capital. On the second day of his march, Meredith was shot by a white sniper by the name of James Aubrey. Upon learning of the shooting, other Civil rights leaders, organizations and supporters, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., decided to continue the march.
In June, 1966 my husband, Roy, and I participated in the March Against Fear. The purpose of the march was to non violently support and encourage voter registration of the black population and to not be hindered by fear or from the hateful opposition they faced. We took our four children with us. Their ages were 5, 7, 9, and 12. The night before we marched, we stayed with families from neighboring black churches, my husband and son with one family, and myself and our daughters with another.
The next day was brutally hot, so our hosts gave us salt pills to prevent dehydration.There were about 200 of us, and as we marched through each town we kept picking up more people. We were among the few whites in the mostly black crowd. Angry faced locals lined the highway, some carrying rifles, harassing us as we walked by. Our oldest child, Sara, remembers the hate filled face of a woman riding in a truck, with guns on a rack in the back. The woman shouted obscenities in her face and spit on her. Immediately our 12 year old was swept into the middle of the marchers to keep her safe. A grandmotherly black woman right behind her said, “Don’t you fret about it honey, we’re just gonna sing.” And they did.
“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.”
This is how you fight back. You sing.
Then the horrifying word came through that a black man had been lynched that same day outside the town we had just passed through.
As we walked along highway 51, we often saw poor black people bending over in the cotton fields. As soon as they saw us they would rise up tall, wave and give the marchers huge smiles of encouragement.
After a few hours, we stopped at a small farmhouse. We all took drinks of water from the well out front. It was there that our Hartford Seminary classmate and good friend, Andy Young, a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., discovered us. He said, “Wait right here just a minute.” He went inside the house where Dr. King was involved in a strategy meeting with other leaders. Dr. King stopped what he was doing, came out to the road, and greeted our family. He then blessed each of our children. It is forever a treasured memory. Then some printed handbills appeared and were passed among us with these encouraging words from Dr. King:
“We’re moving up the highway of Freedom toward the City of Equality. We can’t stop now.
In the evening we had supper in the school yard. Out of nowhere came enough food for over 200 people, as in the Bible account where on the mountainside 5,000 were fed. Peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and piles of fried chicken prepared by women from local black churches, who could ill afford it. To protect us while we ate, Federal Marshals with machine guns sat on top of the roof of the school.
After supper, as we left to head back home to Chicago, there were no federal marshals, just an angry white crowd lining the highway, shouting and shaking their fists at us, some with rifles. My husband yelled at us to get down on the floor of the car as he drove quickly out of there.
We were never afraid while walking up that highway, because we were all together, over 200 of us. We kept on singing, and we kept on walking. What a privilege it was to be there.
Meredith recovered from his wounds and rejoined the march, walking on the front lines next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and other Civil Rights leaders. The marchers grew in number to an estimated 15,000 participants and on June 26th, 1966, the 220 mile march ended with their arrival at the Statehouse in Jackson, Mississippi. Figures released by the US Justice department, showed that over 4,000 black people registered to vote during the march.
Sarah, you were only twelve years old. How did you feel about participating in the march?
I was never afraid. There were too many of us together to be afraid. I wasn’t even sure where my parents were. I think Mom was driving the First Aid car, and I didn’t know where Dad was, but we were all going to meet for dinner at the picnic place, so it was fine.
Tell me about the woman in the truck who spat at you.
I remember an ugly, angry face, hatred personified. She was screaming obscenities at me, a twelve year old girl- like, “Are you gonna sleep with that #?*# n—–?! You little n—– lover!” She was probably a beautiful woman, but that day she was very ugly.
Suddenly, these big black men surrounded me and put themselves between me and the vehicles. And I remember this big black grandmotherly lady saying to me, “Don’t you pay them no mind. We’re just gonna keep on singing.” Then we sang, This Little Light of Mine.
How did that make you feel? What was going through your head?
I wasn’t shocked. I had encountered southern racism before when I was eight years old and our family moved from Chicago where I attended an integrated school, to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. On the ride to Oak Ridge, we stopped at a gas station and I went to go to the bathroom. One bathroom had a door with a sign over it that said, “Whites Only.” The other bathroom had a sign which read, “Coloreds Only” and had no door with just a hole in the ground for a toilet. It looked like it had never been cleaned. I refused to get the key for the white toilet, but instead went around the back and peed in the grass. I wasn’t using the White’s Only bathroom.
Sarah, were white, and only eight years old. That’s very young to have such conviction and make a stand. It would have been really easy for you to just go get the key and use the nice clean White’s Only bathroom.
If everyone couldn’t use it, then I wasn’t using it either. I wasn’t getting that key! I wasn’t any kind of hero; I just had the same gut reaction any decent person would have had.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Jean, if then was now, or a similar situation presented itself, knowing the dangers, would you participate? Would you bring your children or grandchildren to it?
Yes. Children need to know, to see and be with people who aren’t like them. And when you gotta stand up for justice, it’s what you gotta do.
“the time is always right to do the right thing”― Martin Luther King Jr.
Jean, did you expect the level of opposition you faced during the march?
I don’t know if I thought about it beforehand, but I knew there had always been opposition to the Civil Rights Movement in the past.
Russ Taff, Alicia Williamson, We Will Stand, (Live)
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 (NKJV)
(I am truly blessed to have Jean as my mother-in-law, and Sara as my sister-in -law )
I’d like to invite you to read about our young friend, Alek’s, battle against Lymes disease. Please consider sharing on your social media and with friends, family and co-workers.
*Matching funds on new donations from February 1st- February 14th, 2018! Link to read his story or donate toward his ongoing treatment. the information on Lymes disease in this article by his mom is a good education on the disease and may be helpful to others battling it or with undiagnosed similar symptoms:
“Everything in me wants to quit right now,” she said.
“You can’t. Not- an- option. That would be flushing all your hard work, and turning your back on the gift God gave you.”
“Suddenly I question everything, especially my abilities as a writer, and I just want to turn and run the other way…”
“You think you have battles now? Remember, there is no armor in the back, so if you turn tail you are more exposed than ever to the enemy. Regret is a miserable bedfellow. It’s harder in the end to go in the opposite direction God’s headed, which is forward.”
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
My friend complained that certain media is just propaganda.
“(They) set algorithm to trend only hate and propaganda. The Gospel or anything positive never trends,” she said. “If you watch trending lines, you can tell it’s being manipulated. It’s so negative. We Christians, or positives thoughts, are being pushed off.”
There’s a lot of bad in the media, and in the world. And it’s all pretty trendy. I can pay attention to that and let it discourage, distract and derail me, or I can seize the opportunity to promote good and encourage others.
The Gospel has never been trendy, but it still gets its work done— one by one. Jesus only had 12 apostles and not nearly as many followers as Rome, or the Pharisees and Sadducees, the religious leaders of the day. And even Jesus’ few followers deserted Him for a time, but that didn’t stop the Gospel.
Your worth is in Christ, not in others. Even if men revered you- what is that compared to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calling you His own and loving you?
Never mind what others are doing. Focus on what God is doing and what He has for you to do.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
The Sound of Crickets
“…I know my writing is amateur. I know all these things, but it’s still frustrating putting words out into the world to the sound of crickets….” she said.
If God has called you to a task shouldn’t you get to it?
The only real failure is quitting when we are called to carry on. All else is just the learning on the road to success.
“Lord, You are life giving Living Water. Encourage Your weary word warriors. Refresh our world worn souls.”
I believe God created us with the desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves, to do something that matters. Fulfillment is found in Jesus, and purpose, when we follow Him and find our calling and use our talents to glorify Him and serve others.
I am called to scatter the seed of the Gospel through His Word and the words God gives me, to lift up Jesus’ name and honor Him. I write for the one and The One. I let God decide what to do with it. The good shepherd leaves the 99 to rescue the one lost sheep. So, even if my words only impact a few, what matters is that I obey God by sharing His truth from the platform He gives me. It’s worth it for the one who hears and follows Jesus. You are one. I am one.
And if my words impact many, I must remember it is:
A friend recently referred to her writer website as “small potatoes.” Let me tell you a story.
Dwight was only four years old when his father died, leaving his mother to raise his family of nine children on their farm in Northfield, MA. His formal education ended in fifth grade. He moved to Boston at 17 years old where his uncle hired him to work in his shoe store, under the condition he attend services at Mt. Vernon Congregational Church. On April 21st, 1855 his Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimball, took the time to pay a visit to and share the Gospel with the young shoe salesman. Dwight L Moody accepted Jesus as his savior and became one of the leading evangelists of his time. He also founded the Moody Church, Northfield Mount Hermon School, the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers.
Look at the chain reaction of influence and conversions of men who became preachers:
Edward Kimball,volunteer Sunday School teacher ⇨
D.L. Moody- “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.” ⇨
F.B Meyer- “Let us, therefore, not live in the summer‑house of emotion, but in the central citadel of the will, wholly yielded and devoted to the will of God.” ⇨
Wilbur Chapman-“Anything that dims my vision for Christ, or takes away or cramps me in my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me; and I must, as a Christian turn away from it.”⇨
Billy Sunday-“Stopping at Third adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.” ⇨
Mordecai Ham-“When’s the last time you asked God for something that was beyond your ability?” ⇨
Billy Graham-has preached to more people than anyone else in history.
And it all goes back to a volunteer Sunday School teacher who took time to share the Gospel with one.
Every soul impacted by each of these preachers and each of their converts is the fruit of Mr Kimball’s decision to minister to one. I wonder who led Mr. Kimball to Christ?
We are tools and seeds in the Master Gardener’s hands. Jesus is the sun shine and the rain that makes the seed grow and bear fruit. I must use what I have for God and leave the results up to Him. That’s enough to keep me busy and blessed till He takes me home.
“Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys.” – Billy Graham
“When we come to the end of ourselves, we come to the beginning of God.”- Billy Graham
Remember, it’s by grace.
His grace will take you from the place called, “small potatoes,” to the plans He has for you.
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34 (NKJV)
TEACHER: Texting you this… Need people to help remind me why I teach when I’m having bad days.
Teaching is one of the hardest jobs. You rarely ever get kudos. You mostly hear what you are doing wrong.
So, in those rare moments when the smoke clears, and you see what truly matters, and you see the little things you do, and the impact they can have, that is the gold you have to hold unto- or you will quit.
So Far Today:
I comforted and prayed with a teacher who just had a miscarriage.
I’m standing in the hallway welcoming students, hustling the stragglers to class. Glancing in my classroom, I realize one of my boys is crying. I motion him to come into the hall and he tells me his aunt died from a stroke last night. We talk, I give him a hug, and help him grieve. He gives me permission to share with the class. His friends quickly change seats and circle him; No talking or touching; they are middle school boys after all. They support him by just being there. They take out paper and write notes of encouragement- without any prompting. #proud #whyiteach
All before 9:30am.
Another student running up and down the hallway screaming and crying. Counselor trying to help. He refuses… I step into the hallway, take his hands, have him take deep breaths with me to calm him down so he can talk to the counselor without screaming. #whyiteach
Teaching is never about the subject you are teaching. It’s about showing compassion, how to grieve, process anger, express joy. So much emptiness and anger in my students- they just don’t know how to handle life. Happy that I can be here to help them.
Remind me of this when I’m having a really bad day.
Anyone who becomes a teacher because they want kids to learn a subject is missing a huge piece of teaching. I went into teaching because I want to teach children how to successfully live their lives, process emotion, and become productive people. The subject I teach has so little to do with what I really do.
“When will I use this?” they say. (Algebra, science, etc..)
The answer is: “Who really cares? Will you remember that I taught you compassion when your classmate’s aunt died, that I held your hands when you just couldn’t take another step, that I told you I care about you?”
And yes, of course, I’ll give you another chance when you screwed up, yet again, in my class, because this is #whyiteach
Update 1:00 pm
Two boys try to fight in my classroom. Calmed them down and talked to them. One of the boys tells me he’s not really mad at the other kid. He just watched his dad get arrested and he’s really upset… Sigh. #whyIteach
At lunch, the boy whose aunt died comes up to me. “I’m doing better,” he says quietly, and dashes away.
The boy who was crying and screaming in the hallway comes to class. He’s smiling now, and we’re just figuring it all out. It’s a good day. #whyiteach
I know I could get a job in a better district. My family asks me why I stay, all the time.
“Who’s going to teach them if I don’t?” I reply.
“Someone will,” they say.
“But will they care about them? Will they pray over their desks? Will they cry over them? Will they love them?”
I can’t walk away from these kids. Many of them don’t have adults that truly care. They are used to being thrown away, adults not sticking with them. I can’t be one of those people. Teaching is a calling, not a job. I have to teach them how to be cared for and to care for one another, to create community in the classroom. Once I’ve done this, and only then, can I actually teach them any academic content with success. This usually takes a few months to establish.
I have to teach them, I don’t know if someone else will care for them like I do. #whyiteach
A Few Weeks Later:
TEACHER: Why do I teach again? My head hurts, my neck aches…
RACHAEL: Because it matters- maybe for eternity for some of your students. Even though you don’t see it now.
Because they need you even when they don’t want you.
Because you may be the only love, the only Jesus, some will see today and over the next few months
Because you have to. It’s your calling. #makeadifference #youmatter
Because it costs more to quit than to carry on. #whyyouteach
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NKJV
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
*I received the above messages from a friend who is a teacher. She wishes to remain anonymous.
In honor of #TeacherAppreciationDay and #TeacherAppreciationWeek
Please take the time to encourage teachers, not just this week, but throughout the year