Terry preaching, Dec. 2008. Our first Christmas at Grace.

Today marks my husband’s third anniversary as Pastor of Grace Baptist Church! In some ways, it seems like it’s only been a year or so. In other ways, it feels like it’s been 30 years! We’ve had our share of difficult days. It’s funny though, I only feel discouraged when I compare myself, my family or our ministry to others, and that is wrong! (2 Cor.10:12) When I realize that God is in control of the lives of people, and that I’m just a tool for Him to use however He sees fit, I feel amazed and thrilled!

In all honesty, these three years have been filled with one problem after another. My husband has dealt with each criticism, ill-spoken word, and rumor with grace and meekness. He has analyzed each one and asked, “Lord, is this true about me? Is this something I need to change?” If so, he has changed. If not, he has let it go in one ear and out the other.

One difficulty we’ve faced is folks comparing him to the pastor who was here for 15 years. He was, and is, a wonderful man and a great preacher and pastor. But, Terry isn’t him. They have different personalities and different methods. They do, however, have some things in common. They worship the same King! They believe the same Bible! They both love these people, but show it differently. They both seek to be the best they can be for the Lord and His work. This is something that will just take time to change. Eventually, people will see that my husband is wonderful in his own unique, God-given way.

It’s interesting that whenever anyone compares themselves or others with others, the result is trouble. My husband and I recently attended a preaching conference at my home church. My! How we needed the exhortation and instruction! It was a blessing to both of us. The key speaker was Dr. S.M. Davis. He pastors Park Meadows Baptist Church in Lincoln, Illinois, and has a website, www.solvefamilyproblems.com. He has been a long time friend of my home pastor, Dr. Ken Graham. I heard him several times while growing up, but, that’s been a while. 😉 He does a lot of teaching on the home and family. He has many DVDs available on his website that are like personal counseling sessions for parents, husbands and wives. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage. We get along very well and communicate well. But, we are always wanting to make our marriage even better! Terry purchased the Marriage Series of DVDs from Dr. Davis (9 DVDs). We recently watched “Expectations Ruin Relationships”. It was a powerful realization for me to see that any time I expect something from someone, I face the possibility that they will let me down. Why is this wrong? Because our expectations stem from our desires, or our “rights”.  Dr. Davis points out that the only expectations we should have are the ones that God has. His expectations are never self-serving or sinful. We can find His expectations in His Word. Profound, isn’t it? I thought so!

This truth wasn’t something I saw lacking in my marriage. My husband has fulfilled nearly every desire or expectation I’ve had. But, I needed this for other relationships in my life. The Lord recently showed me that I have been bitter at some loved ones. About 10 years ago, these people did something that hurt me deeply. They betrayed me, or so I felt. I’ve been hurt and, yes, even bitter all of this time. After watching that sermon, hearing the points and reading the Scriptures, I see that I have been wrong all along. I have had wrong expectations from these people! I repented of this and immediately felt freed from the bitterness and pain. This truth is also helping me as I deal with various situations in our ministry. I now have no expectations. I only expect what God expects, and HE will have to deal with those who fail to meet HIS expectations.

I am so thankful for the Lord’s help during the trials of the last three years. I stand in awe of His power and the fact that He could use me at all. I pray God gives us many more years here to serve Him. We’ve lost a lot of people, yet we still have a sweet spirit in our midst. We’ve lost income from those families, but we’re being reminded that money isn’t what’s important in God’s mind – souls are! I believe the next three years will be the best ever! I pray that we will see souls saved, baptized and discipled more than ever in the next year! Would you pray for us, too? It would mean so much to us!

To God be all Glory,

One thought on “Reflections on Three Years

  1. Miss Linda says:

    This was such a courageously honest post, dear Valerie! I know it must be difficult indeed to follow in the footsteps of a well-loved pastor. While reading your post I was reminded of the many faithful men in the Bible who were criticized and maligned for speaking the truth. Your husband is not alone in the difficulties he faces as he seeks to obediently follow God's leading in your lives. I will be praying for you all.

    I am going to have to pray about the issue you brought up about having expectations for others. I think this may be an issue in my life I need to address.

    I hope you all have a blessed rest of the week!


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