Reflections July 2019
FBM UPDATE August 2019
I have written several times concerning the need and effectiveness of FishBowl Ministries. This was brought to my attention lately as I was meeting with one of my “Ministry Groups.” One pastor shared that recently he had a conversation with a woman whose husband is pastoring a “home church” in the Nashville area. He is also a bio-vocational pastor, so he has a lot on his plate already. As my friend shared with this pastor’s wife, he told her about Fishbowl Ministries and how we meet to share the joys and struggles of our families and ministries, as well as our personal lives. As he shared the pastor’s wife began to cry. This caught the pastor a little off guard and he inquired as to why she was crying. She said, “Oh how my husband needs a group like this. He has no one in his life that he can share with.” That story stirs my passion to want to do more to reach pastors that are in the same boat…….no one to talk to and no safe person to share their life. This story ignited in me, once again, the need for ministries like FishBowl Ministries, and gave me a greater passion to reach more Ministry Leaders.
Several years ago I sensed God saying to me that one day FBM would have 10 people on our staff. Why 10 and not 20? I have no idea but in my “more mature” years I am learning not to argue with God! Well we don’t have 10 yet but I am excited to announce that we recently added our 7th staff member. Pastor John Coulombe, who has served on staff at EV Free Church in Fullerton, CA for the past 31 years, recently stepped out of that role, but is not retiring from being a pastor. I have known John for 25 years; he is a man of deep faith and has a great love for the church and for those who lead. John will continue to serve with Legacy Coalition, which is a ministry to grandparents and their grandchildren and also continue to mentor and give spiritual support to those in ministry.
Linda and I are so grateful for all of you who continue to pray for us and give financial support. May the blessings and the peace of Christ be with each of you!
Words of Appreciation July 2019
My Friend Rich Buhler, who is now enjoying Heaven, used to have a radio show called “Talk From The Heart.” After he would talk to a listener he would often say “I just want to give you a big electronic hug.” I recognize that not all people enjoy hugs, however if I could I would like to give all of you reading this letter a big “electronic hug!” It would be my way of thanking you and telling you how much I appreciate your faithfulness to FishBowl Ministries. FBM would not be able to minister without your faithful prayers and consistent financial gifts. Let me share a couple of examples:
There is a pastor friend that I meet with once a month who always says to me “I am so grateful for you and this ministry. I look forward to our time together.”
Whether you pray and give or are just able to pray, you make this possible.
WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOU!
I meet once a month with a group of pastors from the Nashville area. They represent different ages, backgrounds and denominations. Almost every time we meet someone expresses appreciation for this group being able to meet and share life and ministry together. This can only happen because of your faithfulness in prayer and giving.
WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOU!
For the last four years, FishBowl Ministries has co-sponsored a retreat called The Music City Fathers. Many of those attending live in the Nashville area and they are all involved in some kind of ministry. Once each month 5-6 of us meet to share our lives, encourage each other and pray for the needs in our families. This can only happen because of your faithfulness in praying and giving.
WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOU!
Whether I am “cold calling” to meet a new pastor, or on the phone listening to a pastor pour out his heart because of personal, family, or church struggles, it is made possible because of your prayers and gifts.
WE DEEPLY APPRECIATE YOU!
In closing, let me leave you with a bit of church humor: I recently passed a church with the following message on their marquee sign. “Please Tweet others as you would have them Tweet you.”
HOW MANY HATS DO YOU WEAR?
I have a friend who has taught at Talbot Seminary for several years and has also written several books about church growth. Recently, in preparation for a new book, he asked me if I could have a group of pastors identify the number of “hats” that they wear as a pastor. Before I share theresults of my “not so scientific survey” let me share this story – In the first church that Linda and I served we printed for the church family the income and expenses (including my salary, which was very small) for each month. One Sunday a little girl, probably about 12 years old, picked up the report. When she got to the line that showed my salary, she said: Wow, you get paid all that money for working ONE DAY A WEEK! I knew that she had been listening to her parents talk! You see, many church members have the misconception that pastors spend one day a week preparing their sermon, coming to church on Sunday, and then spending the rest of the time golfing or enjoying “free time”.
My experience is that most pastors are very committed to their calling and spend more timewearing their “pastor hat” than their “golf hat.” Here is the list of 15 different hats that the pastor’s identified:
CEO for staff
Marketing Ambassador to the City they live in Cheerleader
I share this little survey this month to thank you for praying for your pastor and to thank you again for your prayers and financial gifts for FishBowl Ministries.
FBM Ministries 2019
Once in a while, I believe it is good to reflect. Having celebrating Mother’s Day a few weeks ago, I found myself “reflecting” on the life and legacy of my own mother.
Both my sister and I were raised by very Godly parents in a very conservative church. Trust me when I say that the list of things we couldn’t do was much longer than the list of things we could do! Despite all of the rules, I am very grateful for my heritage and upbringing.
I want to share a story about my Mother. In her late teens and early twenties, she developed severe Rheumatoid Arthritis in her hands. Of course, she and many others prayed that God would heal her hands and take away the pain. He did not choose to straighten her fingers, but He did take away the pain. She continued on with her life and her very crooked fingers. She could cook, bake, drive, sew and she even gave my sister two years of piano lessons. She lived a pretty normal life except for her crooked fingers. In her early 80’s she decided to have her fingers straightened. After that surgery, she visited our family in Santa Barbara, CA. I had never known my mother with straight fingers, and it was a very emotional experience when I saw her for the first time and her fingers were not crooked. I decided to write a poem about her hands. She later sent it to our denominational headquarters, and they published it in their monthly magazine. (I am still waiting for my royalties!) Below is what I wrote:
MY MOTHER’S HANDS
From the time I was a little child, I watched my Mother’s hands.
Fingers bent and curved quite strange.
Yet always there to hold.
I asked her, once upon a time, “Mother how could your fingers be that way,
Could not God have made them whole?”
She would smile and tell me how as a young woman, her hands
began to change. The joints became stiff, the fingers curved,
And yes, it’s true there was pain.
But then one day God heard her prayer, He answered in His way. He took the pain upon Himself. But did not make the crooked straight.
“You are to be my witness of the healing Grace of God” And so,
Throughout the many years she testified of healing grace and told others
Of her God.
As time went on, her fingers grew more crooked by the year. The pain increased, but always she leaned upon His grace. And then one day, a surgeon carefully applied his healing skill and made those fingers straight.
I will never forget those crooked hands, that held me as a child, and always gave me reason to be proud of the healing grace of God.
I never thought her hands were ugly, different, yes, but always a beautiful symbol of God’s grace and care.
There are many things that I remember about my Mother……but I will always remember MY MOTHER’S HANDS. They were God’s special gift to her.
(Written by Lyle Williams, October 23, 1990) FBM Ministries 2019
Thank you for indulging me in a few moments of reflection. My Mother was 90 years old when she transferred to Heaven in September of 1998. Her name was PEARL…. And yes, she was a REAL GEM.
Thanks to each of you for your faithful prayers and generous financial gifts to keep FishBowl Ministries moving forward in our mission.
Lyle & Linda
THE GREAT COME BACK
Almost everybody loves a great comeback story. If you are a golf fan, and I fall into that category, then you loved watching the 2019 Masters Golf Tournament. For the past 11 years one of the most exciting golfers of all time has been missing. Some of those missing years were due to his own poor choices in his life and some because of multiple back and knee surgeries. However, last week it was time once again for Tiger Woods to take the stage and produce one of sports greatest comeback stories. As one person said to me, “Golf has been boring to watch during that past 11 years, but now Tiger is back!” Will he continue to dominate the sport, I do not know, but for those 4 days of The Masters it was incredibly exciting to watch.
Tiger’s come back story, however, is not the greatest story in the world. If I had been preaching on Easter Sunday, my sermon title would have been “The World’s Greatest Come Back Story!” You all know the story and you all know the man….His name is JESUS! It is a story we all know and yet we never tire of hearing it and responding to His love for us. In that story we are reminded that He is the Divine Son of God and human like you and me. For a great reminder, read Hebrews 4:15-16
On the Thursday before Easter I had the privilege to speak to 75 men who gather twice a month to share life together. I talked about the storms of life that we face and the storm that Jesus faced as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Since it was 4 days before Easter I wanted to end on a positive thought. I chose a hymn that I grew up on and have been singing ever since. Imagine 75 men lifting their voices as we closed our time together by singing this verse:
Rejoice, Rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing Eternal Hallelujahs to Jesus Christ The King! The hope of all who seek him, the help of all who find, None other is so loving, so good and kind. He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me And He talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.
May the joy of the Resurrection (the greatest comeback story ever) fill your life each day!
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial gifts that enable us to serve pastors.
MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC
Most everyone I know enjoys music. However, most everyone I know has different tastes in music. Some like jazz; some prefer big band, or classical; there are those of us that prefer country, hymns and contemporary praise songs. (I guess some people even like rap, though I personally do not classify this as “music”). We have all heard that music soothes the soul and I happen to believe that is a correct assessment.
This past week, I had the privilege of co-hosting our fourth annual Music City Fathers Retreat with my good friend John Coulombe. The 26 in attendance came from California, Kansans, Wisconsin and Connecticut, as well as several from the Nashville area. Many of them are singers, song writers, and producers of Christian contemporary music and leaders of ministry – most of you would probably recognize their names. We spent our days and evenings together sharing life stories……. joys, sorrows, scriptures, prayers, laughter – as well as plenty of great food! Sleep was scarce but fellowship was abundant and refreshing. I am already looking forward to next year’s retreat in March of 2020!
In my February Newsletter I shared with you some goals for 2020 that I had presented to our FBM Board. I am excited to tell you that God is adding to our staff – Rev. Judy Stevenson, an ordained pastor with the United Methodist Church has accepted my offer to join FBM. Her focus will be to spend time with and encourage pastor’s wives along with supporting and encouraging female clergy and female church staff. Judy’s information will soon be available at: www.fishbowlministries.org under the heading “staff”.
Linda and I again, would like to express how grateful we are for your continued prayer and financial support to FishBowl Ministries. It is because of your faithfulness that we can do this work! I am excited to see what God is going to continue to do this year in the ministry.
Blessings and Peace!
State of the Ministry Fishbowl Ministries February 2019
State of the Ministry Fishbowl Ministries
The following report was given to our Board of Directors at our annual board meeting. The basis for what I shared came from Psalm 37:4-5 (The Passion Translation):
The following report was given to our Board of Directors at our annual board meeting. The basis for what I shared came from Psalm 37:4-5 (The Passion Translation):
Make God the utmost delight and pleasure of your life, And He will provide for you what you desire the most. Give God the right to direct your life, and as you trust Him Along the way you’ll find He pulled it of perfectly!
Recently I began to think about the ministry to church leaders that God has allowed me to be a part of. It started in June 2006 in Orange County California. I spent four years as the Director of Pastoral Ministries for the Center For Individual and Family Therapy. During that time I developed six Pastor Support Groups that met each month to come together and share their life journey in a safe and confidential place. Following that, I spent two years working with Souleader Resources, and, for the last six years I have been privileged to lead FishBowl Ministries. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the variety of ministry that God has allowed me to have for the past 50 years. Coming along side these leaders, praying with them, laughing together, sharing their hurts and sorrows as well as their joys has been the “sweet spot” of my ministry.
When Linda and I started FishBowl Ministries in September of 2012 we had no idea of where that journey would take us. God has blessed us with four amazing staff members. Men of incredible giftedness to come along side ministry leaders to offer hope, encouragement and friendship so they may finish strong! We may not be as large as some ministries that do the same kind of thing we do, but each of us serves with a deep passion to strengthen the hands and hearts of those who are building God’s Kingdom!
Back in December of 2018 I met a new pastor. He is 40 years old, and in addition to his pastoral duties, he is an adjunct professor at one of the Christian universities here in Nashville.
The last time we met he shared with me a deep personal story about himself and a childhood friend who is about ready to crash and burn. At one point he said: I could hardly wait for this week to come so that I could talk with you. I just had lunch with my Elders and they were so excited that I have someone to share my struggles and concerns.
That is why FishBowl Ministries exists and that is why the members of our team are so passionate
about what we do at FBM!
Goals for 2019
*Add 1-2 new Board Members
*Add 2 new staff members
*Increase our personal support base
*Add a female pastor to the staff who can minister to other female pastors
Linda and I are grateful for our faithful board members, for all the pastors who allow us into their lives and for all those who stand with us in prayer and with generous financial gifts!
Blessings and Peace to each of you!
REFLECTIONS January 2019
HAPPY NEW YEAR to each of you! As I sit down to “create” this newsletter it is hard to believe that we are already half way through January. There is so much to tell you but I will do my best to keep it on one page. I have been reflecting on the end of the year 2018 giving to FishBowl Ministries. Each year I ask you to include FBM in your year-end giving and each year you respond with generosity. With the monthly giving by our generous supporters, added to the special year-end giving and the administration fees that we receive each month from the staff, we have received $10,318.00 in December!
Why did I share this with you? FIRST, to say a BIG THANK YOU for your faithful and generous support each month. God uses each of you, regardless of the size of your donation, to bless Linda and myself and to keep this ministry going. SECOND, this ministry is offered to pastors free of charge and it is desperately needed.
This past week I had the wonderful privilege of sitting down with three new pastors and hearing their stories. Each pastor is different and is dealing with unique situations in his church. One pastor has recently joined my pastor support group. As we talked at lunch he said, “I was so lonely because I did not have anyone that I could really talk to. Then I was invited to attend your pastor support group. I am so thankful to be surrounded by those men”. This is exactly why you pray and give generously!
I’d like to share with you one of my favorite stories of late:
In early December I was introduced to a pastor who is 40 years old. He has been at his church for a little over 7 years. He is also an adjunct professor of Bible at one of the Christian universities here in Nashville. He really enjoys being a teacher and leading his congregation, however lately he has lost some of his excitement for leading a church. His wife suggested that maybe he needed to see a counselor. He said “No, I just need to meet an old pastor who understands what ministry is all about.” I couldn’t help but smile, open my arms and say, “well here I am. I am the old pastor you have been looking for!” We plan to meet several more times and walk with him through his journey. That story is exactly why you pray and give generously!
Here are a few prayer requests as we enter into 2019:
*Pray for Linda and me as we walk this Parkinson’s journey together. *Pray that this year will be a year of growth for FBM. Specifically:
– – –
We need to broaden our support base
Add 1 to 2 new board members
Add additional staff to help reach more pastors.
Thank you for being a part of the FishBowl Ministries Team!
December 2018 HOPE
As I write this Christmas newsletter, we are in the middle of the Advent Season. Advent is a time of waiting, trusting, and hoping. Advent helps us to focus on the real reason we celebrate on December 25th. Families and friends gather together. We decorate our houses inside and out. We eat, we laugh, we cry, we exchange gifts and then we eat some more! – Hey, IT’S CHRISTMAS! But most of all we prepare to celebrate the birth of The One who came to be our Savior.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Take some time before the end of this month to read the words of the Apostle Paul that we find in Romans 5:1-8. In this passage we find great reasons for HOPE.
I have HOPE because I am absolved of my past.
I have HOPE because I am assured of my future.
I have HOPE because God is working in the present.
Our family is doing well and we look forward to sharing the Christmas season together. In addition to the Christmas holiday, on December 27th Linda and I will be celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. What a ride we have had during these past 50 years!
Also I am happy to report that FishBowl Ministries is alive and well! Thanks to each and every one of you who are reading this letter for your faithful and generous prayers and financial gifts throughout the year. I am also so thankful for our FBM staff who serve in California, Texas, Ohio and Tennessee. I hear continually from staff and ministry leaders that I have the privilege of working with, how grateful they are for what we do in Fishbowl Ministries. I am looking forward to 2019 as God continues to open doors for ministry.
Blessings and Peace! Lyle & Linda
IS GOD ON VACATION? November 2018
As we look at our nation and all that has been going on with the shootings, violent protests, and the terrible wildfires in CA that have destroyed so many homes and taken so many lives, we start to ask “where is God in all of this?” I watched a news report recently of a woman who had lost everything in the fire at Paradise, CA. As she looked at all the destruction she said: “God is on vacation and He is not taking care of us!” I have never experienced that kind of pain, but I have had my moments when I cried out to God and said, “God where are you?”
Author and Speaker Bob Goff said this: “God doesn’t owe us an explanation when God does something that we do not understand yet.”
Recently I have been hanging out in the Psalms to find words of strength and encouragement. I do not have enough room in this newsletter to write all the words that have been speaking to me, but I would encourage you to read the below passages for yourself: Psalm 107, Psalm 112, Psalm 32 and 34.
If I believe God’s Word, and I do, then I must rest on His words of comfort and strength. We certainly do not always understand how God works or why things happen as they do, but the Bible assures us that God is always present and He will never leave us. I often think of the words that God gave to Joshua after Moses had died:
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
On a personal note, another year is almost over and we are heading into our 7th year of FishBowl Ministries! God continues to work through all our staff as we reach out with hope, encouragement and friendship to those in ministry so that they may finish strong!
Here are two important facts that you should know:
– 1. We understand that we could not do this without God
– 2. We know that we could not do this without your prayers and generous financial gifts.
As you think about your year-end giving to your church and other non-profits, I would be humbled if you would consider sending a year-end gift to FishBowl Ministries to finish off the year strong!
Thank you once again for all you do to help those in ministry thru your faithful partnership with FishBowl Ministries.
Blessings and peace!
The Day In The Life of A Pastor October 2018
Have you ever wondered how a pastor spends his time? Have you ever wondered what a typical day looks like for the man or woman who has been called by God to shepherd the flock? As I thought about this subject for my October newsletter my mind raced back to the first church that Linda and I served. It was located in Barrington Hills, IL about 30 miles north of Chicago. It was a small congregation and was considered as a “church plant.” I believe the church paid me $200 per week and our district added additional funds. In those days I printed out a monthly income/expense sheet for everyone to see, which included my salary. One Sunday as I was standing in the foyer of the church a girl about 10 years old picked up one of those sheets. She seemed to focus on the line that was my salary. As she did so she exclaimed, “Wow, you get paid all that money for working one day a week!” (My guess is that this was a comment that her parents had around the dinner table.) I promise you that I worked more than one day a week. I prepared two messages a week plus a Wednesday Bible Study. I called on families and visited those in the hospital, among several other weekly duties. Please understand that I am not complaining or bragging, those are just the facts.
A pastor never really knows what his week will look like. One of the things I enjoyed about being a pastor was that every day was different and most of them were never boring. Recently I was talking to a pastor and I asked him how things were going in his ministry. Without giving you all the details, he said “Well, in the past two weeks a young lady who was connected to our church got drunk in a bar and pulled out a gun to shoot herself. Fortunately, someone was able to stop her. Then another woman tried to commit suicide by cutting her throat, but she was rushed to the hospital and they saved her life. A man who was dating our next door neighbor was upset about the relationship and proceeded to go out to her garage and hanged himself!” I shared this series of events with a group of pastors and none of them had ever had a week like that, and thankfully, nor have I.
I shared the above account to remind us that all of our pastors need our prayers. Hopefully, they will never have a week like I just described, but they must be prepared for anything that happens. I would urge you not to ask your pastor what his week has been like, but just assure him/her that you are praying for them.
1. Your prayers for Linda are greatly appreciated as she continues to struggle with the effects of
2. Continue to pray for the effectiveness of Fish Bowl Ministries.
Thank you for standing with us in this vital ministry. Your prayers and financial gifts are greatly appreciated!
Part 2 Secrets of Pastors
As we continue with part 2 of our “Secrets of Pastors”, I decided to google the word “pastor”. Among many definitions these two stood out:
A pastor is an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. It is derived from the Latin word meaning shepherd.
Being a pastor is a complex and demanding role, and only those that God has empowered by the Holy Spirit will truly be able to fill it.
Let’s take a look at the final 6 secrets that pastors deal with:
I Am Afraid To Ask For What I Really Want
This can appear many different ways. Maybe he needs a raise, but he is afraid to ask. Maybe the pastor needs a 3 week vacation instead of just a weekend off, but he is afraid to ask. For many years of our pastoral ministry, we lived in houses provided by the church. There were times when we wanted to paint a room or put in new carpet, or even do some remodeling, but I was hesitant to ask. In almost every occasion when I asked the Board said yes. Why was I afraid to ask?
I Have thought About Leaving Even Though I Am Staying
My Secret Job Is Nothing Like This Job
One of the reasons that leadership is difficult is that you deal with so many intangibles. Its brain work, people management, conflict management and trying to get people to do things they don’t usually do or may not want to do. Pastors stay because they have a calling that is greater than anything else they could do.
I Feel Like I Don’t Really Know What I Am Doing
Many of us have felt like this but we just don’t want to admit it. It helps to surround ourselves with wise people and together, figure out the best way to solve the problem.
People Seem To Believe In Me More Than I Believe In Myself
When a leader has been through #9 enough times, he may just give up believing in himself. But when you look around you discover that other people are believing in you, and that inspires you to keep on going.
I Thought We Would Have Made More Progress By Now
Every leader wants to see growth. The problem is that when we look over our shoulder and see some great success story we say, “Why wasn’t that me?” We forget that most “overnight” success stories were 5-15 years in the making. It’s ok to be mildly disappointed because it will always spur you on to do more.
So there you have it, “11 Secrets Most Church Leaders Won’t Tell You.” Does every pastor struggle with all 11 of these thoughts, probably not, and there may be more than I have shared with you. However, our role is to pray for those that God has called to lead us and support them in any way that we can.
Thanks to each of you for praying and giving financially to Fishbowl Ministries. Your support is what enables us to come along side pastors to offer them friendship, hope and encouragement, so that they may finish strong!
Secrets of Pastors
If you read the title of this newsletter then you are probably thinking that I am going tell you some juicy tid-bits about pastors. They are not juicy and I prefer to call them “insights” into the lives of pastors.
I receive a daily blog from a pastor/author/speaker who lives in Canada. Recently his blog was entitled “11 Secrets Most Church Leaders Won’t Tell You.” I have shared these with several pastors and find that most of them struggle with one or more of these insights. We will take a look at the first 5 this month and the final 6 next month.
I Am Less Secure Than I Appear
The put-together exterior does not always match the fragile interior. Insecurity is a trap. The more insecure you are, the most you resist telling anyone about it. Pastors need to admit their insecurity, see a counselor, talk to a friend and pray about it.
Getting Close To God Isn’t Easy
There is pressure on pastors and church leaders to have a ‘great’ relationship with God. However, pastors are just like the rest of the population – they have their ups and downs. Everybody goes through spiritual seasons.
I’m Lonelier Than I let On
Many driven type leaders do not do relationships easily, and sometimes it is lonelier than it needs to be – especially if you have to make unpopular decisions.
Sometimes It’s Hard At Home
The simple truth is what we post on FaceBook and Instagram is not always true. There are no perfect marriages – not yours, not mine and not your Pastor’s. I remember one time after preaching a woman came up to Linda and said, “It must be wonderful living with Lyle” to which Linda replied, “Well not always!”
The Criticism Hurts
We pretend that it doesn’t hurt, but it does. We put on our poker face but deep down it stings. Pastors need to tell somebody, tell God, and not let their families bear the brunt of the hurt all the time.
Now, I wouldn’t suggest that you go to your pastor this next week and ask him if any of these things bother him, but I would suggest that we all recognize that those who lead us are human with human frailties and, just like you and me, they need our prayers.
Thank you to each one of you for being a part of our FishBowl Team. We are so grateful for your prayers, notes of encouragement and your financial gifts!
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an Opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith Is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
GREAT JOY?…….Really? I am afraid we do not always see it that way. This is a familiar passage that applies to all of us because we all have had or are currently experiencing trials. Some trials pass quickly and seem rather insignificant in the whole scheme of life. Then there are others that are painful and long lasting. The interesting thing about trials is that no one is exempt, not you, not me or even those in the ministry profession. Trust me, our FBM staff meets with many who are facing all kinds of trials, some having such overwhelming troubles that they are tempted to quit the ministry. Have you ever said, “Where is God in all of these troubles?” I have!
Let me take a personal turn at this point. Most of you know that Linda was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in December of 2005. For the first 5-6 years most people would not have known. Even though Parkinson’s is not an aggressive disease, it is progressive. Now, more than 13 years later, Linda is seeing a lot of changes in her health. She has great doctors and wonderful medications that help people with Parkinson’s to have a fairly good quality of life. However, the disease does take its toll. It is our trial that we are trying to endure with joy, as James says.
Have we prayed for Linda? Yes, every day. Have we asked God to heal her? Yes, many times. Have we followed the instructions of James 5:13-15 to call the Elders of the church, to anoint her with oil for healing? Yes, on several occasions. Has God answered with a miraculous healing? Not at this point.
Have you ever asked God “why”? I have!
Have you ever said, “God, are you still here”? I have!
Have you ever asked God, “Do you hear my prayers? Do you even care”? I have!
Have you ever felt like just giving up? I have, and I bet you have too.
BUT WE ARE NOT GIVING UP! Why? Because God is still in control. He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has promised that whatever joys we have experienced here on earth cannot compare to the joys we are promised in Heaven! So…..WE ARE NOT GIVING UP!!!!
Recently in a pastor’s group that I facilitate, our conversation turned to sports. One of the young pastors was asking others in the group how hard he should push his young son to be involved in baseball. As I listened I started thinking about the importance that our society places on sports. Now don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy a lot of sports but mainly as a spectator. Although I do manage to get in a round of golf once or twice a year.
You see, when I was growing up music was my thing. I tell you this so that I can explain later what I am talking about. In junior high school and throughout high school, I played the trumpet. I was in the concert band, the marching band, and the dance band. I was also in the concert choir, swing choir, madrigal singers and the boy’s quintet. If it was musical I was in it, but sports found me as a spectator. However, I do remember those neighborhood baseball games that we played during the summer. As I recall they went something like this:
Two boys were chosen to be captains and they took turns choosing the guys that they wanted on their team. Finally it got down to the final two, of which I was one. I can still hear those words, “You take John and I will take Lyle.” Not only was I chosen last, but the tone of voice was somewhat humiliating.
It feels good to be chosen, even if we are chosen last. Even if we do not win the amazing award or get picked first for the team, far more important than any of this is that we are chosen by God. Read what God said in Isaiah 41: 8-10:
But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one.
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying ‘You are my servant’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged for I am your God.
I no longer call you slaves, because a master does not confide in his slaves.
Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father has told me.
You didn’t choose me. I chose you.
I hope you will rejoice with me in being chosen to be on Jesus’ team. You and I are not on His team because of our skills or accomplishments, we are there because He redeemed us! (As always, thanks for being a part of the FBM Team!)
Have you ever had something break? Of course you have. It could be your car, your lawn mower or your TV. Recently our dryer broke, which surprised me since it is less than 2 years old. Recently I went into our pantry to get something off the shelf. In an attempt to get that certain item I knocked a jar of hot fudge sauce onto the floor, and you guessed it, IT BROKE!! It wasn’t a huge mess but just enough to be a sticky mess. Sometimes if we drop and break something we can actually glue the pieces back together and no one knows what we did, but this was not the case with the hot fudge jar.
What about people? Since none of us are perfect, we know that in some way we are all broken, and usually it takes more than super glue to mend those broken pieces. IT TAKES A SAVIOR. That is what Jesus came to do, take the broken pieces of our lives and put them back together again. Recently I stopped to visit a pastor who has been broken. When I first met him a few years ago, I assumed he had his life altogether but I later found out how broken he really was. I have not had any real contact with him until today. With the urging of the Holy Spirit I felt like it was time to break the barrier and I stopped to see him. I did not have an appointment but I did know where he works. He greeted me with open arms and a big hug and for the next several minutes we talked about his journey and how God has been mending his broken pieces. He has struggled with shame and with those who talked behind his back. His journey has not been easy, but God is the Mender of broken pieces.
Maybe you have someone in your own life, a friend or family member who is broken and you are praying, “God, send someone to help that person.” We all want to think that “someone else” will be there but what if God wants YOU to be the one who deals with the “broken pieces?” That was my experience today. Listen to the Holy Spirit. He may be asking you to help someone you know and love to pick up the broken pieces of their life.
I love what our team gets to do through FishBowl Ministries. We come along side of those who are hurting and broken and offer them Hope, Encouragement and Friendship! Thank you for continuing to help us do that with your prayers and generous financial support.
A Personal Reflection January, 2018
The Holidays are over, and as I write this letter we are half way through the first month of 2018. Yikes! Through the years I have written on several subjects both to inform you and also to encourage you in your daily walk with God. There are a few personal things that I would like to share with you this month:
*A big THANK YOU to all of you who pray for us and give financially so that the work of FishBowl Ministries can continue. This past year, our year-end giving was more than twice the amount of our usual monthly income! This helps us to start 2018 with a small reserve to meet the needs of ministry.
*I am so blessed to lead our FishBowl team of Len Sunukjian, Byron Burns, Tom Norvell and Greg Rhodes. These are men of great integrity and compassionate hearts for those who serve in ministry. During the months of 2018 our team will take turns in posting a newsletter or other words of encouragement to pastors on our website.
Please take some time and visit: www.fishbowlministries.org.
*Your continued prayers are greatly needed and appreciated. Join with me this year as I pray that God will continue to increase our influence across the county and also bring to us new personnel who have a passion to minister to those in ministry.
*One a very personal note, Linda and I would greatly appreciate your prayers on behalf of her health. She is in her 13th year of living with Parkinson’s disease. Even though she is still as active as she can be, this disease is certainly taking its toll on her. I know, and my Board continues to affirm, that Linda is my first priority of ministry. So pray with us that I will be a faithful steward in leading Fishbowl Ministries, spending time with pastors, and giving time and care to Linda as we continue this journey together.
*Pray for our fourth Music City Father’s Retreat, April 3-5, 2018. This is a gathering of 15-20 Christian Musicians along with a few pastor types. This continues to be a time of great fellowship, personal sharing, lots of music and reflecting on our lives and ministries.
In a recent sermon I heard, I was reminded of Caleb. There are five verses in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua where we discover why Caleb was so effective in his life. Those verses tell us that Caleb. WHOLE-HEARTEDLY FOLLOWED THE LORD. That is my prayer for myself and all of us as we navigate through 2018!
Blessings & Peace!
The 7 Cent Gift
I believe that almost everyone likes to receive gifts. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or a gift for no special reason at all, we all like gifts. By the time you read this letter, Thanksgiving Day will have come and gone and Christmas will be just around the corner. Sometimes the gifts we receive come in large packages, but often the smallest gifts are the most precious. A few weeks ago I was at Office Depot getting my October newsletter printed. There was an elderly woman in front of me trying to pay for her order. Her bill was $1.07. I seldom carry any change with me but that day I knew I had some in my pocket. I handed her 7 cents and said “Here is 7 cents so that you do not have to have all that change with you.” You would have thought that I had given her a diamond ring! She smiled and thanked me and moved on. (I have since wondered why I just didn’t pay for the whole thing. Next time I will be more sensitive.) It was a very small gift, but it made her smile. All that for just 7 cents. We never know what act of kindness will encourage someone who may need a lift that day. In my case all it took was 7 cents!
It is hard to believe that this year is almost gone. Fishbowl ministries is headed into its 6th year of praying for, encouraging and standing alongside all those in ministry. When a pastor says, “Thanks for stopping by” or “Thanks for praying with me”, or “Thanks for being my friend,” then we know why FishBowl Ministries is so important. I also know that Fishbowl ministries has been blessed with so many wonderful supporters who stand with us each month in prayer and generous financial gifts. We could not do this without you! Paul’s prayer in Philippians 1:3-6 is my prayer for each of you:
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
As you think about your year-end giving to your Church or favorite charity I hope that you will remember FishBowl Ministries. We want to end 2017 strong so that we can continue into the New Year, reaching out to pastors throughout the country. Maybe you can only give 7 cents or maybe you can give a large year-end gift. Either way, it will be greatly appreciated!
Blessings & Peace!